Home | Jeremy Côté
Bits, ink, particles, and words.
As a student or an academic, chances are you have a lot of work to do. Whether that is homework, studying for exams, preparing a presentation, writing a paper, doing research, or teaching, there is a lot that is asked of you. Often, the weeks seem like undulating waves, with regular spikes in work followed by brief periods of respite. This can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle if you are not careful with how you tackle your work.
The eternal question as a teacher or tutor is what to do when a student is struggling. Should you give them a hint, re-explain a key concept to them, or let them sit there and struggle? It’s not always clear which approach should be taken.
When I’m learning a new topic, all of the details matter. If I want to understand what is going on, I need to have a firm handle on each detail. If I cannot imagine how each part operates and connects with the others, “getting” the concept is difficult. I suspect this happens for others, too. After all, if you want to understand without needing to take a result on faith, you have to know the concept as a whole.
If you take a look at any given class, you find that there are a variety of strategies employed by the students. In a way, it’s the perfect Darwinian battlefield: those with the best homework strategies end up doing well and move on to the next course. Some strategies are better than others, and this really shows up in any class. Even if your class is small (say, about ten people), you will find that students don’t all study and do homework in the same way.