Report Mark Gockenbach 2013
Volunteer Lecturer Exit Survey
A What was the location and dates of your lectures?
I lectured at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (Cambodia) during the period May 1 through May 24, 2013.
B What was the subject of the course you taught?
Ordinary Differential Equations
C The goal of the lecture is to provide an intensive 3-4 week courses at universities in the developing world at the advanced undergraduate level. These courses should have a student audience of 20 or more, be controlled, with examinations, and be part of a regular degree program at the university at which they are offered. Was this goal achieved?
All of the above goals were met, except that there were only 19 students attending the course. I gave two midterm examinations and also a final examination.
D The lecturer should be assisted by a local mathematics professor who prepares the students beforehand, assists when necessary during the course, and takes care of any necessary follow-up. Was you local assistant provided, and was his/her work satisfactory?
Yes. Mam Mareth was my contact from RUPP and he was available to answer questions, which he did promptly. He also designated a student from the class to make sure I had everything I needed on a daily basis (whiteboard markers, erasers, water, etc.). The course ran very smoothly, thanks to the local assistance I received.
E Did you develop or follow a prescribed syllabus or did you write your own? Was it available to the students before the course or when the course began?
I wrote my own syllabus based on a fairly detailed course description that I received from Brigitte Lucquin. I submitted my syllabus well in advance of the course, but I do not know if it was distributed to the students before I arrived.
F Did you use any books, classroom material, AV, or other technology-based materials?
I did not use any technology-based materials. (I tried to use Scilab, which I thought the students had used in an earlier course. However, the students did not seem to be comfortable with the software and I did not feel that I had time to teach the software, which was not a major emphasis of the course anyway.) I wrote my own lecture notes rather than follow a book closely.
G What type of assessment tools did you use?
I gave a quiz almost every day, plus two midterm exams and a final exam.
H What are your principal observations concerning this experience?
The students seemed to work very hard. There were a couple of exceptions, but I know that one of them was working very hard at his regular job, which limited his ability to study for my course. The same may have been true of the other student, but I did not get to know him as well. Otherwise, I was very impressed with how well the students kept up with a very fast-paced course. They were also very friendly and pleasant to teach. The arrangements were excellent and the accommodations were very good---much more comfortable than I expected! I enjoyed every aspect of my time in Cambodia.
I Did you feel that your contribution was useful and appreciated?
Yes. However, in retrospect, I would have targeted the course at a somewhat higher level because the students were stronger than I had expected. I did adjust the level as I went along, but the first part of the course could have been more challenging.
J What did you like the most about your experience?
I enjoyed working with the students and living in Phnom Penh. Walking along the riverfront early each morning was a highlight. I also made friends with some Americans living in Phnom Penh and, through them, with several Cambodians. The Anise Hotel was very good and it is located in a neighborhood with many good restaurants.
K What did you like the least about your experience?
I liked everything about my experience (except the jet lag when I returned)!
L How could your experience be improved?
Just one very minor point: It would have been nice to have a classroom with more board space.
M How would you evaluate the overall utility of the work to your students?
___Outstanding _X_Very Good___Average___Marginal___Unsatisfactory
As noted above, I think they were prepared for a course at a somewhat higher level.
N How would you evaluate the overall appropriateness of your living arrangements, care taken of your needs by your local host, etc.?
_X_Outstanding ___Very Good___Average___Marginal___Unsatisfactory
O Have you developed creative teaching skills as a result of this experience? (i.e. since English is not the first language of the students, you might have communicated the concepts in different ways OR the lack of resources has forced you to come out with a different approach)
I taught much as I usually do, so I can't say that I developed any especially creative skills. I believe that the experience of working with students in a different culture was valuable to me.
P Any other thoughts?
I would be delighted to teach again in this program, either in Cambodia or in another country.
You can find the exams and the syllabus from the lecture here: