I'll go to U.P. tomorrow to fix my records and to prepare for the coming semester. I'll probably be assigned to teaching physics 73 again, so at the moment I'm revising the syllabus to make it more in-line with what we think is examinable. I've sent emails to my fellow course group members so that we can negotiate on the changes.
Among the things that I'd like to see are: (1) a better attendance policy and (2) statement of objectives, and (3) a better reading list.
I've looked at my class records and notice that people who are often absent or late tend to flunk the course. There's one student who missed 34 class meetings, and the exams were terrible. Other students with absences greater than the mandated number in the University rules also do badly. It's expected since they can't benefit from class activities.
We made a mistake in the syllabus when we chose not to automatically flunk people with excessive absences. It made possible the illusion that you can pass Physics 73 without coming to class. There are a lot of meetings (for the 2nd and 3rd exams) that are critical since the topics aren't in the textbook. So we need to encourage good attendance.
We should also spend two meetings on the orientation, instead of just one. I'll get Mazur's article "the science lecture: a thing of the past?" printed and then hand it out to students. I have homework prepared, and a quiz to follow up.
Last semester was bad compared to the summer term and 2nd semester. My passing rate was only 82% (I usually get around 90% and above). I was also unable to concentrate because of the academic load I had, to the detriment of my physics 73 students. I shouldn't have taken an optics course since I was badly unprepared. My usual practice is to read and solve problems before enrolling in a course so that I don't get floored. I was unable to do that for both my courses-- optics and solid state physics.
I have this belief that one ought to respect prerequisites. Taking those graduate courses last semester was a violation of respecting prerequisites. I don't really know solid-state physics and optics at the undergraduate level so it's expected that I'd do badly with the graduate versions. I hope to do better next semester.