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Old 01-29-2008, 04:11 AM   #21
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You are at RWTH Aachen, right?
Especially at German universities, and even more so at those that are focussing on research rather than teaching, seminaristic teaching and writing term papers is not yet that common.
It's a bit different at the Fachhochschulen, but still the level of seminaristic teaching is a lot less than in the US system.
I think the more seminaristic approach is more encouraging than this bulk of exams at the end of each semester, and though I prefer writing term papers the prospect to having to write four exams, three term papers and pass one oral exam next month is not all too promising.
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Old 01-29-2008, 08:18 AM   #22
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^right, RWTH !
Ok, so I guess I chose the wrong subject. At the beginning of the semester the prof said, ok I know this class is gonna be very voluminous and I know that 70% fails this class, so we decided that you can write term papers every 3 weeks, and it'll step up your grades!And I thought, ok better than nothing! But they didn't pose a term paper till now, cause it's too much work...etc.
-Great!

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Old 01-29-2008, 08:25 AM   #23
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Is that normal that I don't have any seminars or other things like that? I only have to write exams, exams, exams....from the first semester to graduation! And the profs often pose hard exams, and we don't have the chance to show what we're really able to do, like writing homeworks e.g. !
We tend to have lectures and/or discussions two or three days a week per class. So, for my Global Politics class, we meet for an hour lecture every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And, for my Rock History class, we have lecture for an hour on Monday and Wednesday and a discussion for an hour on Friday. The discussions are meant to split a huge class into smaller sections to give people a chance to speak their minds.

As for the homework and such, it depends on the class. One class I'm taking is basically exams only, three throughout the semester. Another is based on papers for the most part, no exams, but a lot of writing. But, in none of them are there little daily assignments or anything like that.
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Old 01-29-2008, 10:56 AM   #24
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Do you know how to properly microwave popcorn?
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Old 01-29-2008, 11:16 AM   #25
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do you, like most college students, plan on destroying your credit by maxing out credit cards on beer and cheetos and then not being able to restore it for a decade because paying back student loans doesn't do anything for your credit rating?
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Old 01-29-2008, 11:30 AM   #26
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Do you know how to properly microwave popcorn?
I've learned quite quickly how to microwave all sorts of popcorn, including the little mini bags.
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Old 01-29-2008, 11:31 AM   #27
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do you, like most college students, plan on destroying your credit by maxing out credit cards on beer and cheetos and then not being able to restore it for a decade because paying back student loans doesn't do anything for your credit rating?
Well, I do have a credit card, just one. I can honestly say I have never used it on beer or cheetos.

I tend to use it when I literally have zero cash in my bank account, which doesn't happen very often. I'm lucky and have a great campus job that pays very well.
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Old 01-29-2008, 11:43 AM   #28
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I've learned quite quickly how to microwave all sorts of popcorn, including the little mini bags.
thats awesome. please teach everyone in your hall so you can reduce the frequency of fire alarms.
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:03 PM   #29
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thats awesome. please teach everyone in your hall so you can reduce the frequency of fire alarms.
We actually haven't had any fire alarms yet this year.

On a really nice note, for a few days at the beginning of this semester, our fire alarms were not working. We would have been totally fucked if a fire had started in the middle of the night.
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:06 PM   #30
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holy crap! thats a major fire code violation. good thing that was taken care of.
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Old 01-29-2008, 12:36 PM   #31
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Yeah, it was cool...it did get fixed though.
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Old 01-29-2008, 03:12 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally posted by achtung_girl
^right, RWTH !
Ok, so I guess I chose the wrong subject. At the beginning of the semester the prof said, ok I know this class is gonna be very voluminous and I know that 70% fails this class, so we decided that you can write term papers every 3 weeks, and it'll step up your grades!And I thought, ok better than nothing! But they didn't pose a term paper till now, cause it's too much work...etc.
-Great!

Hm, if they said so they should do so.
Generally, I won't blame Professors for keeping it with exams as they are normally very committed and got a lot of stuff to do. Professors are required to teach 50% of their time, and do research the other 50%, and from the Professor I work for I know that this often involves working late into the night.
And at least here in Berlin Professors often work for more than one institution, and have to attend conferences as well.
So, they generally don't have the time to evaluate several term papers and, if a term paper or "combined examination" isn't required normally stick with the rather easy to evaluate exams.

Well, and other Professors, being Beamte and making 60,000€ from that alone simply don't care to do anything more that what is required, but I think, like always, those are the few black sheep that make the others look worse, when in fact many of them really are very committed.

In Germany, lectures at universities and universities of applied sciences/polytechnics are generally two times 90 minutes with a ten to thirty minutes break, and especially at universities you often have lectures with 100 or more students where a seminaristic approach is impossible.

I really like the way you are studying, onebloodonelife, and am really looking forward experiencing this kind of studying later this year.


Looks like I should go buy myself some bags of popcorn to be prepared.
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Old 01-29-2008, 03:27 PM   #33
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Quote:
Originally posted by Vincent Vega


Hm, if they said so they should do so.
Generally, I won't blame Professors for keeping it with exams as they are normally very committed and got a lot of stuff to do. Professors are required to teach 50% of their time, and do research the other 50%, and from the Professor I work for I know that this often involves working late into the night.
And at least here in Berlin Professors often work for more than one institution, and have to attend conferences as well.
So, they generally don't have the time to evaluate several term papers and, if a term paper or "combined examination" isn't required normally stick with the rather easy to evaluate exams.
Do you have TAs (teaching assistants) in Germany? I went to a very small school (liberal arts style, most classes we seminars with 30 students max) and I was a TA for one professor. Basically, I did everything for the Prof except teach the course, but in some larger universities the TAs do teach the survey/intro level courses. I did all the grading, calculated attendance, managed the gradebook, corresponded with students who had questions or problems with their grades, and did the tutoring/helping students that requested help. A lot of the time I was wondering what the hell the Prof was actually doing with his time!
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Old 01-29-2008, 03:45 PM   #34
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Yes, some professors employ students to do tutoring, and sometimes even grading, and my professor does employ one as well.
But as far as I know it's not really common, at least where I study, and often it doesn't sit well with students if they hear that the got graded by another student.

But I would have to ask students from larger universities how common it is with their professors, as so far I really only heard about that pretty rarely.
When I started I had the professor I now work for in macroeconomics, and he employed an exchange student from Philadelphia as his TA. He also got to do the tutoring (the professor taught the classes, and then for the last hour the student came to tutor where most learned more than during normal lecture), and at the end evaluating all the exams, as well as other stuff.

I now can say that my professor isn't just putting up his feet and waiting for the next payment, but nevertheless one reason why his TA had to do the grading was because the professor had gone before the exam was written to his house in Croatia to meet his wife, who teaches in Paris, and spend the summer with her.

One of the problems really is the "Beamten" status, something typical German which stems from the old Prussian Reich, which professors among others gain. Then, they can't be just set off. And some of them are exploiting this status.
Universities also are hesitant to fire those professors because many have quite some impressive resumè and a lot of contacts the university benefits from, and they aren't shy to promote those professors as well.
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Old 01-29-2008, 03:52 PM   #35
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Originally posted by Vincent Vega
Well, and other Professors, being Beamte and making 60,000€ from that alone simply don't care to do anything more that what is required, but I think, like always, those are the few black sheep that make the others look worse, when in fact many of them really are very committed
yeah I think that's what I was talking about! He said that we should buy his books and we could better study at home!Once I was at his lecture he was mostly reading out his book And the thing I'm mainly worrying about is, that all from earlier yrs got the chance to do those working sheets...!

btw, what are you doing 'later this year' ?
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:04 PM   #36
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Do you have TAs (teaching assistants) in Germany? I went to a very small school (liberal arts style, most classes we seminars with 30 students max) and I was a TA for one professor.
30 students at max! sounds like heaven on earth! When I was at Cologne University those TA groups ( they should be normally small groups, I guess) had ca. 100 students. And I think most of the TA's did the grading because when 1500 students want to write the same microeconomics exam, I'm wondering who else does it?
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:17 PM   #37
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30 students at max! sounds like heaven on earth!
It has its pros and cons. For one, attendance is mandatory. In big lecture classes, you don't actually have to go to class. If you skip seminars, your grade will suffer no matter how well you do on exams and papers. That also means you can't really study at your own pace. If you're busy, you can't put off learning the material until before the exams because you are also graded on your participation during every class period. It's possible to do poorly or even fail a seminar class even with straight As on the exams. You can't zone out or be a fly on the wall. The nice part is that you get to know the other students and the professor. Sometimes I find lecture classes a waste of time and a total bore. We did that stuff for 4 years in high school; IMO at the college level people should be taking their education seriously enough to actively participate. I don't want to pay big bucks just to sit with 200 other students and listen to someone younger than me read from the textbook for two hours. Many of my courses were large lectures, but that was mostly freshman stuff. Once you choose your program, it's mostly seminars. Lots of discussion, group work, large projects, internships, etc. Learning the textbook is done on your own time and generally tested with 3 large exams each semester. The rest of the grade you earn doing in-class participation, formal presentations, peer reviews, etc. Now the REALLY huge classes had objective exams that were graded by computer software or Scantron equipment, so no TA or Prof was needed for grading. For example when I took Accounting, all of the accounting sections took the exam at the same time, but since it was math problems and charts it wasn't difficult to grade a bazillion exams.
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:30 PM   #38
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I really like the way you are studying, onebloodonelife, and am really looking forward experiencing this kind of studying later this year.


Looks like I should go buy myself some bags of popcorn to be prepared.
It is nice because constantly having classes keeps me involved. Plus, getting to do discussion sections gives students to a chance to get to know a TA on a more personal level. Another nice thing that my university does is has freshman seminars, taught only by full professors, where enrollment is capped at 20 people, only first year students. I had one last semester and had a great time! It was a class about rock music, which definitely helped my enjoyment, but also, I got to know my professor, who is a very nice guy, always interested in how things were going for me. I go in and chat with him every so often about whatever, and I'm taking one of his big lecture courses this semester. Those seminars are amazing if you get a good professor because you develop a personal rapport with them, giving you connections for later in your studies.

Definitely get some popcorn. Are you doing a study abroad or exchange program this year?
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:33 PM   #39
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It has its pros and cons. For one, attendance is mandatory. In big lecture classes, you don't actually have to go to class. If you skip seminars, your grade will suffer no matter how well you do on exams and papers. That also means you can't really study at your own pace. If you're busy, you can't put off learning the material until before the exams because you are also graded on your participation during every class period. It's possible to do poorly or even fail a seminar class even with straight As on the exams. You can't zone out or be a fly on the wall. The nice part is that you get to know the other students and the professor. Sometimes I find lecture classes a waste of time and a total bore. We did that stuff for 4 years in high school; IMO at the college level people should be taking their education seriously enough to actively participate. I don't want to pay big bucks just to sit with 200 other students and listen to someone younger than me read from the textbook for two hours. Many of my courses were large lectures, but that was mostly freshman stuff. Once you choose your program, it's mostly seminars. Lots of discussion, group work, large projects, internships, etc. Learning the textbook is done on your own time and generally tested with 3 large exams each semester. The rest of the grade you earn doing in-class participation, formal presentations, peer reviews, etc. Now the REALLY huge classes had objective exams that were graded by computer software or Scantron equipment, so no TA or Prof was needed for grading. For example when I took Accounting, all of the accounting sections took the exam at the same time, but since it was math problems and charts it wasn't difficult to grade a bazillion exams.
I'm luckily getting done with the majority of my lecture classes this semester, then after that, most of my classes should be around 50 or so students. Lectures and seminars both have pros and cons. Like Liesje said, for some lectures, you don't have to show up and can get a good grade by just reading the textbook. I still like going to most lectures though; I tend to learn better and stay on top of readings if I go to class.
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Old 01-29-2008, 04:36 PM   #40
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It has its pros and cons. For one, attendance is mandatory. In big lecture classes, you don't actually have to go to class. If you skip seminars, your grade will suffer no matter how well you do on exams and papers. That also means you can't really study at your own pace. If you're busy, you can't put off learning the material until before the exams because you are also graded on your participation during every class period. It's possible to do poorly or even fail a seminar class even with straight As on the exams. You can't zone out or be a fly on the wall.
Yep, agreed on that! My experience with big classes is that you sometimes really don't need to go there, but when you're there you find yourself sitting next to people sitting there and talking / laughing loud, playing pc games, eating etc... and it seems that most profs just don't care what's going on during their classes In the end you need the time to do all that stuff yourself, and all my classes I've ever had ( now I'm attending my second school) are like that! So, I think german schools should get more of both sides..
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