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I'm preparing a graduate level module for the next semester. With a more senior professor I have co-authored a book chapter that covers much of the material we'll be covering in class, so I'd like to include it. However, the book itself is not yet published. I expect to get editorial comments back before the semester starts, and to have responded to them. So:

Have you ever included draft or forthcoming materials in your course readings? If so how did students respond to this?

If you haven't, would you? Why/why not?

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    Do you have any doubts about the validity and importance of the material? It would be odd if you did.
    – Buffy
    Jul 28, 2021 at 15:55
  • As a student, I've read work under review from the course instructor or colleagues many times. They share this under the guidance of not distributing materials outside of the course. Personally, I was ambivalent about this practice, as the under review materials were highly relevant to the course.
    – Darla
    Jul 28, 2021 at 15:56
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    Given that quite many good textbooks have been written based on experimental lecture series presented to the students even before the full book drafts were even conceived, I see no reason not to use an almost ready and reasonably polished version of the exposition in the lectures, assuming, of course, as Buffy said, that you know perfectly well what you are talking about and that it is relevant to the course.
    – fedja
    Jul 28, 2021 at 16:18
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    @Darla, why were you ambivalent if the material was highly relevant?
    – Buffy
    Jul 28, 2021 at 16:18
  • @Buffy what I mean here is that some students can have a negative perception of professors forcing students to read their work (along the lines of elitism and lacking diversity in perspectives). I had no such opinion (neither positive or negative) of professors who did this because the work was highly relevant. I know of classes that are created focusing/centering a professor's sole line of work and that can lead to negative experience because of the above.
    – Darla
    Jul 28, 2021 at 16:31

2 Answers 2

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I haven't done this myself, but certainly would, even if the material was a bit less "mature" than having been submitted. However, I would also inform the students that this was happening, though not that I had doubts about it. If I had doubts, I'd want to resolve those first.

If I were giving them written drafts or notes, I might even be inclined to give some bonus points for errors found or places where explanations confused the students. Sometimes our best efforts at explanation miss the mark. But students can catch that, perhaps better than expert reviewers who might have the same bias as the author.

I think that for a graduate course this would be extremely natural to do. A bit less for undergraduate, but I wouldn't arbitrarily exclude that.

For a text book in preparation, it is very useful for students to suggest exercises based on the material. It is a different way of thinking that can be as valuable as actually doing exercises. But, again, probably more relevant at the graduate level.

I'd know that I experienced it a bit on the student end during my studies. In fact, one of the best math courses I ever had was in my second year of undergraduate where the professor gave us material from a book he was working on. It is one of the things that solidified me as a mathematician, actually. But he was clear that this was his "work in progress".

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I have done so. In my case the main reason was to illustrate how research happens by showing them work in various stages.

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