5

When teaching a specific topic in a subject, which is not generally covered by textbooks, should or when the instructor should stick with the structure of the paper?

A not very popular topic in computer science covered in a paper. The structure of the paper is Algorithm 1 - Lemma 1 - Algorithm 2 - Lemma 2 - Theorem 1 - Algorithm 3.

The paper is published in one of top journals. I am aware that the editors and reviewers are quite decent people and they really know how to suggest organization of the paper for the sake of readability and understandability.

In what cases should an instructor change the structure while teaching, for instance to Lemma 1 - Lemma 2 - Theorem 1 - Algorithm 1,2,3?

Answers with experiences will be appreciated.

  • 4
    when should the instructor stick with the structure of the paper? — When there is a single relevant paper (which is rare) and that paper is well-organized and aimed at the experience level of the class you are teaching (which is also rare). – JeffE Jan 8 '17 at 23:40
  • @JeffE But it might be one of many algorithms which is inlined with a subject, and only outline would be the scope of the course. – padawan Jan 8 '17 at 23:42
  • 6
    I sense this question is asking for permission. Whether you think so or not, you ARE an expert professional in teaching the contents of your course to your audience. You should by all means ask questions and consider the ideas of others to hone your expertise, but you ought to trust your judgement (as well as learn from your experiences). – Alexander Woo Jan 9 '17 at 0:56
  • Regarding the order you suggest at the end: please bear in mind that it's generally very difficult to follow a train of thought if you don't know where it's headed. If the lemmas and theorems are there to support the algorithms, then please at least outline the algorithm(s) as motivation first, otherwise grasping the theory can be much harder. – Angew Jan 9 '17 at 9:25
11

Even if the authors are excellent writers, there's no reason to assume that the organization the authors chose as best for an audience of specialists is also the best one for your class. (At least in math, it's very rare for the editors or reviewers to call for organizational changes.)

I'd feel quite free to present the material differently if I thought a different order emphasized the points most relevant to my students, would be easier for them to follow, or I just preferred it. Indeed, I think there's some benefit to intentionally giving a different structure, since I think students benefit more from having access to multiple explanations than from repeating one slightly better one.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.