January 26, 2011

I finished up my third day of class a little while ago (by 12:30 today).  I am currently in Discrete Mathematics, Operating Systems, Government and Politics of Singapore, and, after talking to the teacher, Chinese II.  Classes have been really interesting thus far; I think Government and Politics is going to end up being my favorite, I’ll explain why in a minute.  You first need to understand the structure of class at NTU (Nanyang Technological University).

Lecture vs. Tutorial

What is particularly interesting is how courses are divided up.  Just to get the lingo down you need to know that classes are called “modules”, but you have both lecture modules and tutorial modules, and the occasional lab.  Tutorials are led by various people that could include either a TA, an Assistant Professor, or (as is the case in my Govn.’t. of Singapore course), the Professor himself.  The idea is that lectures are too big for teacher-student interaction, so students are divided into smaller tutorial sections.

Assignments

There is essentially no homework at NTU, you just study on your own.  There may be a few assignments in a course, but these usually only count about 10% of the grade, so 5% apiece.  While this may be true, in order to learn anything in the tutorials you must do the tutorial assignments before you go to your designated tutorial time.  This allows students to do work, come up with questions, and then interact with the professor directly to answer any questions or doubts.

The idea of a tutorial is going to make my Government and politics of Singapore course really cool.  Each week we have designated readings, a lecture, and a tutorial.  A student has to lead the week’s discussion during the tutorial, and debate is encouraged.  It will be interesting hearing from locals and see how their opinions of the political world differ from my own.  Apparently Singapore is a single party system, and from what I have seen works very well.  I am looking forward to learning how this system developed and about the current political atmosphere in Singapore.

I ended up having only one class Friday, and it is pretty early.  That should make for some adventurous weekends to some of the surroundings areas.  So far everything else is going pretty good.  I’ll update with more later.

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