Anatomy of a Lecture: Part 2

(As you read in part 1, I've been working hard on a new lecture, on synesthesia.)

How long does it take to prepare (or "prep") a lecture? There's no simple answer to this. Different people will take different amounts of time. Some topics may take longer than others. And I don't think anyone actually keeps track of how long it takes (because that would take time, too; also, the final number would probably be a bit depressing). Plus, doing background research takes a certain amount of time, as does typing the lecture notes, as does creating the PowerPoint slides, as does creating the notes for the web. Do you count all of that time?

Looking around on the web, there are warnings to about how long it takes to prepare lecture material. A common one is that it takes 10 hours for a "new prep" (a course you've never taught before), and 3 hours to update a previously taught class. However, the book Advice for New Faculty Members by Robert Boice recommends that instructors try and reduce prep time to 2 hours for every hour of class, otherwise too much time is wasted, taking away from time doing research. I've also read recommendations that instructors should ask to borrow other people's lecture materials! (Note to anyone who's going to ask: The answer is No. Why? Aside from students, the sum total of my working life since 1995 is my lecture notes. Go do yours yourself.)

I haven't kept close track of how much time I spent on my new lecture on synesthesia. But I'd put it at over 100 hours. This includes listening to a whole bunch of podcasts, watching several documentaries, reading paper after paper after paper, reading (all or parts of) six books, and going to dozens of websites. I'm not telling you this to show off or anything. Maybe I'm a terrible instructor, and that's why it takes me so long. Perhaps somebody else could have whipped this off using the 2-hour recommendation: there are 3 hours of lecture to fill, so they would have spent no more than 6 hours of prep time. Yeah, I wish.

The synesthesia lecture I created is one of the largest I've created that focuses on a single sensory/perceptual phenomenon: 83 PowerPoint slides. Object Perception in PSYCO 267, in contrast, clocks in at 104 slides, but I've got a ton of image-only slides. Perception and Art in PSYCO 365 is a whopping 126 slides--but there are oh-so-many gorgeous pictures of fine art and not a lot of wordy words.

One of the hardest things to do when creating something is edit: deciding what to include and what to (*sigh*) leave out. I left out a lot of things about synesthesia, sometimes because they weren't directly relevant, and sometimes because they were just redundant with other studies. I felt obligated to talk about the current state of theories about synesthesia, and the evidence surrounding them--it turns out that research on synesthesia is exploding with the use of brain imaging techniques. In fact, from 2000-2006, there were 60 studies published (compared to less than 20 in the 1990s). I don't want to brag or anything, but I doubt there's anyone on campus who knows more about synesthesia than I do right now. Ok, I'm bragging.

If you have an interest in synesthesia, part 3 will have a ridiculous number of links to more info. Ridiculous!

Why aren't you studying?


オテモヤン said...
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Karsten Loepelmann said...

Just wanted to tell you why I deleted that comment: porn. OMG! Some spambot posted a link to a porn site--very NSFW.

I want this to be an open forum, where you can say pretty much whatever you want, anonymously if you wish.

But no icky porn.

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