Email Sunday Feb 01

From Sean_Carver
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Students in Modeling and Identifying Neurosystems:

[I sent this email out over the weekend but to the wrong list of student email addresses. The list I am sending to now does not include people who added the course last week.]

If you are having difficulty completing the homework for Lab B, please email me and tell me what you are having trouble with. My homework problems are meant to be instructive but not onerous, and I wanted students to be able to complete the problems in lab where I could help. Some students have turned in the homework already but most have not.

Apparently, students in the class have widely different backgrounds. Some students have extensive training in computation and mathematics, which will make the completing some of the assignments much easier. But such training is not part of the prerequisites and I want to make the course interesting and accessible to everyone. Students who have focused their training on non-computational areas of neuroscience will be more challenged to complete some of the assignments, but rest assured that I am fully aware that the difference is one of training and not aptitude. Given the situation, it would be unfair for me to have students competing with each other for grades.

I want to point out that the objectives of this course are to provide an excellent learning experience through original creative research in computational neuroscience. Students will take different things from the course depending on what they bring to it. I believe that any student who demonstrates a sincere commitment to learning and who demonstrates a sincere effort to do well in the course, deserves an A, regardless of previous training.

The only problem with basing grades on "commitment to learning" is the fact that this quantity is very hard to measure. If you are struggling to complete the assignments, it is up to you to let me know that you are in fact, working on the assignments. Come to lab (if you can), and ask questions. Talk to me in lab, send me an email, or schedule an appointment if you are having trouble. Your feedback will help me determine what to discuss in class when I wrap up the previous day's homework. In addition, I may be able to help you with the issues you are having.

The assignment due Monday night will help you understand Tuesday's lecture, so try to complete it if you can. If it is too hard or taking too much time (i.e. more than an hour or two, beyond what you did in lab), email me before it is due and we will make arrangements. Specifically, I will tell you what you can do to prepare for Tuesday's lecture and still get full credit on the assignment.

Thursday we will start on the textbook and, for that material, I expect that having previous training in mathematics and computation will matter much less.

See you Tuesday,

Sean Carver

Ames 139