Dr Isobel Clark FSAIMM FIMMM CEng MMSA(QP)
Royal School of Mines Educational Technology Fellowship
University of the Witwatersrand Short courses and seminars
Royal School of Mines
In just over eleven years at the RSM, the emphasis in my teaching was always towards more comprehensible and relevant components to those mathematical and statistical subjects which were included within the Mining Engineering and Mineral Technology undergraduate courses. At the post-graduate level, the Mineral Production MSc course evolved over this period --- tending away from the more technical options such as valuation and rock mechanics and towards the more management oriented 'core' component. At the time of leaving the Department of Mineral Resources Engineering, my official teaching load was as follows:
Statistics (20 hours) and FORTRAN (10 hours) to second year undergraduate Mining and Mineral Technology students (course MM2) plus tutorials (15 hours).
"Mathematical Methods applied to Mining", final year undergraduate Mining and Mineral Technology students (course MEM'B'). 20 hours on statistical models in Mineral Processing; 20 hours on ore reserve estimation.
Organisation and co-ordination of Computer Project Week for final year students. Credited as course work on MEM'B', 27 hours. All projects centred around the solution of "real" problems using a computer. All departmental staff were involved in the conception and supervision of suitable projects.
"Industrial statistics and principles of ore reserve estimation", a compulsory section of the MSc course in Mineral Production Management (MPM), 30 hours.
"Ore reserve estimation", a technical option for the MPM course. Classical, statistical and geostatistical methods applied to case studies and practical work. Assessed on project reports. 30 hours formal teaching.
Dissertation supervision for MSc students on the MPM course. Up to four students each summer.
Research supervision for PhD students.
Occasional guest lectures for Mineral Technology MSc students and in the Geology Department.
After officially leaving the RSM at the end of 1982 to set up Geostokos Limited, I continued to teach at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels on a part-time basis. This arrangement lasted for two academic years until a replacement lecturer was found.
Research Fellowship in Educational Technology
In 1978, at the request of the Head of Department, I competed for and was awarded the Second Imperial College Fellowship in Educational Technology. The Fellowship was set up to enable academic staff to take a sabbatical year to investigate a chosen aspect of teaching within their speciality. Applications were open to all members of academic staff within Imperial College and competition was considerable.
My chosen field of study was the service teaching of mathematics to students of our department in particular and to the Engineering Faculty in general. As with many departments, we found that our students under-achieved in mathematics courses compared with the expectations based on their school performance at 'A' level. After several years of 'informal tutorials' with first and second year students and repeated attempts to improve the situation, it was felt that a formal period of research might prove more effective.
The major conclusions from this project were, perhaps, eminently predictable. Service teaching must be seen by both host and service departments as a valuable and rewarding task. In particular, lecturers from the service department must be encouraged to view service teaching as a 'main-stream' activity and not simply as a chore to keep up their teaching credits. Engineering staff should be intimately involved in the development and running of lecture/problem classes --- in particular to emphasise the relevance of the techniques taught. One of the major findings during the 'informal tutorials' was that students were perfectly capable of doing the mathematics but tended to founder on the apparent lack of connection between a highly academic subject and their major engineering occupations.
The combination of these factors suggested that small group (or even individual) tutorials were extremely effective but, obviously, expensive in terms of staff time and availability especially where classes were large. Self-paced courses were found to successfully replace the classic lecture/problem class structure but required an enormous amount of 'overhead' and commitment in the initial setting up.
University of the Witwatersrand
Regular teaching commitments at WITS included:
Technical Valuation, MINN306, 65 hours;
Reserve Valuation, MINN403, 65 hours;
Valuation Project, MINN451, supervision over five weeks October/November each year;
Statistical Valuation of Ore Reserves, MINN511, 30 hours;
Geostatistical Methods in Mineral Evaluation, MINN510, 30 hours;
Practical Implementation of Geostatistical Ore Evaluation Techniques, MINN572, 30 hours.
Operations Research in the Mining Industry, MINN 571, 30 hours (1990 only)
Four courses were offered on a regular basis through the Continuing Engineering Education division, usually titled: Statistical Reserve Valuation, Geostatistical Reserve Valuation, Practical Reserve Valuation and the compact course 'Zero to Kriging in 30 hours'. These courses attracted up to 30 delegates at any given time.
The Master's program at WITS includes 6 month (18 point) dissertation/projects. In my nine years at wits, 16 such projects were successfully submitted under my supervision. Two MSc degrees by dissertation only have been awarded to students under my supervision. I supervised 6 PhD's, not all of which were followed through to completion.
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