For real learning, all of the following factors are needed

  1. The students are highly motivated and willing to learn
  2. The students have sufficient background in the subject matter
  3. The subject material is presented and taught well
  4. The students tackle real and difficult problems, solution of which necessitate a well-understanding of the subject material

Any one of the following factors indicate that the students are not learning:

  1. The students do not pay full attention during the lecture.
  2. The students are not asking questions during the class, during the break or after the class.
  3. The attendance in the lectures is low

The recommended course structure:

  1. Assign a project in the first lecture of the semester
  2. Divide the project into several steps. Give clear milestones and deadlines distributed throughout the semester.
  3. In the lectures, teach the material needed to help solution of the project. Do not teach the material ahead of time. Teach it after they felt the need for it.
  4. Give homework assignments that are in parallel with the teaching.
  5. Provide answers to homework assignments.
  6. Follow the progress of the students in the project steps closely
  7. Give exams and quizes to find out if the students are learning
  8. Help those students who have difficulty in the progress of the project
  9. If necessary, go back and teach the same material again.

Lectures alone are not sufficient. Lectures are useful only if the students are motivated to learn the material. It is therefore important to motivate the students on the subject. This is best done by projects assigned as soon as the semester starts, resulting in “learning by doing“.

Without projects and real-life difficulties, the students fail to understand the concepts, the real learning does not materialize. Otherwise, event the best students do not learn, they tend to memorize the patterns. They try to fit the patterns they memorized to the new problems they meet.