I've been meeting four new grad students (Samira, Jeremy, Carolyn, and Jon) on Monday mornings this term. Initially, the point was to pick apart some research papers: what good ideas do they contain, what are the strengths and flaws in their presentation, etc. For next week, though, I've set them a different goal: each of them is to come up with one thesis idea for each of the others. The point is partly to get them thinking about research topics---under the new rules, they're supposed to finish in a total of 17 months, which will fly by pretty fast---but what I really want is for them to get used to bouncing ideas off one another. Our educational system discourages this: when students in my classes talk in detail about their work to anyone except their officially-assigned partners, we call it plagiarism, and take off marks. It's a hard habit to break; I'll be interested to see whether the academic equivalent of picking an outfit for someone else will do it.
And of course, given David Crow's comments about last night's DemoCamp
, I'm wondering whether this can be generalized and scaled up in some way (assuming, of course, that it works...)