Monday, October 26, 2009

Results of the midterm evaluations

Eleven evaluations were returned to me. Here are some of the comments and suggestions I received on the midterm evaluations:

1. Overall impressions were warm, some to the point that I wondered whether some students misguidedly thought that anonymous sucking up would be worthwhile (not true, folks!). Some typical comments: "I feel the class is challenging, but fun at the same time"; "interesting and explores reading and writing well."

2. Thoughts about the classroom dynamic were more varied. Of the eleven evaluations returned, six gave discussion a thumbs up, while five expressed some reservation about the balance in discussion. "Every day in the class there's always an awkward silence," one person wrote. Another wrote that "half the class enjoys voicing their opinions on a regular basis while the other half voices their opinions sporadically." Silences are often necessary for thinking, so I think it's healthy to have them in class sometimes, but I'll work on getting different voices heard in class. Interestingly, although a significant number of students speculated that some people were not comfortable in class, no one admitted to being uncomfortable themselves.

3. More or less everyone said that class discussions helped them understand the readings, and that they put a good amount of effort into discussion.

4. The general consensus was that the main use of the blog was for students to "bounce ideas off each other" in an informal way. As one person remarked, however, "[o]nce in a while there will be a good blog, but overall it seems almost like an afterthought. I don't feel that people take it seriously." I must concur with that student, in that I've definitely noticed some infinitesimal posts in recent weeks (a clever tag only very rarely makes up for lack of substance in a post). Nobody said that they found the blog useless, but there seems to be a discrepancy between those responses and the overall quality of the posts in recent weeks.

5. The most frequent request, in regards to writing instruction, was for a workshop in developing analytical arguments. To that end I'm going to move the workshop on global structure to this Friday (10/30). The Lanham will be due on F 11/13 instead.

One student asked for more examples. There is one sample analytical essay on bspace already (it's been there for several weeks, in fact), written by a former student of mine and posted anonymously with her-or-his permission. The essay received an A. I'll try to integrate more examples into the writing workshops as well.

6. Written feedback on the essays was universally deemed helpful; hurray!

7. Of the few students who had attended office hours, everyone said that office hours were in some degree helpful. A few respondents mentioned that they would be more likely to come to online office hours, and a few who had come to online office hours said that they found it helpful, which leads me to think that I should establish some regular online office hours. I'll ask about this in class. (Remind me if I forget!)

8. Not many students have led their own discussions so far. Those who had done so said that they found leading the discussion challenging but interesting. In general the responses to the student-led discussions tended to be unenthusiastic but intrigued. One student liked that the class had to think independently; several thought that the person leading the discussion probably got the most out of the exercise. A few people wanted to know more about how to get people talking. I don't expect us to have time to talk about teaching techniques during class in the next few weeks, but perhaps if I establish online office hours interested students can ask about it at that time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. It is really cool to get to know what others in the class are thinking. Also the picture is awesome and made me smile.


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