(But our beginnings never know our ends!)
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Late Spring To-Do List
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
A few other random things from my evaluations:
1. My students appear to like group work--quite a few of them mentioned it, and they all had positive things to say about it. My INRU students hated group work, and I pretty much hated group work when I was in college too--but then again, the classes I teach have 30 students, not 15, so maybe that accounts for the difference.
2. Big Urban's form has one write-in question that deals specifically with the instructor's sensitivity toward the diversity of the students (race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability). Many of my students just didn't answer this question, or said, "fine," but several wrote in pretty funny responses, along the lines of, "Hey, she wasn't a racist! That was neat!"
3. A small but noticeable handful of students in one--but only one--of my survey classes commented negatively on the religious content of the course. Now, most of you know what survey I teach, which means that you know that 80% of the major works written during this period have SOME religious content. So, um, I can't really "include more secular stuff," or "can the religious crap," as one evaluator so eloquently put it. But a couple of students made remarks along the lines of, "instructor seemed to expect a thorough knowledge of the Old and New Testament," or, "discussion was dominated by religiously-educated people." I don't think either of these remarks is remotely true--it's useful to have some students in the room who know the major biblical stories, and can spot an allusion when they see it, but the number of times that I asked whether a particular story rang any bells was quite small--but I wonder if I should be more up-front this semester in saying, "look, these are religious works, and we have to have some understanding of the context of these works, but a religious background is not a prerequisite to understanding them. I value the insights that those of you who are members of a particular faith might be able to bring to them, but I also want to point out that the religious culture of these periods was, in fact, usually EXTREMELY different from both contemporary Protestantism and contemporary Catholicism. We need to accept it on its own terms, and both those of you who are secularists and those of you who are religious have useful perspectives to offer." Or am I just fretting about nothing?
4. A large number of students mentioned how excited I was about the material and how funny and fun my "lectures" were (I rarely lecture, but I guess that's what they call my talking about something for five minutes in the midst of a class discussion). This pleases me extremely.
5. Returning to the issue of paper-grading: when I went back and looked at the evaluations carefully, there were actually only a couple of students who used the terms "condescending" or "unprofessional," though there were certainly others who said that they wanted more praise or that they felt demoralized reading my comments. So I think I'll definitely work on incorporating more positive comments in my grading, but I may mostly ignore any worries about colloquialisms and the like.
6. Four or five students described my expectations for papers as "graduate-level work." Duuude. Now that shit's funny.
link | posted by La Lecturess at 3:15 PM |
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