Student Self Evaluation for Participation

This was an interesting piece. I might try this for “preparation” in one of my classes instead of pop quizzes.

I’ve set aside twenty minutes for in-class writing assignments three times during this semester—the first of these fell last week. The assignment sheet for these classes is simple: on it I’ve printed the class participation policy from the syllabus. I ask students to write a one-page essay in which they:

  1. Propose what grade they deserve for class participation thus far, and
  2. Defend their proposed grade with evidence from the classroom.

I tell students that their actual participation grade will be determined by the persuasiveness of their essays. I advise them that I won’t find an essay persuasive if it misrepresents its evidence—just as I wouldn’t find an essay about Moby-Dick persuasive if it cited Ahab’s heroic victory over the whale. “If you have trouble finding enough evidence to make a case for a good grade,” I advise, “use your essay to describe instead the specific steps you will take to improve.”

Having collected one round of these essays, I’m ready to tentatively declare the experiment a success.

Check out the rest of it HERE. Anybody else do this? Something like it?

Tuesday Teaching Question

Tuesday Teaching Question appears most Tuesdays (except the last of the month) and poses a single question for consideration and discussion. Suggestions are welcome as are revisions to the question posed. While it’s false that no questions are dumb, it’s certainly true that all questions are educational.

So, it’s Tuesday, and though we’re not teaching (at least most of us who are not presenting at DWFDW), we’re certainly engaged in the process. I’m still struggling with the organization of two of my classes and can’t seem to get settled on an approach to which I’m completely committed.  Part of the problem is that I know I still have time to play with them (and maybe improve them), and so I can’t help but tinker. Philosophers call this sort of thing Fallibilism–the idea that our knowledge is real, but imperfect and incomplete, perpetually perfectible or something like that. I am definitely a fallibilist, at least when it comes to course planning and teaching.

Tinkering aside, though, I try to come back each semester with at least one big, new experiment that I apply across all of my classes. The last three have been either disappointments or flat out failures (like this one). So it goes with experimentation–at least I learned something from all of them. Nonetheless, I have high hopes for this year’s version: Audio Feedback, baby. I learned how to use a digital recorder this summer and so the plan is to read student papers, mark up a rubric, record my comments and email the file to students. Since I type 40 words a minute or so, and write (scrawl) about 25 words a minute (less on the train, when standing) and speak around 160 words a minute, I should be able to give more feedback and do it faster. Plus the file removes the legibility issues and, according to some research on the approach, makes it much more likely for students to perceive the feedback as complimentary/constructive and so put it to use.

I’m very excited about it. I think it could be what they call a game-changer. But that’s MY project. I know I’m not alone in thinking about how to do things differently as we head toward another fall and a new academic year. So, today’s question is this: What are you doing differently this year? Are you using some new feature of Blackboard? A new book? A new pre-test? A new website? A new seating arrangement?

What’s different? How are you going to try to be better than you were last year?