What would you do if you had a second chance? In my line of work, when I submit an article or proposal I can often get the opportunity to revise and resubmit the article or proposal. Well, a rejection requires assessing where the article goes next! But, this post isn’t really about me. Instead, I am thinking of students and their need for second chances. There are moments when a second chance is needed. I do not like to think of myself as heartless when it comes to special situations; however, I also do not like feeling like I am someone’s rube.
There are these moments, when I have to step back and think about what is the cost of allowing a revision for a student. The revision might offer the student the chance for success or the opportunity to try to do better on the particular assignment. Ultimately, I do want students to learn and feel success. However, the means by which this is done is through their hard work. Then, I need to balance the entire group and think about my willingness to offer a second chance to 20-200 people. This is when it get tricky.
One thing that I am having to grapple with is the trickle of students who come to my office hours informing me that they did not do well on an assignment based on not just feeling prepared or some other issue that sounds like mere excuse. Here, I am not speaking to an illness or other major issue. Part of life is managing multiple stressors and responsibilities; yet, a cold before a major assignment is supposed to make a major difference. I cannot comprehend this as an excuse. Perhaps I am contradicting my last post. I feel patient, but less patient due to excuses. And, my syllabi include all the due dates and all the assignments. Is this a rant post? Tilts head and thinks–yes, but a short one.
I love Grumpy Cat and I suppose it is well-known. A colleague from another unit gave this to me and I keep on taking photos of it–knowing that Grumpy Cat would hate it.
I have just reviewed the Course Experience Surveys (CES) for my courses. These are the evaluations and I am pleased with the numbers. I’ll need to ask the admin to see the written comments, which are usually fun to read. We all know that the students who really liked you or didn’t really like you are the ones to leave comments.
Particular to this last school year, I changed a few things and the numbers demonstrated an improvement. One question refers to the assignments and another to fairness with the grading. These two questions really allow the students to comment on the syllabus and the grading performance. Of course, part of this is that the students can blame the instructor for their mark in the class, but that is a different blog post.
The first thing that I’ll admit to is that by and large my CES or evaluations for my courses are normally good to great. But, like any educator focused on teaching and learning, I want to improve my statistics. My enrolments are strong in my courses and I usually have long waitlists for my courses, so I’m doing lots of things right. I won’t rest on my laurels and not try to work on things. And, I’m cognizant that I teach most of the gender courses and other controversial topics, so this influences the evaluations to some degree.
What did I do different you might wonder? I made special care to talk more about the assignments in class and dedicated more time to do so. I also increased the explanation time when reviewing the syllabus and the assignment. I joke with colleagues that some students need to hear the explanation three times in order for it to sink in and this might not really be a joke! I did this with all six classes this last year—from first year to seminar.
In some of my classes, I actually included a sample topic sentence outline from the previous term. In other classes, I shared a successful blog. I also shared information about assessment and continued to use my grading grid in the courses. The extra time and the examples made a positive difference with those two questions. Now, I need to think about what I want to work on for next year…