Monday, March 13, 2006

I wish that I could say that my College Writing class was going better. Truthfully, only two of my twenty students have written anything close to a paper that resembles scholarly research. Tuesday is a big day for me as I will have to enlighten each to the heavy crap factor ratio within the papers. If major changes are not made, then only a handful of students will pass this class. This is not good...not good at all.

But things could be worse. I could be allergic to chocolate.


Mimi said...

hey - not intending to undermine you; but check your expectations once against the instructors of the other sections. It is possible that the standards there are lower than you would believe - and while you should have your own external standards, equity demands you are also in line with other sections (now and historically.)

It should be very rare for the majority of a class to fail - it also ensures you will take a lot of heat - which they aren't paying you enough to do.

Work with the students you have, even if they are poor. You can't correct all their faults in a semester; but neither can they. Give a lot of Cs for effort, maybe.

bluesugarpoet said...

Yeah, I definitely would not go on a limb like this had I not conferred with the head of the department first. Actually, I have sought out his direction from the beginning to make sure that my standards were on track. I used his syllabus. We've sat together while he read and commented on the set papers from my class, and he actually graded the work more harshly than I would have.

The great thing is that since he was apprised of the situation, I was able to negotiate an appropriate compromise to the problem. My students will once again re-write these papers and turn them in next week.

Oh, I definitely want to work with the students I have. What I don't want to happen again is for me to put a significant amount of time into making suggestions and correcting errors in grammar and logic only to have the same darn thing submitted again without any changes made.

One of the problems perhaps lies in the fact that the requirements for the style of writing in this particular course are more academic oriented than creative oriented. There is a certain way the English department wants this paper written (particularly the head of the department), so that may seem confining for some students. Also, many of my students (and this is true for the students for at least two other teachers this term - one teacher being the head of the department) don't know how to find scholarly research, read it, summarize it, or incorporate it into their papers.

The first time I taught this skill a few weeks ago, students were not paying attention, seemed apathetic, and were conveying the message, "I already know all of this" through their body language. Now that they KNOW that they will fail if they do not do the paper as I have asked, they seemed to pay more attention.

I was stern. I was serious. I also owned up to the fact that I must not have communicated in a way they could understand. I took ownership for my contribution to the possible misunderstanding, but I also let them know that I expected them to read the text closely, to listen to the lectures, to ask me to clarify confusing points, and to generally be prepared for class.

We will see what happens from here.

Mimi said...

Nah, it's mostly their fault. You probably come across as very nice and hence they don't take you seriously.

What worries me is that it seems like the dept chair is bringing in a hachet-man (you) rather than having someone full time give the students the what for.