Midterm Course Evaluation Class Changes

Paired sections
Several students appreciate that the paired sections allow them to really get to know the other students in the class; in general, students like hearing other students’ ideas during large group discussions and small group activities. While the paired sections have created a classroom community, many students find the pairing confusing, not knowing whether assignments are for composition or Discover. Other students find the two sections feel like one long class (and several students note that they are just not able to stay focused on one class for 2 1/2 hours twice a week). Students suggested that the sections be more distinct and that, in the future, paired sections meet on different days. A couple of students suggested that a longer break between the sections might help to keep them distinct and might help them stay focused when they are back in class. I’ve shared this feedback with Dr. Summerfield, Director of Discover, for use in future planning of paired Discover sections.

Discover:
Students are mixed on the course topic, with just slightly more students liking the theme of oral history as not liking it. They are also mixed on group work with equal numbers of students wanting more group work as those wanting less. Two students did request choosing their own groups, a first and most likely a tribute to the class community. There is more consensus on the readings; much of the class either finds the readings uninteresting and/or too numerous. A couple of students find them difficult but useful in fostering “adult-like” thinking and ideas. A couple students think there is too much work and others want more hands-on, “fun” activities. Finally, Katherine’s contribution to the course received rave reviews; almost every student mentioned her, and every mention was complimentary.

Composition:
Students have mostly positive reviews of the writing portion of the class. Many students responded that they are becoming better writers and that they like all the writing tips. Students reported that they became competent at summaries (as our above-average grades on the midterm exam bear out). Many students find instructor feedback and conferences useful and a couple of students want more one-on-one conferences. Two students did not find peer review helpful while two students found it helpful and/or enjoyable.

Miscellaneous:
The most consistent feedback concerned the classroom. Over half the class complained about bugs and desk arrangements (which are not ideal for a hands-on class). But mostly the bugs!

My response:
• We clearly need to find a way to address the large block of class time that prevents students from focusing as well as a way to make the two sections more distinct. If we are all super focused and committed, we can probably shave 30 minutes off the class, which gives us the option of either ending class at 4:00 with no break or having a 45 minute break. I’m leaning towards the former because that would allow me to meet individually with students in the remaining 45 minutes. We can always try it both ways and then decide which we like better. In any case, the first hour will be just Discover and the second hour just composition.
• I have cut the three remaining readings - I think we have enough to work with in the reflective piece you’ll write and cutting the additional ones will allow us to focus more on the ones we’ve already read (we’ve had to rush through the last two reading discussions). If you are behind on readings, this gives you the opportunity to catch up.
• The Discover potion will be more hands-on in the second half of the semester as we work on our digital stories, but I’ll make sure we have more creative in-class activities. I can’t promise “fun” since I think everything we do is fun and so am, apparently, not a good judge of fun :)

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