Student Midterm Evaluations

Overall the evaluations were very positive. Students like the readings and the lectures. Class discussions were singled out for particular praise (though one student thought we had too many discussions and wanted more focused exercises/activities). Students wrote that discussions “help [them] understand more what the novels or poems are about” and that they enjoy “listening to others thoughts or opinions in comparison to mine.” Most importantly, students found the facilitations both useful and enjoyable! Review of group work was a bit mixed with a little over half of the respondents writing that it is useful but a sizable minority not getting much from it (this is pretty typical).

Students are finding the course challenging in a good way except when it comes to the reading load. Overwhelming, students responded that the amount of reading was more than they were comfortable with and/or could handle without resorting to skimming.

Other notable comments: One student suggested we talk about reading responses after we complete them (responses to reading responses were also mixed with about half of responders liking them and half not enjoying them). Another student felt like there were “right” answers on exams while another felt like there was too much to study/memorize for an exam. In general, there was some anxiety about future in-class exams. One student noted we’ve run over class time a couple of times.

My response:
I will try to switch up the groups when we do group work (hard because of desk arrangement) so you aren’t always working with the same people.

I am of two minds on the reading load. We don’t have homework except reading, so you should be able to spend 6 hours a week reading for this class (for any college class, expect to spend 2 hours outside of class for every hour in class). None of the reading assignments, except maybe The Rise of Silas Lapham, should have required more than 6 hours of reading per week. However, if students aren’t going to invest 6 hours a week and instead skim the texts, they are missing so much of the literature and the class; these readings aren’t textbooks that you can skim for ideas - the language is important, every word is important. My goal is for everyone to walk away from this class knowing these texts and appreciating the literature, something that can’t happen if reading is missing. So I will meet you half way. I will cut down the reading (i.e. two Faulkner stories instead of three to four, etc) if you set aside 4-5 hours a week to do the reading without skimming.

There aren’t right answers to questions about literature though there are wrong answers. There are also right answers that are well supported with literary evidence and right answers that aren’t. Before our next exam, I’ll give you some study tips for exams. You don’t have to memorize for a literature exam though you do need to be very familiar with the texts (something that only happens if you’ve read it).

Yes, let’s do more with the reading responses in class – the responses themselves are fabulous and I shouldn’t be the only one reading them!

Someone say “it’s 4:45” when class is over even if it means interrupting me (not each other). I shouldn’t be keeping you past our time.

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