Monday, December 6, 2010

Final thoughts...

I do apologize for the late post, but aside from not having much to share regarding my class, I just needed a break from blogger. Last week, on Friday, I administered the final exam in the computer lab, but as some students wanted to take the exam the old fashion way (i.e.bluebooks), I made a sing-up sheet which each students signed indicating whether he/she were typing the exam or completeing it in the bluebooks. Basically the split was down the middle. But as they were working, about forty or an hour into the exam, I noticed that the students who were typing their exams only worte one or two paragraphs and were constantly flipping between screens -the readings and their exam. I haven't graded the exams yet but am curious to see if overall those who worte rather than typed the exams did better?
Also, as the semester draws near the end, students are raising numerous arguments regarding their grades. For example, today we had a peer review and each student was asked to bring in 3 hard copies of his/her first draft of the research paper 2. Of course, the usual suspects came to class 1 and 20 minutes late asking to be allowed to participate in the peer review as they " were on time but there was a line in the library"? Another student felt that just because he saved instead of posted his blog assignments on his blog, those assignments are technically on time and he should be allowed to repost them and his grade should be adjusted.
And lastly, following a class debate on Nov. 15, which I recorded and posted on the class blog on Nov. 20, I asked the students to cast a vote as which side- that defending men or women- should be the winning one. On Nov. 15, after the debate, I told the students that once I upload the video, they are to vote and then we will determine the winner. I finally managed to post the video on Nov. 20, and posted asking students to vote. Then in class, I reminded them to vote, once again. I included the vote as one of their blog assignments for the third blog assessment period, and uploaded the blog assessment form on Nov. 29, which listed all of the assignments I would be grading on Dec.5. I reminded the students in class to review the blog assessment form and update the blogs, and also posted on Dec.3 another reminder about the blog grading which I asked all the students to read before they left after the exam. This morning- last night I e-mailed students their blog grades-I received an e-mail from one student who said it was unfair to count the vote on class blog as an assignment as he chose to be neutral and didn't want to vote...So to be democratic, I told the whole class in class today, that they can think about this and tell me what their decision is this Friday- either I remove the debate vote as an assignment from the blog assessment and readjust all their grade or keep it as is.

I apologize for this lengthy and uninteresting post, but this incident has made me more aware of how precise I need to be with outlining the distinction between class blog and student blogs. I though I was pretty clear on the class syllabus as the blog grade includes blog assignments,blog maintenance and participation. And also I need to be much stricter with my grading rather than accept the bare minimum. In other words, I have been trying so hard to engage the students and encourage them to use the blog as a forum of exchange and communication, that I rewarded even poor work/incomplete posts and provided feedback on drafts which came to the sum total of two sentences or one paragraph.
Well there is always next term...:)


  1. Thinking about how to make your assignment and grading policies more precise is never a bad thing, but I wonder how intrinsic to technology your students' griping really is. I'm not teaching presently, but the variety of complaints and excuses--especially concerning grades--certainly rings familiar. I'm inclined to think that these are universal across traditional and linked-in classes alike.

    I agree: it will be interesting to see whether there's any clear pattern within the exam results distinguishing blue bookers from typists!

  2. Every single time I try something new (tech or not) my grades shoot up for a semester until I get over the "guilt" of "experimenting" on my students. So your experience seems normal to me.

    As to one specific issue: If your student who supposedly hit "save" rather than "publish" didn't notice that no one could see his posts then he was not really engaged in the class, was he? Sounds like BS to me.

  3. I agree that tech or not, this is the time of the year (sung to the tune of that song, "the most wonderful time of the year")that students begin the arguing phase. I had a student with 7 absences and 6 lates bully me for 20 minutes after class. Blogging wasn't even in the ballpark for the was just the lack of responsibility of showing up. I was feeling worn down at the end of that discussion. I think, tech or not, this is still about responsibility and integrity. The BS goes on and on. I actually was less irritated by the student who needs an "A" because his father has (does he really?) kidney disease. At least, he shows and all!