Friday, March 30, 2012

Student Feedback on Interclass Activities

I want to dedicate this post to student reactions to the analysis review we did with Ximena's class and the thesis review we did with Jason's class. A complete set of responses can be found on my ENG 1o2's class Facebook page but I chose these six to show a range of reactions. Most students found the exercises to be useful, both in understanding the meaning of the poem and in honing their thesis statements for clarity and relevance. They liked interacting with other students and while some would have preferred a more personal connection, others liked the anonymity of it. Some pointed out other flaws as well (such as overly brief responses and technical confusion) and I will keep those in mind as I continue to develop these sorts of assignments.

I will add that the essays my students submitted after doing these activities were fairly strong -- most had clear thesis statements and presented and defended a clear analysis of the poem (rather than summarizing each stanza or making broad generalizations). Even the essays that floundered a bit evidenced real thought and struggle with the ideas being presented in the poem, and I consider that to be a successful piece of writing, regardless of the grade earned.

Here's the prompt I gave them:

What did you think of last week’s online interactions -- commenting on the analyses of Dr. Gallardo’s students and getting feedback on your thesis statements from Dr. Smith’s students? Did the process have an effect on how you began drafting Essay #1? Why or why not?

Here are some of their responses:

I like the feedback I received. I think it's a great idea for students to share their work with other students and then give their opinion to help out the student. Some of the students who commented on my thesis disagreed. The students disagreed on the fact that the speaker of the poem "I Felt a Funeral in my Brain", had no fearful expectations of death. The students believed the speaker was going insane, or sad and depressed. These comments made me reevaluate my thesis, and change it.

It is always good to have an opinion of an outsider because sometimes they catch things that the writer does not catch. I have to say that some of the comments were very short and brief, but there were other ones that went into detail and that really helped.

In my opinion I felt that last week’s interactions had its positives and negatives. One positive thing was that we were able to get feedback and ideas from others which helped me to understand the poem more than I did before. But one negative thing that happened to me was that I was not able to see who commented on my thesis because on my computer it showed all the comments together so it was really hard to distinguish who commented on my thesis. After finally finding the comment I was able to see that my thesis was not the strongest and I made a new one and I feel as if it is much better than the first one.

One of the most difficult parts of writing an essay is coming up with your thesis statement. I feel that this activity does help determine if your initial thesis is clear or not and if your ideas reflect the question being asked. For me, I felt that this small activity of a revision of other works by commenting will be beneficial to all by making our thesis statements clear so we can organize what we should and should not write about.

I actually liked the fact that we are able to give and get feedback to and from another English classes that are learning the same material I am. It helped me see other sides and other ideas about the Emily Dickinson poem we read last week. There’s never only one right idea or opinion about poetry and it’s always good to see other perspectives. I must admit that it was a little confusing in the beginning looking up all the documents on Facebook; so many things going on all on one page. I am slowly getting a hang of it though. Interacting with the other English classes did have a positive effect on drafting my essay. I’m not too comfortable writing essays and it just put me more at ease. It helped me focus on the smaller ideas of the poem rather than just worrying about the essay as a whole.

I think that the last week`s online interactions were interesting. I never experienced that in any other class. Many people are shy to show their work and have it viewed by other people. However, here our work was discussed and commented by people in other class. They do not know us, so they comment on our work based on what we did write. In addition, I think that it is a great experience to work on one poem in a large group, where people have different thoughts, sometimes very different from ours. It let us think about the poem more deeply. By getting feedback on my thesis statement I could see if other students understand the poem the way I do, or if they have very different opinions.

Commenting on Dr. Gallardo`s class analyses was a great opportunity to focus on each important word of the poem. We had read the opinion of the student, then we came up with our ideas of how to explain each word, and what does it mean. In my opinion we should do the online interactions more often, in order to understand each poem deeply, and get as much as possible from each of them

This experience was a totally new to me. Since we did it in groups, it wasn’t so stressful. Also the fact that we didn’t know that class, make me write truthfully thought. On top of that there was some information that I didn’t think about while reading the poem. When I post my thesis statement, I was curious what other people would say about it. I think that this method is great because it helps to correct our thoughts or to feel stronger about it. I would like to continue with this method of representing and discussing our work.


  1. Nice. I will follow up what my students have to say about the activity in their blogs.

  2. I like that students respected each other's opinion and took them to heart. There tone in these comments seem so genuine and I hear some relief-they received the extra push they needed from each other.