Wednesday, April 19, 2006
I'm finally caught up with grading. Just in time for all the end of semester papers! I've been struggling this semester with one of my classes. They really don't seem at all engaged, no matter what I do. The goal seems to be to contribute as little as possible, so that I will end the class early. In past semesters, when this happened, I let it go and it just got worse. At that time I resolved to be more diligent in the future. So, this semester, I decided that "freedom" wasn't working - so maybe "structure" was needed. I have brought copies of multiple choice pop quizzes on the reading to class for the past few weeks, and I figured, if they aren't participating, I will spring a quiz on them. I haven't had to resort to doing it yet, because I also designed very structured exercises for them to complete, and I have made sure that every minute of time was taken up until the end of class - no opportunity for getting out early. It is working OK, but I can see they don't like the class any more now than they did before, when the atmosphere was more free. It isn't everyone in class, but the idea of a work culture group - where no one will work harder than peers - does seem true. Contrast that with another of my classes, who thrive under the freedom approach. I guess the engaged students have the same influence on their peers, just in the opposite direction.