Sunday, November 11, 2012


A couple of weeks back I was juggling ARC's obsession with my teaching evals, and my own response to both him and the evals. I got some help from the on-campus institutional research guy, and sent out a survey to current students dealing with some of the same points of contention illuminated in the formal end-of-term surveys.

The results are in. I'm not sure how to read this data - it's generally really positive. 40/60 responded. Predictably, I'm focusing less on the positive stuff than on the few outliers.

Assignments useful in understanding material? 3/40 said only slightly useful or not at all. Since the assignments were the material... I'm confused. 11 said moderately useful. So... are they thinking that their presentations are the assignments? I think of them more as exercises, and grade them accordingly.

How worthwhile was the course material? Moderately (25%), slightly (5%) or not at all (2.5%). I think this is likely to be associated with the fact that the material isn't a text book, but rather articles (primary and secondary sources) not clearly tied to each other. For example, some units are all creation stories while others tackle issues like trade from diverse perspectives and across time. Students are supposed to both read the texts and figure out what each contributes to the study of that issue.

Fairness of grading: Very (40%), Moderately (40%), Slightly (12.5%), Not at all (2.5%). Okay, I think I'm just going to have to either learn to ignore this, or figure out a way to get them to read the damned rubrics. Because honestly? Those damned rubrics are as clear as I can get them. Peer-teachers commend me for them. Why students have such trouble reading them is beyond me; I have a hunch that the outliers here simply don't read the damned things. Later in the survey another question addresses grading - how clearly was grading explained - and the marks are a bit more extreme: Very (48%), Moderately (15.4), slightly (17.9), not at all (5.1). Another rubric question: How clear are the rubrics? Extremely (25), Very (25), Moderately (37.5), Slightly (10), Not at all (2.5).

Clarity of objectives: Very clear (30%), Moderately (25%), Slightly (22.5), not at all (2.5). I'm really starting to want to slap that one person that keeps marking things not at all. Because yes, that 2.5% is a single 'vote.' But instead of throwing out that lone voice, I find self wondering who it is and why they are so unhappy. I take it personally - they don't like me. Rationally, I understand that this lone voice might well be a different 1 voice in every question answered thusly. Rationally, it may have more to do with their life rather than me. But I am an irrational beastie on this and the niggle is crazy-making.

In other notes, the front landscaping is finally finished for the season. There will be some additions in the spring, but I knew that. It's a process, not a end-point project. And I'm very pleased.

 The above were before final touches. Below is current.

Final additions: a creeping sage & annuals. Got some pansies and snapdragons. And 25 bags of pine mulch. I am thrilled.


JoJo said...

Yard's lookin good! So you have no idea what student is marking you so harshly? No one you had a hard time with?

Janice said...

The garden looks great!

With regards to the 'fairness of marking' issue, do you send them back their grades on a rubric sheet? Circling the appropriate issues and writing the comments on a blank reverse side might be the best way to link rubric to outcome in their minds.

But sometimes you get the pissy class like the one year I taught an 8:30 a.m. MWF class and most of the students deeply resented the early start.