Tell me where it hurts: Designing mid-semester course evaluations

For as long as I’ve been teaching, I’ve made a point of checking in anonymously with my students at mid-semester, asking them what’s working and what’s not to ensure we can all get the most out of the time available to us.

The Great Beyond: Teaching Technologies from an Inexpert Perspective

Hermes typewriter

As a teacher a generation older than most of my students, I begin to increasingly find myself in the role of “digital immigrant” to their “digital native” status. Most of us tend to be more familiar with technologies of our youths, inevitably falling behind the curve a bit as new media resemble the ones of our earlier days less and less.

Technological Nostalgia and the Academic Year to Come

XKCD comic "Time Ghost"

I feel so out of touch when it comes to video games.

Optional Collaboration and "Winging It"

Apple pie and a mushroom cloud

I’m a big fan of "winging it" in the classroom, a practice my colleague Scott Nelson addressed in a 2012 Blogging Pedagogy post. Typically, my improvisation is restricted to my lesson plans, which I leave informal and loose so that there is room to shift gears depending on the class's needs, interests, and concerns. This semester, though, my “winging it” extended to the broader arc of the course.

Surveying Perspectives

Sample graph

As the semester winds down, I have been thinking about my students’ responses to my course topic. Death and dying are universal facts, but our various responses to them are far from universal. This week I asked them to complete a short, anonymous survey that summarized their individual responses to the different topics we covered and conversations we had.

Graphing Empathy

Two survey questions asking students to rate their sense of empathy with Huckleberry Finn and Jim.

This semester, I taught a Banned Books class focusing on the ways that authors deploy empathy. One cornerstone of the class was a series of daily surveys. Each discussion was preceded by a survey (pictured above) in which students gave an informal ranking of their empathetic response to the main character(s) featured in the day’s readings. My goal was to help students theorize their own responses to stories, but I also ended up generating some unexpected revelations.

Making the Most of Digital Tools in a Class on Black Public Intellectuals

Photograph of Harris-Perry on TV set

I am teaching a literature course next term (African American Literature and Culture). Thankfully, when I teach in the fall, I will be in the Digital Research and Writing Lab (DWRL). However, unlike a research-based writing class, literature classes do not seem as easily tailored towards the digital tools we have available. Thus, I’d like to take this blog post as an opportunity to throw out some of the ideas I have for class projects and activities.

Using Basic Media Theory to Teach Rhetoric

This is an image of the Superdome and survivors of Hurricane Katrina living inside of it

“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.”

― John Dewey, Democracy and Education

On Weather Cancellations and Digital Media Experiments

Walking path lined by trees, all covered in snow

Normally we have very mild minters here in Austin; however, this winter has been colder than usual. As a result, we’ve had a number of days where ice coated the roads, making the region’s many elevated highways and bridges very dangerous. For better or for worse, UT has closed the campus several times and initiated late starts several times more. Normally these delayed starts began between 10am and noon. As my Rhetoric of Death and Dying class runs from 9:30 to 11 am, any weather delays impact the course.

Distance Peer Observation

George W Bush holding binoculars

One of the greatest resources you can have as a teacher is other teachers’ experience, suggestions, and comments. At the DWRL we are lucky enough to have Blogging Pedagogy, Lesson Plans, and other platforms that help us benefit from each other’s great work.

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All materials posted to this site are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. We invite you to use and remix these materials, but please give credit where credit is due. In addition, we encourage you to comment on your experiments with and adaptations of these plans so that others may benefit from your experiences.

 

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