Student Comments on Technological Lesson Plans


Deb Streusand

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Screenshot by Deb Streusand

In the middle of this semester, I decided to do a survey of my students, to see what they had found helpful so far and what I could do to help them get what they wanted out of the rest of the semester. One of the things I discovered from this survey was that the lessons I found most interesting were not necessarily those that the students found most helpful. Two of my three favorite lessons to teach, and two of those that most depend on technology, attracted comments that questioned their utility. The “logos of logos” activity did not get comments, but the playlist pathos assignment I posted as a lesson plan and the Facebook ethos assignment I borrowed from another professor both featured in negative responses.

I was very excited about the Facebook assignment, because I felt it used technology in an interesting way, allowing the students to apply something they use on a daily basis to the learning of rhetoric. But the students questioned how the assignment, which required them to explore their Facebook to show what kind of ethos they projected on the site, corresponded to the kind of ethos they use in arguments for class. Facebook often only provided examples of situated ethos, because students could not find examples of themselves inventing ethos within the limited arguments they made on their Facebook walls. The students said that the assignment needed work, not that it should be removed, so I am now looking for a more effective way to make use of students’ Facebook pages in studying ethos.

Similarly, students wondered about the utility of my pathos playlist assignment. They enjoyed using the technology to make the playlists, but they weren’t sure that making playlists helped them learn how to use pathos in arguments, because they weren’t constructing pathos through the use of their own words. In the future, I will pair this technological assignment with a more traditional way of teaching pathos, so that the students can learn to use pathos in multiple ways – I believe that creating pathos through music is still rhetorically relevant for students who have multimedia work in their futures.

The surveys were humbling to read because they made me realize that the assignments that I was the most proud of creating or adapting, and the ones that took advantage of our meeting in a computer classroom, were not necessarily the ones that my students found most helpful. I consider myself, not the technology, responsible for this result. However, the surveys were a useful reminder that just because I work in a digital lab and find digital assignments exciting, it doesn’t mean that these assignments will always be the best, and it’s most important to pay attention to what the students are getting out of them.


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