Welcome, Again, to Elliott RWI!

In my first post to this webspace, I noted a desire for this website to do a number of things: host research projects, connect to writing samples, offer course materials, and maintain a professional portfolio. It is doing that, but I thought I might make it a bit easier to navigate. (There is a navigation menu at the top of the page, but not everyone seems to find it amenable to use.) So, if you are looking for

  • Most recent posts, scroll down
  • Background information on the website, click here
  • Research projects, click here
    • My abstracts, click here
    • The Fedwren Project, click here
  • Writing projects, click here
    • The Pronghorn Project, click here
    • Points of Departure, click here
  • Instructional materials, click here
    • DeVry University materials, click here
    • Previous institutions’ materials, click here
      • Schreiner University materials, click here
      • Northern Oklahoma College, click here
      • Oklahoma State University, click here
    • Sample courses, click here
    • Sample assignment responses, click here
  • Biographical/CV/Resume information, click here

I am sure some updates will occur as matters progress. What appears above should make things easier to handle in the meantime, however.

Elliott RWI Logo 1

Updated 27 October 2017 to reflect current status.

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A Rumination on Some Old Writing

I have commented from time to time about my own writing and my writing processes, not only here, but also in other venues. I’ve also recently looked back over some of the stuff that I’d written before, partly because it was relevant to the writing I was doing more recently, and partly because I am still subject to fits of nostalgia. Sometimes, those fits do something decent for me; I did a few things decently in my younger years, at least, and I have not let their promise lapse utterly as seems to have been the case with quite a few other things. Sometimes, they do bad things to me, largely when I end up dwelling on what could have been but now never will be. Occasionally, though, they give me occasion to pause for rumination–not that I am short on things that offer such gifts.

Image from Giphy.com

Across years of study and years after formal study ended, I have been writing. I flatter myself to think that I’ve gotten better at it over that time; I know I’ve gotten more willing to put the writing where other people can see it, and I know I continue to harbor the idea that the writing I do is of some value to others. And not just in the way that any writer who writes for a public has to harbor such a thought (and all do, else they’d not put their writing where others are apt to see it); as the sample assignment responses I’ve been doing suggest, I expect the writing I do to be of direct benefit with tasks at hand in, at least the short term and for at least some of the work I do.

But I’ve also mused in other venues about looking back over older essays of mine and revising and otherwise updating them. (Admittedly, paratext is what comes to mind, but paratext is important, as I’ve argued and as others have far more eloquently and successfully argued.) I’ve got most of my old papers–those written since I gave up on trying to become a band director when I grow up–on file, and a great many of them would work as the kind of thing I tend to post here. They need more work than reformatting and insertion of paratextual norms such as illustrative and decorative graphics and HTML-compliant section headings, of course. Even the things I wrote a scant few years ago show their age and my relative immaturity, and I know that the things I wrote in my first year as an English major are far more dated, far less refined, far more annoying than what I put out now. (I have more sympathy with some of my professors now than I once did.) Revisiting and amending the work, though, might well do me some good; there are at least a few ideas that could stand some attention and refreshing, and the rest could well be taken as the kind of penitence a man like me might well do.

At the same time, with few exceptions, the repetition I already do is not the best. I am self-conscious about it already, as I think I’ve shown recently. And I’ve noted in other venues my expectation that saying again what I have already said, and to much the same audience that heard or read it the first time, will read other than optimally. I do not know that what I wrote in days gone by will seem repetition to those who have been reading me more recently, to be sure, but I also do not know that they will not be. And I am not certain that I will do well to work again with ideas that I had once had and put into words years ago; I am not so far past my dissertation as I am past quite a few of the other pieces, and I do not know that I can stand to look at the thing again to make it a monograph, as I know I was supposed to have done. (That I did not doubtlessly contributes to my not having secured work in academe, not that making the monograph would have guaranteed a damned thing.) The thought of catching up on the scholarship and writing the at-least-one additional chapter stymies me. The thought of going further back and trying to do more causes me to balk utterly.

Perhaps it is good to leave some of the past in the past. Perhaps it is good to have moved on from some things, to put them down and not pick them up again, not because others will need to take them up, but because they should be trodden into the ground by unseeing feet and covered over by the sediments of passing years, what was in them leached out and returned to the source form which they sprang or else locked away from view forever.

Your contribution remains appreciated!

Class Report: ENGL 062, 14 January 2019

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting and offering an administrative note, discussion moved in sequence through concerns of definition, genre, paragraphing, and APA formatting. Time was given to upcoming assignments, and students were afforded time to work on their own responses to those assignments.

Students should note that, owing to the MLK holiday, campus will be closed on 21 January 2019. A WebEx meeting will replace the regular office hour at 1800 on 24 January 2019. This schedule supersedes and replaces that announced last week.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster showed three students enrolled, unchanged from last week. All attended; student participation was adequate.

An online office hour was held on Thursday, 10 January 2019, at 1800. None attended. The next will be online at 1800 on Thursday, 17 January 2019

Students are reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 20 January 2019:

  • Discussion Threads: Trying out Transitions and Practicing Main Ideas (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Week 2 Quiz (online)
  • Graded Reading Activity (online)
  • Homework Submission: Developed Paragraph (due online as a Word document)
  • Week 2 Pulse Check (online)

Sample Assignment Response: A Developed Paragraph for ENGL 062 at DeVry University in San Antonio

While last week may not have seen the kind of assignment for which I can offer a sample to my students, this week does. Accordingly, I will do as I have said I will do and work to offer a sample of the kind of work I would like to see from my students, hoping that having a concrete example will help them to do better work. I also continue to hope that my work will help others outside my classroom, as well.

A common symbol of achievement.
Image from Time.com

The assignment faced by students in the second week of Introduction to Reading and Writing at DeVry University in San Antonio is to draft a solid paragraph on one of four topics: educational reform, gender difference, family, or discrimination. Each is narrowed slightly from the overall topic heading, and responses are expected to consist of at least 100 words in APA format. The paragraph is asked to make a point, provide illustrative evidence, and explain how the evidence functions to bear out the point.

To address the exercise, I began by setting up my APA-style document. That style guide asks for black, double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman with one-inch margins on letter-size paper, with running heads, page numbers, and title page in prescribed places; I set my document to those standards.

That done, I settled quickly on a broad topic, opting to treat class discrimination. The topic had been on my mind as I had been working on other writing, so it was an easy choice to make. Focusing more narrowly was a bit more of a challenge; a paragraph will admit of but one instance, and there are entirely too many instances of class discrimination. I opted to take what I think is an unusual approach; most pieces on discrimination treat the discrimination against those in perceived lower positions by those in higher, but there is discrimination by the perceived lower against the higher, as well–or, rather, concerns not unlike covert prestige apply. That is, eminence in areas other than are commonly recognized as conferring eminence are prized, and the commonly prized derided. Again, such matters had been on my mind already, so arriving at an example to treat was easy.

Having made the decision about the topic, I began to draft my paragraph, opening with context to aid readers in understanding my approach. From context, I moved to pivot into my specific topic, an instance of discrimination leveled at me, presenting it as the central point of the paragraph. I then moved to offer specific illustrative examples to support that point. Those provided, I connected the information I had offered back to the central point I meant to make in the paragraph, and I then offered a concluding sentence to wrap things up.

With that done, I reviewed the paragraph for readability. Applying a fairly common test, the Flesh-Kincaid, returned a result in line with what I had hoped to find; I know I have a tendency to wax verbose in ways that are not always helpful, and it was a relief to find that I had not done so. I was thus able to proceed thence to review my document for style and mechanics. After making the adjustments that needed making, given exercise requirements and ease of reading, I put the document into an accessible format, which I present here: G. Elliott Sample Developed Paragraph January 2019. May it and its successors prove of benefit now and in time to come!

Care to help me keep it going?

In Response to Erin Bartram Once Again

On 8 January 2019, Erin Bartram’s “How PhDs Romanticize the ‘Regular’ Job Market” appeared in the online Chronicle of Higher Education. In the article, Bartram relates a facet of her experience transitioning out of academe, namely the common expectation of those moving into so-called alt-ac and post-ac careers that the job market in the world outside the ivory tower is better than that within it. She argues that the non-academic job market requires the same kind of clear vision academics are expected to have about their own fields and in-industry hiring practices. The article continues by listing factors to consider while engaged in the search for out-of-academe work: reflection’s limitations, prevailing labor competition, mismatches between credentials and requirements, employer uncertainties, and prevailing misunderstandings about academics. Bartram ends on a valedictory note, commenting that the difficulties of the labor market are not reflections on job-applicants’ character, that the success of one makes the success of another easier, and that those of us who have been forced into academic exile or expatriacy are working on a (perhaps romanticized) common cause.

Once again, the image is from the piece discussed.

This is hardly the first time I’ve written in response to what I’ve read from Bartram, as witness this, this, and this, at least. It seems to be something of a pattern for me to do so, and I have to wonder how it reads, partly to her (if she is aware of being so discussed) and partly to my own readers, who may or may not be tired of seeing me come back to the same ideas time and again. Then again, I’ve read a lot of novels that have had the same plot–and sell millions of copies. I may be forgiven, then, for coming back to a writer whose work I’ve treated before.

Of particular note to me are the fourth and fifth of the listed factors for consideration in the article: “Employers are not so sure about your ‘transferable skills'” and “Misperceptions about PhDs persist.” I’ve noted before that my own search for full-time work outside academe took some doing, and that, while I have a solid job with promotion prospects at the moment, I am not so far into it or so far removed from the frantic search that it does not still resonate with me. And that resonance is what makes the two points stand out; they are things I encountered repeatedly as I looked for work, and they came up–and come up–even with the job I currently have.

Regarding the former, the idea of transferable skills, I followed the advice I’d been given, both about making arguments in general and in applying for jobs, more specifically. I made the case that the things I had learned to do as I learned to be a scholar would help me to do the things I would need to do in the job. Poring over manuscripts and early editions of texts taught me attention to detail and record-keeping. Writing paper after paper after paper helped me develop a typing speed that is the envy of many a clerical worker. Training in several languages helped me learn better how to communicate with a variety of people. Working through courses and curricula helped me learn how to budget time effectively to address short- and long-term goals, and to do so with minimal oversight and direction.

Making that case did not help me much against automated HR systems that regard coursework–and teaching–as things other than the skills required for the job and so discard such resumes as mine out of hand. And it did not much help with employers who felt similarly, or who saw coursework as a pale imitation of experience (which it is, in many ways, though there are things that individual experience teaches only at great pain) and thought that my lack of the latter made me less desirable than others. Even in my current job, there are times when what I have been trained to do that lines up with the stated job description for my present and presumptive positions only does so on paper; my ingrained reaction is the wrong one.

Such concerns interact with the latter of Bartram’s points, the idea of misconceptions and misunderstandings. One thing by which I’ve been struck in my time in my present position is the strange regard in which I am held. My coworkers look to me for guidance and insight because I have the credentials that I have, but they are not seldom inclined to disregard what I offer because it proceeds from a place of erudition; I still seem to them to be too pointy-headed for a lot of things I say to work, even when I untangle no few problems that they have. When I interviewed for the job, after having resigned myself to the loss of a long-time dream in terms of the academic job search (I was several years at it before the realization broke upon me), I got the question of why someone with a PhD would want to work the work I work now. And while more than a year at the job has allayed the idea that I am looking in earnest to get back into academe, I am certain it was in force then–and I suspect that it persists to some extent even now.

(For the record, while I do still work as a contingent academic, and I would not be averse to picking up a little more work in that regard, I have no intention of leaving my current agency. I doubt I’ll get a better offer than what I have now, at least for quite a while, and I see no reason to give up what I’ve managed to cobble together without damned good cause.)

I know that I am fortunate to have found an agency that was desperate enough to take a chance on me–and that is actually a pretty decent job. Sure, it could be better, but no job couldn’t. And I know I am fortunate because I know Bartram has the right of it; employers often look askance at PhDs, both because what academia does is seen as at odds with what the world outside it does and because those who have lived the life of the mind are looked at as longing to return to it. And there is longing for it on my part, to be sure, as I am certain is true for others. But I am equally certain that many of us who are now on the outside, or who are only in the lowest basements of the ivory tower, know well that we will never reach its higher floors and that it boots nothing to bloody our knuckles by knocking yet longer at the doors that lead to them. Those of us who seek outside work and who have it now want nothing more–or less–than to be able to support ourselves in line with what we have long been promised, and in as many words: if we work hard and do the right thing, we’ll have decent lives.

The situation persists–and so does the need for your help in addressing it!

Class Report: ENGL 062, 7 January 2019

For the first class meeting of the session, introductions were made to the discipline, course, and instructor. The materials provided in the course shell were expanded upon, assignment guidelines were reviewed, and time was afforded to students to work on their assignments.

Students should note that, owing to the MLK holiday, campus will be closed on 21 January 2019. A WebEx meeting will replace the regular class meeting on that date; it will begin at the regular class time.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster showed three students enrolled. Two attended; student participation was reasonably good.

An online office hour will be held on Thursday, 10 January 2019, at 1800.

Students are reminded that the following assignments are due before the end of day (Mountain Standard Time) on 13 January 2019:

  • Discussion Threads: Introduction, Reading and Writing: My Strengths and Weaknesses, and Time Management Strategies (3 posts/thread, rubric online)
  • Week 1 Quiz (online)
  • Graded Reading Activity (online)
  • Week 1 Pulse Check (online)

What Would Have Been a Sample Assignment Response

As I’ve moved into a new session of teaching, I had meant to begin developing sample assignment responses again. They seem to have helped my students in the past couple of sessions, and I do want to help my students succeed, despite what many of them seem to have thought over the past however many years I’ve taught. But when I went to look at the current session’s assignments for the first week, thinking I would get a head start on developing those new examples, I found that they are online quizzes.

blog post image

I cannot offer examples of such things. For one, I do not know how limited the quiz bank is from which the students are asked to work; were I to address questions from them, I would be giving students answers, and while I approve of giving models, doing the assignments for them passes lines I am not willing to cross. For another, I am relatively certain I would get into some kind of trouble for posting the questions directly. And were I to try to write an independent example of such a quiz, it would require more work than I am willing to do without additional compensation. (I enjoy writing essays; I find the work of doing so meditative, and I often learn things from it. Quiz-writing is much more meticulous, and while it can be remunerative, I am not likely to draw extra pay for providing supplemental materials to my already-enrolled students. I do the job because I need money, after all.)

For now, therefore, I will have to defer what should have been an example of an assignment response, waiting until next week, when actual written responses begin to be asked of the few students enrolled in the current session. Because there are few, I will be able to attend to them more closely than larger classes permit, which should be to the good for the students and for me. For when I have to assess work at speed, I find myself looking for different things than I would prefer to seek but which I can only work to uncover when I have time to spend–and that is not the case with over-enrolled writing classes that have institutional deadlines I must meet. That seems not to be an issue this go-round, and I am grateful for it. I hope I have cause to continue to be.

Can you help me keep it going once it actually starts back up again?

In Response to Justin Stover

On 4 March 2018, Justin Stover’s “There Is No Case for the Humanities” appeared in the online Chronicle of Higher Education. The article opens with the stark statement that the academic humanities are already nearly dead, offering examples of that near-death, before announcing its overall topic and framing the following discussion in terms of its strange support from the cultural right and left. Stover then addresses prevailing critiques of the academic humanities: their overspecialization, overproduction, and under-teaching. After, he lays out some historical context for the current problem of the humanities, namely that they have been supplanted by the university’s expansion into fields previously assigned to other kinds of institutions, before addressing the inadequacies of common defenses of the humanities. The article proceeds to articulate the academic humanities’ core function: the development of a common culture and class to carry it. The inability to articulate the value of that commonality outside of it is what makes for a lack of case for the humanities, and Stover notes that that lack does not mean the humanities should not be defended or that they will not last beyond the falling-away of institutional support for them.

Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates seems fitting.

Before I move into more ruminative responses to Stover, I need to note a couple of things that stood out to me as I read. For one, I am tempted to read Stover’s piece against that of Bennett’s, to which I recently responded. For another, Stover makes the comment that humanities scholarship is “not written to be read, at least in the normal sense of the term”; I find myself wondering what that “normal” sense is. Later, he makes the statement that “The university can be many things, but without [humanities scholars], a university it will not be,” which seems to me to be a bit vainglorious and myopic. Admittedly, accreditation requires a certain number of humanities courses, but the relegation of those courses to adjuncts and visiting faculty–to academic expatriates such as I am–satisfies the inclusion but does not satisfy the soul, as it were. Academic and disciplinary ghettoization happen, and more in the humanities than in other places, it seems.

Those things noted, I think Stover has the right of it. Academe does tend to replicate itself, and it is used as an entree into a particular set of cultural norms, themselves emerging from historically exclusionary and discriminatory preferences and still, in many cases, reinscribing them. And it is true that those norms cross national boundaries, but they are hardly so cross-cultural as might be hoped; there is ample attestation that taking them on involves self-alienation from home cultures, and I could add mine to the litany of them. It is also true that the academic humanities need defense if they are to persist in the university, though whether or not they should is another matter. Movements toward open-access and decentralized work, increasing numbers of academic expatriates who have found no room for themselves within the transnational culture of academe but who still want to contribute to a field from which they feel themselves to have derived benefit and purpose, suggest that the institution is not so necessary now as it was–but only relatively recently was.

It is further true that the humanities cannot justify themselves outside themselves, no less so than theologies require belief to justify themselves, and systems of law, and other human endeavors that Stover mentions. And I might note that faith in such things is diminishing no less than faith in the value of the academic humanities. If the humanities are framed as being in need of defense, it is clear that they–and other fields, to be sure–are losing and are likely to keep on doing so. If they have made promises, they have failed to meet them. They have lied, and to many people over no small amount of time, and it is not unfitting that liars suffer for what they have said wrongly.

Help me move ahead!

In Response to Eric Bennett

On 13 April 2018, Eric Bennett’s “Dear Humanities Profs: We Are the Problem” appeared in the online Chronicle of Higher Education. The article opens with a summary of the progressive work done by humanistic academic study before pivoting into the assertion of its title and glossing disciplinary history from the First World War onwards. The decentering and deconstruction of literature from the 1970s on receives substantial attention as leading to the effective expulsion of humanities scholars from civic regard. Bennett returns to the 2016 elections for an example of the uselessness of humanistic self-disinvestiture before moving back into an explication of historical circumstances that once empowered humanistic study and on into a critique of new media and its studies. He then proceeds to posit a corrective, of which much seems to be a return to older norms of scholarly conduct and intention that ultimately reads as somewhat naïve.

It’s another where the picture comes from the article underlying the piece.

I do not know what I expected to get out of reading the piece, honestly. Perhaps I looked at it initially from a sense of Schadenfreude, a delight in the misfortunes of a community that I sought to enter and by which I was more rejected than not. (I acknowledge that there are many ways in which I remain quite bitter. It is not good for me, to be sure, but I have been more bitter than the coffee I drink for nearly as long as I’ve been drinking it; I don’t know who and what I am without it anymore, or even if I have a who and what I am without it. But that is a rumination for another time.) And there is some irony to be found in people ruining a thing in an attempt to save it, as well as in neglecting historical underpinnings while interrogating them. For my erstwhile colleagues are not wrong to note that the things set up as bulwarks were set up to protect particular things and people–and not others. And they are not wrong to note that maintaining such systems also maintains the discrimination upon which they are established. But neither is Bennett wrong to note that moving away from them has had consequences many who work to dismantle the objectionable find objectionable. We cannot be surprised at a disregard for fact when so much work has been done to question the nature of fact–or we should not, since it is clear that many are.

Perhaps I actually looked for some kind of solution to the problem presented. Bennett seems to be arguing for a return to older ideas, which is problematic for a number of reasons. One of them is that those older ideas do contain and reinforce various discriminations that should not be in place. It is true that any judgment will necessarily discriminate, and I do not think Bennett is wrong in concept; there are things that are to be decried, although determining the point at which they become so can be somewhat fraught. (For one example relatively close to home for me, formal English is moving away from the inclusive masculine, the assumption of “he” as the default pronoun, yet, to my knowledge, formal Spanish retains the construction. Mixed groups are referred to in masculine declensions–though Ustedes is a thing. So does it become necessary to decry the construction, or is it necessary to allow another culture to retain its norms?) But that very fraughtness, which is good insofar as it demands that people think on things and reflect, works ill in that it works to allow for the kind of shenanigans seen too often in current political offices in the US and elsewhere.

Also problematic is the fact that the older models are unpalatable because they are older and slower. Some few are able to take the time to reflect and consider, true, but far more are enmeshed in the brutal demands of daily living, working as they can to scrape together what they can so they can last into the next day and do it all again. It is a Maslovian concern; many people cannot devote the time to thinking through things that they need to think through because they have to devote all their time to staying alive, without which no discernable thought occurs. At the end of a long working day, insofar as I have such things, I seek ease and solace, not the challenge and rigor of thinking through things. The stack of reading beside my bed speaks to that. Yet I am trained to do that very thing. So if I reject doing it when I am tired, I can hardly blame those who are not trained as I am for turning away from it when they are tired–and I know that many are perpetually tired; again, they are worn down from daily life and its demands, so they can hardly but be.

(I do not mean to excuse people from their misdeeds. Tired as many are, they still actively work to ill in the world, and that is not something that should be lauded even if there are other things about them that should. But I know I contribute to suffering, as well; I do not exempt myself from such condemnation. And I am unwilling in my present circumstances to take the risks that extricating myself from at least some of the complicity would entail. So there is that.)

Whatever the reason I looked at the article, though, and whatever problems the solution towards which Bennett gestures has, the idea of the title is one worth considering. Those who have studied the academic humanities–often with literature standing as metonym for the broader group of fields, which is its own problem–have done much to make themselves less than amenable to public understanding and sympathy. We–and I am among the group even now, as seems fairly obvious–put ourselves outside the world even more strongly than the traditional town and gown divide would have it, in part because there is less overt a connection between what we do and the parts of people’s lives that help them to survive than between them and other fields, and Maslovian logic holds, at least in part. And I do not know how to address the matter; I have no more workable solution than Bennett. Perhaps the solution is to let the institution die and, in its fall, open up space for something new to grow that might well be what we need.

Help me start the new year right!

Reflective Comments for the November 2018 Session at DeVry University

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the September 2018 session at DeVry University, and following closely the patterns established in previous practice, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in my sections of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition and ENGL 112: Composition during the November 2018 session at that institution. After a brief outline of each course and selected statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.

ENGL 135

Students enrolled in ENGL 135 during the November 2018 session were asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Many, and the weightiest, related to the overall course project; others were homework meant to practice skills used in the workplace and in later stages of the course project. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values are below, with relative weights shown in the figure below:

ENGL 135 Grade Breakdown November 2018

  • Course Project
    • Topic Selection, 50 points
    • Research Proposal, 50 points
    • Annotated Bibliography, 100 points
    • First Draft, 70 points
    • Second Draft, 80 points
    • Presentation, 100 points
    • Final Draft, 170 points
    • Career Planning, 50 points
  • Discussions, 280 points
  • Homework, 50 points
  • Total, 1000 points

As before, most assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution or amended from them for ease of use. Some few were assessed on a percentile basis from standardized testing conducted as part of University-wide course requirements.

The section met online, with office hours generally taking place Monday evenings at 6pm Central time. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 18
  • Average class score: 730.925/1000 (C)
    • Standard deviation: 210.112
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 5
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 3

Numbers of students receiving each of the traditional letter grades are indicated below:

ENGL 135 Students by Grade

Comments about the session will follow in Impressions and Implications, below.

Return to top.

ENGL 112

Students enrolled in ENGL 112 during the November 2018 session were also asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Most concerned a series of short papers, presented in planning sheets before submission as full essays; a final essay additionally went through an intermediate draft before final submission. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values are below, with relative weights shown in the figure below:

ENGL 112 Grade Breakdown November 2018

  • Papers, 690 points
  • Discussions, 310 points
  • Total, 1000 points

Assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution or amended from them for ease of use.

The section met in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus Wednesdays at 6pm, with office hours generally taking place Monday evenings at 6pm Central time. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 9
  • Average class score: 610.9611/1000 (D)
    • Standard deviation: 299.4946
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 0
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2

Numbers of students receiving each of the traditional letter grades are indicated below:

ENGL 112 Students by Grade

Additionally, since the class met physically, it was possible to take attendance. All students in the section missed at least one class meeting; some missed quite a few more, as indicated below (with the figure being classes missed, students missing that many classes, and percentage of students falling into that category):

ENGL 112 Students by Absence

Comments about the session will follow in Impressions and Implications, below.

Return to top.

Impressions and Implications

I confess to feeling some dismay at the lower performance of the November 2018 session against the September 2018. While ENGL 135 had more A-earning students than its earlier counterpart, it also had more students fail–and ENGL 112 had no students earn overall As, though it also had students failing. In each case, the lower grade was due to non-submission; many students got many zeros for work because they simply did not submit it. I have to wonder what else I could have done to chivvy them along.

Matters were complicated by a data loss I experienced late in the session. I typically keep my teaching notes and materials in a USB drive; the one I had been using ceased functioning. In retrospect, I had some indication that such would be the case, and I did not act upon it; I suffered as a result. Student grades were not affected; those I had recorded in the school’s system remained in place, as did my comments about them, and materials I had uploaded to this site also remained in place. Still, having to reconstruct information at the speed I did did not make things easier for me. How it affected my students is not as clear.

I feel, however, that my earlier-noted resumption of example-writing was helpful for my students. At the very least, I know that people were looking at the examples I posted; I have access to readership statistics, so that, while numbers were not as good as they were in August, they were still generally up. Enough students’ work mirrored the examples that I am confident some of the lessons made it through, which is good. Unfortunately, I am not teaching either ENGL 135 or ENGL 112 in the coming couple of sessions, so the examples will be let alone for a bit–though I mean to continue the practice with the next class I teach.

Moving forward, I also mean to follow another practice that I had in place for ENGL 135 but not ENGL 112. In my record-keeping, I more narrowly divided storage and commentary for the former than the latter; it ended up making grading easier and commentary clearer, despite having more assignments and more students in Advanced Composition than Composition. Though it requires more initial work from me, it makes for less work while I am amid work; I think I’ll continue to do it.

At the end, though, I am glad yet again to have had yet again the chance to teach, and I look forward to having it at least one more time as I move forward.

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Initial Comments for the January 2019 Session at DeVry University

I have been offered a class for the January 2019 Session, a section of ENGL 062: Introduction to Reading & Writing, and I’ve accepted the assignment. It’s a class I’ve taught several times before, though it seems to have changed a bit for the upcoming term. (That’s good, because there were some things that needed adjusting, but it does also ask me to re-learn some things. But that’s also to the good.)

It can be a fun thing, indeed.
Image from Giphy.com.

I am likely to continue to offer samples of the work I expect my students to do, as I have noted that the students in classes where my examples are ready to hand do better on the tasks assigned them than those who were not. Too, I’ve not generated examples for the introductory students yet, and it can easily be argued that they are in the most need of additional assistance; I have been lax in not doing so previously, and I will address the lack. And it will help me negotiate the changes that have gone through since I last taught the course, which is also set to be to my benefit and my students’.

The class is set to meet in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus on Mondays at 6pm, beginning on 7 January 2019 and running through 2 March. It’s scheduled to run until close to 10, but how much of that gets taken up will depend on enrollment; keeping two students in for four hours is a bit much. And I will have to negotiate the MLK holiday, which will interfere with the class meeting. But that will be a relatively minor challenge–I already have plans in mind for how to proceed–and I am happy to be once again in a position to face it, to do again what I have long done and even longer trained to do.