Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the November 2017 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in ENGL 216 during the January 2017 term at that institution. After a brief outline of the course and statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.
Students enrolled in ENGL 216: Technical Writing during the November 2017 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
- Online Discussions
- Weeks 1-5, 20 points each
- Weeks 6 and 7, 80 points each
- Homework Assignments
- Weeks 1-4, 50 points each
- Course Project
- Topic Proposal- 20 points
- Annotated Sources- 50 points
- Outline and Back Matter- 50 points
- First Draft- 70 points
- Front Matter- 40 points
- Final Draft- 100 points
- Presentation- 60 points
- Final Exam- 150 points
- Total- 1000 points
As before, most assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution. Some few were assessed holistically, with assessment being conducted more gently in light of less formality.
The section met on Wednesdays from 1800-2150 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes
- End-of-term enrollment: 7
- Average class score: 693.429/1000 (D)
- Standard deviation: 251.505
- Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 1
- Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2
Unlike previous sessions, attendance was assessed as part of classroom activities; a component of the discussion grading each week was given to in-class attendance and participation. Consequently, attendance data is available; on average, 2.625/7 students attended each class meeting, with 35 total absences noted. The absences, and their concomitant rate of non-submission, exerted negative influence on overall student performance.
On the whole, I think the session was a good one. Despite the lower average score–occasioned by student non-attendance and non-submission–I had students doing better work overall. I am unsure what else I can do to get students to show up to class, but I am doing quite a bit for those who do attend when they have signed up to do so. I expect, then, that I will continue several practices from the session into future courses.
This session, I remembered to bring “real-world” examples of various types of writing into my classroom frequently, and the students who attended seemed to derive benefit from my doing so. I am already making sure to continue the practice in my current teaching, and, as I have been advised I will be teaching ENGL 216 again, I know I will be working to replicate the January 2018 session’s success.
Some concerns still persist from previous teaching, however. Foremost is that I remain prone to tangential discussions; the idea that I will be able to set them aside is laughable. If and as I continue to teach, they will continue to have to be accounted for and accepted. But they seemed at least to have been informative for students this time, which marks a welcome change.
As ever, I remain grateful for the opportunity to continue teaching. I look forward to having a few more such.