Reflective Comments about the September 2016 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Continuing a practice iterated at the end of the July 2016 instructional session at DeVry University in San Antonio, Texas, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in ENGL 227: Professional Writing, Section 11439, at that institution during its September 2016 session. Overall impressions and implications for instruction are also discussed.

Class Performance

As before, assessment in the eight-week session moved at a rapid pace. It centered around the completion of a single project, a proposal for reducing the carbon footprint of a fictional company, having students through a series of unevenly-weighted assignments leading to the generation of such a project:

  • Routine Message, 90/1000 points
  • Informal Analytical Report, 180/1000 points
  • Negative Message, 100/1000 points
  • Preliminary Course Project, 100/1000 points
  • Final Course Project, 150/1000 points

Other assignments–a resume (80/1000 points), a quiz (60/1000 points), and weeks of online discussions (240/1000 points in total)–supplemented work on the project, offering student practice in finding and parsing information and in writing to audiences mimetic of what they can expect to face in professional life.

As before, most assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution. Other assignments were assessed by rubrics of similar form, announced to students in advance of assignments being due and returned to students with comments once assessment was completed.

The section was scheduled to meet on Tuesdays from 1800-2150 in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 6
  • Average class score: 790.5/1000 (C)
    • Standard deviation: 103.131
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 2
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 0
  • Total student absences: 5
  • Average student absences: 0.833
    • Standard deviation: 1.067

End-of-term enrollment represents a small numerical decline from a peak of seven students enrolled at the first class meeting. Absence rates were relatively low; while one student missed three of the eight meetings, half the students attended each class, and two missed only one meeting each. Completion rates were also good; one student missed one assignment and two missed two assignments each, but all other required coursework was submitted. (Indeed, some students made discussion posts far in excess of requirements; they were rewarded accordingly as the session progressed.)

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Impressions and Implications

Some of the problems noted at the end of the July 2016 session did not emerge from the current class. A combination of smaller initial enrollment and the higher level of the course likely account for the better attendance and submission rates and the greater in-class participation. The small class size, coupled with the fact of group submission of several items, continued to ease grading burdens, which were further reduced by a continued emphasis on framing comments in terms of gratitude.

The issue of tangents common to my lectures persists. In the current class, however, many of the tangents took the forms of discourses on changes to prevailing popular rhetorics and standards of usage, issues of some concern for the students; they came off as more relevant than is usual, and students expressed (verbally and in online discussion) greater appreciation for them than is commonly the case.

I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to work with students, generally, and with the for-profit students, specifically. This class has helped me grow as an instructor; I hope that I was as helpful to the students I taught.

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