Reflective Comments about the Fall 2016 Instructional Term at Schreiner University

Following a pattern continued at the end of the September 2016 instructional term at DeVry University, comments below offer information about class performance in the ENGL 1301: Rhetoric & Composition, ENGL 2340: World Literature through the Renaissance, and ENGL/THRE 3333: Shakespeare: Comedies & Sonnets classes I taught during the Fall 2016 instructional term at Schreiner University. (Demographic data are addressed in the report of results from the term’s general survey, here.) Overall impressions and implications for future teaching are discussed, as well, and collected best versions of course documents are presented.

Class Performance

Given the different subject matter of each course, as well as the different level of instruction, assessment differed for each class. Explanations of each course appear below.

ENGL 1301: Rhetoric & Composition

For ENGL 1301, class performance was assessed by evaluating a series of major (Descriptive Essay, Narrative Essay, Illustrative Definition Essay, Comparison/Contrast Essay, and Final Exam) and minor assignments, as well as such factors as professionalism and attendance, over the course of the instructional term and assigning grades in accordance with that evaluation. Other than attendance, handled on a point-loss basis, each was scored using a scale of A+ through zero, either directly or as a means of assigning categorical scores to be averaged for a final score. Factors contributing to grading were weighted unevenly, as indicated below:

  • Descriptive Essay, 10% of the total course grade
  • Narrative Essay, 15% of the total course grade
  • Illustrative Definition Essay, 15% of the total course grade
  • Comparison/Contrast Essay, 20% of the total course grade
  • Final Exam, 10% of the total course grade
  • Minor Assignments, cumulatively 15% of the total course grade
  • Student Professionalism, 15% of the total course grade

While discussion of individual assignments and individual student performance exceeds what is appropriate for such a report as this, overall data is not, and for the class, it includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 20
  • Average class score: 81.786 (B-)
    • Standard deviation: 8.846
  • Students earning a grade of A (90%+): 4
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 60%): 0
  • Total student absences: 49
  • Average student absences: 2.45
    • Standard deviation: 2.418

Notably, although some students did lose points for absences (as provided for in the course syllabus and University policy) , none lost so many that they failed the course. Similarly, there was relatively little problem with non-submission.

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ENGL 2340: World Literature through the Renaissance

For ENGL 2340, class performance was assessed by evaluating a series of major (Papers 1 and 2, Midterm Exam, and Final Exam) and minor assignments, as well as online discussions and such factors as professionalism and attendance, over the course of the instructional term and assigning grades in accordance with that evaluation. Other than attendance, handled on a point-loss basis, each was scored using a scale of A+ through zero, either directly or as a means of assigning categorical scores to be averaged for a final score. Factors contributing to grading were weighted unevenly, as indicated below:

  • Papers 1 and 2, each 20% of the total course grade
  • Midterm Exam, 10% of the total course grade
  • Final Exam, 15% of the total course grade
  • Online Discussions, 15% of the total course grade
  • Minor Assignments, cumulatively 10% of the total course grade
  • Student Professionalism, 10% of the total course grade

While discussion of individual assignments and individual student performance exceeds what is appropriate for such a report as this, overall data is not, and for the class, it includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 12
  • Average class score: 80.419 (B-)
    • Standard deviation: 8.154
  • Students earning a grade of A (90%+): 2
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 60%): 0
  • Total student absences: 52
  • Average student absences: 4.333
    • Standard deviation: 2.055

While some students lost points for absences, none lost so many that they failed the course. Also, all students submitted all required coursework.

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ENGL/THRE 3333: Shakespeare: Comedies & Sonnets

For ENGL/THRE 3333, class performance was assessed by evaluating a series of major (Papers 1 and 2, Midterm Exam, and Final Exam) and minor assignments, as well as online discussions and such factors as professionalism and attendance, over the course of the instructional term and assigning grades in accordance with that evaluation. Other than attendance, handled on a point-loss basis, each was scored using a scale of A+ through zero, either directly or as a means of assigning categorical scores to be averaged for a final score. Factors contributing to grading were weighted unevenly, as indicated below:

  • Paper Proposal, 10% of the total course grade
  • Exploratory Essay, 10% of the total course grade
  • Annotated Bibliography, 15% of the total course grade
  • Final Paper, 20% of the total course grade
  • Final Exam, 15% of the total course grade
  • Online Discussions, 10% of the total course grade
  • Minor Assignments, cumulatively 10% of the total course grade
  • Student Professionalism, 10% of the total course grade

While discussion of individual assignments and individual student performance exceeds what is appropriate for such a report as this, overall data is not, and for the class, it includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 4
  • Average class score: 78.518 (C+)
    • Standard deviation: 3.623
  • Students earning a grade of A (90%+): 0
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 60%): 0
  • Total student absences: 14
  • Average student absences: 3.5
    • Standard deviation: 1.118

No students lost points for absences, and all submitted all required assignments. The small enrollment may have had an impact on some performance, however.

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Aggregate Data

Taken together, the courses yield the following performance information:

  • End-of-term enrollment: 36
  • Average class score: 80.963 (B-)
    • Standard deviation: 8.264
  • Students earning a grade of A (90%+): 6
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 60%): 0
  • Total student absences: 115
  • Average student absences: 3.194
    • Standard deviation: 2.355
  • Office hours meetings: 88

One student accounted for twenty office-hour meetings. Another accounted for thirteen. Still another accounted for five, with several others each accounting for four. Those students who were frequent guests in my office hours found reward in their Student Professionalism scores, as well as often on their graded assignments.

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Impressions and Implications

Although assessment in each class differs, some general conclusions can be drawn from them in the aggregate. Some are treated in the earlier “Report of Results from the Fall 2016 Surveys.”

Among others, I think I will move final papers back a bit in the semester, offering me more time to assess them and students more time to revise them (if they wish; not all do, although I did have a fair number of revision requests during the term this time). And I think I will adjust the manner in which I scaffold projects; while I will likely be doing away with peer review (as noted in the earlier report), the idea of my reviewing papers ahead of time remains a good one. I do not know if I will be doing multiple reviews, however; I do not know if I can afford to do so in terms of time involved. Larger projects, though, will likely benefit from having sections reviewed in advance. I will see how it plays out next time I teach a class that makes use of such projects; the Spring 2017 term does not look like it will.

I think I will continue to frame my assessment comments in terms of thanks and appreciation. A friend of mine commented to me at the end of an earlier term that my terse comments, even when students did what I asked them to do, hardly won me any fans; as a result, when I have had the opportunity to teach again (which I appreciate), I have made an effort to present comments as “Thank you for” and “I appreciate.” Doing so has, I think, made things easier for students to see. It has certainly made assessment an easier task for me; the slight reorientation to presentation has generally had a salubrious effect on my attitude, and having a better attitude towards the work has made it seem a better thing to do than has been the case in the past.

I am pleased to have seen improvement. I hope it will continue to occur.

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Course Documents

Best versions of the collected syllabi and assignment sheets from the term appear below.

I offer them in the hopes that others will find them of use in the future.

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