Reflective Comments for the November 2017 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Returning to a practice begun in past years but that was allowed to lapse, comments below comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in ENGL 216: Technical Writing and ENGL 135: Advanced Composition at that institution during its November 2017 session. Overall impressions and implications for instruction are also discussed.

ENGL 216: Technical Writing

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 arePercentage Breakdown

  • 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 Tuesdays from 1800-2150 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University, moved into the more congenial room from its original location. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 6
  • Average class score: 704.45/1000 (C)
    • Standard deviation: 208.26
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 0
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2

Owing to shifts in assessment, attendance was not recorded as strictly as in past sessions, when it influenced grading. Perhaps as a result of that shift, absenteeism was a problem in the course. Perhaps concomitantly, non-submission of assignments was also a problem, with several students failing to submit one or more major assignments–and suffering grade penalties as a result.

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ENGL 135: Advanced Composition

Students enrolled in ENGL 135: Advanced Composition during the November 2017 session were also 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 arePercentage Breakdown

  • Discussions
    • Weeks 1 and 7, 60 points each
    • Weeks 2-6, 30 points each
  • Homework
    • Information Literacy Module- 30 points
    • APA Assessment Activity Module- 30 points
  • Course Project
    • Topic Selection- 50 points
    • Source Summary- 100 points
    • Research Proposal- 50 points
    • Annotated Bibliography- 100 points
    • First Draft- 75 points
    • Process Review- 45 points
    • Second Draft- 80 points
    • Final Draft- 120 points
    • Reflective Postscript- 50 points

As before, most assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution. Other assignments were generally 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. Some few were assessed holistically, with assessment being conducted more gently in light of less formality.

The section met on Thursdays from 1800-2150 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 6
  • Average class score: 521.68/1000 (F)
    • Standard deviation: 287.12
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 0
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2

Owing to shifts in assessment, attendance was not recorded as strictly as in past sessions, when it influenced grading. Perhaps as a result of that shift, absenteeism was a problem in the course. Perhaps concomitantly, non-submission of assignments was also a problem, with several students failing to submit one or more major assignments–and suffering grade penalties as a result.

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Impressions and Implications

Compiling such comments as these across terms and currently working in the non-profit sector prompt some adjustments to the current report from previous iterations. One such is the current format, which attempts to do more to offer paratextual cues than previous iterations. Another is the increased incorporation of graphics into the report, made in the hopes of easing access to the data contained.

To return to more normal discussion: as noted above, absenteeism and non-submission were the main problems during the session. Attendance was low throughout the term, with some class meetings seeing one student or none in attendance. Similarly, submission rates suffered, with more assignments seeing incomplete submission than not–as the figures below attest.ENGL 216 Non-SubmissionENGL 135 Non-Submission

Discussions with colleagues on campus suggest that the problems were not restricted to my classes. In some ways, it is a comfort to know that it’s not just me. In other ways, it’s a concern, as I have to wonder what it will mean for the whole of which I am part.

Other concerns persist from previous teaching. For one, I remain prone to tangential discussions, and, at this point, the idea that I will be able to set them aside is laughable. If and as I continue to teach, they will have to be accounted for and accepted.

This session, when I remembered to bring “real-world” examples of various types of writing into my classroom (I would often plan to, but I would not write the plan down or remember it amid teaching), the students who did attend seemed to get much out of it. I will therefore be making a point of doing more such as I move forward. Indeed, as I have started to plot out the January 2018 session, I have already begun to incorporate specific example texts into required threaded discussions. So that much should be helpful.

I am and remain grateful for the opportunity to continue teaching. After the loss of other academic employment and the end of years of searching for it, remaining even as involved in academe as part-time employment at a for-profit school allows is a welcome thing. Getting to see students grow and mature as scholars and budding professionals has also been gratifying. I hope I will continue to have the chance to do both.

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