Reflective Comments for the September 2018 Session at DeVry University

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the July 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 section of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition during the September 2018 session at that institution. After a brief outline of the course and selected statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.

Students enrolled in ENGL 135 during the September 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:

Grade Breakdown

  • 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. 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: 13
  • Average class score: 796.154/1000 (C)
    • Standard deviation: 90.997
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 3
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 0

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

September 2018 ENGL 135 Grade Breakdown

I was pleased to note that none of the students who completed the class failed it. It’s not been something that’s happened often in my teaching career–but I think it has more to do with students withdrawing from the class before a failing grade could be recorded than with my improving quality of teaching, more’s the pity. Still, close to a quarter of the students earned A grades, which was a pleasure to see.

During the session, albeit later than ought to have been the case, I returned to an old teaching practice of mine: doing the exercises assigned to my students. I hadn’t done so in some time, my attenuated connection to academe (about which I’ve written at some length) interfering with my doing so. Writing what my students are asked to write after a while of not doing so was illuminating; it reminded me of the struggles my students face in getting their own work done amid their lives, and it reminded me that I am somewhat out of practice doing the kind of writing expected of academics. (That I am is sensible, since I’m not a “real” academic anymore and have, in effect, given up on the idea of being one. Still, to have had a skill-set and to be aware of its diminishing is vexatious.) As such, it was useful, and I am likely to continue along the practice in the November 2018 session. I will likely focus my efforts in that regard on ENGL 112 rather than on ENGL 135, however, since the latter has a recent example, and I’ve not previously taught the former. (Indeed, I never sat for first-semester college composition, which has some implications that I may explore later.)

At the end, though, I am glad once again to have had once 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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