Reflective Comments for the November 2018 Session at DeVry University

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the September 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 sections of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition and ENGL 112: Composition during the November 2018 session at that institution. After a brief outline of each course and selected statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.

ENGL 135

Students enrolled in ENGL 135 during the November 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:

ENGL 135 Grade Breakdown November 2018

  • 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 or amended from them for ease of use. 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: 18
  • Average class score: 730.925/1000 (C)
    • Standard deviation: 210.112
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 5
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 3

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

ENGL 135 Students by Grade

Comments about the session will follow in Impressions and Implications, below.

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ENGL 112

Students enrolled in ENGL 112 during the November 2018 session were also asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Most concerned a series of short papers, presented in planning sheets before submission as full essays; a final essay additionally went through an intermediate draft before final submission. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values are below, with relative weights shown in the figure below:

ENGL 112 Grade Breakdown November 2018

  • Papers, 690 points
  • Discussions, 310 points
  • Total, 1000 points

Assignments were assessed by means of rubrics provided by the institution or amended from them for ease of use.

The section met in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus Wednesdays at 6pm, with office hours generally taking place Monday evenings at 6pm Central time. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 9
  • Average class score: 610.9611/1000 (D)
    • Standard deviation: 299.4946
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 0
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 2

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

ENGL 112 Students by Grade

Additionally, since the class met physically, it was possible to take attendance. All students in the section missed at least one class meeting; some missed quite a few more, as indicated below (with the figure being classes missed, students missing that many classes, and percentage of students falling into that category):

ENGL 112 Students by Absence

Comments about the session will follow in Impressions and Implications, below.

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Impressions and Implications

I confess to feeling some dismay at the lower performance of the November 2018 session against the September 2018. While ENGL 135 had more A-earning students than its earlier counterpart, it also had more students fail–and ENGL 112 had no students earn overall As, though it also had students failing. In each case, the lower grade was due to non-submission; many students got many zeros for work because they simply did not submit it. I have to wonder what else I could have done to chivvy them along.

Matters were complicated by a data loss I experienced late in the session. I typically keep my teaching notes and materials in a USB drive; the one I had been using ceased functioning. In retrospect, I had some indication that such would be the case, and I did not act upon it; I suffered as a result. Student grades were not affected; those I had recorded in the school’s system remained in place, as did my comments about them, and materials I had uploaded to this site also remained in place. Still, having to reconstruct information at the speed I did did not make things easier for me. How it affected my students is not as clear.

I feel, however, that my earlier-noted resumption of example-writing was helpful for my students. At the very least, I know that people were looking at the examples I posted; I have access to readership statistics, so that, while numbers were not as good as they were in August, they were still generally up. Enough students’ work mirrored the examples that I am confident some of the lessons made it through, which is good. Unfortunately, I am not teaching either ENGL 135 or ENGL 112 in the coming couple of sessions, so the examples will be let alone for a bit–though I mean to continue the practice with the next class I teach.

Moving forward, I also mean to follow another practice that I had in place for ENGL 135 but not ENGL 112. In my record-keeping, I more narrowly divided storage and commentary for the former than the latter; it ended up making grading easier and commentary clearer, despite having more assignments and more students in Advanced Composition than Composition. Though it requires more initial work from me, it makes for less work while I am amid work; I think I’ll continue to do it.

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