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

Continuing a practice iterated at the end of the Spring 2016 instructional term in Stillwater, Oklahoma, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in ENGL 135: Advanced Composition, Section 60174, at DeVry University in San Antonio, Texas, during the July 2016 instructional session there. Overall impressions and implications for instruction are also discussed.

Unlike previous terms, however, demographic data were not tracked and best versions of course documents are not compiled. The relatively small class, combined with newness at the institution and some policies, made inquiring thereabouts inadvisable, and institutional policies insist on particular treatment of enough course documentation to prevent a complete record from being compiled.

Class Performance

Assessment in the eight-week session moved at a rapid pace. It centered around the completion of a single research project, the traditional-to-second-semester-composition conference-length paper, having students through a series of unevenly-weighted assignments leading to the generation of such a paper:

  • Topic Selection, 50 points
  • Source Summary, 35 points
  • Research Proposal, 50 points
  • Annotated Bibliography, 100 points
  • First Draft of the conference paper, 75 points
  • Second Draft of the conference paper, 80 points
  • Final Draft of the conference paper, 125 points
  • Reflective Postscript, 50 points

Other assignments, including information literacy and APA assessment modules (35 points each), as well as weeks of online discussions (40 points for each of six weeks, 60 points for the seventh), supplemented work on the conference-length paper, offering student practice in finding and parsing information and in writing to a broad audience.

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 Thursdays from 1800-2150 in Room 111 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 9
  • Average class score: 471
    • Standard deviation: 298.789
  • Students earning a grade of A (900 points or more): 1
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600 points): 6
  • Total student absences: 25
  • Average student absences: 2.778
    • Standard deviation: 2.299

End-of-term enrollment represents a substantial decline from a peak of 16 students enrolled at the first class meeting. Absence rates were substantial; all but one student incurred at least one absence from among the eight class meetings, and one failed to attend any of them. Most classes saw three or four absences. Additionally, a great many students failed to submit one or more assignments; only two students show up as having completed all expected work.

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Impressions and Implications

It had been some time since I had taught at a for-profit institution, and so I had forgotten some of the challenges that seem to associate themselves with such schools. In particular, I had grown unaccustomed to the high absence and low assignment submission rates that were on display during my class in the July 2016 session at DeVry, and while they did have the effect of making grading easier, the disjunction between expectation and realization was somewhat disconcerting. Moving forward, though, it should be less of a problem.

In teaching this time around, I did work to address some of the concerns voiced by students in an earlier survey, the report of which is here. Namely, I have tried to adjust my manner to be less condescending and derisive. I do not have data to attest to the effectiveness of my efforts, although I have made sure to offer valedictory messages in written commentaries returned to students and to be explicit about identifying areas of strength or potential strength. My tendency towards tangents also received some moderation, although I continue to be aware that I am prone to them.

I think I had some success in my classroom work, though. Teaching non-traditional students again illuminated for me some of the reasons I had had difficulties previously, and the simple fact of having the work to do served to remind me to be grateful–and to work in a way that indicates the gratitude. The latter is likely to be particularly helpful as I move into the September 2016 session at DeVry and more fully into the Fall 2016 instructional term at Schreiner University–as well as into possible future work.

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Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–25 August 2016

The final meeting of the course addressed the Course Project Reflective Postscript, completing the remaining portion of the course grade The whole session was taken up thereby, treating it as equivalent to a final exam.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed nine students enrolled, a decline of one since the previous class meeting. Of them, four attended, verified informally. Student participation was reasonably good. No students attended office hours.

Reflective comments will be offered when they become available.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–18 August 2016

After addressing questions from and concerns about the previous class meeting, discussion turned to general concerns of the overall course project. Those students who had drafts to review were afforded workshopping time, and the workshops were discussed.

Students are reminded that end of course evaluations remain open. Completing them will help.

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Course Project Final Draft (to the appropriate dropbox before 0059 on Monday, 22 August 2016)
  • Week 7 Discussions (completed before 0059 on Monday, 22 August 2016)

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed ten students enrolled, a decline of one since the last class meeting. Of them, six attended, verified informally. Student participation was reasonably good. No students attended office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–11 August 2016

After addressing questions from and concerns about the previous class meeting, discussion exhorted better submission rates for remaining assignments. Concerns of graphics and layout were addressed, as was progress on student papers. It also laid out some ideas for peer review of papers (students had been asked to bring working copies of papers with them). A workshopping session ensued, after which came a breakdown discussion.

Students are particularly encouraged to fill out the instructor surveys. Comments about instruction are welcome, as is suggested here, here, and here, among others. They open 12 August 2016 and close 27 August 2016. Associate National Dean of Academic Quality Tracey E. Colyer notes in an email that students may access the surveys via the following (blog formatting imposes some changes to numbering):

  1. Go to your Student Portal (http://my.devry.edu or http://my.keller.edu) depending on your enrollment.  If you have trouble logging in, click on the Need Help? link.
  2. Enter your DSI# and your student portal password.
  3. Expand the menu on the left-hand side of the window, select Resources.  Then, select End-of-Term Survey.
  4. A pop-up window will appear listing available surveys; there will be a survey for each course in which you are enrolled.  If the window does not appear, please disable your pop-up blocker.
  5. Click any of the Evaluate links to begin.
    1. For the End of Course Evaluations, the name of your instructor and course title will appear at the top of the pop-up window.
      1. It is very important that you complete an evaluation for all courses listed. Please respond to all items before you click the final Submit button.
      2. Your name is not shared with your professor(s); Evaluation results are reported in aggregate several weeks after End of Course Evaluation closes.
    2. The survey system only tracks whether you have completed all evaluations. You will receive an email reminder within 4 days.

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Course Project Second Draft (to the dropbox before 0059 on 15 August 2016)
  • Week 6 Discussions (completed before 0059 on 15 August 2016)

Samples of Course Project First, Second, and Final Drafts remain available in the course shell. Other samples of argumentative writing, albeit written for a different style manual, can still be found at the following:

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus; peer review was conducted across the hall, in Rm. 110. The class roster listed 11 students enrolled, a decline of one since the last class meeting. Of them, four attended, verified by a brief written exercise. Student participation was quite good. No students attended office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–4 August 2016

After addressing questions from and concerns about the previous class meeting, discussion treated student questions about the readings and upcoming assignments, as well as offering instructor comments about them. The exhortation to complete and submit work was reiterated; many students have not turned in assignments, making offering any useful scoring or assessment difficult. Concerns of citation were addressed. Some concerns of usage, particularly commas with addenda, were addressed, as well.

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Course Project First Draft, 8 August 2016 at 0059
  • Week 5 Discussions, 8 August 2016 at 0059
  • In-class version of Course Project Second Draft, 11 August 2016 at 1800

The in-class version of the Course Project Second Draft needs to be printed out and brought to class in hard copy at the assigned time. Class time next week will be spent in peer review.

Samples of Course Project First, Second, and Final Drafts are available in the course shell. Other samples of argumentative writing, albeit written for a different style manual, can be found at the following:

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed 12 students enrolled, a decline of one since the last class meeting. Of them, seven attended, verified by a brief written exercise. Student participation was reasonably good. No students attended office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–28 July 2016

After addressing questions from and concerns about the previous class meeting, discussion treated student questions about readings and upcoming assignments. Instructor remarks about them were offered, as well, including an exhortation to get the work done that is assigned. Some comma usage, concerns of grammatical number, and concerns of gendered usage were addressed, too.

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Annotated Bibliography, 1 August 2016 at 0059
  • Week 4 Discussions, 1 August 2016 at 0059

Note that assessment of the assignments may be slowed this week, as the instructor is moving.

Note that a template and sample of the Annotated Bibliography are available in the course shell. An example of an annotated bibliography similar to that requested of students can be found here. An older, similar example can be found here. An example of a more expansive annotated bibliography, one meant to stand as an independent project, can be found here.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed 13 students enrolled, unchanged since the last class meeting. Of them, seven attended, verified by a brief written exercise. Student participation was better than in previous weeks. No students attended office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–21 July 2016

After addressing questions from and concerns of the previous class meeting, discussion treated student questions and comments about the week’s readings and assignments. Instructor remarks about them followed, as did review of stylistic and mechanical concerns noted as presenting problems to students, including commas with introductory prepositional phrases and signal phrases for quotations.

Due to ongoing technical concerns, an unofficial copy of the course syllabus, taken from the official, has been posted to the course shell and is here: ENGL 135 Syllabus (Unofficial Copy for Workaround).

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Research Proposal (due to the appropriate dropbox at or before 0059 CDT on 25 July 2016)
  • APA Assessment Module (due to the appropriate dropbox at or before 0059 CDT on 25 July 2016)
  • Graded Discussions for Week 3 (to be completed at or before before 0059 CDT on 25 July 2016)

Please note that a template, sample, and rubric for the Research Proposal are available in the course shell. A similar assignment, albeit one for a different institution, is discussed here, with a sample here; review of the materials might provide a usefully divergent perspective on the kind of writing to be done.

A rubric for the APA Assessment Module may be found in the Doc Sharing folder in the course shell, as well as here: ENGL 135 APA Assessment Rubric. Please note, too, that the specific nature of the Assessment Module will preclude an example of it from being developed.

The class, which was observed by other faculty, met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed 13 students enrolled, a decline of two since the last class meeting. Of them, eight attended, verified by a brief written exercise. Student participation was reasonably good. No students attended office hours.

An Update for DeVry

In class last night, a quirk in my assessment practices was identified. As such, I have revised my ENGL 135 Discussion assignment sheet; the new version is here: ENGL 135 Discussion Assignment Sheet Revision. It will be fully in force beginning with Week 3.

As a bridge-over, those students who had posted under the earlier stated deadline on Week 2 will receive full credit. Those who posted under the more common deadline on Week 2 will receive partial credit. It is my hope that the solution will read as equitable and allow for a better understanding moving forward.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–14 July 2016

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting and announcing ongoing activities, discussion reviewed materials from the end-of-class activity and treated student questions about the readings and written assignments for the week. Instructor remarks about them followed, as did notes about researching and related activities. Emphasized was the idea of research as the generation of new knowledge, rather than the recapitulation of old; research must begin with what is known, but it must move forward past it for any advancement to occur.

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Information Literacy Module (due to the appropriate dropbox at or before 0059 CDT on 18 July 2016)
  • Source Summary (due to the appropriate dropbox at or before 0059 CDT on 18 July 2016)
  • Graded Discussions for Week 2 (to be completed at or before before 0059 CDT on 18 July 2016)

A rubric for the Information Literacy Module appears here: ENGL 135 Information Literacy Rubric. The Information Literacy Module is described in the course syllabus, the article it references is that treated in the Source Summary assignment. Note that, due to the restrictive nature of the assignment, no sample will be provided.

Note that a sample of the Source Summary assignment is already provided in the course materials.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed 15 students enrolled, a decline of one since the last class meeting. Of them, seven received credit for having attended, verified by both a sign-in sheet and a brief written exercise; an eight was present for part of the class but left before signing in or sending an email. Student participation was adequate and somewhat improved over the previous week. No students attended office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135.60174, Advanced Composition–7 July 2016

Class discussion reiterated the instructor’s introduction and welcomed students to the course. Requested statements of University policies regarding late work and missed discussions were read aloud. Pre-existing questions about the readings not answered in online discussions were entertained, as were similar questions about assignments. Some additional remarks about both were offered. Basic concerns of argumentative writing and rhetoric received attention, as well, ensuring that students were given the opportunity to work from a common base of knowledge for the course. Some comments were made about email formatting, too, as were notes about technological difficulties.

Students are reminded of the following assignments’ due dates:

  • Topic Selection (due to the appropriate dropbox at or before 0059 CDT on 11 July 2016)
  • Graded Discussions for Week 1 (to be completed at or before before 0059 CDT on 11 July 2016)
  • Introduction Discussion (to be completed at or before 0059 CDT on 11 July 2016)

More advice about due dates is available here: >>click this link<<.

Please be sure to review discussion policies for the course, available here: ENGL 135 Discussion Assignment Sheet.

Additionally, Dr. Sarvis is offering an APA workshop at the San Antonio campus from 1000 to 1200 on 9 July 2016. Registration information is posted to the course discussions.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Rm. 111 of the DeVry San Antonio campus. The class roster listed 16 students enrolled. Of them, eight attended, verified by both a sign-in sheet and a brief writing assignment. Student participation was adequate, although it is hoped that more students will speak up at greater length in coming weeks. No students attended office hours.