Reflective Comments for the March 2018 Session at DeVry University in San Antonio

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the January 2018 session at DeVry University in San Antonio, comments below offer impressions of class performance among students enrolled in SPCH 275 and ENGL 135 during the March 2018 session at that institution. After a brief outline of each course and statistics about it, impressions and implications for further teaching are discussed.

SPCH 275: Public Speaking

Students enrolled in SPCH 275 during the March 2018 session were asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Many, including the weightiest, related to the overall course project; others were presentations meant to offer practice in speech-giving and homework reflecting upon performance in the presentations. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values are

20180300 SPCH 275 Grade Breakdown

  • Online Discussions
    • Two threads in each of Weeks 1-7, 15 points each
  • Homework Assignments
    • Week 1, 20 points
    • Week 2, 20 points
    • Week 3, 20 points
    • Week 4, 25 points
    • Week 5, 50 points
    • Week 6, 25 points
    • Week 7, 30 points
  • Weekly Presentations
    • Week 1, 25 points
    • Week 2, 35 points
    • Week 3, 50 points
    • Week 4, 100 points
    • Week 5, 50 points
    • Week 6, 100 points
  • Course Project
    • Weekly Work, Weeks 2-7, 15 points each
    • Final Presentation, 150 points

Unlike before, most assignments were assessed holistically, with assessment being conducted more gently in light of less formality.

The section met on Wednesdays from 1800-2150 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 5
  • Average class score: 698.91/1000 (D)
    • Standard deviation: 174.36
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 0
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 1

Attendance was recorded with each class meeting. Despite that, 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 during the March 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 are

20180300 ENGL 135 Grade 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
      • Second Draft- 80 points
      • Final Draft- 120 points
      • Reflective Postscript- 50 points
    • Participation- 45 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 Saturdays from 0900-1250 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus of DeVry University. Its overall data includes

  • End-of-term enrollment: 13
  • Average class score: 597.97/1000 (F)
    • Standard deviation: 269.96/1000
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 2
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 5

Despite shifts in assessment that meant attendance was able to influence grading, 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 (one submitted none of the major assignments and only a handful of the minor ones)–and suffering grade penalties as a result.

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Impressions and Implications

There is always something to say about the teaching that goes on during a session. Some of it is held over from earlier work; I continue to go off on tangents, for one thing, although they seem to have been better integrated into the lectures and discussions this session than in many previous ones. And absenteeism continues to be a problem, as does non-submission; I do what I can to prompt showing up and turning work in, but I teach adults, and my hold over them is sharply limited.

Assigned topics–in this case, curricular reform–did not go over as well this time as in the past. The speech class accepted the topic, but not as much was done with it as might be hoped. I want to put that down to it being the first time I’ve taught the class at the present institution; being less familiar with it meant that I did not know what problems were likely to occur, so I could not correct for them. But I do not think I can ascribe all of the difficulty to that.

The composition class largely avoided the topic, many students noting to me that they did not feel competent to treat it. Given the non-traditional student body with which I work, I can understand the concern, although I argued to them that they, having lived outside academe and in the “real” world (problematic as that term is), are well-positioned to see what does and does not correspond to the demands imposed outside the ivory tower. Still, given that few if any attempted it, I feel I must adjust my approach.

That said, I will make at least one more attempt to use the specific topic; the ENGL 216: Technical Writing class I am assigned for the May 2018 term will be treating it, with my thinking being that the more advanced students will have more agency with the topic–and restricting them from the pallid institution-suggested topics will produce better, more engaged work. Further, if I am given another section of ENGL 135, it will return to a fall-back for me: humor. I can hope that future students will enjoy their work more, and that I will have an easier time reading, as a result. And, if I am given another section of the speech class, I will convert the weekly course project work to participation scores much as I have done with an assignment in ENGL 135.

All of this, of course, assumes that I will continue to have the opportunity to teach. I am aware of my contingent status and therefore appreciate that each offer of a course is a gift whose endurance I cannot take for granted. As such, I remain grateful for the opportunity to put to use those skills that years of study have developed in me and for the chance to help others cultivate their skills and themselves.

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Class Report: ENGL 135, 21 April 2018

For the final meeting of the session, class was given largely to completion of the reflective postscript. Student questions were entertained and comments made about work as appropriate.

Students are reminded that the final component of the Course Project is due before the end of day Saturday, 21 April 2018.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; one attended, assessed informally. Class participation was as could be expected for the circumstances. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 18 April 2018

For the final meeting of the session, class was given largely to refinement of the final component of the course project. Student questions were entertained and comments made about work as appropriate.

Students are reminded that the final component of the Course Project is due before the end of day Saturday, 21 April 2018.

The class met at 1800 in Room 107 of the San Antonio campus, the better to use needed technology. The course roster listed five students enrolled, unchanged from last week; four attended, assessed informally. Class participation was as expected for the events of the day. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 14 April 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to concerns of revision, discussing correctness, clarity, concision, and euphony. Examples were examined, and student questions addressed.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 16 April 2018
  • Course Project: Final Draft, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 16 April 2018
  • Course Project, Reflective Postscript, due online as a Word document before 1159 on 21 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; five attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 11 April 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of occasional speeches. Examples of speeches were considered, along with concerns of audience and content. Discussion ranged far afield.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 16 April 2018
  • Week 7 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 16 April 2018
  • Week 8 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 21 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed five students enrolled, a decline of one from last week; three attended, assessed informally. Class participation was somewhat less robust than in previous weeks. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 7 April 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to concerns of rebuttal and refutation. Incorporation of graphics into text was also discussed. Students were given an example of argumentative writing to review and treat in class. Also, attention was given to upcoming assignments, noted below:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 9 April 2018
  • Course Project: Second Draft, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 2 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; three attended, assessed informally. Class participation was good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 4 April 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of sourcing and research. Examples of speeches were considered, along with concerns of audience and content. Discussion ranged far afield.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 9 April 2018
  • Week 6 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 9 April 2018
  • Week 6 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 9 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, unchanged from last week; one attended, assessed informally. Class participation was excellent. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 31 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to concerns of drafting and revision, offering a model of writing processes. As usual, a professional example was examined, and attention was given to upcoming assignments, noted below:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018
  • Course Project: First Draft, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 2 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; seven attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 28 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of prosody. Examples of speeches were considered, along with concerns of audience and content. Live speech practice finally took place again, as well.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018
  • Week 5 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 2 April 2018
  • Week 5 Course Project Discussion, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018 (remember that the class has but one group)
  • Week 5 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, unchanged from last week; four attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 24 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to annotated bibliography, generally and in regards to current coursework. Examples from professional contexts (one previously sent to students by email) were examined, offering models of composition for student consideration.

Students were also reminded about upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018
  • Course Project: Annotated Bibliography, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 26 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; three attended, assessed informally. Class participation was good. No students attended Monday office hours.