Reflective Comments for the March 2019 Session at DeVry University

Continuing a practice I most recently iterated at the end of the January 2019 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 SPCH 275: Public Speaking during the March 2019 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 SPCH 275 during the March 2019 session were asked to complete a number of assignments in quick succession. Many were irregular formal presentations; others included homework assignments preparing for and reflecting on the presentations, as well as ongoing online discussion. Those assignments and their prescribed point-values are below, with relative weights shown in the figure below:

SPCH 275 Grade Breakdown

Point values sum to 1,000.

Homework and presentations were assessed by adaptations of University-provided rubrics. Discussions were assessed through an instructor-developed rubric.

The section met concurrently on-site and online in Room 105 at the San Antonio Metro Campus on Thursdays at 6pm, US Central Time, with online office hours generally being held Mondays at 6pm, US Central Time. Its overall data includes:

  • End-of-term enrollment: 27
  • Average class score: 699.9259/1000 (D)
    • Standard deviation: 229.339
  • Students earning a grade of A (900/1000 points or more): 6
  • Students earning a grade of F (below 600/1000 points): 6

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

SPCH 275 Grades Earned

Additionally, since the class met at a prescribed time, it was possible to take attendance. Most 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):

SPCH 275 Students by Number of Absences

I must confess that this was not the best session of teaching I’ve done. Part of the issue is that the University is trying co-sat courses in an effort to fill classes; physical sections are paired with online-only. The idea is that each instructor will be able to help more students and that the students will benefit from exposure to yet more diverse viewpoints. In practice, however, it makes more work for instructors, and for those who will insist on a work-life balance, on keeping a part-time commitment a part-time responsibility, that additional work translates into less effective instruction. Or such was the case with me this time around.

I am pleased to note that more students earned A and B grades in the class than earned D and F grades. And I note, once again, that the chief cause of low grades among my students was simple non-submission of work; I can only award one score to assignments requested and not submitted. Admittedly, as part of a means to protect myself during the session, I operated under a restrictive late-submission policy, and some students ran afoul of that.

I am also pleased to note that things seem to have gone slightly better this time than last time I taught the course. It had been a year since I had a speech class, and I have evidently improved, if only slightly, in my teaching; the average score was slightly better, and I had higher percentages of students earn A grades this time than last. (The percentage of F grades awarded was reasonably similar.) So there is that to consider, as well.

As before, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to teach once again. I have been offered it at least once more (there is some suggestion there are more such opportunities to come), and I remain aware of my contingent position in the classroom. Keeping it, for what it’s worth, has been helpful.

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Class Report: SPCH 275, 25 April 2019

After making some procedural notes, discussion turned to presentations of the assigned impromptu speech for those students present on-site and live online. Some feedback on speeches was provided for those who presented.

Class met as scheduled, beginning at approximately 1800 US Central Time in Room 105 of the San Antonio Metro Campus. The class roster listed 27 students enrolled, unchanged from last week; seven attended on-site or live online.

No students attended the week’s office hour.

Students are reminded that, for those who did not present their impromptu speeches tonight, recorded presentations are due by the end of day Saturday, 27 April 2019, as the session closes at that time. Any petitions for incomplete status must also be submitted by that time, per University guidelines.

Reflective comments on the session will be forthcoming after the session closes and assignments are graded.

Class Report: SPCH 275, 18 April 2019

After making some procedural notes and addressing questions from the previous meeting and before, discussion turned to concerns of visuals and of color schemes. Discussion worked from some basic websites, which were introduced to the class. Time to work on assignments was offered to students, as well.

Class met as scheduled, beginning at approximately 1800 US Central Time in a WebEx session necessitated by travel difficulties. The course roster listed 27 students, four fewer than at the previous regular meeting; seven attended on-site or live online. Student participation was reasonably good, given the circumstances.

No students attended the most recent office hour; the next and final office hour will be Monday, 22 April 2019, at 1800 US Central Time.

Students are reminded about the following upcoming assignments, due through Canvas before the end of day, US Central Time, on 21 April 2019:

  • Discussion Thread: Persuasive Speech Progress Check
  • Persuasive Speech (preferably as a PowerPoint file)
  • Persuasive Speech Documentation, including an outline, references list, visual aids, and self-evaluation (preferably as a Word file)

Class Report: SPCH 275, 11 April 2019

After addressing questions from earlier in the session, discussion turned to concerns of argumentation and returned to concerns of sourcing before speaking to assignments.

Class met as scheduled, beginning at 1800 US Central Time in a co-sat session focused on Room 105 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 31 students, one less than at the previous regular meeting; nine attended on-site or live online. Student participation was reasonably good.

No students attended the most recent office hour; the next office hour will be Monday, 15 April 2019, at 1800 US Central Time.

Students are reminded about the following upcoming assignments, due through Canvas before the end of day, US Central Time, on 14 April 2019:

  • Discussion Thread: Preparing the Persuasive Speech
  • Discussion Thread: Conducting Research
  • Annotated Bibliography (as a Word document)

Class Report: SPCH 275, 28 March 2019

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of visuals (including accessibility) and sourcing (including parsing sources) before turning to upcoming assignments.

Class met as scheduled, beginning at 1800 US Central Time in a co-sat session focused on Room 105 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 32 students, unchanged from last week; ten attended on-site or live online. Student participation was somewhat subdued.

Students will please note that the regular class meeting for next week, 4 April 2019, will not take place normally. There will be an amended activity available.

No students had attended the most recent office hour; the next office hour will be Monday, 1 April 2019, at 1800 US Central Time.

Students are reminded about the following upcoming assignments, due through Canvas before the end of day, US Central Time, on 31 March 2019:

  • Discussion Thread: Brainstorming for Your Informative Speech
  • Discussion Thread: Selecting a Topic
  • Informative Speech Outline (as a Word document)

Class Report: SPCH 275, 14 March 2019

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of the communication environment and various patterns of argumentation. Reminders about upcoming work followed, and time to practice impromptu speeches and to work on assignments was offered.

Class met as scheduled, beginning at 1800 US Central Time in a co-sat session focused on Room 105 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 33 students, a decline of one from last week; nine attended on-site or live online. Student participation was reasonably good.

One student had attended the most recent office hour; the next office hour will be Monday, 18 March 2019, at 1800 US Central Time.

Students are reminded about the following upcoming assignments, due through Canvas before the end of day, US Central Time, on 17 March 2019:

  • Discussion Thread: Preparing for the First Speech
  • Self-Introduction Speech
  • Reflection on the Self-Introduction Speech (as a Word document)
  • Week 2 Pulse Check

Class Report: SPCH 275, 7 March 2019

For the first class meeting of the session, discussion gave a basic introduction to the course before reviewing the course syllabus and relevant policies. Class then turned to an aggregate activity: designing a rubric to apply to speeches. Reminders about upcoming work followed.

Class met as scheduled, beginning at 1800 in a co-sat session focused on Room 105 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 34 students; eight attended on-site or live online. Student participation was reasonably good.

An online office hour was held at 1800 on Monday, 4 March 2019. No students attended. The next is scheduled for 1800 on Monday, 11 March 2019.

Students are reminded about the following upcoming assignments, due through Canvas before the end of day, US Central Time, on 10 March 2019:

  • Discussion Threads: Course Introductions and Preparing for the Session
  • Communication Anxiety Report and Analysis (submit as an APA-formatted Word document)
  • Week 1 Pulse Check

Initial Comments for the March 2019 Session at DeVry University

I have been offered a class for the March 2019 Session, a section of SPCH 275: Public Speaking, and I’ve accepted the assignment. It’s a class I’ve taught before, though it seems to have changed a bit for the upcoming term–in part because of an institutional push towards larger student-counts in each section that has me balancing on-site and online lecture. So it will be something of a challenge to teach it this time around.

I hope it goes better than this.
Image from Giphy.com.

I’ve not looked at the course in detail yet, but I expect that I will not need to develop specific examples of student work for it as I have done in my recent writing classes. For one, students are likely to be more familiar with speeches and oral communication than with formal writing. For another, I tend to lecture, perhaps more than I ought to, and those lectures are themselves iterations of public speaking. The examples are already provided by the nature of the course itself. (I will reserve the right to change that, though, since I might well find more targeted work to be of advantage.)

The on-site portion of the class is set to meet Thursdays at 6pm in the VCC at the San Antonio campus, beginning 3 March 2019 and running through 27 April; office hours will be online on Mondays at 6pm, US Central Time. I do have some travel and other concerns that will need to be accommodated, but I have every expectation that things will work out well as I have another appreciated chance to do what I have been trained to do.