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Summer Course

June 29, 2010

I’m teaching a summer course that is not going great. I’m tempted to freak out, since there’s a “D” average right now in the course. Am I grading too hard? Are my expectations too high? I generally take poor performance as a reflection on myself.

However, I taught the exact same course in the spring, and then I had a “B” average at this point in the term. I’m teaching it exactly the same way, so I know it is not me, but them. I can tell they’re not putting in the work.

Nevertheless, I’m still freaking out, and I still tend to wonder: Am I grading too hard? Are my expectations too high?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Deane permalink
    June 30, 2010 12:52 am

    I once worried about my assignment marking, which consistently displayed an inverse bell-curve for the class, weighted 2/3rds to the bottom end. It all seemed very wrong. But after rereading through the assignments, I felt confident that I just needed to ditch my expectations.

    I mean, sometimes expectations simply aren’t realistic.

  2. June 30, 2010 4:07 am

    It’s summer, man. Whaddaya expect? No one really wants to be there. When I did summer classes it was because I was too slackass lazy during regular semesters and paid the price. I was just pushing for a bare pass – what I came to call, when I started teaching in Australia, a “fuck off fifty”.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    June 30, 2010 9:00 am

    Yeah VM, I’ve been thinking that summer students are a self-selecting group with a set of motivations that render them different from the student body as a whole.

  4. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    June 30, 2010 9:01 am

    Deane, do you mean you had to ditch your expectations in that you had to lower your expectations and grade more easily, or do you mean you had to ditch your expectations in that you were growing to expect a lower average?

  5. June 30, 2010 12:20 pm

    This puts you in a tough spot; I had a similar situation, and at the end of the semester, I simply raised everyone’s grade an entire point. I felt awful doing it (because the students were not putting in the time or effort), but there was no way I could give 3 Fs, 12 Ds, 3 Cs, 2 Bs, and 1 A. The admin people would have blacklisted me. Grade inflation and reasonable expectations are not a good mix.

  6. Deane permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:33 pm

    I didn’t lower my expectations and change the marks. I just realized that my expectations didn’t accord with reality. There were a a few fails and a whole lot of bare passes, nothing in the middle, and about a third of the class were quite good students.

  7. July 1, 2010 6:23 am

    Play your students this song, Ms Marx

    Then threaten to kick their lillywhite asses out of class so they can go get a tan/cancer.

  8. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    July 1, 2010 9:30 am

    Buffalo Tom; nice. I love “I’m Allowed.”

  9. fuzzytheory permalink
    July 1, 2010 6:19 pm

    Yeah, I would agree that expectations are a big factor, especially if one is a decent teacher. You have some good classes that went well, and then BAM you get a group of lemons. Sometimes its your fault, sometimes its not–and it is so difficult to know because the situation of teaching is difficult to analyze from the teacher’s perspective. I think the best thing to do is just keep trying your best, don’t beat yourself up too bad (because its counter-productive), where you know you can improve, do it, and in that vast area where you are not sure… well… just keep doing those things that you enjoy and that you think work well. Otherwise, we can drive ourselves crazy with the whole “meeting their needs” thing. Every class is different, so we’ll just keep chasing a figment that is “the student body”. Anyway, that’s where I am at now… and it seems to be working ok. YMMV.

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