Saturday, April 25, 2009

Teaching / dissertation / life balance...

I've been thinking a lot about this lately -- it's a big puzzle.

The one good thing about Hubby being gone so much is that I could work whenever I needed/wanted to. So, I could spend a whole afternoon and evening reading papers and get 70ish of them graded. I could spend the whole afternoon last week giving extensive comments on about 30 (really bad) ethics drafts. I didn't have to worry about Hubby and whether or not I was ignoring him.

I suspect his being in law school next year will create similar circumstances -- but, it's also going to be the case that when he's free-- I'm going to be less likely to want to be working.

This semester I decided I've assigned way too much writing. My Ethics class had 6 3ish page writing assignments and one longer persuasive essay -- that had a few developmental assignments attached to it. That's a total of 10 graded writing assignments, in a class of 50 students.

I think that, from now on, for classes of 50 students I'm going to have no more than 1 or 2 3ish page papers, plus an exam or two. For Ethics and Bioethics, I'm going to keep the persuasive paper at the end, including the developmental assignments and the draft, but maybe only have one or two papers -- and the first one will be pass/fail -- so the students can see if they're writing at what I consider to be college level.

I think what I'm going to add are short (5-10 questions, max) on-line reading quizzes. The quiz will cover the highlights of what I want to discuss in class for the week -- and will close at the start of class time.

I stopped doing quizzes because they were a hassle to write, print, grade and record... but, the on-line system just needs me to write them.... it does the rest. I also didn't like having to take class time to do quizzes because it was wasted time for the majority of students, as they had to wait for their slow classmates to finish. I refused to give make-up quizzes -- so then I had to either drop grades, accept a make-up assignment or listen to a bunch of whining...

My plan is to have the quiz up and available no later than Thursday of the week before the class discussion-- so they have all weekend and until their first class meeting of the week to take the quiz. I'll probably allow them to take it twice, with the higher score counting -- because stuff happens -- but, it should only happen once. I'm not dropping low scores or anything -- they're small points anyway, so dropping one out of 15 isn't all that helpful.

We have good computer labs at school -- so folks without computers / internet at home will need to plan to come to campus to take the quiz. They manage to write papers now using a computer, they can manage to go on-line to take the quiz.

So -- with weekly quizzes, 1-2 short papers, 1-2 exams and maybe a longer paper -- -I'll still be busy prepping and grading, but not quite like this semester.

I know quite a few of you do a lot of on-line teaching -- does my quiz policy/plan sound reasonable to you??

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