Today is the last day of class at USF, so I passed around a course evaluation of my own design. This semester my class has focused on "digital citizenship": students maintained a blog all semester long dedicated to a topic/hobby of their choice. They then wrote a 8-10 page research paper responding to one argument from Andrew Keen's polemic Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture. All in all, I'd say it was a good course--I'll let you know what they think once I get all the info.
Here's the questions I asked them to respond to:
Exit Questions for Expository Writing: Digital Citizenship
- Did you find They Say, I Say a useful text? Did you think I did enough to present the text in class? I plan on using this text again, so please let me know what more I could do with it.
- I am definitely replacing the Lanham Style book. It didn't accomplish what I thought it could, and I apologize for making you purchase it. That said—should I replace it with a book on writing (specifically, a book that gives organizational strategies) or another book on “digital culture” that argues against Keen/series of articles responding to Keen (such as the Shirky, Weinberger, etc.). I am leading toward the first book.
- Did I manage to present three ideas this semester that helped you with your writing? What were those ideas?
- Was there a particular lecture/presentation on writing that you found useful? Remind me about it.
- What would you have liked me to address that I didn’t? What did you expect from the course on the first day that we didn’t do? What else would you have liked me to do? What do writing classes need to do?
- This semester I asked you to read almost all of Andrew Keen’s book in order to find an argument to engage. Would you have preferred to read a series of articles?
- Now that you are not a part of my course, and thus I cannot implement any draconian procedures, what is one “evil” thing I could force upon next semester’s students to improve writing instruction?
- How many hour a week did you spend on this class? Generally, did this class take more time than your other classes? Less?
- If a friend asked “is Santos’ course hard?” how would you respond? If they queried “should I take it?”
- Instead of using Google, should I have used Facebook? Would that have been too weird?
A quick note on question 9: my drop rate at USF is extraordinarily high. It is not an attendance problem--it is a retention problem. This semester I taught 2 25 person sections--both classes now have enrollments below 12. Students explained to me that my course isn't hard (in the sense of grading) but is hard (in the sense that it requires a lot of thought). It doesn't require a lot of thought because of the difficulty of material I assign; rather, it calls upon them to invent, every week, their own assignments. They are required to post 1000 words a week on their topic, but outside of a few occasions, I did not give them any guidelines for what their posts needed to do each week. At least, that's what a few students candidly told me a few weeks ago--so I'm hoping question 9 will help me to understand what I need to do to increase retention. But I will not spoon feed.