Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Quiz Reading

I teach a lot of first year writing classes, and in that role, I tend to respond to a lot of student writing. Often, my responses ask the student to give more detail, give an example, explain something further, define a term, and so forth. In short, I ask students to expand on their ideas and give more information.

At some point, if I'm lucky, students begin to internalize these responses. I call this process getting in touch with their inner English professor. It's a joke, sort of, but we all have editing voices in our heads when we write (well, or something), and if I can help them think about their internal editor and incorporate the better aspects of English professorhood (without the pedantry some of us have, or the alcoholism, depression, pettiness, all that), then they'll give more detail, better support, examples, and all that other good stuff we look for in academic writing in the first draft. (Yeah, imagine me doing a Yoda impression, except about the inner English professor. /nod You have the idea.)

I read the final quizzes for my entry English major class. The quiz question asked them to identify one or two of the university goals, and write a paragraph or so about what they did in terms of our class to build the skill(s), and what they did in another aspect of their life to build the skill(s). It's a sort of easy self-reflexive idea for a quiz, to get them to think about what they've learned and start putting things together.

With one or two exceptions, the students just went to town, not in a flattering "Bardiac's class was the best ever" sort of way, but in a "hey, I developed this skill in this class, especially by doing this ... and reading that ...." And so forth. They all gave examples and developed a point from the examples. I feel like waving the quizzes around when they go to take the final and talking about what they did.

Their inner English professors are strong, these young ones!

1 comment:

  1. Self-reflexivity is the bomb...especially at the end of the term when one despairs that students have taken anything away from the class. I did a similar exercise before our Decameron picnic and asked the students to talk about what they learned in the class. It's a great way to get the students reflecting on what they received from the class rather than bitching about what they didn't.