Thursday, September 03, 2015

Those Panicked First Night Emails

I think I got five last night, which isn't bad.

A couple of them wanted to check how to cite something for an assignment due today.  Yes, citation information is in the syllabus, but this is probably their first college assignment, so they want to get it right.  Wanting to get it right is something I appreciate.

A couple were checking the homework, just to make sure they understand what to do.  Again, they want to get it right, and I appreciate that.

One was a late addition.  That's okay, too.

I think there are a couple of big differences between these students and my experience as a student.

1.  We only typed pretty formal stuff because typing sucks way more than word processing does.  So we didn't worry about whether a homework assignment was supposed to be typed because it wasn't, in all likelihood.

2.  Once an instructor left the classroom, I didn't imagine there was a way to contact them.  I mean, I knew about office hours, but only in the most abstract way.  Our students have email, so when they're doing something in the evening, they email.  When I was confused, I wandered around the dorm asking people, or just did whatever.  And sometimes I did whatever very wrong because I didn't know better.

I don't know if students today are less independent than we were, or if they're just used to having email access in ways we couldn't have imagined.  But I'm pretty sure I never had to type a homework assignment.  (And I had very few homework assignments to turn in that weren't math.  I can't remember ever having a homework assignment for a entry level class other than math.)

So, when I have students write journals, am I giving myself more work than an instructor would have 25 years ago?  35 years ago?

It seems to me that a lot of times, my undergrad courses had a midterm, a final, and maybe a paper (graded by grad students in bigger classes).  In science classes, we had lab reports and such, too.

I've read that US students feel better about classes when they have smaller assignments due of different sorts rather than a midterm and final and that's that.

When I went back to school, which was after word processing became pretty common, and was at a community college and then a regional university, the humanities sorts of classes had more short papers than my undergrad (mostly science) classes had.  But the social studies type classes were mostly midterm and final exam based.

And now, on to day 2!

1 comment:

  1. I *had* homework, but it wasn't to turn in. I give my students that kind of homework a lot, which confuses them. They don't seem to understand the point of homework that I'm not going to look at for them, and grade, and give back.

    Well, it's to help you learn how to do the work, I say. So you'll learn how to think and write, I say. Which is the point of this class, I say.

    This -- I mean, that the class has a POINT -- often seems to come as a huge revelation to them.