We have this rule that faculty are supposed to notify first year students this week about where they stand grade-wise for their courses. So, a while back now, I learned to do mail merge from an excel grade sheet to a word document, and now I do that for each of my courses, and give all of my students that information.
I handed those notes out today. And in my senior seminar, where basically I gave them the math because things are a bit confusing, I also asked them if they found such notifications helpful or no.
Some of them said they pretty much knew where they were anyway, but it didn't hurt.
Some of them said the information is really helpful, especially in courses where they haven't received any graded work back.
And that stunned me. Shocked me! How could you not have given students any graded work back by the 9th week of a 15 week semester?
And some said they'd never been given this sort of information ever before.
Am I the only one following the stupid rules? (Because they should have received the information as first year students, anyway.)
Seriously, though. Who isn't giving students graded stuff back? Why? I mean, if our goal is for students to learn stuff, shouldn't we give them help knowing if they're demonstrating that learning well enough? That's what a grade is. It says, here's how well you've demonstrated your learning.
And the feedback. Yes, it's painfully difficult sometimes to give students feedback that's constructive and useful. But how the heck do we expect them to learn to do better if we don't?
(My students did say that it's not usually English profs who don't give feedback on essays and such, but folks in other departments. And they said they may not get essays and such back, but usually get exam information back for those courses at least. But still!!!!)
In my first year writing course, I gave students the information, and almost all of them said they'd hadn't received this sort of info before (last term, for example) and hadn't received any of it from this term.
I hate that I'm apparently a rule-follower and more. But damn, students do need to get work returned that's graded and has at least some feedback!
Do you folks have these sorts of rules? Do people follow them?
(The advising office would prefer that we click radio-buttons on their grade form, but I think it's more likely to be helpful to students to see how I determine the grade, and the number at this point is likely to under-report their likely grade at this point because I give them leeway on which of 10 journal type assignments they want to turn in out of 15+ options. Some of them have turned in all ten at this point, but someone who's turned in 6 looks like they're doing miserably when they aren't necessarily, but I don't want to spend 10 minutes on each student doing the math to figure out how they're doing on what they've turned in and whether they can turn in all ten still or if they've missed too many already.)
Have I mentioned lately how good my violin teacher is? Speaking of feedback, she's encouraging, but also looks at what I'm doing and helps me correct potential problems. Last week, my thumb was being a problem. Now I'm trying to be more aware of it, but, let's just say that it's hard to keep track of what my thumb is doing and what my bow is doing and what my fingers are doing and all at the same time! I have a lesson tomorrow. Wish me a bent and relaxed thumb!