Monday, May 14, 2007

One Way to Stay Grounded

I enjoy teaching and try my best to make the material interesting and relevant, which is hard to do with literature. For the most part, I like to think I am successful. I get my share of compliments and sometimes I can actually feel my had swell. So I guess its a good thing to get shot down from time to time.

Just the other day, a student came in to hand in her final exam--a take home--and she mentioned that she rated me on This site has no real control of comments, and as a consequence, it has little value to instructors. Indeed, some of my older readers may recall that someone once put up on that site that I would take bribes for a grade. This was--and still is--totally bogus, but as I said there is no control of raters and their comments. But it is, I suppose, a beauty contest of sorts, that can give some students--and their parents--a rough idea as to how an instructor is viewed. So, anyway, I was curious to see what this student wrote, and found her comments rather complimentary, but I also noticed the following comment.

[Onigiriman] is a ****. The online quizzes are stupid; there's a ridiculously short about [sic] of time to do them & they always have trick questions in them. Online quizzes are supposed to be easy because you can use your book! Plus he takes forever to grade papers. I wish someone else was teaching this class, not just him.

Okay, I'm not sure if this was real or not. I mean, I find it odd that someone would complain about these online quizzes--questions strategically posed notwithstanding--because 15 minutes to answer seven to ten questions that are multiple choice, fill-in or true-false should be plenty of time if you've done the reading and come to class. Here's a couple of examples from a quiz based on readings, required viewing and lecture on Akutagawa.



Q: Who is this man from Rashomon?
Question 1 answers

Now the first one was a gimme. Some might construe this question as a trick question, but anyone who read the story would know, and those who didn't might even hazzard an educated guess. The second question would have required you to view this film, maybe just the first 20 minutes of it. But if you did, then the answer would have been a piece of cake. I'd wager that some of you who saw this film years ago can still answer this qustion without a moments hesitation, right? I contend that these questions are easy if you have done the assigned work. Prove me right by giving me answers in the comments.

However, if someone doesn't have class notes or needs to do the assigned reading or viewing WHILE TAKING the quiz, well then, 15 minutes is probably not enough time.

The other point: I must admit that I can sometimes be slow with grading. I give a number of hardcopy quizzes in my language courses and they usually get priority over any other grading I do, so lit essays sometimes take a back seat.

In any event, this student is/was obviously dissatisfied. I'm not sure what was deleted with asterisks, but from the context, I would guess that I am "a jerk"--if the number of asterisks is indicative of the number of letters in the word, I can think of no other.

Oh well, this is just a reminder that I can't allow myself to become complacent. While I obviously can't satisfy every student, it doesn't hurt to try.


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