March 26, 2010

I Have a Live One Here!

Posted in student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , at 10:15 pm by profart

One thing I have learned as a professor of intro-level classes, break the paper assignments up into little chunks. First, have them give you a thesis statement and partial bibliography. Check on the progress two weeks later (outlines? drafts? something). Then have the paper due. If I had more patience and was teaching English instead of Art, I would break down even more. I have too many students without a single clue how to put together a writing project. With the huge push for standardized testing, I am getting more and more students who can’t think up a project for themselves, and much less research one. I still remember my own first research paper. I twas on Emily Dickinson. I was in the tenth grade.

I digress. My point is… my classes turned in their topics this week, and I have a live one! I have a student who knows what a bibliography is, how to write a thesis, and on top of that, wow! Its a real thesis, not just a book report. Even cooler, I have a friend who wrote a dissertation on the awesome topic, and I just sent off email of said friend to said student, so said student could actually speak with a real, live scholar about it.

Remember, I teach at a community college. How awesome is this?

March 23, 2010

I can count

Posted in student mistakes, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , at 12:13 pm by profart

In my online classes, I require students to post twice on each discussion forum. This is a requirement born of experience, as students who come, post, and disappear fail to read the actual discussion or do any actual learning. Not meeting this minimum requirement results in a failing grade for the forum, because, well, they didn’t do the minimum required for a passing grade. Oh, and the posts have to be of passing quality.

Whenever I post the grades for the forums, I often get a light shower of “Why did I get an F? I posted twice!” And I carefully go back and check, and find the student had one post. Very often, it is not even an adequate-level post. I then write back to say minimum requirements were not met.

And occasionally, I still get a student or two who complain that they should have gotten credit for that one post (after first claiming there had been two). I have to then write a note stating that they did get credit; if they had not, the grade would have been a zero.

Perhaps I ought to test my students for basic arithmetic before allowing them into the class.

March 20, 2010

Why I Don’t Hand Out Study Guides

Posted in Helpful Hints, teaching revelations tagged , , , , , , at 2:39 am by profart

The great debate rages on: to give study guides, or to not give study guides. That, my friends, is the question.

Dear students, I don’t do study guides for one simple reason: you should be creating them yourself.

That’s right. A key skill in college classes is understanding what concepts, terms, objects, items, etc. are important, and be taking notes about them, both in lecture and while reading. If you didn’t pick up this skill in high school, I’ll give you some hints:

Lectures and reading usually have some thread of connection. If you hear of something in both places, write it down.

If the professor writes about it on the board, write it down.

Listen to the inflection. Is the professor stressing words, concepts, terms with their voice? Write it down.

Is it bolded or italicized in the text? Why?

Does it appear on quizzes, reviews, or other assignments? Probably important.

Just give it some thought: its all important, or we wouldn’t be wasting time presenting it to you. Your job is to understand the material enough to pick out what is absolutely vital, and be prepared to discuss it intelligently.

After all, real-life is often closed-book analysis, not open-book regurgitation. When your boss is droning on about a project, what information do you actually need? How do you know?

I have discovered the hard way that if I hand out a study guide, the students memorize that, and nothing else. If anything strays from that “guide”, the whining is incredible. You get positively trashed on your evals. Nowadays, the dean will get an earful, too. Grumpy deans are no fun.

Next time, don’t ask about study guides. Bring your notes to the review or the office hour, and ask questions about material you don’t understand or connections you didn’t quite see for yourself, even after they were explained. Make your own study guide.

March 19, 2010

Discussion Posting WIN.

Posted in student stories, teaching revelations at 12:19 am by profart

This is from one of my students, discussing the role of monasteries in the Byzantine era:

Life and religion had to have been confusing back in the Byzantine day. I don’t imagine it could have been easy. They didn’t have google.

Ignore the English for a sec, this student is ESL. Check out the thought. Check out the connections. And check out the chuckling sense of humor. There’s real potential here.

Another student goes on from this to connect the fact that without google, you go to a library to get information, and the Byzantine libraries are in monasteries. Major WIN.

I am so proud of my students. Had to share.

March 11, 2010

Holy. Moly.

Posted in student mistakes tagged , , , , , at 2:59 am by profart

This was a midterm essay turned in to me by a native English speaker with a high school education. Can you find the error-free sentence?

The Ancient Near East we have a Stele of Naram – Sin, Sippar, Iraq, 2220 – 2184 BCE. Naram – Sin had a stele made that showed him win the over the people of the Zagros Mountains. He is showed with the people below him. He is telling everyone that is has the power and that he is the power.

With the Stele of Hammurabi, Babylon, Modern Iraq, 1780 BCE, he had all the duties, punishments, and his people right engraved on his stele. He had different punishment for the different classes. Had got his power by tell the people the rights and the duties. He also deals with the politics with having more than one class. The some rules and duties were not the same has a poor man and a rich man.

The Ancient Aegean we have the Citadel at Mycenae, Greece, 1600 – 1200 BCE. We can see the power and the politics in the way the city so made. The king residence built on the heights point and with the high class around him. He had a wall built around the city to protect and show the power that He had.

The Parthenon was Athens power and showed it to the world around it. The Parthenon, Athens, 447 – 432 BCE. It was the place that had the wealth and the power around it. I think with its size helped it was the power.

It does not better what time it is but we can look around and see the art work that is telling us about power, politics, wealth, and the ones in the power. That artwork will never stop.

Edit: Did I forget to mention this is from the untimed, take-home, open-book exam they had two weeks to complete?

March 9, 2010

Clue to the Clueless #27

Posted in clues to the clueless, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , at 3:52 am by profart

Hint: When your midterm is an untimed, take-home, open-book, open-notes examination, there is absolutely, positively and without a doubt NO excuse to flunk it.


I have no idea what else to say about that. Seriously.

March 7, 2010

Clues to the Clueless #26

Posted in clues to the clueless tagged , at 1:51 pm by profart

When completing work online, it is best not to be running extraneous programs on your computer. Technology is a funny thing, and programs tend to crash when you least expect. Or when you least want them to. Don’t be caught like this student:

Prof Art:
I don’t know what to do, i was taking the online test yesterday on a friends laptop when it crashed. They were downloading music while i was accessing the test when the computer shut down. I was at about 14-15 questions into the 20 question test, i was also saving after i answered them. We tryed turning the computer back on and it would light up to say corruption data loss. I had my essay saved on their computer and everything. Its a lesson well learned but i would like a chance to finish the exam if you could allow it or if not all just the majority percent of the test, the first part. Thank you for understanding, and whichever way you feel about this i’ll understand too.

Fortunately for this student, I do understand. And I also know they do not have their own computer, and are not used to online work and such. But seriously folks, learn the lesson before it happens to you: dedicated computer in stable environment. When taking your exam, go to the computer lab or library.