As a college instructor, learn what you should do on the first day of class with tips from the book Tools for Teaching and advice from Paul A. Hummel, Ed.D.
What College Students Don’t Like
In February, I posted an article entitled Is It Wrong to Grade on Class Participation? In that article I pointed out the importance of clarifying class participation expectations and giving students feedback. Something a student said to me recently prompted me to write this follow-up article.
Think about the best college instructor you ever had. What was special about him or her? How do you match up to that standard? More importantly, how do your students and your college administrators judge your quality?
I would complete the review of my syllabus, start to move on, and then interject, “I almost forgot something. Did I mention that I won’t be teaching you anything this semester?”
Maybe so, because we know they will always be prepared.
( Note: If you use equipment of any kind when you teach, pay close attention to Item 6. )
The Boy Scout motto, everyone knows it. “Be Prepared.” There is no better advice of a college instructor. I want to couple this with the old Head & Shoulders tag line from half a century ago. “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”
No, not unless you do it like a former adjunct of mine.
He was a motivated and passionate instructor who had retired from a successful career in industry and was now teaching college science courses on a part-time basis. What he did, or actually what he didn’t do, led to hours of my time to sort through and rule on a formal grade appeal lodged by one of his students. This occurred because the instructor counted class participation for 15 percent of the final grade, but he neither defined what constituted class participation nor gave students feedback on their participation.
Just Give Them What They Deserve. Right?
Few things seem to trouble new adjuncts more than developing their grading policy. As dean I am sometimes asked things like how many tests to give and whether extra credit is appropriate. If your college is like mine, you have a lot of latitude. However, this can turn into a lot of rope for you to put around your own neck. Grades, you see, are the number one thing students complain about. (No, I don’t have data to support that claim, but it certainly seems that way to me.) In future postings I will provide some guidelines that I think work well. I may lead off with a horror story about the former adjunct who awarded 15 percent of the students grade based and class participation and … Wait, can’t ruin that story. 🙂