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Friday, January 13, 2006

new blog: "Rate your students"

I don't have much - or actually anything - to complain after seeing the student evaluations of my last semester's course, but let me still give a note for a new blog called Rate Your Students:
The Rate Your Students blog offers college professors a chance to rate their students. We love most of our students, but get annoyed at the entitled members of the iPod generation and their casual relationship to a college education.
Ok, let me let off some steam as well.

• Not keeping deadlines for assignments. It's not really my fault that I didn't manage to make a menacing impression enough to have the students hand out their assignments in time; it's the lax atmosphere of Finnish universities. I thought of having a minus-point system for each day late, but then in the end I didn't.

• Too little response and feedback during the course. I had this course blog, and all I got from students attending the class one one single comment. There was also one by Oranckay, in which he suggested I make the course schedule available in a language more widely recognized than Finnish.

• This is not about students, but about having students write assignments during and at the end of the course instead of keeping a one single final exam as I've done earlier. For an hourly paid lecturer (sigan kangsa) the latter is the only reasonable alternative given how much extra toil the former method entails. The meager pay, in which class preparation and grading is not considered, is diluted even more when there's a lot of writing to be read and graded. For the purpose of university education, the former method (assignments, reports) is of course better, but there's a limit how much an hourly paid lecturer should reasonably expect to work for a course. Universities are already... puryô môkko itta, how do you say it, using the work of underpaid non-permanent staff and overworking the permanent staff. (I just refused to give a look at an essay on a Korean subject submitted for the requirements in the program in which I've been teaching; I do classes for which I'm paid, and also welcome students to talk and ask about subjects in which I might be of help, but I won't give help in grading for an institution to which I don't have any formal institutional affiliation besides occasional courses.)

Ok, let me emphasize once more that even though not overactive in class or online or not attentive of assignment deadlines (some were!), the students of my class were a nice bunch, attended classes despite of there not being a final exam based on class contents.
And one thing still: several students wrote in their assesments that the classes I did with MS Powerpoint (two out of 12) were good. Do the modern-day students need typed text and bright pics projected on a canvas for an interesting class? Even though I recognize the advantages of presentation technology, especially after having seen some very fine guest lectures using text, video, and audio, but I haven't (yet) learned to be so fond of Powerpoint, mainly because I still lack the routine needed not to waste too much time in preparing the presentations. Perhaps some day I'll find the way to prepare a class and transfer it to Powerpoint in a reasonable manner timewise, but that's not yet the case.

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