Thoughts on Teaching – 05/16/2012 – Wrapping up the semester
I know I’m a bit late here, as I finished up the semester almost a week ago now, but things have not slowed down since. Now that we have time to work on our new house, we’ve been doing that every day. As well, my wife graduated with her BA over last weekend, so we had celebrations for her graduation. Also, Diablo III came out yesterday, and that is eating up my free time as well. So, summary of all of that is, it’s been busy.
However, I did want to wrap up the semester here. It was a pretty good semester overall. I tried out some new material, writing a new lecture and piloting some new assignments in my classes. Both my new in-class activities and the chapter quiz activities that I was using were quite successful and will be part of my core redesign next semester in my classes. The base class went well also, with few major problems. There were a few instances of cheating to deal with, and I didn’t devote as much time to the class in the second half of the semester because of our house hunting. Overall, it was at least a typical semester. I crunched some of the numbers from the semester, and it was about as bad as normal in the raw numbers. That’s the way with community colleges, we have a high non-success (a D, F, or withdrawal) rate. My overall non-success rate for the semester was 44%. So, 44% of the students who started the semester finished with a grade of D, F, or W. As I said, it is sad, but that is typical. We have a large portion of the population who is on the edge of whether they should be in college or not. For a lot of them, they are trying their best, but they really can’t deal with the level of work required for a college education. For others, they don’t really want to be there. They are in college because it seems like the right thing to do, or they have been pressured in by their family, or they just don’t have anything else to do. A lot of those don’t make it very far. Another group fall victim to the too-many-obligations curse. They are a full-time student, work full time, have family to take care of, and so forth. School starts out as a priority but fades over the semester. Even worse are those who are teetering on the edge of being able to do school and then have something bad happen – with a job, family, health, or something else. All of those things contribute to the high non-success rate. In fact, in my class, if you show up and do all the work, you are probably going to get a C or better, so almost all of those who are not successful are that way because of the reasons above. It makes it hard to fix from my end, because there is little that I can do in my class to make it better for those students.
Anyway, as I said, I just wanted to wrap up the semester here. I’ll have more substantial posts later, but this will tide everyone over, I hope.