Well the grades are in, and they didn’t look pretty. Although there were some local exceptions, and a few encouraging upturns, for the most part my teaching this semester felt blah to me. I’ve done too many reps of these classes, and the students seemed underprepared and unengaged. One of the first things I noticed while calculating semester-long grades, though, was the relative scarcity of As and even A-s, and the solid, center of gravity in both classes around the C to B range. And this was after loads of people dropped out, due to general f*ckwittage, as Bridget would call it.
My biggest problem, as usual, is how to combine the teaching of writing (which is looking more and more necessary for our majors, even at the advanced levels) with the kinds of research activities and secondary criticism that make for more sophisticated discussion and understanding. I think the information literacy stuff I did (annotated biblios, introductions to databases, teaching them how to discriminate sources, etc.) had a big impact, at least on the best students, but they were all still struggling with the integration of the information into their own essays.
Nonetheless, I had a few pleasant surprises, and that’s what keeps me going. How did others do in their courses this semester?