Course Portfolio Update

In the next few posts, I’ll relate some of the final outcomes my students noted about my first efforts at teaching the 145 English course. At the end of the semester, my students filled out a completely voluntary post-course assessment of my teaching and their overall course experiences. Based on their feed back I kept some of my teaching materials the same, but I changed how I approached assessment and assignment guidelines. I adopted a contract-based assessment method wherein students have more control over (and assume greater responsibility for) what they do for projects. I also implemented project prompts that are more in line with the Writing Program’s Cultural Historical Activity Theory and Genre Studies models.

At first, instituting these changes was more than a little nerve-wracking because the model was so foreign to the students. Not one of my students had experience with contract-assessment or a “flipped” classroom. A flipped classroom is one in which the bulk of the course materials need to be read or completed outside of the course. This means that the course instructional time is devoted to activities that help the students develop deeper knowledge by doing in-class activities with their peers and me.  In essence, I have shifted my pedagogy to a more student-centered approach. I felt as though I was already doing that sort of work, but now there is no doubt in my mind that I have “de-centered” the classroom to be fully student-centered. While I am very pleased with the students uptake of this model, I wonder how well I am meeting the key learning objectives of the course. For the most part, I think students are learning more and are more deeply engaged with key course materials; however, measuring this type of student learning and engagement is difficult at best, particularly in quantifiable terms.