Media law student evals

Proving once again that my finger is pretty far from the pulse of student attitudes toward a class, the teaching evaluations (quantitative and qualitative) were much worse than I expected them to be. That isn’t to say that they are horrible–they are just slightly higher than average for the department–but I had thought the class went fairly well last semester.

What I know is that I spent too much time on it. Clearly that time didn’t pan out. And so, I will focus on research for a while. I will also go back and teach com theory rather than the law class. It’s easier, and the students have low expectations of it that are easy to exceed. But I think we’ve seen the last of the media law class for a while. Why should I spend so much extra time on preparing classes and exercises when students prefer three multiple-choice exams? Grumble.

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  1. Posted 7/9/2003 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    I think this comes back to the problem that there are simply too many students who go to college simply to get a degree and not to expand their mind, grow and truly learn for life and for pleasure. I first too grumbled at the thought of short answer exams but then in the end did surprisingly well and realized that they were a good way to get to know the material more.

    That apathy on the part of some of my fellow com students is something that’s often bothered me as I study communication because I am truly interested in it. In some ways I wish undergraduate study would be more like graduate study or the British view of what an undergraduate curriculum should be like in that students are in the major / department because they’re truly interested and not because some social norm says that degree bearing candidates for employment are worth more than others.

  2. Posted 7/9/2003 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m very surprised to hear this. I thought that everyone pretty much enjoyed the class.

    The comments that surprised me the most were the ones which claimed that you imposed your politics on the class. I guess some of the conservatives in the class didn’t like to hear truths that conflicted with their world view.

  3. Posted 7/9/2003 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments, guys. In retrospect, it was very difficult to keep my politics out of the content. There were a couple of reasons for this. The first was the material itself. I got tripped up with the FoIA, for example. It’s difficult to be apolitical when talking about the First or Fourth Amendments.

    The second was the environment. There has been a palpable swing to the right, I guess, though I don’t put much stock in the right-left divide. Many of my own ideals end up pretty scattered on that spectrum. On the other hand, the questions of “if” and “why” should not be removed from the classroom. As a faculty, we are pretty distributed along that continuum, but my right-leaning colleagues would never suggest that, for example, we should leave things in the hands of the authorities because they know better.

    I try to be forthright about my politics because I trust that students can then evaluate the source of the information and ideas I am giving them and then think about how this fits with their worldview. I generally think that pretending not to have an opinion is acting in bad faith. Unfortunately, for many students, my politics meant that these ideas were dismissible. Since my ultimate aim is to give them tools to think with, I think that was a failure.

    Anyway, I’ll still be experimenting a bit in the fall, but from there out, I may be keeping my head down and teaching the book, at least at the undergrad level. Then again, I’m not teaching an undergrad class in the Spring, so maybe a 9 month break will give me some perspective.

  4. Posted 7/9/2003 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
    You were mentioned on KairosNews!

  5. Posted 7/9/2003 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    Yep, and on Kottke’s remaindered links and Jill Walker’s sites as well. They are all spiking traffic to the site, pointing to a post from the end of last year. Of course, all they need to do is check out the comments from the media law class to find out that the “online participation crap has got to go.” Ah, well.

  6. Jenn
    Posted 7/10/2003 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    UGH! The TA’s played favorites? I don’t think so! Some of those other comments were ridiculous. “There were too many people talking during class”- what does this have to do with you? I also think the comments on how you didn’t give enough opporunities to earn points is bull sh*t. Whatever, that pissed me off. But I think overall, it was nice to see that a lot of students would recommend you and even if they didn’t like the class material, they liked you and your teaching style. You win some, you lose some! :-)

  7. Posted 7/10/2003 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Judging from those comments I almost have to ask myself if I was in the same class as some of those people. Then again I do agree with the comments on the “me too” problem.

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