Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Class Reflection and Critique


In the start of the class while reading through the syllabus, I was surprised to learn that attendance was not required for students. I do believe that this is a both a good and bad thing. Students who come to the university are not forced to come here. They are adults and if they think coming to class has value they should come. Others may decide not to come, and they should know the costs of not attending class. People learn in different methods, while some need a lecture type setting others could learn better simply through reading on their own, etc hence might prefer not to come to class. That being said, I think the whole point of college is to go for class, and learn in that environment in the presence of a teacher, that fosters critical thinking and learning that is beyond what a textbook contains. Certainly there is a social aspect to college of meeting new people and growing as an individual but your primary objective is to learn. For people who do not want to, I dont see why they would waste their money and come to college. Coming to class also fosters a good learning environment and for a class like this that relies heavily on group participation, I think attendance should be made mandatory. In another class that I have that also relies on group discussion more than just the teacher lecturing the students there is attendance points. I think making attendance a small portion of the grade would incentivise students to come to class. Most students know that coming to class is beneficial for them, but sometimes may weigh other things such (work, sleep, chilling, etc) above attending class. Incentivising attendance would make students come to class more often. For a group discussion like this class, if more people are present the discussion would be richer as there would be more people participating and contributing ideas to the class. This would make learning for everyone more meaningful in my opinion. 

Mandatory or incentivised attendance, for example, a 5% attendance and participation weight to the final letter grade should be supplemented with a no technology policy. I think most students, myself included use portable devices in class for non-class specific work. Meaning most often students use their laptops for simple surfing of the web or social media, checking email or doing other work not related to the class. Granted many people use their laptops for taking notes and like to follow the class sides, etc but from my experience, most people can study and learn without needing laptops. Since freshman year, I have seen a marked difference in this rule, as more teachers are reverting back to a technology free classroom. As I have mentioned before, one class I am currently in, BADM 449 does not allow for technology in the classroom and has a negative consequence of using it. The negatives of using technology in class are that students do not concentrate and actively participate in class discussion if they are focused on their laptops. The students should be both physically and mentally present and pay attention to class and I think technology being allowed is more of a distraction than a benefit to learning.

Because of the no attendance and technology policy of this class, my behavior was not too different compared to other classes. I feel I came to class regularly despite the no attendance policy. However, skipping class had no consequence and thus I could miss class without too much worry if something urgent came up or more pressing matters required my attention. I did however notice that attendance was rather poor for this particular class. Since attendance was not mandatory, many people felt by doing the work and studying on their own they would be able to do the course. Since technology was allowed, most people who came to class had their laptops in front of them. Again from experience and observation, most of the students are doing nonclass related work. This hindered the discussion we were having as people would be clueless to the discussion on hand on would not contribute in lieu of continuing to use their laptops. This led to many silences wherein the teacher had to prompt students to answer questions to move the discussion forward. There wasn't an organic flow of discussion happening, I presume this would be different if everyone was focusing and concentrating in the class. 

This semester, having taken courses that have a combination of attendance and technology policies, my advice would be to make this class technology free and make attendance incentivised. As a student, I feel this is the best approach to learning in the long run and makes the class more interesting as well. Yes, initially it will be disliked by students but I think it should implemented. 


  1. On most of what you said I am inclined to agree. On that students are adults - there is evidence to suggest otherwise, some of which you have given in your post. Part of the issue is teaching in a way to encourage them to become adults, though perhaps the process can be sped up very much. In any event, that longer term goal should count in addition to the making the live class session more functional.

    1. The process can't be sped up, is what I meant to say. Sorry for the typo.