Grade break down: A, 1; A-, 1; B+, 5; B, 14, B-, 20; C+, 27; C, 21: D, 9; Fail, 72, which includes 54 who did nothing.
The big difference with previous years (2012, 2011, 2010) is the lack of A’s. Before, with the same grading rubric and algorithms, we have had 15-17. This year, just two. What is going on? Why are so few students trying hard this year? It’s really hard to hard to fathom. What can I do better? I refuse to lower the bar.
The secret to staying sane as a university teacher is to focus on the students who ask for help — and the great stuff that is happening. I gave extra credit for an inspirational post on the 4 billion mile photo, not least because it fired me up to talk about it in class. Also excellent was an investigation of whether there is a Zone athletes can get into (1 and 2). There was a fabulous analysis of whether homesickness affects GPAs (which elicited some powerful comments), and a two part critical analysis of whether US murder rates are rising (1, 2). There was good stuff on personal lifestyle choices (e.g. how modern technology is interfering with sleep, whether getting up early improves your GPA), and one brave student wrestled with the question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. One of the students broke new ground and did an interesting analysis of our blog, wondering why some posts attract more comments than others. She was the first in the four years of this course to ask that question; even better, she gathered some data to address it. Her ideas plus the hypotheses suggested by students who commented all remain testable: what explains this distribution? Lots of potential for more posts on that topic.
Finally, and most uplifting as a teacher, I thought Homophobes, Country Music Suicides, and Gay Parents were excellent examples of SC200 thinking applied to a politically incendiary topics important to society. I gave them extra credit. Empowering students to think like that is one of the main reasons I teach this course.