Inaction dominates the results.
Of 353 students, fully 86 did nothing at all. A further 84 did so little, they failed. On top of that, there were 85 D’s. Oh my.
More positively, lets focus on the students who engaged. We awarded 2 A-s, 2 B+, 12 B-, 25 C+, 45 C‘s. And among the students who did enough to pass, the average grade was 71% (C). On the face of it, not too terrific either, but I feel ok about it at this stage. If students could take on a new learning exercise and do well from the get-go, what would be the point of the exercise? We want to teach critical thinking and expression of that critical thinking, and that takes some practicing.
Significant improvement will happen. Each student gets personalized feedback, and I will go over some generic things in class next Tuesday. But for now, one of the graders listed the most common faults as:
- Bad sources lacking scientific research
- Summarizing a single article by a journalist
- Unfocused posts that read like a stream of consciousness and don’t have a main idea or organization
- Statements like “I read about x and you can too, (link)” without any discussion.
Students who think hard about the feedback, take a good hard look at the rubric, study examples of good practice (rather than examples of average or less than average work which by definition dominates the blog), think about the advice of the TAs (Brian, Abby from 2015), chose topics with some teeth and put some effort in…well, the improvements can be spectacular.
A couple of students did do very well from the off, and I look forward to seeing what they do when they really pull it out of the bag. I especially liked An Apple a Day. Pets to the Rescue and Is Your 8am Harmful? were also pretty good. I might teach a session on Will Joining Greek Life Increase My Drinking? — that seems like a question to catch this audiences’ eye, and an analysis ripe with confounding variables. And I continue to be pleased by the thought some people put into evaluating the safety of what they do to themselves in the name of fashion.
Of course, for procrastinators (roughly half the class), doing even enough to pass would be a hugely significant improvement…