Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Teaching 2015

In continuing my end of year evaluation, I should mention what is going on with HBCU.

This was the first semester that I taught on campus. For the past two years, I have taught online, so I was quite happy to be back in the classroom. Well, if you have been following any of this on the old blog, you would know that this semester was one of the most challenging semesters I've experienced in a very long time. I had 12 cases of students engaging in academic dishonesty, with four committing two acts which resulted in failure of the course. Many of my students were very disrespectful and would rather spend time texting or playing games on their phones than participate in class. Despite my attempts to engage with them, they were not interested in learning, other than the "Just teach to the test" mentality. On the positive side, I did meet a couple of awesome students who really wanted to learn and be engaged. Unfortunately, they were a small number that was often over powered by the masses.

Needless to say, I was a very frustrated, angry professor. I found myself just going through the motions toward the end of the semester.  The cheating and the caviler attitude of those who cheated offended me to the point that I really took it personally. I was also so hell-bent on making my course cheat-proof that I believe I neglected my students who really wanted to learn.  I didn't like this side of me. I've always been great at engaging students and getting them excited about learning. In retrospect, I think the problem may have been bigger than just my class. There is a culture of this kind of thing at HBCU that developed over a long period of time. It will take a long time to change.

Also, I felt that my department was not supportive in my efforts to deal with the situation. Although my chair and I determined that there was a miscommunication about how to handle the situation, as well as my chair stating his support for me, I am not sure how I feel about whether I want to continue to teach there. My chair thinks I do a great job and does not want me to give up on the students. I believe I am getting to that point, if I am not already there. Not a good thing.

One of my courses for the PhD this semester was in program assessment and evaluation. The concepts in the course made me think about the course that I teach. Am I really meeting course outcomes? Are there course outcomes that don't make sense for the goals of the department?Am I making the activities interesting and authentic? To that end, I am spending part of my semester break doing a full assessment and evaluation of the course and drafting a logic model to help me revise the course. I am actually glad that I am back to teaching online for the spring, as I will have more time to through the revisions without having to deal with traveling to campus. Also, my schedule at PhD U will be very hectic this spring, so being at home will help. Also, I have a new group of student with only two repeat offenders, so I think I will be able to get some good results.

As for my feelings about teaching at HBCU in the future, that is something I will have to work though over time. There are pros and cons to my staying. At this point, I am just waiting and seeing what happens with this course revision. It might be a way to make lemonade, from a whole bunch of lemons.

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