student expectations

Maureen Korp (mkorp@AIX1.UOTTAWA.CA)
Sat, 26 Oct 1996 13:56:49 -0400

On Sat, 26 Oct 1996, Dan Hickerson wrote:

> Next time you teach an intro to anthropology class, on the first day of class
> (before you have begun to lecture) have your students write down what they
> think anthropology is. The range of answers that I have gotten is both
> amazing and disturbing. Many of them have absolutely no clue what they are
> going to be studying.

That's o.k. In fact, that's actually good because then I get to teach
them something, and I like that.

What I do in the first class that is really helpful to me and gives me
snapshot view of the class as a whole is pass out little 3x5 index cards.
On the front of the card, I ask studnts to write their names, a phone
number by which I can reach them (and an e-mail address if available). I
also ask them what background (courses, travels, etc.) they are bringing
to this class that they think will be useful....and, here's the good part:

I also ask them to write some topic, some Q. they have that they would be
ever so pleased, ever so happy if I would mention once--even if it's only
a glancing blow--at some time during the term. After all, I remind them,
you've paid good money for this course. If you're here because you want
to know about Islam, and I know already I'm not going to get anywhere near
that in this class, I will contact you right away so you can quickly find
another course to take. And I do.

I also tell them that I will try to work my lectures around their notions
if I can. And not to be surprised if their Q. doesn't become an exam Q.,
too. That sometimes happens. Some of my best exam Qs have come from
scanning student cards. Some of my best lecture topics, too. (I will
ever bless the student who asked once: "when does religion become art
and art become religion?"

I use those cards for attendance and for recording grades, too. Helps me
get some sense of who some students are, at least (ever a problem as
classes get larger and larger). At least once, that little card helped
settle a cheating instance, too, as it provided a handwriting sample.
Sure useful in staring down the student.

I love the introductory student! Little does she know what she's getting
into, and what a super opportunity that is. One chair says she can always
spot who has been in my classes because they have fallen in love with the
field. (I teach courses in religious studies, art history, mythology.)

all best,
Maureen Korp, Ph.D.
University of Ottawa