16.11.18

READING WEEK?

I'm familiar with the concept of a Reading Day, which at Northern Illinois is the final Friday of the spring semester (it can't happen in the fall semester because of the days lost at Thanksgiving) and it's usually a day when the stress level is rising, although if the cosmos flips suddenly from winter to summer it's a good day to kick back.

On occasion, you'll get the renegade faculty member holding some sort of class activity on reading day.  Headquarters used to issue stern memoranda advising against holding an examination that day.

Sometimes, as at Birmingham University (the one served by the Great Western) the students register their discontent with the renegades.
"I was frankly shocked at this total lack of interest, from roughly 400 students in second year, in a lecture explaining marking criteria and our marking processes. I can only assume that these are not areas of concern after all".

The lecture on “Demystifying Marking Criteria and Assessment" had been scheduled to take place during reading week, when many students choose to go home.

Following the incident, the English department will now be "using registers in all classes" and two or more absences will lead to a meeting with the welfare team.

"Many studies of student learning suggest that those students who regularly attend sessions achieve better grades those that do not," the lecturer's email said.

"Attendance, an ability to manage deadlines alongside your normal lecture/seminar schedule, contributions in seminars and other examples of professional behaviour, moreover are all key things that we are asked to comment on in reference statements.
"Welfare team" is Britaversity for Retention Counselor.

Three observations.  First, it's Reading Week.  Students ought to be reading, and if hopping the Great Western home for a more comfortable study place works, they're responsible adults with agency.  Second, a full class session to clarify the standards?  Per corollary to "syllabus week" being a signal of unwieldy course outlines, a full session is a signal of excessively complex criteria.  Third, departmentwide attendance requirements?  Probably intractable, and bogus to boot.  If people are skipping class, perhaps there are tweaks to the presentation to fix that.

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