So, in one of my classes, I've assigned what I think I will call The Paper Assignment from Hell (TPAH), both for the students and for me. Now, in the context of the course, it makes sense to have the students do TPAH. It's really the only way for them to demonstrate that they get the point of the whole freaking course. That said....
Well, I'm reading the proposals for TPAH now, and in spite of my best efforts to be incredibly clear about the expectation for the assignment, well, let's just say that there are some cognitive roadblocks that I'd not really anticipated. Or, rather, I guess I did anticipate them, which is why I designed the assignment as I did, but the assignment design didn't necessarily knock those roadblocks down for all students. It occurs to me that this is why one might avoid such assignments, however valuable they are and however intrinsic they are to certain courses, because motherfucker is it going to be hard for me to get some of them where they need to go with TPAH in order to do ok. Now, I anticipate that I will be fairly lenient in my grading for this assignment, and I also am thanking my lucky stars that some of them have withdrawn from the course before embarking on this assignment. But even with that... there are certain compromises I just can't make in order for the assignment to have any meaning.
Here's the thing: the ones that aren't getting it.... it's because they really don't get it. Not that they didn't do the work, or that they don't have an intuition about what my expectations are. It's just that they're cognitively not getting what they need to do. It's quite literally just not clicked into place. And they *know* they're not getting it. So I suppose that's something, but in some ways that's even more horrific for me as an instructor because how do I get them there?
I suppose I may just have to accept that I won't be able to do so. Maybe it's not about getting them where I want them to go but rather about getting them as far as they can go. We'll see. But I'm feeling daunted, and that's not at all a good sign. Not at all.
1 year ago