Balancing Reading Workload in Long Undergraduate Class

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Quote from: mountainguy on January 09, 2013,  5:01:58 pm

Welcome to the forums, Templar!!

I don't teach literature, so take my advice for what it's worth. My immediate thought is that however many pages per week you assign, it might be useful to build some sort of mid-week check (like an online quiz or discussion board) as a means of encouraging students to begin reading well in advance of the next class meeting.

Chime.  I did this when I switched from T/Th to a Th only schedule.  I had a reading assignment (usually a short quiz and discussion board post) due on Tues with the remainder of the reading discussed Thurs.

Quote from: templar on January 10, 2013, 11:48:19 am

Thanks for these replies, all -- it sounds like the initial consensus is something like an equivalent amount of reading to a 2x/week class (so ~160 pages a week) with some sort of written work to help students pace that load. I've been doing weekly blog posts in all of my courses for some time now, usually due midnight the night before one of the classes, just to insure thoughtful preparation overall. But if this class meets Wednesdays, when do I logistically assign this work? Make it due Monday so that students don't get crunched? Or do I then need two pieces of writing, one due earlier and one due sooner before class, to make sure that they don't only read one half of what we'll discuss that week?...

When do you plan on reviewing their writing? When does it work for your schedule? Course deadlines are set based on when I expect to have time to complete the grading.

I have an online discussion board technique which might work for you here as well. (NB: I'm the humanities, but not in literature.)

Step one is to break the class up into smaller discussion groups (a group of about four works well).
On the CMS, I designate a forum for each group.
If the class meets on Wednesdays, and I hope for students to have read approximately 160 pages by then, on Sunday night will be due their responses to a discussion prompt that I've written (which usually would concern the first, say, 100 pages).
Then, the students are required to respond to the posts their group members supplied by 5pm on Tuesday (or whatever works well for you). I explain to students that their responses to their group members need to be substantive and should problematize or support the previous posts based on what transpires in the next 60 pages (which they should have been able to finish reading by this second deadline).

There will be a few stragglers, but it gets students to keep talking outside of class, particularly if they can't meet to form an in-person discussion group, and it stages the assignment over the course of the week. It can also teach them to think about narrative development or random other literary ideas I'm too tired to come up with at the moment.


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