As course evaluations come out, we all start thinking about our good and bad educational experiences. We’ve all had bad teachers – teachers who we don’t get along with, teachers who seem unnecessarily strict. Sometimes we have classes we just don’t like. Some teachers we might not like because they grade really harshly; some teachers we don’t like because they seem to just hand out A’s like they’re nothing.
Another type of teacher that can cause frustration is one that gives the same assignment four different times with only small differences. I’ve seen a professor copy an assignment word for word and then change the topic of the assignment from “history” to “math.”
Being an education major, I’d like to think I recognize the importance of differentiating assignments, both in class and out of class. If this were happening at Goucher, given how much weight some classes have on homework assignments, having four assignments out of fourteen total assignments be the same assignment would means that between 30 and 40 percent of the final grade would be made up of the same assignment. I do understand that assignments stay the same from year to year, and that is fine. I realize you can’t reinvent the wheel every semester. However, when assignments get repetitive within one class, it’s easy to get a little bit bored, which can hinder the learning that happens in the class.
I don’t mean to say that poor teaching is going on at Goucher or anywhere else. I just hope to point out the frustrations that may occur and urge people to consider problems like this one as they fill out their course evaluations. Instead of simply ranting about a teacher you don’t like, take the time to pinpoint what didn’t work about the class – if your professor gave you the same assignment four times, tell them that it didn’t work. If we all commit to giving honest, informative feedback, then hopefully classes will improve in future semesters.