Yes, it is midterm grading time once again! The one bright spot is that I have gotten much faster at pushing through them. Oh wait, that could be because they left so much blank this time compared to the last two times I taught this class. Dude.
I don't know what to do about these students, except maybe shoot them. Since I have worked out a decent syllabus and lectures, this time around I am working on making the class more interactive for them --- quizzes every week, more discussion questions, more practice writing in the beginning of class where I ask them what is the most important word in this poem/passage. All the stuff I couldn't quite get to when I was reading the material and trying to figure out what was important about it the first time or two around.
And I have been "connecting the dots" for them in excruciatingly painful ways. "Guys, why aren't you doing the reading? This is a literature class. I notice that there are a lot of zeros on this quiz I am handing back; that is a good sign that you are not doing the reading and will fail the midterm. You will need to identify passages we have read and connect them to our lectures, you know, and you won't be able to catch up on an entire class worth of reading the night before!"
And you know what? They totally bombed the midterm. Like I have said before, I don't give any credit for blank answers, and there just isn't any point to curving or grading these up. This is all on them. I went back to my files and they even did worse this time than the last two times. For example, here is last fall:
6 B range
7 F (three of those being in the 10 % range)
Compare to this time around:
8 B range
12 Fs (2 of those are in the 20% out of 100 range)
Yeah I have no sympathy; clearly students can do fine on my midterms. I asked the students what was important in class so far and they generated a big list of terms and names of movements on the board and I took straight from that for the definitions section; if you get 3 out of 40 points on that section I can tell you didn't even copy down the list of terms from the midterm review.
What are these people thinking? Do they hate literature so much in general (or this class topic specifically) that they are dead set (perhaps unconsciously) against passing the class? Are they so invested in magical thinking they think that they can pass this class without doing any of the reading? Do they secretly want to fail? They have to take a literature course from this list of requirements to graduate from college, but they don't have to take this course. And yet (something I did not know last fall), students failing my course have tried to pass it 2 or 3 times in a row now. Any time you teach one of these required surveys you have a fair percentage of repeaters. Why do they come back to the same course they didn't bother to do the reading on last time and expect it to be better this time around? Arggh!
We have been doing group work/discussions where I have them pull passages as evidence for or against an interpretation of the text and then come back and discuss it. I think I am up to about 7 or 8 different people actually talking in class and saying good things. Maybe 3 or 4 of them are actually fun and saying interesting things that count as literary analysis. I would looove it if all my Fs would drop and just let me teach students who talk and seem semi-willing to be there and work with me, instead of folding their arms huffily and glaring at me from under a baseball cap. The class would be just so much more pleasant in its vibe and more like teaching if I only had to work with the students who were attempting to learn in good faith.
Sigh. But I know that none of the Fs will drop; most of them won't even miss a day since there is an attendance requirement in our department, and I bet I will get nasty horrible emails once again as soon as I hand back the midterms and have to have another series of meetings with my chair and my students about how I "disrespected" them by making them fail an assignment. Jeezus Fucking Kerist on a Cracker.