Friday, December 2, 2016
Class Governance Analysis
Both governances mentioned in the prompt, attendance and use of electronics, I believe are two of which all professors must make decisions on. Throughout my past seven semesters at the University of Illinois, I have experienced classes that varied greatly in class size, attendance policies and electronic usage. I’ve had classes where attendance wasn’t mandatory and worth nothing more than gaining knowledge, where attendance wasn’t required but you received extra credit through iClicker usage and where attendance was absolutely mandatory and regulated by turning in a note card at the end of every class session. Similarly, professors across campus have very different beliefs about technology usage. In some cases, professors allow technology because it is a way to take notes, others allow technology but urge students not to since studies have shown it’s a distraction to students and others, I’ve found typically older professors, have banned technology use all together, forcing students to take notes by hand if they wish to take notes at all. I think there are clearly benefits to each rule put in place and I can see the rationale behind the choices each professor makes.
Towards our class more specifically, the first governance that I will talk about is the choice to not make attendance required. I’ll be candid that when I registered for this class, I had heard through the grapevine that attendance wasn’t required. Being a senior, I was pretty excited to hear this and it was one of the reasons that I ultimately ended up registering for the class. Despite this factor, I was one of the students that attended class regularly, though not perfectly, despite the fact that it wasn’t required and nearly half the class never showed up. Just this past week, there were only seven students in class on Thursday for whatever reason. Although the fact that attendance wasn’t mandatory this semester and the lack of people who showed up might seem discouraging to come to class at all, it actually had the opposite impact on me.
I felt that because I had made the commitment in the beginning of the semester, I created this “reputation” that we talked about in class as a student who showed up to class. I personally knew I realized when certain faces in class were missing of those who regularly showed up, and I’m sure if I was observant of these things, a professor would be to. Ultimately, by not making class attendance mandatory, it inevitably lead to some students never showing up to a class session after the first day, or to show up once every few weeks. I believe that, while all the homework and quizzes were online, that those people didn’t get nearly as much out of the class as those who were present did.
Next, the governance of technology usage in class I think is also an important factor to talk about. Personally, I was in favor of being able to use portable electronic devices, such as my laptop, during class. This is a privilege, yes, but it is one that I have become accustomed to during my time at the University of Illinois. Although I described cases where I’ve encountered professors who banned electronic use, those cases were by far the majority in my experience. By allowing electronic usage, I was one of the students that always had my laptop open. I personal prefer to take notes on my laptop, I find myself to be much faster at typing than I am at writing. Almost inevitably, though, I would find myself surfing the web and finding myself distracted and off task at times because of this privilege. I’m sure many students fell victim to this as well.
One thing that I will say, however, if that I think that by allowing the technology, even though I’m sure everyone knew that it would take away pieces of our attention, kept consistent with other governances of this course. What I mean by that is, overall, this class was portrayed to be one with much lax. As mentioned, class attendance wasn’t required. Additionally, most deadlines weren’t very strict. While blog posts were “due” on Friday evenings, a timeline I tried to stick to every week, they were accepted until Sunday evening and sometimes even later than that. All of this created a rather lax environment, and if students were not allowed to use their electronics during class if they wished to I think would’ve been inconsistent with the lax setting. I think that by allowing the students whom did show up to class this semester the choice to use their electronics was a good move because I think that by being strict with this rule would have the potential to decrease class size, although I’m not quite sure if that would be possible.