As an example of one of my points in my last post — making the connection between assignments and course learning objectives explicit to students — I have created an ungraded, anonymous survey for the first day of class. One of the survey items is “I want to learn how to . . . ” Students can choose from the following responses:
(1) decode scholarly literature about comparative politics through frequent practice.
(2) improve my argumentative writing skills through frequent practice.
(3) improve my reading comprehension skills through frequent practice.
(4) None of the above.
Once students complete the survey, I will explain to them how the question corresponds to course assignments. On Mondays, students will submit journal article analyses (options 1 and 3). Wednesdays will be dedicated to reading responses (options 2 and 3). This will be the weekly routine across most of the semester. If anyone in the class chooses option 4, I will encourage those people to drop the course.
I will post details about my Monday and Wednesday assignments in the coming weeks.