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« Fisticuffs enliven dull sport | Main | Meaningfulness »

May 28, 2010


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Doug Clark

I wonder what grade Cathy Davidson gives herself for her performance during the lacrosse-rape fiasco.


Dave Dobson

In my teaching, and in my reading the evaluations of other teachers, I find that students tend to grade themselves quite highly, and they rate courses in which they all receive A's quite highly. Groundbreaking research there.

Grading is one of the least fun and most important things you do as a faculty member. This strikes me as lame.


There's an awful lot of inertia in academia. Don't expect to see this approach widely adopted, or even tested (see DD's comment).

Brandon Burgess

I will say that I find courses that encourage student interaction much more productive. It is conceivable that some students can relate material to their peers better than teachers. I have studied under instructors that promote this idea and it seems effective.

With regard to grading, all I will say is that I have been stunned at the high grades I received on papers that I worked relatively little on and thus expected a lower grade. I don't know if I am naturally a decent writer or if the other ones just sucked that bad. My guess is the latter.

I can't stand multiple choice tests. What are they measuring with that? Less than 1000 words a week = writing intensive? At Duke? Wow.

David Wharton
"I worked like a dog," she said. She added an individual comment on every student essay ...
A single comment per essay in a seminar with 16 students? Wow. That is impressive.
Dave Dobson

I thought that too, but I gave her some benefit of the doubt - there's a chance the "single comment" was a couple of paragraphs, rather than "Nice use of metaphor here." But who knows?

Perhaps she meant like a literal dog.

David Wharton

DD, re: your previous comment, I agree that students tend to rate themselves and each other quite highly, but also erratically. Maybe Davidson's method would work well in an upper-level seminar at Duke, but my experience with peer review in most undergraduate classes has been mixed at best.

 Jon A Firebaugh

There are instructors, and there are students. If the students know more than the instructors, have more experience than the instructors, and have a better take on grading than instructors, why do we need instructors? Basically Cathy Davidson wants to free herself from the hard work of grading, calling it "student engagement". There are better ways to engage your students.....like having a real two way discussion where the students must support their arguments, but aren't belittled if their opinions differ from the instructor. She is just abdicating her responsibility.

Thomas Edison: " Because such thinking is often difficult, there seems to be no limit to which some people will go to avoid the effort and labor that is associated with it...."

What other profession can you shirk your responsibility and not have your boss dress you down for it?

Thanks Doug for reminding us that people like Cathy Davidson are poised to be judge, jury, and executioner before hearing any evidence, based upon their social agenda and world view. Give her an F and suspend her for a semester.

Jim Langer

Since most writing online is "jargon-free" (unless you count text-ese)---it is also seldom strong enough in terms and concepts for arts, humanities or science courses. Guess that leaves Internet courses about Internet communications. Talk about your echo-chamber. Oops, that was jargon, wasn't it?

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