Today I had my first Script Analysis class of the semester. My class last year was 43 students large, about twice the size I'd prefer, and this year's class has 52 enrolled. I did my best to make the class sound as grim and frightening as possible in hopes of scaring out the dead weight. Doesn't look like many if any budged.
The funny thing about being such a downer in my first class was that I had just finished reading my "Student Perception of Instruction" forms from last semester before class began, and I was elated with the overall picture. I just loved the feedback my students gave me. Unfortunately, only 39 of 43 students participated.
In all categories the majority of students rated me or the class as either excellent or very good. In overall assessment of professor, 53.85% rated me as excellent, 33.33% as very good, 10.26% good, and 2.56% (one student) poor.
My only real disappointment is that 5.13% of students (2 of them) rated my respect and concern for students as poor. This was particularly surprising to me as I took the time to meet with each of my students for coffee to discuss their feelings about the class. I never would have guessed that two students felt I had a lack of respect or concern for them.
Here are some of the student comments from the Free Response Section. I'll try to exhibit a good cross section. It's interesting how some student opinions directly contradict each other, particularly on the question of workload. Almost everyone hated the readings I assigned from an author named Sternberg and thought we spent too much time discussing Empire Strikes Back.
A. The thing(s) I like the MOST about this course:
"Nothing. I HATED it."
"The energy that the professor brought out of the class. I really learned a lot."
"He makes it exciting, especially for a Thursday night 6-8:50 time slot."
"THE ENTHUSIASM OF ANDREW."
"I liked the assignments in the class because I learned a lot from them. I like that he brought in actors he's worked with and when he let us critique the movies and change them to how we'd do them."
"The material was very clear, and fairly easy to understand. The Instructor was easy to get along with and made students feel welcome and comfortable."
"Many scripts, variety."
"Choice of screenplays was great. They were interesting and thought provoking. Class discussion was very lively and stimulating." (several students wrote this, more or less)
"Instructor was very organized + enthusiastic. The chosen scripts to read were interesting + different than each other. The amount of work was doable and testing, which is good."
"The work was simple and there wasn't too much."
"I learned a lot more than I thought I would from this class. I liked how he showed us his project/work; got us really involved. I got a lot out of this class!"
"It was nice to have so many different ways to get grades."
"The respect for students, the interest in our learning."
"Funny, quick, good screenplays, fun discussions."
"The material studied, the overall organization of the course + material. Interesting + original approach to the study of the screenplay."
B. The thing(s) I like LEAST about this course:
"He was WAY to anal. Assignment were given a word limit not always enough to communicate what he wanted." (sic)
"THE WORK LOAD."
"The amount of reading. Sometimes I needed more time to allow the material to sink in."
"I didn't like some of things we were required to read. I also thought that there was a lot of work to do in too little time." (sic)
"The readings were draining, long, and boring. The writings were tedious."
"A bit critical for the level but still fair relatively."
"Too much work! A 500 word essay & 100+ pages a week to read with 4 other class hw to do is a bit much."
"too much boring readings"
"A lot of disrespectful students. Instructor should enforce consequences for such disrespect because it frequently took me away from the subject at hand."
"Analyzing text because I am not good at it. But the course is called Script Analysis."
"Pitches and quizzes. Too much Sternberg!"
"While 100 point scale makes sense, something about earning 3 points for homework, mentally, seems like not a lot."
"TOO MANY SCRIPTS! NO MORE STERNBERG!"
"Spending inconsistent amount of time on screenplays -- namely Star Wars."
"Class time could be better used in later classes. Pitches made no sense in a script analysis class."
"Star Wars for a month."
"Immature behavior of students in class. Class seemed a little unprofessional."
"It felt like I was back in high school."
"A tad too strict."
"Reading Sternberg. And the length of the class."
"A lot of homework, but the reading assignments seemed like 'busy work.'"
"Class discussion got off topic at times, but overall it wasn't too distracting."
C. What is your reaction to the method of evaluating your mastery of the course:
"I thought the methods were great except for the final project. I think it would've been better to go over it in class throughout the semester."
"The testing was great. I like we had weekly quizzes instead of finals and midterms." (several students said this)
"I was surprised how much work the instructor was willing to go through in our interest."
"It was all fair."
"It was nice to have the projected grade on MyUCF."
"It was nice to get notes on the paper. I liked that you were quick to respond to emails. I liked meeting outside of class to see how students were doing."
"reasonable grading, regular feedback, it was easy to track the grade and make improvements"
"Love the grading method, very useful and helpful."
"I messed up quizzes when I did all the reading and aced ones I didn't read. Make quizzes better."
"Solid, too many assignments?"
"Good, I felt the equal weight given to each assignment was fair."
"I did not like the 3pt. scale. It made it hard for me to estimate my end grade."
D. Additional comments and suggestions for improvement:
"It has been the best film class that I have taken at UCF."
"More creative work." (several students wrote this)
"Keep on doing what your doing!" (sic)
"New teacher, one can tell, but he's doing alright."
"This was probably my favorite class this semester. I just wish we had more group time! Great organization + extra credit opportunities."
"Sometimes loses control of class."
"Good first class!"
"Future classes should have less students, therefore creating more control for teacher." (amen!)
"You're an awesome teacher."
"Sternberg was horribly difficult to understand, I spent hours re-reading the material."
"Awesome, would love to take another one of his classes."
And one student drew a smiley face.
So in a sense, that is the sum of what I accomplished in my first semester of teaching. Overall, I feel fantastic about the results and good about the direction I'm taking the same class in this semester.