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Behind the Textbook: The Challenge of Early Semester Testing

posted: 11.2.11 by Barclay Barrios

Just over a dozen of us are testing out new readings this semester. Given the production schedule for the second edition of Emerging, we’re all incorporating the new material into the early assignments of the semester. But as I grade these early papers, I am struck by the particular disadvantage of this schedule. In our course, we ask students to do at the start of the semester what we don’t expect them to know how to do until the end of the semester: that is, we ask them to write academic papers with clear arguments and sufficient support from textual engagement from the very start, even though those are the skills they will learn throughout the semester.

What this means for class-testing readings is that we can’t be entirely sure how well the readings will work because students are still learning how to work with them. It’s a challenge, for sure. Yet I do know one thing: a reading that’s a stinker will reveal itself quickly. And those are the ones we need to toss as soon as possible.

Results will be in next week I hope. I’ll keep people posted on how this testing phase is proceeding.

Categories: Emerging
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