Thursday, April 19, 2012

Could be good...

I am actually looking forward to grading the final exams in my History of Islamic Civilization class.

The reason?  About a month ago I  told the class that half the final exam would be devoted to an essay on the events of the last year or so.  They would be responsible for researching media sites and blogs (some of which I directed them to) and would write on how events in a selected country reflected themes we had discussed in connection with the modern history of the Middle East.  In this period of dramatic change, the opportunity to really focus on how the past impacted the present was just too good to pass up.

I permitted them to bring a certain amount of their source material -- 10 pages worth -- into the exam room, to be handed in with the exam.  So, as the last few determined souls finished up, I was able to quickly look at the notes used by the people who were done.

It was then it really hit me that for once I might have a really good indication of what my students got out of one of my courses.  They had a lot of time and freedom to plan the essay, and they chose the themes that made the most sense to them.  And as far as I can tell, they rather liked the prospect of the challenge.

This could be good!

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