Comments from student evaluations recently came in and I was pleased with the feedback, especially the notes about the writing workshops which were overwhelmingly positive. I was teaching four fairly large sections of the US History survey in the fall and believe that the writing workshops enabled me to connect with the students in a way that would not be possible in a traditional lecture format.
Most students who wrote comments on the evaluation forms appreciated the format of the class which included lecture, film clips, primary documents and three writing workshops facilitated by myself and a team of Teaching Assistants. One student in an early morning class declared, “Considering how early it is, I still enjoy [the class] a lot and look forward to it.” In observing that s/he “enjoyed” the set-up of the class, one student wrote, “I really liked the assistants coming in and helping us write.” Another student reflected that the writing workshops had helped her/him “understand the material a little better.” Interestingly, a student who did not like all aspects of the class, especially the lectures, did nevertheless appreciate the writing workshops because during those sessions “we interacted with the instructor.” Some of the comments really moved me such as the student who wrote that s/he had “never seen a more professional, knowledgeable, organized, clear and dedicated professor.”
All in all, I felt that the writing workshops added depth to my contact with the students last semester and I was glad to see that the workshops had also made an impact on a number of the students. A couple of students noted in their comments that they had registered for the second half of the US history survey with me in the spring. That has been one unforeseen consequence of the writing workshops: I’ve been able to get to know numerous students over the course of an entire year because they chose to take back-to-back classes with me. Connecting with them on an individual basis through the workshops has helped foster an ongoing relationship. It will be a little sad to see this cohort move on when they have finished the survey sequence this spring.