Friday, December 2, 2016

Williamson-like critique

The first governance decision that played a major role in this class was not mandating attendance. Looking at this through my eyes it was nice not having to go to every class session, even though I went to almost all of them. Some mornings I was just not feeling up to par and it was not in my best interest to go to class, and being allowed to miss class without it affecting my grade was a nice luxury to have. I tended to enjoy class and did not mind going whatsoever so I did not take advantage of this luxury, however many people did.

Looking at this through the whole classes perspective, it was clear that people took advantage of this convenience and never showed up to class. Knowing that sleeping in and ditching class would have no affect on their grade, they just chose never to show up. Obviously, this hindered their learning and almost guarantees that they did not get nearly as much out of the class as the students who showed up often.

I can think of two solutions to this problem, the first would be to mandate attendance while allowing a certain amount of absences. This would deter the shirkers from joining the class, knowing that they would have to show up for class often, but it would also allow for the good students to miss class a few days that they just did not feel up to par. The other solution would be to restructure the course in a way that made the material taught in class necessary to succeeding, not just necessary for learning. This semester, you definitely learned in class but you could still do the blog posts and excel homework without showing up to class. As I said above, you did not need to go to class to complete the material that needed to be completed to get a good grade, and the shirkers took note of this early on and immediately started to take advantage of the situation.

Now I want to talk about the decision that was made to allow electronic devices in the classroom. In my perspective, I think that this was a bad decision. I am the type of person that is easily distracted, I can only focus on things for a matter of time before I get sucked into another thing, and this cycle continually repeats itself. With that being said, having my computer glaring at me during class was a major distraction to me. I know that I had the choice to take it out or not, but I am easily tempted by things, and since everyone else had a computer out I would usually take mine out as well.

Looking at this in the entire classes perspective, it was clear that they all wanted to have electronic devices allowed in class. This was not for the right reasons though, I constantly sat in the back of the classroom so I was forced to see what people had on the screens of their computers. I can tell you that nearly all of the people who were on their computers were not using it as a resource for helping them take notes or understand the lectures. Most people were messing around or doing homework for other classes and it most certainly limited their learning, just as it limited mine.

Looking at this further, I emailed you early on in the semester telling you that we should not have computers allowed, I knew that it would be a distraction more than a benefit. With that being said, if you leave this decision in the hands of the students the result will never change. Students are always going to vote for having technology in front of them, especially as technology continues to grow at a quicker pace in the coming years. Knowing that technology is a major deterrent to learning and that it is a problem that will perpetually be getting worse, it has to be your responsibility to mandate no technology in the classroom to ensure that your students are getting the most out of their experience and time with you.


  1. You are the first one who talked about the alternative of sleeping in. Do you think attendance would have been higher had we started class at 2PM?

    I thought your comments about different types of coercion to increase attendance interesting. Would it surprise you to learn that as recently as 2014 attendance was quite good in the class with essentially the same approach as the one we took this semester?

    There is an expression called "enlightened self-interest" which I think relevant here. Students the way you view them do things that may be "myopically optimal" meaning they give some immediate reward but may be detrimental over the long term. An enlightened student wouldn't do that. So the question is why students are so myopic and, quite apart from the electronic devices issue, whether anything can be done about it.

    1. If class had started later attendance would most certainly be higher, I believe many students chose to sleep rather then go to class. It is really shocking that this is the first year that attendance shocked, I wonder why this year people chose to not come? Maybe this year is just an outlier and next year attendance will revert back to the norm.

      I think it comes from students being lazy, bored, or having another obligation in class. The lazy students don't want to think about the information, therefore, they do everything they can to distract themselves. The bored students dont find the information interesting so they do something else that amuses them. The students with a different obligation that must be completed will get a higher reward for acting myopic and completing that assignment for a different class. However, all of these students will be hurting there learning for the class they are in at the time of disinterest.

  2. I feel that banning technology from the class would not be a good choice because although some people might get distracted by it and not utilize it accordingly, it is certainly beneficial for a lot of other people. Technology is a growing market and cannot be ignored indefinitely by professors because as technology advances so does the potential for the amount of information a professor could convert to the students during class if the professor adapts to it accordingly. For example, I took a class in econ last semester and the professor urged us to bring our laptops to class because he would post all of the class notes online during class and instead of writing the notes down during class and having the professor wait for everybody to finish writing we could just focus on the material taught. If we needed to add additional notes we used Onenote which is like microsoft word except easier when taking notes. Also we used a software which went along with the book we had and it would make it very easy to analyze graphs and different equations.