Thursday, March 30, 2006
If you've ever been through these, you wouldn't wish them on your worst enemy (if you're a nice person, that is ;-)). Sometime in the past, somebody (probably long gone) promised that you would do something within a specific time frame. Now you have to document what you've done.
I've worked at 3 universitites and it appears to be the same everywhere....nobody is even sure of what was promised, let alone what was done to fulfill that promise. In many cases we actually will have implemented a strategy to accomplish the desired goal...now just exactly what was it again?
The part that is raising my ire right now is an upper division writing component. Apparently sometime before I arrived here (7 years ago) it was decided that an upper division class that I currently teach would be designated as an intensive writing class. I wasn't told about it, it doesn't appear in the undergraduate catalog under the description of the class, and nobody has stepped up to tell me exactly what this writing component should consist of. Normally that still wouldn't be a major problem. Students do lots of writing in the class and are evaluated on it. But now the questions I'm being asked deal to how a student would fail the class based on the writing component.
Let me tell you, it's difficult to explain how a student will fail the class based on their writing if you never knew that they were supposed to fail the class based on their writing. For that matter, I can't believe that we ever agreed to that. In order to fail the class based on written skills, the written skills component would have to be worth at lease 40% of the student's grade.
I have a class to run that contains content. I'm supposed to treat that content as being of so little concern that less than 60% of a student's grade is based on it. I can't believe that anyone in the college ever agreed to something like that. In fact, after consideration I don't believe that they ever did.
So we're in passive resistance mode here.
Just like the majority of campus.
If you're in business (I came from business before I got my PhD), you can laugh at what goes on in Academia. But don't laugh too loud...when I think about it I realize that a lot of what went on in the real world was chillingly similar.