“Thoughts on an Unsuccessful Course”

Interesting reflection in IHE by John Warner. One of the three mistakes he notes is assuming that a general writing class full of biology majors would be interested in reading and writing a lot about biology. In fact, they got more biology than they wanted in biology class.

My most unsuccessful class in five years at MSU was an honors section of the first-year writing class, and my mistaken assumption was that the students would be eager to tackle more difficult readings and writings than a regular class, and to practice critical thinking. In fact, just out of high-school honors programs, they were resistant to anything new and different that might challenge their highly-successful habits.

What would I do differently? Spend more time deconstructing their expectations, and explaining the value of expanding their repertoire, to begin with. Other suggestions?

What has been your most unsuccessful course, and why? What would you do differently another time?

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