I’m thinking of starting my DR class a little differently this year and would love feedback. I have a class of 70 (!) for my general DR class. Typically, there are three quizzes (covering each of the main processes) and a final exam. I also assign problems throughout the semester and students are “on call” for their problem. Last year, I taught this class in the evening and so I knew that I had about 10 minutes of talking/discussion before the back row (if not more) would start surfing. I planned lots of small group activities, videos, etc to keep everyone moving and off of their laptops. I am going to continue in that vein. But I am also thinking about whether to ban laptops (I do in my negotiation class) and also whether to “cold call” more students to keep them focused. In talking with my RA’s this summer, we realized that the debate over both of these issues would be really interesting for students to participate in and that this would be a good topic for negotiation. So I am planning on making this a group negotiation for our first class with the following structure:
1. Divide the class into groups of 8.
2. Each group must reach consensus on: (a) should we allow laptops in class? (b) how should participation occur and how much should it count toward your grade? (c) what percentage of the grade should quizzes count for versus the final exam?
3. Then we will convene a representative from each group to negotiate again and see if we can reach class consensus.
4. If the group cannot reach consensus on any item, the decision reverts to me.
With Julie MacFarlane, I wrote about this years ago (and have done similar exercises in smaller classes) in terms of students taking responsibility for their own learning. I’d love any feedback or advice about how you think this would work in a large class; other items you would or would not add to the items to be negotiated; and timing. Thanks much!