Fifty percent of the final course grade is determined on the quality of a term
paper, which must be submitted following the style and format of a peer reviewed journal chosen from a list given
by the professor. The oral reports are also assessed, and contribute to the remaining fifty percent of the final
Because the course is built around student contributions, its quality varies from
semester to semester. It is difficult to ensure that all students are completing the homework. It is especially
challenging to make certain that every student delivers a strong oral report, thus contributing to a dynamic and
exciting class climate. Some students are less exciting than others presenting their cases orally, some students
tend to do the bare minimum work, and we all have our days. I want all students to understand that I am available
to assist in the preparation and to critique their performance. My role is not to judge but rather to guide them
through the course, strengthening their presentation skills in the best possible way.
Since 2004 I have submitted an anonymous mid-term questionnaire to assess the
success of my teaching strategy, but less than half of the students bothered to answer the questions.
The students who answered this questionnaire - about half of the class - did contribute
with some interesting suggestions, although not all pointing in the same direction. For example, some students
would prefer a more standardized and predictable format, both for classes, handouts, and timing of the oral reports,
and others clearly thrive in more competitive and creative (messy) environments.
I am planning to film their oral reports and watch them with the students in order
to help them improve their public speaking skills.