How did students do on their first speech? The short of it is: I’m pleased. The vast majority of the students did their speeches on time and they were just as good, if not better, as previous semesters. Actually, they seemed better but I don’t really have a clear way to measure that. I certainly enjoyed their speeches more and the atmosphere was definitely less stressful. I believe two reasons for that.
The first was the way they were getting credit for the speech. Credit/No Credit seems to be a less anxious-producing system. As I’ve said, they only have to hit eight conditions and of those eight only three are part of the presentation, in order to get credit for the speech. It seems that most of them believe they can do it and, indeed, did it.
The second reason (I think) for the more relaxed atmosphere is because I’m less stressed. Yes, back to me. We don’t have the time crunch we usually do because there aren’t three required f2f speeches, only two. So I don’t have to be stressed out if someone misses their day; I know we have time for them to do it later. Even better, I don’t have to punish them for missing their day; they just do it late. Kind of like life. I mean I took an entire grade off if they didn’t do their speech on the assigned day. That was always horrible.
However, I do have a couple of students who are extremely late in getting their speeches done, for different reasons. One guy was in Jamaica for two weeks (lucky him). Another student just didn’t track that she had to hand in an outline prior to giving the speech (no good reason for that). So the consequences for their lateness is they don’t get the same written feedback everyone else does. I only bring my computer for speech days (which I use to immediately send students feedback on their presentations, not the outlines), same for the pile of peer feedback sheets. It’s too heavy to shlep all of that everyday and, frankly, I forgot about the stragglers so I wasn’t ready. But I don’t really like this fall-out from doing a speech super late. I want everyone to learn, which means they should all get timely and substantive feedback. So I might have to start bringing my computer more. (Keep in mind I have a 90 minute commute so that’s no joke.)
Regarding their outlines: almost everyone has to re-write their outlines, mostly for lack of writing in sentences, lack of writing in outline format, or lack of source citations. I mean 90% of the students need to re-write. I’m not sure if that’s good news or bad news, but I know that they are doing the re-writes because otherwise they won’t get credit for the speech. In previous semesters, only the most motivated students re-wrote their outlines for more points. The rest just settled for a C or whatever. So I consider this a positive consequence of the credit/no credit system.
There is one strange thing that is happening which is there aren’t a whole lot of completed assignments yet. I’m still waiting for re-writes and for the reflection papers on their optional assignments. I will be doing power-appointments with them in early November during class where I call them up one at a time and ask them to check my records. That will also give me the chance to prod them along.