Thursday, December 1, 2016

Last Blog Post Williamson-like critique

With regards to the first governance decision made about the syllabus attendance not being required definitely effected my own behavior. Throughout the course of the semester I definitely missed a few classes. Personally, I only skip class when I believe the opportunity cost of going to class is too great. This generally only happens when I have an exam in one of my next classes and I believe that the hour and a half I can spend studying is more valuable than the hour and a half spent in class. However, I know that I wouldn't feel this way if class attendance was a big part of our class grade. 

Knowing from past experience, I haven't missed a single class that made class attendance mandatory in my college career thus far. Many people may argue the fact that by not offering extrinsic incentives people will develop intrinsic motivations more concretely. Personally, I believe that class time is very valuable both from a monetary perspective and a learning perspective. Regardless of my reasoning for going to class I always try to make the most of the time. That being said, I don't believe that for me personally it matters why I initially decided to go to a class. Once I'm there I generally find that I pay attention the same regardless of whether I went to class through intrinsic incentives (like just simply wanting to go and learn) or extrinsic incentives (graded attendance). Of course this isn't the same for all students. Many students go to class and don't pay attention and intrinsic motivation may be the necessary component to fostering general education. However, I find that the first step to increasing my knowledge and education personally is to go to class and classes that have graded attendance seem to get me to class more certainly. 

Making attendance optional definitely effected the perspective of the class as a whole. The general underlying principle behind the psychology of slacking off in a group setting is that if one person slacks off and gets away with it, other people are going to think that it's okay for them to slack off as well. I went to the majority of the live class sessions held this semester, perhaps missing two or three tops since my enrollment, so I was able to see people's general consistencies of attendance. Since the class size is so small, it's clear to see who comes to class regularly and who comes only once in a while. It's my believe that because students were seeing their classmates not show up to some sessions and then show up to others like nothing is wrong diminished the value of attendance in a sense. Students that missed a class were not penalized, call out, and most importantly didn't seem like they missed out on a whole lot on a surface level. This begs the question to every student, "What's the point of coming to class if I'm probably not going to miss out on anything important anyways?". Of course this may be subjective as well considering the discrepancies between student engagement in discussions in class, but in a general sense it's not unreasonable to assume. 

With regards to the second governance decision made about allowing students to use their portable electronic devices in class I find this to always be a controversial topic between teachers and between students alike. One of my psychology professors believes the use of electronic devices is distracting to both the owner and the students within proximity. Another one of my professors believes electronic devices can be useful, but students who use them in class should be separated from students who don't so she makes students who want to use their laptops sit in specific areas in the room. Personally, I don't find usage of electronic devices all that beneficial in a live class session. In fact, I find it to be distracting. It's too easy to give in to temptation with all the possibilities available for distraction on an electronic device. Whether I was allowed to use my portable electronic devices in class or not I wouldn't use them anyways so this governance didn't effect my behavior in this way. 

The allowance of usage of electronic devices in class still did, though, effect my class experience and the perspectives of my other classmates. It's quite plain to see that not all students using their electronic devices were using them for relevant and academic tasks. I often saw students either working on work for other classes, shopping online, watching leisure online videos, reading non-class related articles, or simply just on social media the entire class session. I personally found this to be distracting sometimes. 

From a class perspective, I believe that allowing laptop usage during class "harmed" the live sessions. While I respect that different students learn differently and electronic devices may be utilized differently from student to student, I fail to see how viewing irrelevant material unrelated to class aids student learning in that particular class. While I'm not claiming that EVERY student in class was using their laptops for non-class related domains, I can confidently say that this was the case for many. I felt like this diminished classroom participation in discussion mode because many students were distracted by what they were viewing on their laptop and therefore weren't engaged enough to contribute to the discussion to push the class forward. 


  1. Thanks for the perspective. I'm inclined to agree with your assessment.

    1. To be honest, I didn't expect your reply to be so brief. While this is something like a breath of fresh air, it does make replying for the sake of dialogue difficult.