College students help design classes

Students are helping design classes at McDaniel College in Maryland, reports the Baltimore Sun.

“I think we learned how much they crave structure,” says Gretchen McKay, an art history professor.

“If you just said, ‘Do a 20-page paper and turn it in at the end of the semester,’ they’d be out to sea.”

In response, McKay and her students added checkpoints throughout the semester. Students had to propose ideas for their final papers before spring break. Last week, they had to deliver presentations on their research. They will next turn in drafts several weeks before the finished papers are due.

“I had dropped research papers from some of my classes altogether,” McKay says. “But now, I realize that I just wasn’t doing it in a structured enough way.”

Worried about students who are “academically adrift,” professors are trying to engage students in their own learning.

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  1. SuperSub says:

    When I went to college back in the day (you know… 1998-02), research papers were a common assignment and students were largely expected to do them on their own (TAs often had office hours you could voluntarily use to get their feedback on rough drafts).
    Knowing what I do about secondary ed now, I’d say the need for dictated checkpoints is due to a lack of proper research writing in middle and high school. Many of my 7th graders don’t even know what a table of contents or index are.

  2. Wait. McKay doesn’t know this is just process writing from Comp 101? She shouldn’t have to do a draft with them; that’s what the writing center is for. Drafts are for writing instruction — at some point, the goal of the paper isn’t writing instruction. Between English and History, my juniors have written four major research papers this year. I do drafts, but the history teachers do not. That makes sense to me (even though all those drafts nearly put me under this year).