I met someone at a dinner party-- how would we go on without synchronicity? -- who worked for a company that did focus groups, and she asked me, does your department ever do student focus groups?
And I blurted out, "No-- we're scared what they'll say."
And I know that's true with my own potential final best practices subject. I'd be interested in a focus group that looked at my group's practices and materials, but I'm really pretty sure that the organization itself does not want to hear it.
Very difficult. I don't know. I like the work, I love the students. Yeah, if I had the choice, I'd do things differently. (To be honest, I DO things differently. I just kind of ignore what I'm told to do and I think is unhelpful. I do what I think will work best with the situation, not what I'm supposed to do, but seriously, if anyone was paying attention, they'd not be happy that I did what I thought was best. Which is not, actually, what I'm "supposed to do.")
Anyway. Point is.
I am thinking of doing a best practices memo for final assignment on this job, and creating a focus group of students to evaluate materials -- most of my work is direct interaction with students, but most of my time is spent creating materials customized to the specific course and assignment-- I'm hoping even if the students don't respond, they'll read the material and have those models.
But let's just say... this is not the sort of thing that is encouraged. <G>.
I do have an alternative of looking at a past job. I'd like to design the whole semester online course so that everything -- the discussion forums, the assignments-- is very purposeful, aimed at accumulating material and sources and analysis for the final project. (That is, there's an "annotated bib" assignment, but it's about the topic that the students will be addressing in the final project.) I'd probably pose this as cognitive -- about skills, but also constructivist because of the scaffolding.
That's safer. More than that, it's not so frustrating. It's hard to just keep battering against the brick wall of utter uninterest. It's frustrating to have to keep saying, "Listen. I do the work, I interact with the students. Why aren't you interested in my experience?" But I've kept saying that, and I get the big sigh of exasperation and the implication that I'm annoying and boring, going on and on about the mission of the writing center and what I've learned from my students, and how we should be doing research or at least keeping track of what we do and what results that produces.... but that's like heresy. It's insubordination.
Oh, well. I've resolved to keep my head down, do my work as best I can, and stay out of trouble. And keep my mouth shut. (This will last a day or two.)
I think I'll do the other project. That won't, at least, get me fired if anyone is googling and locates this blog.