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Field Notes 1- Comparative Literature Class

mschoyer's picture
  • These field notes come from the second meeting of a Comparative Literature class
  • Course is taught by Professor Reynolds*, a Classics professor who also teaches one course in Comparative Literature
  • There are about 25 students in the class
    • College sophomores, juniors, and seniors
    • About ¾ female and ¼ male
  • Class began by the teacher bringing up a key question and asking the students to answer using one of the readings as a guide
    • Discussion was technically student led, but it was interesting to see how Professor also shaped the discussion
      • With certain points made by students, Professor Reynolds continued to ask questions (either to that individual student or the entire class).
      • With other points made by students, Professor Reynolds would just nod or say okay, and then call on another student
        • What determined which points/comments were elaborated?
          • I assume Professor Reynolds pre-determined a direction for the conversation to go and addressed points that fit that mold.
          • Professor Reynolds could have also highlighted comments that she felt were particularly insightful or interesting
          • She didn’t say any one’s comments were wrong or irrelevant, but did not fully acknowledge them
          • How would this method work in a classroom with younger students? Does approaching students’ comments in two completely different ways cause some students to feel unconfident?
  • Following this discussion, a similar discussion took place about another reading.
  • As stated on the syllabus and discussed during the first class, for a student’s final grade, participation is 25%
    • During this particular meeting, about half the class spoke at least once. Some students also spoke more than once. Some students did not speak at all.
    • It will be interesting to see how levels of participation change throughout the course, and also what factors will influence participation rates
      • Once paper grades start going out, will students become more/less focused on participating based on the grades on their papers?
      • Will comfort level (time spent in the class) impact participation for some students?


  • Pseudonyms were used