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Mid-Semester Course Evaluations

Anne Dalke's picture

Reflect here on what's working, and what needs working on, both for you as an individual learner and for the class as a learning community. What might you do differently, and what can we do, to to improve y/our learning?


leamirella's picture

Mid semester thoughts!

So I'm posting this late because in full honesty, I forgot to do it. Nevertheless, I thought that it would still be important to put something up because I do have a couple of things to point out:

What's working well:
- I think in general, the class is very open and receptive to each other and I'm a big fan of the small, break-out group discussions as they allow for everyone to be able to say something.
- I really like using Serendip and I know that people have issues with privacy but I always think about it this way: if you're going to have a Facebook account (assuming that the majority of the class does) and you talk about your life there, putting your thoughts online shouldn't really be that big of an issue. Additionally, it is a great way to get your ideas out there and as Anne and Kaye mentioned in class, the criticism that you recieve from it can potentially help you as a learner.
- I like that we use many different perspectives to examine the issues that we are looking at
- I like the variety of activites that we do
- SNACKS! ... and really the break in general because I find that it is a great time to talk to others about my thoughts.

What's not working well:
- I'm not a huge fan of the meeting time. It is once a week and it is a night class and it's a little difficult for me to follow what's going on. (A reason for my late post?) Though it is true that we do have an online forum, I still valorize face-to-face contact because it is easier to form conversations. This 'comment on someone else's post' isn't, to me, a full enough conversation.
- We keep talking about taking an international perspective and yes, while we may look at other countries, I still feel as though this is a little bit superficial. Taking a quick look at the texts in the syllabus, I feel as though there is an 'over-Americanisation' of the texts and theories that we are reading. It would be interesting to read gender theory from say, someone in Africa.

Amophrast's picture

I think taking GIST last

I think taking GIST last semester prepared me a lot for the format of this class so there are no surprises there. It feels surprisingly comfortable and familiar. I like that the conversations we have seem open and productive, if not conclusive. But then again, discussions without "answers" rarely feel conclusive to me; these are ongoing conversations.

I was surprised to feel that even though it's a three hour class it still goes by rather quickly and it seems like we are always running out of time. Regardless, I the fact that it's once a week class because I think that the style functions much better within that timeframe rather than two shorter class periods a week.

Either due to the format of the class or how we talk in class, for whatever reason I feel less inclined to take notes. I'm not sure what it is, but it seems more like a learning process rather than something I can track with what we've talked about. Maybe that's my own pitfall in my note-taking style.

As for what can be done differently? I'm not sure at this point. Maybe it's a matter of feeling like the entire class is more involved. I really like the breakout activities where we do more than just discuss, which is why I thought the utopia exercise was great.

Gavi's picture

Some Evaluative Thoughts

From the beginning day (remember our "wagon wheel"?), this course has been completely different from any other I've taken in the Bi-Co. Granted, I'm only a sophomore, and this is my first Bryn Mawr class, but there are some other major ways in which this class is unique and the better for it. I like how a central theme of the class is the creation of overlapping community spaces. I find that the relationships between myself and my classmates (whose names I now all know!) makes me feel more connected to the classroom space, and that our evolving online community forces me to connect my academic knowledge to a virtual, cyber-relevance. This emphasis on Serendip is probably my favorite part of the course. I love that I'm pushed to be a "public academic," a role that I feel is more and more important for us to embody as members of (what should be) an increasingly global community. I do wish, like Josh said in his evaluation, that I could match usernames to "real" names--I think that would really link our online community to our classroom community. I also wish our online comments were more conversationally structured than they are now, but I understand the urge to post whatever's on your mind without needing to tailor the thought to anyone else's.

The abstract nature of our class conversation sometimes frustrates me, but I fully appreciate that this class is a core course, and as such is supposed to give us the tools to engage in thinking about sex and gender in any kind of discipline. I think I'm getting a lot of those kinds of tools from the course. To echo Katie, though: I often wish that we had more grounding in the fundamental literature of gen/sex theory. I know that we're supposed to have encountered that kind of literature in previous gen/sex classes, but I think that reading more of those texts in a core course is a good way to ensure that everyone who is embarking on a gen/sex concentration or minor is similarly well-versed in theory.

Overall, I really enjoy this class. I love snack-time and our occasional feline friend and the break-away conversations. I'd like to talk more in whole-class conversations and get a better head start on my readings, both of which are kind of difficult for me to do in a class that meets only once a week, but which I'm sure are attainable goals.

charlie's picture

my thoughts.

What I like: 

- I like that we have snacks. And I like how into the snacks and how creative people get with them

- How open people are with their thoughts and contributions to the discussion

- The incorporation of many different topics in each class. I like that i find myself making connections and ties between my other classes and this class. 

- I really like that we meet once and week, becuase it means I can truly concentrate my thoughts in class because I know I only have 2.5 hours for this week. I also really enjoy this blog because it means I can continue to think about the class on my own time.

- I really like having the course notes behind Anne and Kaye. This way I can read and listen. Also, I can look back on them later.

What I don't like:

- I don't like a lot of the group activities that we do. Sometimes I find the instructions hard to follow and then we don't quite get as much out of them as we could.

- I also dislike that so much of this class is online. I personally feel as though class discussion should be public and open, but written work forms a personal connection with the professor. I dislike that my papers are put onto the internet for anyone to read and for anyone to read the comments to themselves. If I don't quite acheive what I want to with my paper, I don't want the rest of the class to be able to know what I have said. 

- I find that some of the readings are too lengthy and not the most informative or interesting. I would love to be reading more personal stories and accounts. Coming from this class with a lesser background, I would love to hear these accounts so that I can put myself more into the mindset of the topics and be able to understand on a more personal and deeper level. 

- Also, I continue to dislike the chairs as they are super uncomfortable.

That being said, I am looking forward to the second half of the class.

chelseam's picture

Thoughts on the Course

Overall, I have been thoroughly enjoying this course. I notice myself thinking about issues of Gender and Sexuality in my daily life and making connections between this course and my other classes. I'm taking Bio 200 this semester and as luck would have it, we began talking about sex differentiation and sex linked genes around the same time that we began our biology unit in this class. It has been interesting to read my textbook or be sitting in class and find myself taking note when I'm told that "Two X chromosomes make a woman, while an XY combination makes a man" as opposed to using male/female terminology. While I sometimes feel that our discussions become very theoretical, I think that for me personally these abstract discussions have led to some thoughts about applying our ideals in the society we live in. 

I enjoy the setting and timing of this class. It is fun to devote an evening to thinking intensively about our topics and then have serendip open for the remainder of the week to keep class discussion flowing. I have found myself taking more time to read others' postings as the semester has gone on. I also appreciate that we are constantly moving around and engaging with each other in small groups in this class. This is a fun way to get to know other people in the class and I am enjoying the sense of community that I think is beginning to arise in the group. Like Aybala, I find it much easier to participate in these small groups and enjoy the way that we are able to bounce thoughts off of each other and really candidly discuss the question at hand. However, one of my goals for the second half of this class is to start speaking up more frequently in our conversations as an entire group. I also think that it is important in a three hour evening class, that the class is constantly shifting (both physically and intellectually), I find that it keeps me engaged.

So far I am enjoying this class. It is forcing me to think differently than many of my other classes and I am finding myself thinking about the implications of the ways we are in the world or present "reality" to each other in new ways. 


someshine's picture


The virtual classroom is fantastic. I enjoy reading posts made by all of you every week and finding myself reflecting back on readings for the class to come based on what y’all plucked out. I hold myself accountable in wishing that we had more virtual conversation with one another. I don’t think we should create a requirement to comment on one another’s posts, but I do think we should try. 

Given our ability to create a Serendip identity, I’ve found it difficult to connect usernames to faces in class. In some cases, with user photos, I can tell who is who, but wish there were a Serendip function for members of our class to see each other’s “real” names. I like the idea of continuing a virtual conversation in-class, during break, or around our Bi-College community and think this function (or perhaps a password-protected list!) would aid in that.

Not having taken a foundational gender and sexuality studies course before, I’ve greatly appreciated the inherently interdisciplinary nature and content of our sylla-ship. Our current unit with a natural science flavor to it is something I’ve never experienced in this concentration or in school before. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn a thing or two and actually feel I understand something about testosterone besides the fact that it’s flowing through me.

I’m excited for Judith Butler’s lectures and for Karen Barad to come to our class. I wish Katie could have spoken to us about her story, but understand that she is a busy medical student. I would love to have more guests come to our class… perhaps during the activism unit we could hear directly from organizers and representatives of LGBT(…) political groups? When I took Quaker Social Witness with Kaye last fall, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and listening to several Quakers doing social witness all over the world today. I think it would be great to increase the presence of guest-lecturers if possible, but understand that a whole lot of planning and emailing and phone-calling goes into orchestrating visits and we’re already halfway through the semester! Perhaps Skype could help us a bit? I won’t be disappointed if we can’t change this because I’m certainly learning a lot from the cornucopia of theory and story we’ve seen, heard, and read so far. And I mean, c’mon, Judith Butler is coming. I’m stoked. 

I could go on and on and on, but I’ll end with this:

The thinking, writing, and typing I’m doing is a wonderful experience. I’m still working on a tempo for reading, reflecting, and posting that suits me… I’m discovering that beginning my reading for our class on Saturday is not enough time for me to digest everything and participate in our virtual classroom as much as I’d like. I’m going to try starting on Thursday for the second half of the semester. By virtue of being logged on to Serendip, I’ve been exploring, on my own time, more virtual spaces of gender and sexuality information… theory, blogs, documentaries, et cetera… and I will continue this. I’m learning so much from all of you on Tuesday evenings, here on Serendip, and am enjoying learning from hundreds of others the more I consult the untimed, unrestricted classroom that is the internet. 


Kim K's picture


I'll start off by saying this class is definitely not what I expected. I took two gender studies classes at community college before coming to Bryn Mawr, and after (what I considered to be) extensive exploration of gender, feminism, sexuality, theory, etc, I was I kind of "over" analyzing and discussing these topics. But - I decided to take this course because I wanted to see how Bryn Mawr did it. My previous classes in gender studies focused a lot on feminist theory and gender, and touched a bit on Judith Butler. However, my fellow community college classmates didn't  really share my enthusiasm on such topics, so I was excited to explore gender and sexuality topics in this class at BMC. I'm not disappointed, I really enjoy the class. It's definitely holding true to its "interdisciplinary" title. It's funny, as someone who doesn't have a strong high school background in science or math, I try to run as fast as I can from anything where these subjects might come into use. I sure didn't expect them to creep into my gender studies class! However, I guess if I have to decipher statistics, or discuss quantum physics, it might as well be under the guise of sex and gender. That makes it a little less anxiety producing :)

S. Yaeger's picture

I had a pretty similar

I had a pretty similar background at a community college, and I agree with your assesment of the "burnout" that comes from taking gender classes in the environment.  One of the things that I really like about this class is that there is a strong requirement to have studied gender before, which I think makes it easier to avoid feeling bored.  I dont know if your expereince at Bucks was the same as mine at CCP, but I often felt like every class which had a gender component to it required about half a semester of review becuase many of the students hadn't studied the subject before.  As someone who also lacks a strong science and math background, what do you think of the quantum-physics in the class?  I am more drawn toward the QP than biology and I think it is because of the limitless possibilities it provides.

lgleysteen's picture

Course Evaluation

I have been enjoying this class a lot.  I think the way it is taught, gives everyone an equal opportunity to share their opinions whether its in a large group, in smaller discussion groups, or on the web forum.  I feel like it is one of my first classes at Bryn Mawr where I have heard everyone speak on multiple occasions.  I am usually shy in bigger discussions so I like the opportunity to talk in small discussion groups.

Some of the readings I have really enjoyed but I would like to hear a few more different voices.  It is one thing hearing different opinions by biologists and people who study the social aspects of gender but it would interesting if we had a bigger variety of readings.  I would be interested in learning more about where the bigotry about differences in gender and sexuality come from.  It would be also interesting if we addressed some of the issues we talk about in class from a more global perspective.  I feel like in every discussion we have, we try and answer the questions we have with the expectation that every where is as liberal (or more) than the United States.  

Katie Randall's picture

Evaluation + unrelated theory rant

What I like:

-having snack time. This may seem really silly, but it’s the only reason I’m able to stay focused and alert throughout the entire class. In every other once a week class I’ve ever had there’s been a point in the middle where I zone out for several minutes. So far it hasn’t happened here.

-The online discussion. It’s really nice to see what other people are thinking about the class and the readings during the week.

-The many different genes we’re reading.  As much as the diversity of subjects, the diversity of genres forces us to read and think and evaluate in different ways.


What could improve:

-I wish there was more back-and-forth discussion online, more people posting on each other’s posts and starting conversations. I’ve done my best to add to this, but there are also some weeks where I post one train of thought and that’s all I have time for.

-I was expecting an interdisciplinary and eclectic class, but I was still surprised by the detour into disability studies. It was interesting, and something I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else, but… it didn’t feel that connected to the rest of the syllabus.

- I really enjoyed reading Riki Wilchin’s Queer Theory, Gender Theory: an Instant Primer and could have used a bit more introduction to the topic before branching out.

                This brings me to a larger complaint, which isn’t the fault of any one class of professor but of my education in general. I know that this class is for those who have taken gender and sexuality courses before, and I have. I’ve nearly completed a gender and sexuality concentration. And I’ve done it without any foundation at all. This semester is the first time I’ve read an introduction to queer theory or gender theory, the first time I’ve read any Judith Butler (in another class), and maybe the second time I’ve heard the name Foucault. More broadly, this semester is the first time I heard a definition of postmodernism (rather than just seeing the term thrown around without context) and the first time I’ve really noticed how different fields that I’ve studied in different classes come together in fundamental ways. I feel like I’ve been learning the wrong way around all along, like somehow I managed to skip the basics and have been pretending to know the context ever since. Maybe this is a fluke of my own course selection; maybe other students haven’t felt this way.

                I’ve been struggling along, complaining about how arcane and useless theory is while longing for a way to fit all the million complicated things I’m learning into some kind of structure, some frame of reference, without ever once realizing that theory is supposed to provide that frame of reference. How could I evaluate the usefulness of the theory I read when I didn’t understand it? I might understand a term, a paragraph, an argument, but I was missing the context and I was missing the point.

                (Those last two paragraphs don’t seem to have much relevance to our class, but I’m leaving them anyway because they feel important)

Shlomo's picture

Course Evaluation

I feel like I am the class curmudgeon (it's not a feeling I particularly like).  But you asked for honesty, so here it is:

I really struggle to enjoy this class.  I am fascinated by gender, sexuality, and all the ways these two categories intersect with the rest of our lives.  And I am usually able to really enjoy discussions about gender and sexuality.  However, in this class, I find the conversations very difficult, for several reasons:

  • Sometimes they seem too interdisciplinary (relating quantum mechanics to gender felt like a stretch).  I like talking about how different studies interact, but there is such a thing as going too far, and sometimes I feel like the discussion would be more productive if the focus was more about gender.
  • Speaking of which, the discussion often doesn't seem to be about gender or sexuality.
  • Sometimes I think we probe so deep in searching for answers that we lose the question.  For instance, during the barometer exercise, I didn't like that most of the discussion ended up being, "Well, how do we define this word?  How do we define that word?"  We will never settle on a single, universal definition for any word, and especially not for any adjective.  So discussing different definitions and trying to figure out which one was the correct definition (and how the correct definition changed the meaning of the question) felt, to be blunt, pointless.
  • A lot of the time, the discussions feel disjointed to me.  In other words, I feel like one person will say one thing, and then another class member will say something related to the same general topic but centered within a totally different subtopic.  I feel like I'm watching still frames of a movie, but not seeing the scenes that connect one image to the next.  This is a difficult problem to solve, especially because gender and sexuality are very personal topics and we naturally have a tendency to want to share our own experience, which may not be strictly related to the those of the last person to speak.
  • I feel like our conversations are rarely grounded.  Oftentimes, we ask questions like, "Well, why don't we as a world just get rid of gender?"  It's interesting to ponder, but it is obviously impossible (next question: why is it impossible?).  And the fact that we so frequently ponder these impossibilites makes me feel like I am floating around in nothingness, completely lost.  How do these things relate to the real world?
  • Expanding on what jmorgant said, there are times when I feel hesitant to share because I feel like my response will be upsetting to others in the class, or because I fear feeling hated.  For instance, when we were discussing coherence, I was hesitant to stress how important I find coherence.  In all honesty, I usually get upset if I am talking to someone who lacks coherence, because I can't understand them, and I don't like being unable to understand things.  I know, it sounds like I am five.  I think in part my opinions on coherence stem from my father, who (aside from being one of my favorite people in the whole world) is a journalist.  He has always stressed to me that if my work isn't going to be coherent, it has not yet reached its potential.

So, there you have it (some of it, at least).  In addition to struggling with discussions, I am struggling with the reading.  Some of the authors, like Eli Clare, seem bitter to me, and I have never enjoyed people's complaints (ironic, I know), particularly when they seem to stem from having a huge chip on one's shoulder.  Some of the authors, like Joan Roughgarden, seem poorly written and incoherent, and/or made up of bad arguments.  Some of the authors, like Andrew Sullivan, I find enthralling and informative.  Oddly enough, he seemed to be the most disliked of those we have read.  But I relished how grounded his writing was (in personal experience and scientific facts!).

I do enjoy some things about the class.  I like so many of the people in it, and I liked meeting about our papers.  It helped to provide some grounding (my theme word of the night).  I like the enthusiasm everyone has, and the fact that the lectures are posted online (for the same reasons shared).

I really want to love this class.  But as of right now, it's not working for me.  I'm a little bit terrified of posting this, but here goes.

sel209's picture

Mid-Semester Evaluation

This class brings a lot of firsts for me: the first time I don’t have to raise my hand in an academic setting, the first time I’ve had snack time in something like 14 years, and the first time I’ve actually been pushed to learn everyone’s name in a college class. I’ve come to value these elements of PPPP because they foster a comfortable, conversational atmosphere, which I’ve greatly enjoyed being a part of these past several weeks. I think there’s something to be said for a classroom that doesn’t strictly adhere to the constraints of typical learning environments because those environment often stifles creativity and productive conversation. In our room, we talk with each other, not at each other or through our professors. I wish there were more of that kind of dialogue in other classrooms because it pushes me to think past my own conceptions and really absorb the diversity of voices in the room. So, thanks for these extra touches. :)

In terms of specifics, I was very glad that we were able to meet for writing conferences on our first paper. Since the prompt we were given was so broad, my conference helped me focus the myriad of ideas that were jumbled around in my head and pushed me to explore in a direction that I might not otherwise have chosen to proceed in. Having said that, reading through our first set of web events made me realize how married I’ve become to the format of a formal academic paper! Like AmyMay, I plan to get in touch with my creative side for future web events. Along the same lines, Serendip has grown on me a lot because the multimedia aspect of our forum greatly enhances our already thought-provoking conversation. As a final note, while I sometimes feel like some of the things I could say in class might ruffle feathers, like jmorgant, I’m working on internalizing that the conversational environment I so greatly value has room for all sorts of opinions. 

AmyMay's picture

Trying New Mediums and Tying It All Together

To echo the sentiments of others in the class, I am loving how interdisciplinary this course is.  Particularly as a psych major, I like that we're bringing in the biological/nueroscience/brain/hormine side of things, because I think it is a hegemonic arguement that needs critique.  I also tink the typical humanities-based, theoretical gen/sex class doesn't equip you to ask the tough questions about these types of scientific discourse on gender.  It's nice to be able to discuss these issues in the context of a gender course.  When I have done the reverse by bringing up gender theory in psych courses, people usually look at me like I have 3 heads for challenging gender itself.  I am glad I am finally able to have this discussion... it's been a long time coming.  This also makes me wonder what type of conversational context I will experience in Psychology of Race and Gender, which is a new course being offered at Haverford next semester.  

However, with even though I love that this class is interdisciplinary, sometimes I get lost in the diversity, and have trouble tying our conversations back to gender and sexuality.  I think I had the hardest time with this and our conversations on disability and home, and I tried to use my web event to tie someof those ideas together for myself.  

I have been getting used to Serendip, and I think my next goal for myself is not just to think outside the box in terms of my ideas, but in terms of the mediums i use in my posts and web events.  I feel so tied to the academic essay, it's comforting, it's someting I know how to do well and that I'm confident with.  Videos and pictures are scary.  So I am going to try to get more creative... I think it is important particularly in terms of our conversations on disability.  My way of communicating is disabling to many (individuals who are blind, illiterate, etc.)  Attempting to create a piece that relis less heavily on standard academic discourse might also be disabling to me in a productive way, giving me a new perspective on the demands of academic coursework.

venn diagram's picture

Class + Online Discussion = Learning

I really like the online community we have through Serendip. I think people are able to express themselves differently with a little more time to think through their thoughts than in-class discussion. I also like that it is an opportunity to share the other 6 days of the week since we only meet once a week. In general I prefer large group discussions to small groups but in this class, a relatively large number of students for the type of class, I think the small groups really work. I definitely feel like it breaks the time period up, gets you moving (even if for a few moments) and fosters more intimate conversation. I agree with that when we come back from the small groups and share what has been said to the large group it sometimes feels redundant. I don’t know if there is a way to get around this though, maybe others who also feel frustrated by this have a suggestion?

I also particularly like that our readings cover many different topics as well as styles/formats. It  accurately reflects the type of collaborative/interdisciplinary objectives of this class and is a nice change from courses that follow a more standard pattern with readings/course material.

essietee's picture

Floating Down the Stream of Thoughts...

Like the majority of the posts that have come before my own, I am thoroughly enjoying the multitude of perspectives I've been gaining through our weekly class discussions. I engaged in my first evening class last year as a Junior and enjoyed the level of engagement my peers had for the subject material - let's be real, it's a Tuesday evening in the middle of Fall. You truly have to want to leave your room/the dining hall/whatever television show you're watching on MegaVideo to talk about gender, sexuality, and all that comes with it. Because of this desire to talk about said material, I feel that the level of conversation is enhanced. I become invested in others comments and excited when people stem off of something I've said; it's like being led down the rabbit-hole, in that you have no idea where one thing may lead you. Having a two-and-a-half-hour block lets us take our time to articulate thoughts in the best manner possible and eliminates the stresses that come from trying to touch on every single point within an hour or hour-and-a-half class.

The blog posts required for this class are another aspect that I've come to enjoy. Unlike some, this is not only my first class in the Gender and Sexuality department but also my first class that utilizes Serendip. In class I'm responsible for what I say, but on the Internet I truly claim my own words. There is something very concrete about putting a pen to paper, or, in this case, fingers to a keyboard. My thoughts become black and white, standing alone against the critique of others. I cannot "take back" what I choose to post, and that forces me to think a great deal before I post. We are responsible for our words and our actions. Posting on Serendip reinforces this idea.

lwacker's picture

What our online space means to me

After the Vicky Chu Wesleyan v. Wellesley article debacle I've found one of the most important parts of this class for me is thinking about the online intellectual community we're creating together online.

Before I sit down to write my posts or for our last web-event I definitely spent a lot of time reflecting, reading other people's contributions and assessing the tone of our discussion. Especially since Anne and Kaye often cite or excerpt  from people's weeked reflections in their talking notes to introduce the discussion of the day or the reading themes. The freedom that we're given to write constructively on something ranging from a blog post to a piece of theory we were critiquing in class has definitely helped me alleviate some of the pressures of writing what I used to think a "good online post" was. The work online in this class has definitely helped me that it is possible to write academically with more of an Eli Clare twist than a Judith Butler flair.

In short, having the online space to situate myself alongside and in community with peer work outside of class has been really nice and extremely fruitful it seems for online discussion.

jfwright's picture


I know what you mean, lwacker. I really like the idea of being accountable for what we say to the greater internet community. I was really surprised that Riki Wilchins found us - that and the Vicki Chu thing really brought home to me just how public our work is once we put it online. Knowing that anyone can find what I say means that I really, really have to think about it: it's something I've never really had to consider before, and I really appreciate that I have to. I also like the idea of writing to an audience larger than a few professors; it's made me rethink what should be involved in my work. In addition, if I REALLY have something to say about a piece we've read, I can be sure that I'll get a chance to throw my ideas out there.

In terms of class discussion and reading material,  I appreciate the diversity of the subjects we've drawn on for our understanding of gender and sexuality. I might not always understand some of the more science-based work, but I like that I have to push myself further than I have in other gender studies courses to grasp understand the concepts. In some ways, I feel much more satisfied with my day's work if it's involved reading a scientific piece, if only because I know it won't be easy or immediately accessible for me.

rachelr's picture

Yeah, what they said!

I pretty much agree with what everyone else has said- snacks are a great way to break up the class and let us hang out and get to know each other a little more before returning again to the class setting. I also like the fact that we meet once a week. In discussion-based classes I often feel like in twice or there times a week classes there is an effort to cram a lot of stuff into the hour, hour and a half. This ends up cutting off conversations and a lot of people’s contributions. Not only does a longer class help with this issue, but then we can go onto Serendip and contribute those ideas that maybe didn’t get brought up. I love Serendip- as with aybala50, I’ve used Serendip for quite a few other classes and I think both the online papers and the weekly posts are a great way to meet more often and get new ideas from classmates that I might not have come up with otherwise. I’m also a fan of having two professors and two sections of the course, but where everyone is still contributing regardless of their background. 

For myself, I feel like I need to work on reading more of the posts from others and do some more responding so more online conversations can get going. I tend to just look at the top couple postings rather than going through and reading more ideas.

Basically, lets keep it all up!

jmorgant's picture

Course Eval

So far I've been pleasantly surprised by this course. I haven't taken any pure gen/sex theory (although I have taken some cross-listed gen/sex courses) and I kind of thought that we were going to be bogged down in Freud and Foucault, but the diversity of readings (not just subjects, but also styles) has been refreshing. The interdisciplinary nature (nurture? j/k) of this course has challenged me to expand my outlook beyond a narrow political science frame, which I can sometimes get caught in. I need to do a better job of taking notes on the readings so that I have focused blog posts (and get them in on time!) but class discussions for the most part have given me plenty to think about throughout the week. I actually like how the class is once a week - our conversations can get so in depth that I think a 1 1/2 hour class wouldn't be enough time - and I think that the fact that it's at night somehow lends more intimacy and trust to the discussions we have. Thank you for stressing the importance of getting to know one another's names - as a result, I've actually made some friends (including BMC students, many of whom I barely knew before!) I echo someone's previous post, that it would be interesting to learn more about gen/sex in other cultures and international issues rather than maintaining the Western focus we've had thus far.

I know how important it is to be politically correct, because I really don't ever want to offend anyone, but sometimes I'm not sure how to formulate my responses without potentially outraging someone, especially if they have a personal connection to the issue, and thus sometimes I'm hesitant to contribute. I know this shouldn't be a concern, and that difficult dialogue can often be the most rewarding, but still...

phenoms's picture

Course Evaluation

My favorite aspect of this course has to be the dynamics involved with having two professors. It changes classroom and discussion structure a lot by emphasizing the fact that we all act as bouncing boards for our ideas (as opposed to the more singular student/teacher set up). I love the once a week set-up, as well as the strategically timed snack break. It would be nice to have "focus" questions given with each week's reading, although I also understand the value in not providing us with a set of blinders.

Also, last point - a basic serendip tutorial would be great! It seems no matter how hard I try I can't embed a video in my posts. But I'm loving the reading, and the little community we've established.

aybala50's picture

A few thoughts...

First of all, I would like to say that I love that we meet once a week. I feel that it gives us enough time to discuss a great deal, and we have Serendip to throw out ideas that were not discussed during class. I think we have a great dynamic in class and a great deal of interest in our discussions. I like that we have members in our class that come from many different backgrounds and that we all seem to feel that we are in a safe enough environment to discuss our thoughts, feelings, ideas etc. freely.

So far we have been having amazing discussions, however I would like to have discussions that encompass a reality outside of the western culture. As lgleysteen brought up in her latest post, the conclusions we draw and the solutions we look for will not be effective or even realistic in many different parts of the world. I don't think that we have enough time in the world to discuss how everything would be, will be, should be in every area of the world, but I would still love to have discussions that also encompass some areas outside of the United States.

So far, I have found our readings very interesting and enjoyable. I don't think that we have too much to read or too many posts etc. to do. I think that we have all been doing our readings and contributing to class discussion fairly, aiding in each others learning as well as our own. One of my favorite things about this class is that I learn just as much from my classmates as I do from my professors and my readings. So far, I am happy with the way this aspect of the class has been going.

I love the snacks and I love the break. Despite my interest in the class, it is still at 7 pm on a Tuesday and the break and snacks are exactly what I need to clear my mind and wake up a bit. Personally, I feel that I could contribute to conversation more, but I have found that I love listening in this class. When we are in smaller groups I find that I contribute a great deal more than I do in the larger groups. I like that we have a mixture of both so that I still contribute and get to sit back and listen. However, I do think that I should try to contribute to the larger class discussions more often.

On another note, I love using Serendip. This is my fifth? sixth? class that has used Serendip and I have loved it every year. I am not always the biggest contributer in discussions in class and Serendip gives me the opportunity to post my thoughts in a less traditional way and what that is more comfortable for me.

Overall, I am very happy with the class, I would just like to expand outside of the United States in some of our discussions.

S. Yaeger's picture

I agree with Alice on a

I agree with Alice on a number of things, especially the snack bringing helping to create a sense of inity within the class, but I really dislike that the class is only once a week.  Though I like the length of the class, I dislike the time between class sessions being so long.  I also agree that the small breakout groups are especially helpful, as they make it easier to really hash out ideas, and I definitely love having the class notes and conversations online.  I sometimes struggle with hearing and being heard in such a large class, and I feel like Serendip allows me to more fully absorb some thoughts that I may not have heard clearly in class.  In fact, if I had to point to one thing that I could do more of, it would be utilizing Serendip more, which is exactly what I plan to do.  Overall, though, I am pretty happy with this class and I looking forward to the next few weeks.'s picture

Course Eval Thoughts

Here are a few of my thoughts...

I really like that this class is once a week, even though I was apprehensive about it. I think it gives us enough time to push our reflections further than we would in a typical class period. I have also been enjoying the readings, although Roughgarden's writing style rubbed me the wrong way (as I rather over-grumpily stated in class - sorry guys). I love how we bring snacks, I think those little moments of eating together and taking a break actually foster a classroom community more than anything else we do - I think it should be a requirement for once a week classes! As I said before, I like how the posts aren't due the night before class but rather on Sunday, making the class kind of "digitally convene" another time during the week. While breakout groups and smaller discussions are a good strategy for chunking up a big block of class time, I think having to rehash what was said back to the large group is sometimes frustrating/feels redundant, though I understand why we need to do it. I LOVE that the class notes are all online, it makes me relax more during class and think more deeply because I don't feel as much pressure to scribble down every word. I would really have appreciated a basic serendip tutorial as a class early on in the semester - even 20 minutes of collective instruction would have ironed out a lot of the kinks (especially regarding posting multimedia) that many of us are encountering. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about this class - and I'm curious to see what everyone else has to say!