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Self Evaluation and Reflection

Kismet's picture

This course has been an academic experience unlike any other that I’ve had.  Never before have I found myself in a class setting that is simultaneously open and engaging.  In other classes with a similar relaxed setting, I’m rarely able to give my undivided attention to the topic of discussion.  However, this class was easy for me to participate in.  The group discussions were always interesting and valuable.

Obviously, an academic group discussion must have a series of well-formulated prompts to keep producing new and interesting ideas.  This was a key factor in our discussions.  More often than not, the discussion questions that Jody offered us were intellectually fascinating as well as enjoyable.  On the rare occasion that a question did not seem to arouse any thoughts or responses, Jody allowed us to pass over it without any hesitation or reluctance.  I firmly believe that this simple aspect of our discussions made them so much more vibrant.  Because we did not have to waste time scrounging up answers that we didn’t feel compelled by solely out of fear of displeasing our professor, we were able to spend more time on the topics that really sparked our interest.

In the beginning of any school year, I find myself struggling to find a balance in my level of participation.  Generally, it is my instinct to speak my mind and volunteer.  This instinct is amplified in an academic setting because in the beginning of any course I find myself trying to participate as much as possible in hopes of gaining the approval of the instructor.  Based on my past experiences, I have found that the early weeks of a class are often marked by the awkward silence of the students in response to questions asked by the teacher.  When I spoke up, participated, and broke this standoff, the teacher almost always seemed relieved.  After the first few classes of this course, I realized that this was blatantly unnecessary.  In fact, I felt self conscious about participating too much in comparison to others, whose voices I felt I was silencing, regardless of their lack of participation.  Eventually I seemed to find a safe balance between these two conflicting feelings.  I decided to only participate when I felt that I had something interesting and valuable to share, instead of participating each time there was a moment of silence in order to shatter it.  This approach made me far less anxious than my previous approach did.  Also, I feel that it helped make our overall discussions better.  It gave my quieter classmates more room to speak, and it helped me filter my ideas so that only the most important ones entered the discussion.

As I said, our class sessions were very engaging to me.  However, outside of the classroom, I faced a familiar struggle.  Because of my Attention Deficit Disorder, I have a hard time self-motivating.  This means that it is often extremely difficult for me to muster up the focus needed to get something done.  In class, the discussions were very interesting and I easily engaged.  When it came to the online assignments such as the Monday postings, I found myself forgetful and distracted.  Because there was no immediate discussion or reminder to do these assignments, I had a very strong tendency to forget to do them.  In general, I have a hard time remembering online assignments for any of my classes because the internet is a lot less present and vibrant to me than an actual in-class assignment.  The Monday postings (possibly due to their brevity) did not have a space on my mental to-do list, and therefore almost always got lost in the jumble of little things that need to be done.  The weekly papers that were due seemed much more important to the class, so fortunately they were always on my to-do list.  I do not consider my forgetfulness concerning the online assignments to be a flaw on the behalf of the course.  Instead it seems to me that this absentmindedness stems from the fact that I never had online assignments or class websites in high school, and therefore was not used to having homework on this platform.  Hopefully I’ll acclimate in time for the Spring semester.

Overall, I felt that this course was very important to my adaptation to academics as well as the atmosphere here at Bryn Mawr.  The course load seems to be very similar to what I expected, but maybe not to what I was prepared for.  Regardless, this was an important realization that needed to be made as soon as possible, and I’m glad to have reached this conclusion under the guidance of such an understanding professor and a supportive class.  Although I did not originally expect this course to have such a relevant impact on my life, I now believe that it helped me begin to find out how my identity fits into the environment at Bryn Mawr.  I’m so glad that I was able to have this experience with such a fantastic group of people.  I’ll truly miss our class.