My input in the syllabus was primarily a review and editing of the content. This class is a fundamental course for all incoming public relations students, and was a collaboration between two professors working to provide the same content simultaneously. I was assigned to supervise and grade the AP Style quizzes which were written by Professor Caroline K. Reff. I edited, issued and corrected them. To help students understand and apply the style guide I noted and referenced each rule and page in the book. While I primarily did that for myself as an aid to instruction, I found it useful for our international students, especially those for who English is not their first language. While students could not argue with the book, we work through the logic and development of the rules for writing, which helped resolve many issues for students.
The class schedule was such that we had three consecutive four-hour days. The first two days focused on instructions and short writing assignments, and the third day was a lab day, where students did their AP quizzes and worked on their assignments – which were various components of two media kits. In addition to reviewing AP Style content, I helped students with individual and group research, content development, and writing.
During instruction, I added to the discussion, with examples and application of content, role play, and feedback of projects. While I was not the lead instructor on this course, my contribution was evident and welcomed as I elaborated on information, provided context for understanding, and responded to student questions.
This year the faculty collaborated to develop a new component of blogging. Students were asked to write a weekly blog post and publish it online. Their posts were to reflect a weekly 0-credit discussion class on public relations. Lead by Professor Anthony D’Angelo, they talked about various aspects of the public relations field and industry. While we had some instructional miscommunication between courses, students could develop their reflective and informative writing skills. I was tasked with role of editing and grading these posts on a weekly basis. With twelve students, my turn around time was a day and a half, as papers were due on Saturday at noon, and were to be returned on Monday. No rubric was provided, and while I did create one for students, it was found to be more stringent than the timeline provided for development. The posts were graded on a 50-50 ratio of content and grammar errors – the later based on the AP style book. I provided students with feedback on how to develop their content, and graded based on the preferred model of preferring grammar errors over content.
Because my grading structure is rich and rigid, I would have provided more structure for the assignment, so that content development would be more streamlined for students. Having a philosophy background, critical thinking, logic, and analysis are skills I see to instill in my instruction. I believe that they are innate parts of my teaching style and philosophy, and that these pieces were missing from the feedback structure of this course. My ability to bring this approach has been shaped by my disability, which has had the positive effect of causing me to develop an approach based in these skills. I believe that this is a favorable aspect of my disability, which certainly benefited this course. Another favorable aspect of my disability has to do with paying attention to detail. At first, my grading was very general and generic, giving feedback and overviews that directed students to reflect and review. This method and practice was suggested as the best way for graduate students to actively think about their work in a course that has a high volume of assignments in a short turn-over time. However, I was asked to focus my attention on the style of writing and not the content, and I honed-in on AP Style with vigor and removed my preparation style of reference content to a feedback structure of direct referencing of one’s errors and helpful notes for future assignments.
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