We asked the students to do a report on the "Recreating the Writer" English unit: “It’s your turn to have a say about this semester’s course and the way it was presented.” The students were allowed to stay anonymous to encourage freedom of expression, although we promoted constructive comments “to help us plan for a better course”.
Many students put the blogging section of the course as “the topic/section I enjoyed most”. Some of their reasons were: “they were a good opportunity to express myself”; “I liked using the computers”; and “It was good to communicate with people”; “It was a different experience of writing”; “it was more interesting to receive a response compared to writing in a book no-one reads.” Some said they enjoyed “all of it” and mentioned the “great discussions in class”. Others nominated their family stories as the best part of the unit citing “getting to know more about your family history”; and “it helped me to think about my family background”. The poetry also got a big rap: “learning new ways to write poems and different styles of poetry”; also “I had never been a good poetry writer but I gained new knowledge and improved my skills”. Some students referred to their love of poetry and one said “I learnt heaps about the different styles of poetry and we got to be creative.” Students also spoke positively about the Family Stories and the Personal Best style of writing. We also asked students to comment on the topic/section they liked the least and the aspect of teaching they liked the least. Of course some students liked least the topic that others liked most, so poetry was mentioned here as were most of the other assessment tasks. One student said she liked the poetry least but then admitted “only because I didn’t put enough work into it. I believe I would have enjoyed it if I had”. Some mentioned they would like more time given for writing before the due date. One thought blogs “wasted too much time”. One didn’t like the conferencing with others. But what I take away from the experience of having the unit and my teaching evaluated is the students who wrote (in answer to the prompt: List any three new things you learnt during the course) “to trust my imagination, a fluidness in my writing and the importance of having a notebook to write ideas in”, and another student: “I like the blogging; it was fun and I will continue mine.”