Handmade Course Evaluations

I’ve been teaching an intensive two-week sophomore-level American Literature course this May.  Today was the last four-hour class, and my students wrote their final literary analysis essays in a computer lab during the last two hours.  Before the break leading up to this final assignment, I reminded them that this course was not only a rapid tour through American literary history, but also an intensive introduction to handmade thinking and the power of drawing to help us better understand our responses to literature and to present those responses to others.  I also told them how much progress I had noticed from those initial groans of “I don’t know how to draw” to the confidence I had seen in their drawings and their willingness to share what they’ve created and to collaborate on the creation of new drawings in class.  (Here are two examples of collaboratively drawn responses to Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Big Bertha Stories.”  In teams of three students, they were to map out the plot of the story on large post-it paper I put up on the classroom walls, and they were to also include citations from the story to support the development or change in plot line.)

Then I asked each student to draw a quick picture of what the last two weeks in the course had meant to them–what they thought was memorable, what they had learned, and how they thought the course affected them.  They took about 15 minutes on this task, which I took to be their evaluations of my teaching, of their individual and collaborative work in the class, and of the course itself.  I was surprised to find that that each student continued to adhere to one of the 21 visual formats I had introduced in the course.  Here are some examples.  Click on image for larger view.