It's Diablogical!
A Collaborative Diablog on Feminist Pedagogy
SLP’s Engagement Comments

I could say a lot more about comments here. I didn’t even discuss the problems with bad, as in disrespectful and disengaged, ones. I also didn’t talk about how comments remind us that this is a public blog, thereby encouraging us to be accountable for our words/actions. Hmm…maybe I want to briefly add that in a footnote?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of comments for engagement?

Comments are great for engagement. While there are many reasons why this is the case, one key reason that resonates with my feminist troublemaking teaching philosophy is this: Through comments, students get (and give) feedback to each other. This enables them to learn from each other, thereby assuming responsibility for shaping the class and inhabiting the role of teacher/mentor. As a result, they are able to trouble the usually rigid distinctions between the teacher and the student and to unsettle (at least a little) the typical distribution of power in which teachers have all of the authority and students have none.

But comments don’t always work and they shouldn’t be the only way in which students are expected to engage with each other. For example, some students are silent or invisible readers; they read everything on the blog, often getting much inspiration from it, but are never compelled to comment. In my course blogs, I try to encourage other ways to engage—like having students link to other students’ blog posts or post an entry that discusses other posts or incorporates ideas/information from those posts.

BUSTED BINARIES: Passive consumption/Active production; teacher/student

How do you evaluate students and give them public feedback?

I really don’t like grades. It’s not that I mind grading. I like reading students’ essay; it helps me to develop a connection with them, especially the quiet ones. But, I don’t like evaluating their assignment in terms of points or a letter grade. And I dislike how grades become the (almost) sole motivating factor for assignments. Evaluating blog assignments, especially ones in which the feedback is posted as comments online, require a shift in how and why we grade students. Sure, I still use points; they are a necessary part of ensuring that students actually do blog assignments. But, when I give feedback to students on their posts, it is not aimed at evaluating (judging) their performance. It isn’t even solely aimed at them. Instead, my feedback comments are intended to encourage all of the students to be curious about the readings/our discussion and to inspire them to keep pushing at their ideas. In this way, these comments become an essential part of the engaging and collaborating process, instead of individualized evaluations of (mostly) what students did wrong and (less frequently) what they did right.

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