Posted by: Dorianne Cotter-Lockard | 26 September 2008

A Prof’s Learning Curve, part 2 – homework

To continue my reflection from the last post, I also learned some lessons about designing, assigning and grading homework.

  • I will spend time reviewing the grading rubric before each assignment. Even though I reviewed the rubrics at the beginning of the semester, it isn’t real to the student until they have an assignment.

  • I gave a business plan assignment as the final paper. The students turned in progressive assignments that were components of the business plan.  It was a hard assignment, but a really important one for MBA students.  However, next time I will emphasize how important it is for the students to review the comments and corrections that I return in their papers and to incorporate them into their final paper. It was surprising how many students failed to do so. I will also spend more time up front, in class #2, discussing the components of a business plan and give more examples so the assignment is less intimidating to students.
  • The group case study assignment worked very well. The only part that didn’t work was asking the students to evaluate their peers’ contribution to the project. Many rated all their team-mates as making much greater contributions than the rest of their teammates.
  • Wiki: this was a good experience for students, and we used it for the group case study project. However, the wiki wasn’t used as it was intended, where content is directly added to wiki pages and then edited by peers. Instead, the teams posted a Powerpoint attachment that was revised and re-posted. Next time, I will require that the team project the wiki pages on the overhead screen for their presentation and that all content for their presentation be in the actual wiki pages.

  • The discussion forum was really successful and the students engaged in a lively dialog on assigned topics.  I will use a blog format next time because the WebCT discussion forum doesn’t work very well (you can edit once you’ve posted). On the days that a major paper or presentation is due, I will not also assign a discussion forum post – there were a few times when too much homework was due at the same time.
  • There’s more, but too much to post in a blog….

Overall, these are the skills I gained this summer while teaching:

Skills I gained:

  • Course and syllabus design
  • Grading processes, rubric creation
  • How to prepare for lectures week after week (vs. a one-time lecture)
  • Defining, explaining, and grading homework assignments
  • Creating a learning environment that encourages and engages students (just touched the surface on this one – I’m sure this will come over time)


  1. Thanks, Keri – –
    Your suggestions for different ways to convey the syllabus contents are very helpful and I will employ them next time around.

  2. Love the way you articulate your lessons from your teaching experience! As someone who went the other way (traded in mountains of knowledge for the ladder), I found that you cannot overcommunicate the syllabus/boundaries/expectations. Some people learn best by listening, some by reading, others by visual representations. I found that a very complete syllabus, discussed in the first session, was a good start, but posting it online, referring questions back to the syllabus (so students knew that the boundaries were articulated there), and sending students to the syllabus regularly for assignments/etc. was necessary to reinforce things.

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