What Have You Learned in This Class?

There was a chorus of amused laughter today when I handed out the preview for the final exam in one of my classes. The text consists of two questions: one, mandatory, and the other a choice from three possible topics.

I decided to mention only the possible topics for the questions of choice, but to reveal the whole question for the mandatory one. Which, in essence, was the same as the title of this post:

What have you learned in this class?

This question was, of course, followed by two paragraphs of elaboration, but none of it too challenging: just offering possible areas of focus, and explaining that I wasn’t looking for a simple repetition of facts from earlier lectures and presentations.

As I said to the class after handing out the sheets bearing this question, this is something students should always ask in every class that they take. However, I think it’s unusual for a student to be asked this in terms of evaluation, which seems to me odd. After all, we’ve been looking at what are essentially foreign Anglophone pop cultures for almost four months together. It seems like a sensible question to ask, “What have you gotten from all of this? What was the point? What did you learn? How has this affected your thinking?” And to me, all of that fits into the question, “What have you learned in this class?”

And to be honest, I wish my own professors had asked me questions like that more often, too.

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