How I Spent My Summer Session

July 26th, 2015

My summer physical anthropology course has ended, so my summer vacation has officially started. I get a few weeks of relatively less work to think about how prior classes turned out and start improving on the next semester’s version. Here are a few quick notes and lessons based on my most recent class.

  • 5 Hour Energy Drink is my hero. I used it for my dissertation defense, knowing that I tap out at around 45 minutes during an oral exam. I still think that my defense was the best presentation I ever gave. Having a half bottle before my class kept me focused for my 4 hour summer lectures.
  • Addressing student concerns reminded me of an article about the two types of favor askers (Burkeman, 2010). While I only ask for something when I am reasonably sure that I will get it (the guesser type), there are also people who ask for favors just to see what he or she could get. That is totally fine, but I have to remember to keep in mind that a favor being asked of me may not be rooted in an actual need.
  • Asking about their favorite part of class, I was gratified to hear that the Skeletal Voltron activity was a hit. One of the full documentaries that I showed, Of Dolls & Murder, also got a few mentions.
  • There was a surprise when I asked students to vote on the most confusing lecture. I expected genetics and evolution to be ranked high, but most votes went to modern primates primate/human evolution. Maybe it was because those were the most recent lectures, or it was the volume of information being presented about unfamiliar topics.
  • One thing I have to work on is my leniency for student excuses for things. I tended to be very allowing in having students turn in assignments way pass the due date or missing class. There may be a personal issue involved as sometimes I feel in hindsight that I care more about late points and unexcused absences than the students care about those penalties themselves! I should keep letting the course rules do their thing in the future instead of relaxing them once the class starts.
  • I had enough extra credit opportunities to move up a full grade. I noticed that the students with the lowest scores did none of them, or did not come close to the full amount. The B to low A students were the ones who did the maximum number of assignments, generally resulting in an A. I had a very skewed distribution of grades due to this trend, with few Bs compared to As and Cs.

The next semester starts in a little under a month! I look forward to a normal semester schedule instead of a hectic summer.



Burkeman, O. (2010, May 7). Are you an asker or a guesser? [Web article]. The Guardian. Retrieved from

Marks, S. (Director). (2012). Of Dolls & Murder [Film].

One Response to “How I Spent My Summer Session”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Heyo! I had the same problem as your 5th bullet point here. And now, I absolutely let the syllabus to all the talk – gah, it can just be so MEAN sometimes, that syllabus, but what can little ole me do about it? Rules are rules;)

    Your last bullet point will never change – students who do poorly do so not because they do not understand, but because they do not put in effort. It’s so odd to me, to have people wasting time and money on crap GPAs, but that is their deal, not mine!

    This semester, I will experiment with zero bonus work – not even bonus questions! Oh, I feel fear about the outcome, but I must know what the verdict will be.

    I am very curious about your post on favors….care to elaborate? You got my email! 😀

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply