Hard not to read too much into this one
So I get pulled aside by my department head the other day, between classes. It went something like this:
"The Provost and I were talking, and your name came up. She thought of something you said during the faculty development week about Ethics being a senior level class, and maybe that is why there the complaints.... (pause)
Really it should be a two hundred level (rather than 400 level) class for sophomores... so while we work to change the numbers you should go ahead and think of it that way."
Since then he has repeatedly told me that this was not an indictment of my teaching, or a claim that I was too demanding, or any sign that I was not respected by the administration.
Still.... one my think that he doth protest too much.
Truthfully, I've hardly been teaching this as a "senior" level course. I use an introductory text, I give eight one question quizzes which anyone with passing knowledge of the subject should ace, and I assign two four page papers. Anyone who has a basic knowledge of English and who does the readings should get an A.
But I will admit to getting several students complaining, crying, desperate every semester because they need to pass the class to graduate. I do hate being the gatekeeper... pass my course ot don't graduate. But I would say no more students fail my classes than say English 131 or the required Math classes. But my classes frequently get taking later in the college careers of the students, so instead of taking the class early when they have the time needed to repeat it, they wait until it is too late. Of course, those students who for whatever reason didn't realize that they need to take the class to graduate, are also the students who lack the study skills to do well in a rigorous class. So there is the problem.
The message I got was.. make your class less demanding. (Of course, they have all denied this)
But I am not sure how to do it, and still teach a college level course.
So the latest suggestion is that I drop one of the papers. Again.. two papers is too demanding? Hmmmm. It is hard to know how to progess.
I've been told not to worry too much about this. But honestly... I still am.