Today my comp classes were to give a group presentation. Their assignment was to create a poster board presentation that highlighted five innovations in one of five areas of life: home, health, entertainment, education, and work. The students could write about any type of innovation as long as it related to the area of life they selected. Predictably, the students picked common and broad innovations. For example, for home life they picked innovations like electricity, plumbing, HVAC, and television. The presentations themselves were of so-so quality. Out of ten groups, two groups (in the same class) did not even have posterboards to put their details on. One group in the other class had their information written in pencil on lined notebook paper which they ripped (though neatly) to make small enough to fit on the board. The students had a week to work on this presentation. I even gave the students some time in class to work on their presentations, though they did not really take advantage of this time.
While the posterboards themselves varied in quality (a couple of groups did put forth some effort to create an imaginative presentations), their oral presentations were dry and boring. Next week I am going to ask my students to give an honest evaluation of the presentations. I'm sure most of the students will say that they were not all that great. It's amazing how quickly the students are to criticize their instructors when they fail to entertain them, but when they are given the opportunity to give the presentation, they do even worse. It would be one issue if they actually tried to give a creative presentation, but that was not the case.
After my classes I was so frustrated that I did not want to go back to my office and work. I am working on keeping a positive attitude toward my classes this semester, but their behavior really zapped my energy and desire to even plan for their next class. I want my students to learn that they should always give their best, so I am planning to talk to them about their presentations and the problems they contained. Hopefully I can reach through their lackluster attitudes and show them that they will only get out of their education what they choose to put into it.