History Department Response to Student Feedback
HSTY2057 - American Cultural History (2003)
Unit Coordinator: Dr Frances Clarke
This unit of study consisted of three interrelated parts, each taught by a different lecturer. As I was initially concerned about how students would react to the mix of teaching styles and perspectives involved in a unit of this nature, it was a wonderful surprise to find that this was the part of the unit that students liked best. The teaching evaluations had overwhelmingly positive things to say about the three-part division of the course and the mix of teachers. Some students remarked that this format allowed them to see how different topics were related. A few noted that if one part of the unit was less appealing then they appreciated having the option of focusing on a different part.
Although nearly all of the students who completed an evaluation indicated that they were satisfied overall with the quality of this unit there were a number of legitimate grievances. One concerned tutorial sizes. Unfortunately, there was a huge spike in enrolments right before and after the semester began which necessitated adding three extra tutorials. This caused some chaos and dissatisfaction and quite a few students felt that their tutorials were over-subscribed or lacking in cohesion as a result. By keeping a close watch on student numbers in the weeks immediately before and after classes start I hope to avoid this problem in future.
Although there were a handful of students who complained about the workload involved in this unit, there were far more who thought that it was sufficient or average (and one who thought it was too low!) If I teach this unit of study again there are several readings that I will change but I will basically leave the workload as it is.
One student also commented that they would have appreciated an introductory lecture on the overall course aims (including a discussion of what American culture is). This is a suggestion that I will certainly take into account next time this unit is offered.