Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


I remember when I first started working as an adjunct at another institution, I was talking to a full-timer and he mentioned that adjuncts tend to give out far too many “A’s” and “B’s”. I guess I fit that category, yet I find it interesting that most students think of me as a hard grader.

I am far from the hardest Public Speaking grader at the institution, but I am also not the easiest. Students tell me that other instructors basically give you an “A” every time you give a speech. I do not believe this to be the case and I know students will use whatever arguments they can find to try and convince you (even if they are not accurate). Still, I do believe there are some instructors who do not look for as much in a speech as I do.

When it is all said and done, however, probably about 80% of the students in my classes get either and A or a B (there are not + or -). Somehow students think when it comes to public speaking, they should automatically get an A. They may admit they are uncomfortable speaking in public and they are not very good at it, but they still feel entitled to an A. I don’t quite get that.

I tell my students right from the start that I hate grading. I hate grading but I love evaluating, love giving feedback on speeches as my job is to help make them better speakers. The problem is, once they get the critique back, they jump down to the grade before reading the rest of it and once they see the grade, they often times can no longer read them comments objectively. I am toying with the idea of handing the critiques back without a grade and then telling them the grade at the following class session (A full professor once told me she did that).

Yes, I wish I did not have to grade. Yes, I wish I could just grade them based on attendance. In truth, I do think my class is a lesson in perseverance as there is a lot to do in a short time.

When I first started teaching I was told to grade honestly but to understand these were students at a community college and when it came to public speaking they were fragile and scared. My charge was to improve their self confidence in the area of public speaking, provide them with a positive learning experience and grade objectively. I think, for the most part, I have done that. I certainly hope so.