Steven's Observation Analysis
1. The apparent objectives for the class (providing the class with thoughtful information about globalization, increasing the class's understanding of proper MLA documentation, teaching the class about proper paraphrasing, and teaching the class about proper use of the colon) all seem to have been achieved. The instructor spent a considerable amount involving the class in discussions of these issues. The instructor used many overheads to illustrate his points and randomly called on his students to make the entire class think about his questions. However, the overheads seemed to be a little small. This probably made it more difficult for students sitting in the back of the class to follow the class's discussions; one student, for instance, responded to one of the instructor's questions about an overhead passage by saying: "I can't really see it, but it changes the text a bit." Most of the class, however, actively participated.
2. The class seemed least engaged during the discussion of proper MLA style. During this part of the class, the instructor had to plead with the students to participate, by saying things like "Come on I need a vote!" The students' lack of involvement was probably caused by two things. One the discussion was very detailed (should a period be placed here or not?), and I suspect that many of the students had not memorized MLA style to the extent that would allow them to participate comfortably in this discussion. Two, the details of MLA style are in and of themselves dull, and the instructor was not forcing students to participate by calling on them randomly in the way that he did when covering the proper use of the colon.
3. Generally, writing instruction and content seemed to be treated separately in this class. The moment when they were most connected came at the start of the class in response to a student's question about how their paper should be organized. Here, the instructor suggested structuring their papers' in three categories: Before Globalization, Impact of Globalization, and After Globalization. The content of their papers was thus intimately tied into how their papers should be written; the suggested organization of the papers might also direct the students to new insights as they wrote their papers. The rest of the class, though, was focused mainly on the mechanics of academic writing. Students were given samples of MLA style, proper punctuation, and proper paraphrase, but these issues were not treated as being closely related to issues involving globalization. In fact, the sentences that were used as examples of proper style were often about subjects unrelated to globalization. Also, the instructor did not incorporate student writing in his survey of which countries were most globalized. This was an isolated instance of learning about globalization, not writing about it.
5. The theories that seemed most represented in this instructor's style of teaching were Berlin's current traditionalism and Bartholomae's. The instructor focused on teaching the conventions of academic writing, in particular proper grammar and paraphrase. The instructor also modeled how he would structure the students' paper (using a before and after structure and topic sentences). His students were encouraged to think about the facts of globalization, and to analyze those facts, not to express their feelings about them.
6. I liked the instructor's use of overheads and his quizzing his students to teach them correct paraphrasing; I do something similar to this when I talk to my students about academic sources. The instructor's teaching style was, however, more authoritative than my own. He was also much more focused on the conventions of academic writing than I tend to be. While I do spend a little time teaching my students about academic conventions (I have students give group presentations on grammatical rules which I then quiz them on) I put less emphasis on these conventions. In fact, I stress to my students the arbitrary quality of many of these rules. I want them to understand that they are expected to use these conventions in academic writing, but I do not want them to think that people who do not know these conventions are less knowledgeable than they are. I also spend more time looking at arguments with my students, than I spend teaching grammar and MLA. I ask my students to analyze the assumptions of various arguments. The instructor in this class seemed more interested in presenting facts about globalization that were reported in a credible source (here a Foreign Affairs article that lists that world's most globalized countries). While I would discuss with my students the difference between Foreign Affairs and Newsweek, I also would be more interested in getting them to question the importance of that Foreign Affairs article as well as the sources of information that the author of the Foreign Affairs piece was drawing on (presumably government statistics). I also teach styles of documentation very differently. While I will spend time explaining things they need to cite versus things they do not need to cite, I do not expect them to memorize MLA style in detail. I'm more concerned that they know the kinds of things that they need to look up in their style handbook and the pages on which they can find it.