Your Exam

Some students have asked what the exam will focus on.

We’ll be watching an episode from Season 1 of the TV show This American Life and then discussing it.

The discussion will be anything students in the exam want to talk about. It will involve approximately 30 minutes of discussion. I don’t care so much what you talk about, but I do care that you find a way to talk… that is, find a way to make conversation about whatever we’ve just watched. Your #1 job, again, is to be interesting. I also expect you to be attentive, to listen to others, to encourage others to speak, to be able to change the subject, and to actually find a way to use what we watched as the basis for a conversation.

You will be asked to  submit a self-evaluation form from the website. The self-evaluation form will be very simple, and will help you evaluate two things:

1. Your performance on the exam, and

2. Your performance in the class up to now.

For the exam portion of the self-evaluation, I will ask you to consider the following things:

NON-GRADED (This will not affect your grade on the exam):

  • listening ability — how much of the TV show did you understand? (non-graded: ie. this will not affect your grade.)

GRADED (This will not affect your grade on the exam):

  • creating interest: did you have something interesting to say? Did you manage to get people to laugh at least once?
  • attentive listening: did you seem attentive to others’ speech and respond to it actively?
  • emotional affect: did you show some emotion in your speech?
  • conversational cooperation: did you give others a chance to speak, and did you encourage them to share their opinions?
  • memorableness: do you think your contribution to the discussion was memorable?

Please understand, however, that your self-evaluation will not necessarily determine your grade. If I think you have been too generous — or too tough — in evaluating yourself, I will let you know. This self-evaluation is as much a tool for your learning as it is a tool for grading. As I said, I think examinations in conversation courses are somewhat nonsensical anyway. But I do encourage you to take seriously this opportunity for an interesting conversation, and for self-reflection.

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