Friday, February 26, 2010

Independent Study

OK, yesterday's frazzled feeling has been largely resolved. Later today I'll head off to a small conference. I'm hoping it'll be fun.

Students here are registering for next year, and I've already tentatively agreed to two independent studies. In both cases they're good students for whom the IS would fill an important spot in their overall program, so on the one hand I feel good about doing them. On the other hand, my dept. chair advises me not to take on too many, and I don't want to overload myself. I have had independent studies before--some of them turned out great, others were frustrating and took way too much time.

What do you think, readers? What makes me you more or less willing to supervise an independent study? Are there keys to both student and prof having a good experience with one?


feMOMhist said...
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feMOMhist said...

only and ONLY IF that student is totally bound to me and cannot afford to piss me off. Seriously though, it is a boatload of work and at TTLAC we receive no remuneration (other than that warm tingly feeling). I think that the most successful IS are
1. student doing an actual course that for some reason he or she could not take
2. student working on something related to professor's discipline.

Worst case is supervising something SO FAR from your field that it is absurd (which I agreed to out of misplaced kindness way back in the day). I was ill prepared to guide the student and felt odd about the whole topic. She was a good student, but it could have devolved into a massive cluster-f

Jess said...

I'm resisting IS's because there's a sense among some students here that it's the faculty's responsibility to fill in those courses that they didn't get when they were offered, and that they now--surprise!--need to graduate. (And we're not paid for these, either, as I suspect most people aren't.) And I've also never had one that was actually in my field.

The *worst* IS experience I had was with a student who was student teaching and therefore unable to take a required course for the major. In theory, it should have been easy, because I was teaching the course at the time and therefore already prepped every week--but he frequently and blithely didn't do the work, so we'd get behind and I'd forget what we were supposed to be talking about, and also wound up ending every Monday (our meeting day) generally pissed off at his indifference. The next IS I agreed to--the following semester--terminated abruptly when the student had emotional problems and dropped half of his courses. So my last couple of experiences haven't been overwhelmingly positive--but I can imagine how an IS could be a neat experience...?

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Only for students I have already taught in a regular class at least once and know to be mature, self-motivated, independent workers.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Only for grad students. Then again, the SLAC situation is probably different.