James Cassell's Blog

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mother of All Stressful Semesters

So, I had an incredibly stressful semester. Part of it was that I ended up taking 27 credit hours. I learned the hard way that this was a very bad idea.

The beginning of the semester started off quite well. I got to sleep before 11 P.M. every night for about a week and a half, before some assignment required me to be up later than that. Also, at the beginning of the semester, I actually did assigned readings, which I found to be very helpful. As the semester went on, the amount of stuff I had to do increased quite a bit. I moved from getting things done "slightly early" to "on time" to "before the end of the class they were due," and at the end, I had stuff being late, which is not good for grades.

Just about every minute of my week was spoken for. I had Drill Team , Ballroom, Officer Christian Fellowship, as well as team meetings, classes, etc. At one point, the Drill Team commander asked me if I actually had time to do Drill Team. I said that if I hadn't already put it into my schedule I wouldn't be able to do it. I was also on the mailing lists of several clubs for which I wished I had time to spend.

I ended up not doing too bad GPA-wise. The main thing that I am disappointed about is that I got a C in Electric Circuits, when I understood the material at a level worth at least a B. The thing that bothered me about the course was the exams; the only exam that I actually finished was the first one. On all of the others, there were at least 2 problems that I didn't finish (and theses are 7-problem exams.)

The other grade about which I wasn't terribly pleased was American Government. I got a B-, which isn't too bad considering that the exams were essay-based, on which I have a history of doing poorly. The class was certainly interesting. We would discuss current events and have opinionated discussions. I had a nice contrast between this class, where the professor was liberal, and my Leadership and Management class, where the professor was conservative. The latter I found to be refreshing, as I have conservative viewpoints.

The only class in which I was certain of an A was Music Theory I. I got A's in the rest of my classes, but only by the skin on my teeth, or in reality, due to the mercy of my professors and classmates (in those classes in which I had peer evaluations.)

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Peer Evaluations

In classes that have group projects, peer evaluations often comprise a certain portion of one's grade. I have had several such classes during my time at RPI. I don't know what standards most people use in making peer evaluations, but I'll list mine for anyone who might be interested.

In general, as long as each person contributed a reasonable amount to the project, I give everyone the maximum amount of credit possible in peer evaluations. If someone caused the group some trouble, I might give just under the maximum points, depending on how much was contributed despite the trouble. In the worst case, if someone greatly impedes the progress of the group and doesn't make up for it in some other way, I will seriously consider giving a negative peer evaluation.

The reason I do evaluations this way has a lot to do with the golden rule found in Luke 6:31. "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." I understand that people are human and that they generally try to pull their fair share of the weight. I would like other people to have the same attitude when completing their peer evaluations. Only in cases of severe lack of participation should a peer evaluation be negative.

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