I can’t believe it’s already the time to wrap things up for both this course and my undergraduate time at BC. Similar to many seniors who took this course, I consider #IS6621 as one of the most unconventional courses that I’ve taken at BC. I initially took the course as a good ISYS elective that meets once a week, but its unique syllabus, grading distribution and content provided me even better learning experience than some of the core ISYS concentration courses. As a parting note, I’d like to share my 3 main takeaways from the course with you all:
1. No procrastination is possible, even in an academic setting!
Prior to committing myself to this course, I was one of many who was scared to take the course because of Professor Kane’s warning message, which said: “For those of you who cram for midterm/final exams and do well in a course, your strategy won’t work in #IS6621.” Keeping up with the work constantly, i.e. no more procrastination, was my biggest concern in taking the course, and I expressed this concern in my first blog post. However, I have safely kept myself away from procrastination throughout the semester (for this very course at least), and I overcame my primary fear in taking #IS6621, which I am very proud of. This course is designed so that procrastination is pretty much impossible, and I am glad that I was able to train myself and keep up with the work each week. I am sure many others who struggle with procrastination have felt the same, and I am grateful for the opportunity to fight back my urge to procrastinate.
2. Exams may not be the best way to learn a material (or be evaluated).
This takeaway may be obvious, but I thought it is still important to highlight. If you see most BC courses’ format (or any university courses), exams take up a huge portion of the overall grade. Although I still agree that exams are good way to measure students’ understanding of the material and have no opposition to the “traditional” format, the goal often becomes simply scoring high on the exam instead of truly learning the material (at least my case) by the end of the term. Naturally, people want to do well in a course, and since an exam is the primary way to evaluate their performance, they focus too much on doing well on the exam. For this course, however, there was no pressure for a particular assignment or exam (we had no exam, duh); rather, the pressure was spread all over the assignments evenly. Learning the material and talking about it with a valuable insight were the core principles of evaluation for us, which were shown via different types of deliverables via presentations, blogging, class participations, and even tweeting. Everyone still wants to perform well in the course, but the focus is shifted from “I need a 100 on this exam” to “I need to know this week’s material to share a valuable insight.” Under this “system,” I was able to have an effective learning experience instead of seeking the best way to score 100 on an exam by studying previous exams and trying to guess what would appear on the exam.
3. No specific guideline for an “A” pushes me to perform better.
I believe this takeaway is unique for #IS6621 even among many courses without exams. Often, there is a clear guideline on the syllabus that describes a student who would get an A, A-, B+, and so on. Although we had weekly assignments that we had to fulfill for minimum, it was a simple guideline for a B+, not beyond. Having no perfect criterion for an “A” in the course gave me a huge pressure, and this in fact has pushed me to put more effort into the course and perform “better” than simply doing the requirement to get a certain grade. When I talked to Professor Kane regarding my concerns towards my performance in the class, this takeaway became clearer where I performed better without a set guideline for the highest grade in the course. In reality, this is applicable to any work scenario where I will be given tasks to finish, but it solely depends on me to figure out what I must do in order to excel instead of doing decently. My blogs, comments and tweets have been more active and engaging since the midterm evaluation, and the “unknown A standard” played a large role in helping me push myself to participate more in the course. In the end, I got more out of it, which I am very grateful for.
I often like to take a step back and reflect on the things I’ve done and received, and having takeaways from each event/action has been helpful for me to apply those lessons in my next journey. I’m sure yours are different from mine, and I would love to hear your takeaway as well. The more lessons, the better we can prepare for our next milestone! It’s been a pleasure to have gotten known you all, #IS6621.
Thanks for reading!