When teaching a course that includes students from different years, should one take experience into account? Judging from the article FSP referred to, the students would probably much prefer this. That way, when grading assignments, second years are only compared to second years. However, they could learn more by being compared to third years. Climb up a level they didn’t consider yet… Not to mention that third years can also learn from second years.
Yes, a year of extra experience can help when the main point of the assignment is to write a structured argument, but it is by no means certain that everybody has learned this so far. At least, judging from the handed in assignments, years didn’t make a lot of difference. Paying attention probably counted for a lot more, and rereading the given literature. I don’t know how much effort students put in their assignment, but it is not possible for me to grade them on that anyhow. Of course, it is possible to have put in a lot of effort while not executing the assignment as asked. Is this a lot of effort down the drain? No, learn from it!
Admittedly, none of the students have really complained about being in mixed groups after the course started. Probably it isn’t as difficult as they thought to find time nobody has other commitments, or the topic is interesting enough to keep them coming back for more. At least two students mentioned that so far they find the reading material interesting and fascinating to discuss about so that’s good news for next year. Let’s hope it’s also reflected in the course evaluation, by the way. It would be nice to be able to show 2 positive evaluations from teaching positions.
The most fun part of this course is to see the students grow in experience, knowledge and self-confidence. It’s good to know that I can realise that!