Using Student Surveys to Customize Teaching

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MICHEL DEGRAFF: So I start the class. On the very first day, while they are still fresh and unsuspecting of the class contents, of my own ideology, I give them a survey where I ask very simple questions. You know, their major, their year.

But I also ask them personal questions. Where were they born? Where did they travel? And during what years? They were in which parts of the country or the world? And I asked them about some of the course contents.

You know, what do they know about Creole languages? How they define identity. What does identity mean? What kind of images does the word Caribbean trigger in their minds? So, very easy questions to answer.

But through these questions, I'm able to see and to get a sense of both the personal background, but also what kind of assumptions they bring to the course. And then I can use that to kind of have a beginning where I can address these fundamental assumptions that they do bring in the course, and also to connect the discussion to the personal profiles.

And then as we progress, I can, from time to time, check to see how some of the ideas might have mutated, might have evolved through our discussions. So it's a nice benchmark to start with.

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