[Milton-L] A Note on Coercion

James Rovira jrovira at drew.edu
Wed Feb 25 16:20:18 EST 2004

I think the discussion of the coercive aspects of the assignment needs 
to be contextualized a bit --

First, a community college instructor said he suffered something like a 
class revolt when he attempted to assign memorization, so withdrew the 

Then, a student responded saying she was "irritated" by instructors that 
cave in to their students in this way, saying (essentially) that 
instructors should have some confidence that they know what assignments 
are best for the course and assign them.  If students refuse to 
participate, then they lose the grade.

 From this point some listmembers expressed dislike of the coercive 
nature of that suggestion.

So it's very true that all assignments are coercive in nature, but 
within context, I think the expressed disagreements were with the 
rationale offered in class for the assignment ("do it or lose a 
grade").  What I think would be more appropriate would be something like 
the discussion on this list in favor of memorization -- an explanation 
to the class about why memorization is important, what they should get 
out of it, etc. 

Once you've done that, at least some students will still complain, of 
course, so THEN you can say, "Do it or lose the grade..."


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