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July 18, 2012

Seeking "mid-term" feedback on assignments, course/blog coverage, exam concerns, etc.

We are hitting roughly the mid-way point in both the Oxford program and in our class meetings.  That reality, as well as your recent focus on the mid-term mini-paper, has prompted me to put up this post seeking constructive feedback on our course and this blog (and/or the whole Oxford program) so far.

I stress the term "constructive" for this feedback because there is still ample time to tweak our class or this blog and/or other parts of the Oxford program to achieve any remaining goals you have for our final few weeks together here in the UK.  I continue to be a bit overwhelmed by all I want us to be able to do together in the classroom, but I also want to continue to make sure I am tailoring our time together to fit student needs and interests rather than my own (always overflowing) desire to talk about (and blog about) all sort of areas of US and non-US criminal justice systems that I find fascinating.

Thanks in advance for any and all responses and input.

UPDATE:  Please add in this thread any/all concerns about my plans to give out two take-home questions and to allow student to complete the final exam by completing one or two take-home exam questions or one or two in-class exam questions.

July 18, 2012 in About this blog, Class reflections | Permalink


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As far as the exam goes, I think that having the option of writing another mini-paper for at least one of the questions sounds great, especially since some of us have three exams in one day. I wouldn't mind doing some writing based on other people's research either; everyone's paper topics sounded so exciting!

Posted by: Katie | Jul 24, 2012 6:06:29 AM

I agree with Katie. I think having the option to write another short paper and do only 1 exam question would be nice, and those would rather write 2 essays on the exam could still do so.

Also, I know everyone's interests are extremely diverse, but I think it would be very interesting to take one topic (any topic would be fine) and compare it in more detail to the UK (or any other country), focusing on similarities and differences between the US and the other country.

Posted by: Alex | Jul 24, 2012 7:25:11 AM

Pr. Berman, I would be interested in writing a small mini-paper as long as it's assigned in advance and due prior to our "Free Day." I'd like to reserve the free day to study exclusively for the in-class finals.

Posted by: Grady | Jul 24, 2012 12:11:08 PM

I agree with everything that has been said. I would definitely be in favor of having an option to write another short essay in place of an exam question.

Posted by: Kyle | Jul 24, 2012 12:14:47 PM

I concur! Having the option of a mini-paper is fantastic since some students may have had a more difficult time with the research component. Also, would it be possible that one option could be to expand upon the midterm paper instead of writing a new one? Perhaps an opportunity to more fully develop a given topic would be fun/challenging as well.

Posted by: Melba | Jul 24, 2012 4:29:13 PM

Good to know, folks, and I will plan accordingly...

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 24, 2012 7:14:21 PM

I really like the options that we have for the final.

This may be too late to suggest, but I think it would be fun to have a short in-class debate over a topic one day if there's an issue that splits the class somewhat down the middle. I found it really interesting to hear people's opinions on hearsay/search and seizure etc. and hearing everyone's reasoning. So if we find another issue worth discussion (and I think we will after reading Chapters 6 and 7), my suggestion would to be to have an impromptu "debate"/hashing out reasoning behind different points of view!

Posted by: Katie | Jul 29, 2012 1:12:46 PM

I agree with Katie. I think a short in-class debate would be a lot of fun!

Posted by: Grady | Jul 29, 2012 4:47:37 PM

Just a suggestion/request that I've been wanting to throw out there - and I'm hesitant to do so, given Professor Berman's already excessive generosity: would it be possible to semi-extend the deadline for the take-home for those who have all three exams scheduled on the same day? Even a deadline of 11:59pm on Saturday would be hugely beneficial.

That being said, I'm extremely grateful that we even have the take-home exam option. Thanks again, Professor!

Posted by: Iris J. | Jul 31, 2012 12:30:22 PM

I fear, Iris, that this would make Nicci want to kill me. Plus, I do not think it is a good idea to extend the "pain" of the final longer than needed.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jul 31, 2012 1:14:38 PM

If there is one thing I would recommend changing about the course to make it better, I would recommend changing the casebook. My biggest qualm about the book is that it doesn't consistently use the same countries to analyze the different criminal procedures. For example, it would use germany and italy for one aspect of a procedure and then use UK and Spain for another. If there was a casebook that consistently used the same countries to comparatively analyze the different criminal procedure, it would be better. This is of course assuming that such a casebook exists.

Also, I agree with many of the recommendations stated above such as in class debates and take home finals.

Posted by: Daniel H. | Aug 1, 2012 10:16:01 AM

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