The two governance decisions implemented this semester impacted my time in Econ 490K in a few different ways. First of all, class attendance was not mandatory. This immediately put me at ease because of my rigorous tennis schedule. Having attendance impact my grade always seemed to stress me out, as I would have to miss some classes when my teammates and I traveled during the week. It never made any sense to me how something that was, in my situation, impossible for me to control would impact my grades. In this class, it was not the case, but that never stopped me from showing up whenever I could. Personally, I don’t do very well learning material online or from textbooks. When there is an actual in-class discussion, students participating and asking questions, and the professor giving us different examples, I pick up more information. Having said that, having class attendance be optional did not impact my routine at all. When I was able to attend class, I was there.
Secondly, after the first two weeks of class, we voted on if laptops should be allowed during class. To no surprise, we voted to allow the use of laptops. Just like the first implementation, I was relieved when this was finally decided. Truthfully, I think laptops can prove to be of great use to students and it sure helps me out substantially. Especially in higher-level college courses, such as this one, we are able to cover a lot of material in just one class session. It is impossible for students to try and write all the information down as well as not miss some of the material that the professor is going over. By being able to type my notes instead of write them down, I feel like I was able to take more notes in a shorter amount of time as well as not miss any important information that the professor was describing.
However, having my laptop in front of me at all times create some desire to do things that are not related to the class. For instance, checking my Facebook, looking up sport results, looking up news stories and checking on other work for other classes. I have to admit, that in the beginning of the semester, when we were first allowed to use our laptops, I found myself doing non-Econ490k-related work more often that I would have liked. I still took notes, participated occasionally and paid attention, but now and then I would catch myself going on these tangents of websites that were not for class. This changed once I got my first quiz grade back and was very unpleased with the result. I knew I had to get back to simply using the laptop to take notes and possible clarify some things that were being said on Google. Once I changed my ways, I learned a lot more, took more meticulous notes, and eventually did a lot better on the second quiz. All in all, the laptop had both positive and negative impacts on my behavior.
These two governance decisions surely affected the class atmosphere as well. Having attendance be optional cut our class in half as our typical class size was probably somewhere between 12-18 people at a time. Having fewer students in our discussions made the discussions into more of a lecture than it should have been. If we had 30 people with their individual opinions and ideas participating as supposed to 15, I think we could have had better and more in-depth discussions. Similarly with the laptops, I’d like to think that if everybody didn’t have their head down looking at their computer, more people would have participated in our discussions.