Professor jennifer hurley

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Slow Teaching During the Coronavirus

Perhaps I jinxed myself when, at the beginning of 2020, I announced to my husband that my word of 2020 was “slow.” Since the coronavirus, slow has become an inescapable reality. There is no traffic to battle, no hallways to rush down, no clutch of […]

Against Outcome-Based Education

I always have thought that the essence of learning was surprise. That feeling we get when we encounter a totally new idea—that’s surprise, a kind of delighted amazement makes us crave more. So I wonder if our desire to make education more tidy is actually deadening it for our students. In our quest to measure everything, we are leaving the frosting and sprinkles off the cupcakes.

Why We Need Books More Than Ever

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that reading saved my life. I was born prematurely, with undeveloped lungs, and I was not expected to survive. In the middle of the night—this was February, in Maryland— I was taken by helicopter to a bigger […]

Doing Less Better

A new semester is about to begin, and already I feel the overwhelm. I feel it in my body: a tightness in my throat and jaw. So many students, so many emails, so many tasks—giant and minute—to manage. As an introvert, teaching often feels to […]

What Makes Teaching Sustainable Is the Same Thing That Makes It Unsustainable

Recently, I’ve witnessed several beautiful teachers walk away from teaching. I felt very sad and also a little jealous. Imagine how free I might feel without teaching! And then there are the teachers who do not walk away from teaching but become more embittered with […]

One Book, Two Hearts Project

This post is to announce the formal launch of the One Book, Two Hearts Project, which will provide a book as a gift to each community college English student at the end of the semester. If you would like to support this project, I am […]

Why Grade Inflation Is Inevitable—and What We Should Do About It

Recently, at the Toyota service center where I had gotten my car repaired, an employee said that I would be getting a survey via email asking me to assess the quality of service I received. “Anything less than five is terrible,” he told me. “It’s […]

Grading Contract – Revised for Spring 2019

Grading This course uses a form of grading called contract grading. There are no points or letter grades in this course, aside from the final letter grade you earn at the end. The premise of contract grading is that if you do the work required […]

On Teaching, Depression, and Tattoos

It took me almost twenty years of teaching to recognize the pattern. Every spring semester, come March, my stress built to an unsustainable point, and I sank down deep into depression. In the spring of 2017, it hit harder than ever, for no particular reason, […]

Grading Without Comparing

In my system of contract grading, my students write a final reflection at the end of the semester discussing their learning in the class. As part of this reflection, they are welcome to make a case for what grade they earned, although it’s wonderful to […]