Feedback Essay

Describe the project (2-3 sentences):

Ex. Maria’s project focuses on the role of pleasure in the classroom, including how it can influence students’ sense of self, intellectual development, and critical thinking. Maria argues that pleasure is undervalued in the typical public school in the U.S., but that it can be a powerful tool for improving student engagement and self-esteem, which in turn improves educational outcomes. Maria suggests that attempting to incorporate more pleasure into the classroom fits into a larger project of student-centered education, which—to be done well—requires a culturally sensitive curriculum that aligns with students’ lived experiences.

Describe the parts of the project that work (~2-3 points):


First, I find writing in this paper clear and engaging to read. The arguments are laid out in a logical order and the transitions flow well between one argument and the next.
Second, the narratives Maria shares about a pleasurable and a not-so-pleasurable experience in school are vivid and fit really well into the arguments Maria is making in the paper. I like how the narrative and arguments are threaded together and Maria continues to refer back to the narrative to ground the arguments in a concrete example.
Third, Maria seems to have done a fair amount of outside research and pulls from several sources to weave a compelling argument about the potential power of pleasure as a pedagogical tool.
[If Maria had done a video with compelling visuals or good transitions between topics, I might comment on that! If the image is framed in an artful way, I might say something about that. If Maria had done a podcast and used varying tones of voice to keep the audience engaged, I might talk about that.]

Describe ways the project can be improved (~ 2-3 points):

Ex. [longer than suggested to provide additional examples]

I have a few suggestions for ways the paper can perhaps be improved.

First, I find the support for Maria’s first and third points to be particularly strong, though it would be helpful to clarify the second point and provide further support for it. I am not sure whether Maria is arguing that pleasure should be a pedagogical goal just because students deserve to enjoy themselves or if it is also because this creates a more constructive learning conditions. My reading is that Maria proposes each of these arguments at different times, and the same evidence is used to support both possible positions. I might try to make the argument more explicit and clear and streamline the evidence Maria uses to support that argument.
A second idea is to dive deeper into the ways that pleasure relates to other ideas we have talked about in class. For example, the work on malleable v. fixed intelligence could fit in well here. How does pleasure fit into whether we are focused on learning and moving through the challenges associated with trying something new or whether we are focused on trying to appear smart? Additionally, how might your arguments relate to labeling theory / social reproduction?
Third, Maria might provide a little more of a discussion in the conclusion. The introduction and body of the paper are powerful and could be well-balanced by a conclusion that clearly summarizes the possible implications of the arguments Maria is making, mentions other follow-up questions that Maria’s arguments raise, etc.
Fourth, there are a few spots in the paper that use several long sentences in a row (for example, the first full paragraph on page 5 and the last paragraph on page 6). It might flow more seamlessly if these are broken up so that the sentence length varies. (I find that if a sentence can be broken into two, this is often a good way to go.)
Fifth, there are a few spots where the word choice can perhaps be reconsidered. For example, on the top of page 2, Maria says, “Pleasure can be limiting for student learning.” Since she then goes on to say that pleasure can inspire student creativity that they can take in many different directions, should “limiting” be “limitless”? Maybe “be limiting for” could be “reduce barriers to”? Similarly, Maria uses the word “ethereal” on the bottom of page 3 to talk about something that doesn’t last very long, but perhaps “ephemeral” might make more sense here?
[If Maria had done a video or podcast, I might offer feedback if the quality of the sound/ visuals might be improved, I might pay attention to the transitions between visuals (are they smooth, for example), I might offer suggestions to make it more engaging if appropriate, etc.]

Additional feedback:

Ex. I really enjoyed reading your work! You might find chapters 13 and 14 of hooks’ Teaching to Transgress helpful for your thinking in this paper.

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