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Author Topic: Stress Over Poor Students  (Read 6855 times)
prytania3
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2012, 12:39:56 AM »

The only thing in decline are the classroom management skills of faculty.

Larry, I think the OP dissed you. I wouldn't put up with that.
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forego324
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2012, 9:01:08 AM »

Quote
Larry, I think the OP dissed you. I wouldn't put up with that.

No more, no less than what Larry did in the message prior. In both situations, nothing to get the hairs on your back up (a euphemism, in case you are furless).
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prytania3
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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2012, 10:50:47 AM »

Quote
Larry, I think the OP dissed you. I wouldn't put up with that.

No more, no less than what Larry did in the message prior. In both situations, nothing to get the hairs on your back up (a euphemism, in case you are furless).

You know, I meant Mtaja1960--not the OP.
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mtaja1960
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2012, 10:10:25 AM »

I'll allow that there's always more to learn about classroom management. If I'm asked about the grades I can show how they followed the rubric. If I'm just not rehired, there's no conversation, of course. That's life in the big city!
I'm wondering whether the provost's apparent dislike of the high grading averages is something he's working on changing, something that gets used to reallocate funding away from the perceived offending department, or just an off-the-cuff-remark.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 10:11:51 AM by mtaja1960 » Logged
torshi
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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2012, 12:23:16 PM »

OP, if you are trying to use the link in the original post to make some larger point about students or grade inflation, then you are using a poor example. 

The incident described in the link is neither funny nor evidence of "poor" students.  It is evidence of an inefficient sign-up procedure designed by the instructor.  And it is evidence of that instructor's stupidity.  She wrote a mean-spirited post about students in her class--and her name and university are easily identifiable.

I am NTTF with evaluation rating scores and grade distributions that are both on the good side of average for the department.  I'm not a remarkable teacher, so If I can do it then the average person can do it.  I understand the pressure to give more A's because I teach one course in which I feel that pressure from outside the department.  But as NTTF, it is not within our role to wonder too much about why our chair, dean, or provost wants the grade distribution they want.  Our role is to identify the norm and stay within the lines.

The instructor whose blog site you linked created the problem she complained about.  But Larryc is wrong when he says that the only thing in decline is the classroom management skills of faculty.  I teach at a university that is attempting to solve its financial pressures by admitting students with lower SAT scores and by increasing class size while it cuts advising and academic support, adds non-academic administrators and consultants, freezes below-standard salaries, and threatens faculty cuts.  The combination makes teaching more challenging and creates an inevitable decline in the academic experience of our undergraduates.  It does not signal to faculty concerned about undergraduate education that we are part of a joint effort. 

And my place is in good financial shape relative to most comparable institutions!  These are the strategies we have chosen, not emergency measures.  We can not be the only university going through these changes.
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mtaja1960
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« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2012, 1:32:16 PM »

But as NTTF, it is not within our role to wonder too much about why our chair, dean, or provost wants the grade distribution they want.  Our role is to identify the norm and stay within the lines.


The norm doesn't work with my rubric, apparently.
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shamu
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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2012, 8:40:54 PM »

And I thought this thread was going to be about students with limited financial resources.
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mtaja1960
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« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2012, 11:27:46 PM »

Torshi, I can agree somewhat. Why couldn't the instructor simply have assigned times? But tardiness and cutting class is always, only the student's fault.
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pedanterast
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« Reply #23 on: December 24, 2012, 12:26:03 PM »

Many faculty risk actual reprisals from their university (including job loss) for not maintaining "quotas" of course completers.
And rather than fix the problem, we instead just keep slapping more band-aids over a bleeding wound. It is a non-sustainable path. Badly behaving students are very real and disheartening promoters of classroom and course degradation. Worse, many students know this, and exploit it.

At the risk of seeming presumptuous, this is far from my limited experience (only six unis). I would like to know what actual universities require "quotas" of course completers and have serious behavioral problems in the classroom.

You will not quota policy anywhere "officially", even at a corporate for-profit. But it is quite common "unofficially". One of the most valuable tips I have ever received as new faculty was to inquire about this. As I was told, you find out about the "quotas" from the new associate professors or the late assistant professors (faculty which tend to be most tuned to administrative winds). Some faculty like to refer to as "expected grade distributions". It really doesn't matter what one calls it, the goal is the same. You are expected to not exceed a certain number of D/W/F's in your courses.

At one school (elite private), my quota was 80-90% passing, 70-80% need A's and B's. At another school (large R2), the quota was 70% passing. At another R2, 70% passing was also the minimum. At a CC, 66% passing for non-majors courses, and 50% for majors courses. I have not worked for a corporate for-profit (e.g. University of Phoenix), but some of my colleagues have. They report pressure from administrators to pass high numbers of their students, and faculty that refused were not rehired.

Sometimes it is hard to find faculty that will give you solid numbers, or even talk to you. You may have to shop around for professors willing to spill the beans. I have learned to avoid talking to department chairs, as they have one foot in the admin door already. Very senior professors also tend to be poor choices, as they are often quite disconnected from any university reality not directly of their making. Ha.

Regarding bad student behavior in the classroom... heck, who *doesn't teach* nowadays and doesn't see that? If I had to assign a number in classes over the last several years I've taught, I would say that maybe a good solid 5% of students fell under the tag of "behavior problem negatively affecting overall class performance".

Well, you must really suck because I've taught at six universities and have never felt the need to inquire about others' grading standards.  And I don't have any behavior problems.
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pedanterast
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« Reply #24 on: December 24, 2012, 12:35:01 PM »

The only thing in decline are the classroom management skills of faculty.

Absolutely, definitely, the basic math and writing skills of the average student entering college have declined significantly over my 25 year career.  If that has not been your experience I would say you have been propinquitously blessed, or have had a much shorter career.
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larryc
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« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2012, 3:45:39 AM »

The only thing in decline are the classroom management skills of faculty.

Absolutely, definitely, the basic math and writing skills of the average student entering college have declined significantly over my 25 year career.  If that has not been your experience I would say you have been propinquitously blessed, or have had a much shorter career.

The writing skills of the average student entering my classes has greatly incresed in the last 20 years.

Which should not be surprising. The generation that grew up on the internet reads and writes all the damn time. It ain't Dostoyevsky, but it is a lot more reading and writing than any previous generation in human history has experienced.
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janewales
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« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2012, 12:09:31 PM »

The only thing in decline are the classroom management skills of faculty.

Absolutely, definitely, the basic math and writing skills of the average student entering college have declined significantly over my 25 year career.  If that has not been your experience I would say you have been propinquitously blessed, or have had a much shorter career.

The writing skills of the average student entering my classes has greatly incresed in the last 20 years.


Larry, I've had the same experience as you; my students now are much better writers than the students with whom I dealt when I began at this same institution more than 20 years ago. In part, we've become ever more selective in admission, but I do think that our public schools are also doing a good job on the basics (I've had two kids of my own go through the local public schools, so have a sense of what's going on in those classes). I do have to spend time complicating the idea of the basic five-paragraph essay, but for whatever reason, I'm no longer seeing frequent errors in basic grammar.
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womanofproperty
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« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2012, 5:00:27 PM »

The writing skills of the average student entering my classes has greatly incresed in the last 20 years.

I'm no longer seeing frequent errors in basic grammar.

I, on the other hand, see spelling and grammar errors everywhere. But it doesn't appear to be a function of age.
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prytania3
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« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2012, 7:00:14 PM »

The writing skills of the average student entering my classes has greatly incresed in the last 20 years.

I'm no longer seeing frequent errors in basic grammar.

I, on the other hand, see spelling and grammar errors everywhere. But it doesn't appear to be a function of age.

That's been my complaint. They can write essays fairly well. What they can't do is write a sentence.
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educator1
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« Reply #29 on: December 29, 2012, 11:29:45 AM »

The only thing in decline are the classroom management skills of faculty.

Absolutely, definitely, the basic math and writing skills of the average student entering college have declined significantly over my 25 year career.  If that has not been your experience I would say you have been propinquitously blessed, or have had a much shorter career.

The writing skills of the average student entering my classes has greatly incresed in the last 20 years.


Larry, I've had the same experience as you; my students now are much better writers than the students with whom I dealt when I began at this same institution more than 20 years ago. In part, we've become ever more selective in admission, but I do think that our public schools are also doing a good job on the basics (I've had two kids of my own go through the local public schools, so have a sense of what's going on in those classes). I do have to spend time complicating the idea of the basic five-paragraph essay, but for whatever reason, I'm no longer seeing frequent errors in basic grammar.


+1
This is also true of the mathematics abilities of my students. I teach a math related course and have recently dug up my finals from 20 years ago. My current students woud love to get them now as they would result in a substantial increase in the number of A finals.
According to a review of the registrar's records, the average GPA at my institution has not changed significantly.
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