Bang Your Head on Your Desk - the thread of teaching despair!

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tigerseye:
Today in lab  "How does this oven work?".  My lab assistant "Um, open it?"

systeme_d_:
The first exam is tomorrow.

I just got an email from a student in that class.

She asked eight questions, which I shall rephrase here.

1) What does that basic concept foundational to this class mean?
2) Who was that important guy?
3) Who was that other important guy?
4) Who was that third important guy?  Wasn't he killed at that event?  [No, he was not.]
5) What was that piece of legislation?
6) Who was that guy associated with that piece of legislation?
7) What does that term mean? [That term is the very thing you should be writing your midterm essay on.]
8) What does that other term mean? 

She ended this series of questions by stating that she could not find the answers in her notes. [What?  Seriously, WTF?]

I actually replied, and told her that I would not re-teach her the class on the night before the exam, and that she would be well-advised to look up these terms in our readings or even on the internet if necessary.

<sigh>

polly_mer:
Quote from: fishprof on February 04, 2013, 10:11:07 PM

Anakin - nice to know I am not in left field here.

Based on previous semesters, the ones who aren't doing the quizzes typically don't believe the class is as hard as it is, even though I tell them repeatedly.

This semester, there are two repeats, they both are doing the chapter quizzes.  That leaves only one other student who is doing them. 

The rest just....can't be bothered, I guess.  A come to Jesus meeting is happening tomorrow...


I don't know what to tell you, Fishprof.  I'm wrestling with similar things here in my new job.  I'm doing all the things that usually work in science for teachers (a class that is going fabulously well with people who admit that they are scared of science and ill-prepared) and that I started doing because the research shows they work well with intro science students, but have failed dramatically with actual science majors here.

So far as I can tell, the situation is that the students think C is awarded for going through the motions most of the time and that's ok with them.  They are also ok with a D because "everyone" knows <whatever class I'm currently teaching, regardless of what it is> is tough.

One thing I'm trying this semester, based on advice from a colleague, is changing the grading structure so that earning a D is nearly impossible.  Either one does enough work to do well enough on the tests to earn a C overall or one fails enough of the tests that one fails the class on the rule that the test average must be X%.  I changed to this because I heard students freaking out that their first test in the colleague's class was so far below X% that they would have to use their dropped score on that test and study their butts off to do better on the remaining tests.  I also know that the colleague purposely makes that first test one that relies heavily on having understood the homework, not just going through the motions.  We'll see if that holds true for me.

tigerseye:
Quote from: polly_mer on February 05, 2013,  9:03:17 AM

Quote from: fishprof on February 04, 2013, 10:11:07 PM

Anakin - nice to know I am not in left field here.

Based on previous semesters, the ones who aren't doing the quizzes typically don't believe the class is as hard as it is, even though I tell them repeatedly.

This semester, there are two repeats, they both are doing the chapter quizzes.  That leaves only one other student who is doing them. 

The rest just....can't be bothered, I guess.  A come to Jesus meeting is happening tomorrow...


I don't know what to tell you, Fishprof.  I'm wrestling with similar things here in my new job.  I'm doing all the things that usually work in science for teachers (a class that is going fabulously well with people who admit that they are scared of science and ill-prepared) and that I started doing because the research shows they work well with intro science students, but have failed dramatically with actual science majors here.

So far as I can tell, the situation is that the students think C is awarded for going through the motions most of the time and that's ok with them.  They are also ok with a D because "everyone" knows <whatever class I'm currently teaching, regardless of what it is> is tough.

One thing I'm trying this semester, based on advice from a colleague, is changing the grading structure so that earning a D is nearly impossible.  Either one does enough work to do well enough on the tests to earn a C overall or one fails enough of the tests that one fails the class on the rule that the test average must be X%.  I changed to this because I heard students freaking out that their first test in the colleague's class was so far below X% that they would have to use their dropped score on that test and study their butts off to do better on the remaining tests.  I also know that the colleague purposely makes that first test one that relies heavily on having understood the homework, not just going through the motions.  We'll see if that holds true for me.


No fancy math here.  A colleague made 70 or higher C, below 70 F.  He made a big deal that there are no D grades in his course.  He put it on the course policy handout that the students sign.  He repeated it in e-mails sent before the withdraw deadline.  He marked it on the grade summary reports that he gives them a couple of times every term.  There was still shock when there were no D grades.  So far, no pushback from the administration. 

emdashed:
Grrrrrrrr. No matter how simple I try to make things...

I got sick of adjudicating requests for extensions last term, so this time I explained that everyone gets one no-questions-asked 48 hour extension. On the course website--and on a landing page that they could not avoid seeing if they bothered to read the assignment--I posted a "contract" for the extension and explained (verbally, several times, and on the course site itself) that they were to print out the contract, sign it, and turn that in when I collected papers. I explicitly said that I must have the contract or the standard late policy will kick in.

Eight students turned in the contract according to procedure.

One student emailed me her paper and extension form after class and did the whole "Life thing happened and I know you will understand" bit.

Three students said "I couldn't find the form on the website, but I am taking the extension."

Three students were absent and have not communicated with me. I am sure they will show up with paper in hand, with the contract, on Wednesday. Wednesday at the start of class is the deadline for anyone who took an extension, but SILLY ME I thought that anyone who didn't show up the day a major assignment was due would take the time to let me know they were taking the extension.

What do I do with the 7 students who biffed it?
1) Be a harda** and say "Tough cookies. Just because you "couldn't find it," or didn't think you needed to email me, does not mean the policy did not exist. Standard late policy applies."
2) Take their papers, sans appropriate documentation, and dock them 1 point rather than the 2 they'd have racked up with the late policy (effectively taking them down 1 instead of 2 letter grades).
3) Accept the papers, don't dock them, but say that anyone who does not follow procedure in the future is SOL.

#1 will lead to much whining and gnashing of teeth but teaches a lesson in responsibility.
#2 seems arbitrary but gives these seriously clueless freshmen a break.
#3 doesn't seem fair to the students who still have an extension at their disposal.

Seriously, trying to figure out all the ways students can eff up course policy and plan for that in the syllabus and assignments sometimes seems more time consuming than anything else I do.

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