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

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proftowanda:
Quote from: sciencegrad on April 16, 2013, 11:42:03 pm

Quote from: polly_mer on April 16, 2013,  9:26:28 pm

Quote from: sciencegrad on April 16, 2013, 12:31:24 pm

Was there anything particularly awesome found in that old lab equipment, Polly? Like mechanical calculator awesome?


I've got equipment that I had to look up and ask colleagues at other schools what they are that are still unidentified.  I've got actual teletypes.  I've got more than one giant sliderule.  I've got a mega geiger counter along with full sets of the blocking plates for use with radiation (I did get rid of the radiation sources that had to be licensed by the state through a program that was pleased to take it off our hands after I explained that I'm a polymer simulationist who ended up in charge of these sources).


That's pretty cool. I'd like to see a teletype in person.


Migosh, teletype machines!  I worked with those, decades ago -- including having to fix them, at times, because I needed them to do my job, and the closest repairperson was many miles away and always backed up.

They broke down a lot.  Just in case you need any of them fixed, Polly, I was so young then that I may be the only person left on this planet who knows how to do so.  (Lordy, this makes me grateful for the computer age.)

dr_know:
As of last week, only 3 of 12 students were passing.  A 4th student was close to passing and a 5th student had the possibility of passing (although his grade was lower than #4, his talent is much greater).  Now only 1 of the 3 is passing (students 4 and 5 are pretty much in their same positions, but with fewer opportunities to improve).  Why?  Because Suzy Snowflake didn't turn in the last paper and Mary I-Wasn't-A-Snowflake-Before-Now plagiarized the last paper.  I will never understand why someone would rather cut-and-paste different movie reviews rather than simply watch the d@mn movie and write their opinions about it.  She claims to have the VHS.  It's a kid's film for Pete's sake!

Before this happened, Mary had a C+ average, and could have moved up into B- territory.  Now she has a D+.  Meanwhile, Suzy dropped from a solid C to a solid D.  There's only one paper left, plus the final exam.  I was counting on these 3 students (and hoping for the other 2) to do well on their last couple of papers because I know they're not going to do well on the final exam.  They needed these last papers to absorb the final blow.  It's a common exam which I had no hand in crafting, so that's problem 1.  Problem 2 is that everyone in this class has bombed nearly all of their quizzes, and only a few scraped by on the midterm.  So I really could be facing a 1/12 (or even 0/12) passing rate.

All this headbanging really hurts.

proftowanda:
Quote from: dr_know on April 17, 2013,  2:14:38 am

As of last week, only 3 of 12 students were passing.  A 4th student was close to passing and a 5th student had the possibility of passing (although his grade was lower than #4, his talent is much greater).  Now only 1 of the 3 is passing (students 4 and 5 are pretty much in their same positions, but with fewer opportunities to improve).  Why?  Because Suzy Snowflake didn't turn in the last paper and Mary I-Wasn't-A-Snowflake-Before-Now plagiarized the last paper.  I will never understand why someone would rather cut-and-paste different movie reviews rather than simply watch the d@mn movie and write their opinions about it.  She claims to have the VHS.  It's a kid's film for Pete's sake!

Before this happened, Mary had a C+ average, and could have moved up into B- territory.  Now she has a D+.  Meanwhile, Suzy dropped from a solid C to a solid D.  There's only one paper left, plus the final exam.  I was counting on these 3 students (and hoping for the other 2) to do well on their last couple of papers because I know they're not going to do well on the final exam.  They needed these last papers to absorb the final blow.  It's a common exam which I had no hand in crafting, so that's problem 1.  Problem 2 is that everyone in this class has bombed nearly all of their quizzes, and only a few scraped by on the midterm.  So I really could be facing a 1/12 (or even 0/12) passing rate.

All this headbanging really hurts.




Close to this is occurring in one of my classes, with 11 students, too.   And it's only an intro-level class.

I suppose that I ought to have realized that this would be a weird one when the top student, a major in the field with a 3.8 GPA, missed the first exam.  She forgot about it.  There are several exams, each not wrecking a grade, so I assured her that she still could get an A, with most of the course ahead, if she made sure to do every assignment (and every test, of course).  She has been skipping some assignments and may pull out a C.

Another student, equally excellent and reliable in early work, also started missing even more assignments a while ago and may not even manage a C.    With that record from the best students, by far, I suppose that I ought not be surprised that a few strugglers from the start have given up the struggle, entirely.   Of the middling group by ability, some could have done well, if they also had been more reliable.  I hope that they pass at all.

I would hire one in the class -- one -- who has middling ability but is the only one with reliability, the only one who has not missed an assignment or an exam.  And, because practice works, she has consistently improved and well may get the best grade in the class, a B, better than any of the more gifted and better-prepared students, including the only major in the field, near the end of the major, so the work is easier for that one than for any.

I am tempted to assign an extra reading, the fable of the tortoise and the hare, to see if they may see its relevance to their lives.  Perhaps, from your experience, I would get assignments on the kiddy cartoon version?

It's so sad to see even the usually best students go snowflakey, with only a few weeks to go . . . for all of us.

drspouse:
Dear student,

No, I will not tell you "which topics you should concentrate on for revision". That is also known as "telling you what's on the exam".

Thank you

Your lecturer.

polly_mer:
Quote from: drspouse on April 17, 2013,  6:39:30 am

Dear student,

No, I will not tell you "which topics you should concentrate on for revision". That is also known as "telling you what's on the exam".

Thank you

Your lecturer.


Ah, you haven't been harsh enough through the whole semester.  I administered a test yesterday and the comment afterward was "Dang, you really did mean everything since kindergarten through Chapter N".  Yep. 

Where should a student concentrate?  That's the wrong question; we're covering the entire semester as well as the prerequisites.  The question at this point is how to learn multiple semesters of material in a week.  I have no idea how to do that.

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