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Author Topic: Stress Over Poor Students  (Read 6856 times)
mtaja1960
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« on: November 19, 2012, 12:52:44 PM »

Found this and began wondering. http://www.adjunctorium.com/2012/11/04/when-stupid-is-funny/

The writer thinks it's funny, and I understand why. A couple of knuckleheads in a large class is a "manageable" number. But what are your thoughts when you get a large segment of the class that really sucks? Will the low grades and negative teaching evaluations threaten your employment?
I give the grades that are earned, no matter what, but it can be very stressful.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 12:53:15 PM by mtaja1960 » Logged
archman
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« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 3:55:22 PM »

Found this and began wondering. http://www.adjunctorium.com/2012/11/04/when-stupid-is-funny/

The writer thinks it's funny, and I understand why. A couple of knuckleheads in a large class is a "manageable" number. But what are your thoughts when you get a large segment of the class that really sucks? Will the low grades and negative teaching evaluations threaten your employment?
I give the grades that are earned, no matter what, but it can be very stressful.
This pretty much sums up the reasons for the continued declines in academic rigour nationally over the last few decades. It also explains much of the continued grade inflation nationally within similar time frames.

Faculty are increasingly de-powered. Students & administrators are increasingly empowered. Student academic performance is declining on average in most subjects. So is their behavior in class. And yet, the only "solution" practiced at most universities is to keep accomodating the students. 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.
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educator1
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« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 5:01:20 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.
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archman
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« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2012, 5:24:05 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".
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 5:25:13 PM by archman » Logged
mtaja1960
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 5:35:03 PM »

Archman, you seem to say the intimation or manipulation of faculty is not confined to adjuncts. I've never been sent an e-mail about these "quotas." I have however spoken with adjuncts who were mysteriously not renewed.
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archman
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« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2012, 5:47:50 PM »

Archman, you seem to say the intimation or manipulation of faculty is not confined to adjuncts. I've never been sent an e-mail about these "quotas." I have however spoken with adjuncts who were mysteriously not renewed.

Oh good heavens... this is NEVER emailed. You have to do it face to face. It's very much like politics. A lot of information one needs to know about how stuff "actually works" comes through on the sly.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 5:52:34 PM by archman » Logged
educator1
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« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2012, 8:02:43 PM »

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".

I have never, in my over 20 years of teaching, seen what I would deem "bad student behavior in class" that lasted for more than one class period. A serious, personal conversation with the offending student has turned around the very rare negative incident.
Now, if by "behavior problem negatively affecting overall class performance" you include such out of the classroom issues as lack of studying, too much partying, poorly done assignments, then I am right there with you. That, however, is not a "nowadays" phenonemon.

We don't have a quota for passing students, but have a rather wide grade band (class average between 2.6 and 3.1) designed primarily to curb grade inflation.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 8:06:25 PM by educator1 » Logged
mtaja1960
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« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2012, 8:19:37 PM »

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".

I have never, in my over 20 years of teaching, seen what I would deem "bad student behavior in class" that lasted for more than one class period. A serious, personal conversation with the offending student has turned around the very rare negative incident.
Now, if by "behavior problem negatively affecting overall class performance" you include such out of the classroom issues as lack of studying, too much partying, poorly done assignments, then I am right there with you. That, however, is not a "nowadays" phenonemon.

We don't have a quota for passing students, but have a rather wide grade band (class average between 2.6 and 3.1) designed primarily to curb grade inflation.

I have no idea what our grade band is. You must be a full timer.
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archman
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 8:38:01 PM »

... wonders if the relict university that educator1 is at has any new faculty openings... I am receptive to relocating.

Unless it's a military or religious school. Some things just aren't worth it. Ha.
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mtaja1960
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 8:58:17 PM »

The bad behavior I run into is covert disrespect. A "helpful" kid will point out my error on the whiteboard, then rub it in after I've corrected it ("oh, yeah, cuz I was wondering, hee hee.") I suppose if teaching becomes intolerable I'll quit. My department has infighting too, and, right or wrong, this gives me anxiety. I already wrote about it on another thread.

Educator1, do you have the sense that grade inflation is rare? Or does it depend on the field?
« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 8:58:58 PM by mtaja1960 » Logged
mtaja1960
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« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2012, 11:23:07 PM »

Withdrawing the question. You did say your experience was limited.

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mtaja1960
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2012, 7:01:16 AM »

Ran into the provost and he told me 60% or the grades given are A's. I told him I was surprised which was only half true. I am not the least surprised to believe that grades are inflated, but I am surprised to hear by that much.
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forego324
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« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2012, 9:17:44 AM »

I feel fortunate that, other than to prevent my non-credited students from taking their final exams due to excessive absences and tardiness, my lone direct involvement in their exiting the program that I teach is writing coherent essays.

The remaining barometers are online placement tests (Accuplacer), and, should students fail the latter, they cannot proceed to the campus proper, no matter how well they performed on their essays.
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larryc
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Be excellent to each other.


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« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2012, 2:12:34 PM »

The only thing in decline are the classroom management skills of faculty.
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Trolling for sex is not what this forum is all about.
mtaja1960
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« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2012, 8:05:00 PM »

The quality of college teaching employment has been in steady decline for 25 years.
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