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Author Topic: Bang Your Head on Your Desk - the thread of teaching despair!  (Read 2038267 times)
octoprof
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Love your loved ones while you can.


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« Reply #4920 on: January 22, 2012, 6:17:29 PM »

To my dear sweet YOUNG students - you have to read beyond the text! 

I'd be happy if they'd simply READ THE TEXT, let alone beyond it.  I can't count the number of people who didn't properly (if at all) read the lab procedure last week.  As for the lecture text, I think they use it as a doorstop.  I've already been given comments about how I "didn't tell them <something clearly explained in text>."  *SIGH*

I overheard a student before class bragging that he had never bought a textbook because "books are just useless." I really wanted to say, "Oh, that's why you're taking this class again!"

You can't really say that, can you?  But you can say,"And how's that been working out for you?"
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fancypants
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« Reply #4921 on: January 22, 2012, 7:24:16 PM »

I have issued a paying-attention-and-following-the-directions assignment in which students must take an unformatted body of text and format it in a specific way.  I pointed them to the sample documents in this format in their textbook and online, as well as to a step-by-step tutorial in how to format this sort of document.  Essentially, it's a "take this, and follow these steps to make it look like that" affair.

The students have had several days to complete this assignment, which is due by the end of the day today.  Here are the stats so far:

  • Class X: 25% turned in, none are correct
  • Class Y: 50% turned in, none are correct
  • Class Z: 50% turned in, none are correct

The differences in format between what's being turned in and what should be turned in are glaring--such that I do not see how anyone could look at the sample documents, look at their work, and think "Yep.  Mine looks just like the sample!  Time to turn that in!"  Worst of all, the worst offenders so far are the students who have already taken a class from me, who were only last semester capable of producing documents in this format. This  semester's going to call for an increase in my liquor budget.

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marigolds
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« Reply #4922 on: January 22, 2012, 10:51:47 PM »

I have issued a paying-attention-and-following-the-directions assignment in which students must take an unformatted body of text and format it in a specific way.  I pointed them to the sample documents in this format in their textbook and online, as well as to a step-by-step tutorial in how to format this sort of document.  Essentially, it's a "take this, and follow these steps to make it look like that" affair.

The students have had several days to complete this assignment, which is due by the end of the day today.  Here are the stats so far:

  • Class X: 25% turned in, none are correct
  • Class Y: 50% turned in, none are correct
  • Class Z: 50% turned in, none are correct

The differences in format between what's being turned in and what should be turned in are glaring--such that I do not see how anyone could look at the sample documents, look at their work, and think "Yep.  Mine looks just like the sample!  Time to turn that in!"  Worst of all, the worst offenders so far are the students who have already taken a class from me, who were only last semester capable of producing documents in this format. This  semester's going to call for an increase in my liquor budget.



They are like Etch-A-Sketches. They have to erase everything in order to change anything. 
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professor_pat
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« Reply #4923 on: January 23, 2012, 1:11:22 AM »


...

The students have had several days to complete this assignment, which is due by the end of the day today.  Here are the stats so far:

...

Worst of all, the worst offenders so far are the students who have already taken a class from me, who were only last semester capable of producing documents in this format. This  semester's going to call for an increase in my liquor budget.



They are like Etch-A-Sketches. They have to erase everything in order to change anything.


That is a purely brilliant simile.
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lilac53
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« Reply #4924 on: January 23, 2012, 6:18:32 AM »

I had a long post detailing the problems I've been having with this particular student over the course of the semester, but I deleted it for fear of it being recognised. Let's just say Student has some psychological issues, of which I've been very accommodating, giving her an unpenalised extension on his coursework. She has waited until the very last moment to submit these (due by 9am this morning, emailed to me at 8.55am).

So, I'm reading these now. One of the assignments is a response journal, in which students engage with the theoretical writings we cover in the course. Bear in mind, the course is a theory course - nothing but theory, theory, theory all semester long. It's hard, yes. But it's a masters course. Here is what I have as a response to one of the theorists:

"This theory is overly dense and complex, and is boring, so much so that "This Article" is near impossible to comprehend. This is my opinion."

That's it. Now, I can't say I don't agree with her in terms of the complexity, though I would dispute the boring part - but honestly, this, at graduate level? Much of the rest of the journal is flippant and inflammatory, as well, though not as bad as this. Some of this hostility is clearly directed at me - she thinks that I have been unsympathetic to her situation (she's been to the Chair to complain, even though I've given him the unpenalised extension, without any request for documentation or anything. She was sent packing). Now I'm going to end up giving her a bad grade, thus "proving" to her that I don't like her, and ensuring that this is going to carry on and on and on. Sigh.

head::desk.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #4925 on: January 23, 2012, 9:00:51 AM »

And we have some who can figure out how rulers work.  How many mm in a cm? Let's count the number of lines. (oh and we are in Canada so they have only ever used the metric system.)

I remain undecided about the group of students who asked if they could have a ruler and a meter stick on a group test redo.  They wanted to measure the meter stick to find out how many centimeters in a meter to double check that they were doing a conversion right.  That's full credit for designing a useful experiment without prompting to solve a problem, but zero credit for reading comprehension (the conversion was on a page marked "Unit Conversions") and use of a meter stick (yep, that stick is marked with centimeters so just looking tells one the answer).
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galactic_hedgehog
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« Reply #4926 on: January 23, 2012, 10:13:13 AM »

And we have some who can figure out how rulers work.  How many mm in a cm? Let's count the number of lines. (oh and we are in Canada so they have only ever used the metric system.)

I remain undecided about the group of students who asked if they could have a ruler and a meter stick on a group test redo.  They wanted to measure the meter stick to find out how many centimeters in a meter to double check that they were doing a conversion right.  That's full credit for designing a useful experiment without prompting to solve a problem, but zero credit for reading comprehension (the conversion was on a page marked "Unit Conversions") and use of a meter stick (yep, that stick is marked with centimeters so just looking tells one the answer).

Maybe the meter stick is a cheap knock-off with centimeters 9 mm apart?
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mountainguy
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« Reply #4927 on: January 23, 2012, 11:55:19 AM »

Moments before the first exam in my class this morning.

Student #1: Dude, you have the wrong textbook.
Student #2: But <name of student who failed last semester> gave it to me.
Student #1: Professor Mountainguy changed books.
Student #2: Awwww, dude!

Student #2 still managed to earn a 72% on the exam. Go figure.
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scotia
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« Reply #4928 on: January 23, 2012, 12:16:28 PM »

I had a long post detailing the problems I've been having with this particular student over the course of the semester, but I deleted it for fear of it being recognised. Let's just say Student has some psychological issues, of which I've been very accommodating, giving her an unpenalised extension on his coursework. She has waited until the very last moment to submit these (due by 9am this morning, emailed to me at 8.55am).

So, I'm reading these now. One of the assignments is a response journal, in which students engage with the theoretical writings we cover in the course. Bear in mind, the course is a theory course - nothing but theory, theory, theory all semester long. It's hard, yes. But it's a masters course. Here is what I have as a response to one of the theorists:

"This theory is overly dense and complex, and is boring, so much so that "This Article" is near impossible to comprehend. This is my opinion."

That's it. Now, I can't say I don't agree with her in terms of the complexity, though I would dispute the boring part - but honestly, this, at graduate level? Much of the rest of the journal is flippant and inflammatory, as well, though not as bad as this. Some of this hostility is clearly directed at me - she thinks that I have been unsympathetic to her situation (she's been to the Chair to complain, even though I've given him the unpenalised extension, without any request for documentation or anything. She was sent packing). Now I'm going to end up giving her a bad grade, thus "proving" to her that I don't like her, and ensuring that this is going to carry on and on and on. Sigh.

head::desk.

I feel your pain. We have a Massively Problematic Student (see the Venting Thread) who we have tried to be reasonable with, but who seems to set out to inflame any situation she can and use it to demonstrate how unreasonable we are (for example, because we said that attending a wedding was not grounds for late submission of a piece of work she had known about for four weeks before, and that the usual late penalty would apply, we are seemingly "completely unwilling to listen to reasonable excuses and obviously have no idea about real life"). In the meantime, the student has not submitted any of the four pieces of work due before the mid-December.

I have learned that there is absolutely no benefit from trying to reason with the student. She has her own bizarre view of the world and anything that does not conform to that view is unreasonable. We simply follow the procedures rigorously (we have learned not to bend for this student) and document everything.
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libwitch
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« Reply #4929 on: January 23, 2012, 2:34:37 PM »

Sadly, I have worked with students at the graduate level (both as a librarian and as a peer, when I was getting my second masters) that - well, this was, to them, a valid opinion at the graduate level.  Thankfully, many of them didn't last long at that level. But they did manage to make it through college without ever grasping concepts such as critical thinking, application of knowledge, or reflective thought.    Of course, some of them had social science and humanities degrees - and bragged they never wrote a paper, either.  Which I still can't figure out.

I had a long post detailing the problems I've been having with this particular student over the course of the semester, but I deleted it for fear of it being recognised. Let's just say Student has some psychological issues, of which I've been very accommodating, giving her an unpenalised extension on his coursework. She has waited until the very last moment to submit these (due by 9am this morning, emailed to me at 8.55am).

So, I'm reading these now. One of the assignments is a response journal, in which students engage with the theoretical writings we cover in the course. Bear in mind, the course is a theory course - nothing but theory, theory, theory all semester long. It's hard, yes. But it's a masters course. Here is what I have as a response to one of the theorists:

"This theory is overly dense and complex, and is boring, so much so that "This Article" is near impossible to comprehend. This is my opinion."

That's it. Now, I can't say I don't agree with her in terms of the complexity, though I would dispute the boring part - but honestly, this, at graduate level? Much of the rest of the journal is flippant and inflammatory, as well, though not as bad as this. Some of this hostility is clearly directed at me - she thinks that I have been unsympathetic to her situation (she's been to the Chair to complain, even though I've given him the unpenalised extension, without any request for documentation or anything. She was sent packing). Now I'm going to end up giving her a bad grade, thus "proving" to her that I don't like her, and ensuring that this is going to carry on and on and on. Sigh.

head::desk.
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mountainguy
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« Reply #4930 on: January 23, 2012, 5:08:28 PM »

My best wishes to Lilac, Scotia, and others who are dealing with massive problem students. That's especially terrifying that you're getting this at the graduate level.

File this one in the "not my problem" category, but still distressing . . . my officemate is out sick today. A very polite ESOL student came by to see him for his regular office hours. Unfortunately, the student did not appear to understand what "re-schedule" or "out sick" meant. It took me 2 minutes and great effort to convey that she should send him an email to set up another time.
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lizardmom1
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« Reply #4931 on: January 23, 2012, 5:59:04 PM »

My best wishes to Lilac, Scotia, and others who are dealing with massive problem students. That's especially terrifying that you're getting this at the graduate level.

File this one in the "not my problem" category, but still distressing . . . my officemate is out sick today. A very polite ESOL student came by to see him for his regular office hours. Unfortunately, the student did not appear to understand what "re-schedule" or "out sick" meant. It took me 2 minutes and great effort to convey that she should send him an email to set up another time.

If this student's English skills are this poor, I wonder how on Earth he/she can possibly comprehend the (hopefully) more difficult course content.
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Lizardmom1

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mountainguy
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« Reply #4932 on: January 23, 2012, 7:15:05 PM »

If this student's English skills are this poor, I wonder how on Earth he/she can possibly comprehend the (hopefully) more difficult course content.

Yes, exactly. It's my officemate's problem now, but I suspect this is going to get complicated quickly . . .
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lohai0
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« Reply #4933 on: January 23, 2012, 7:39:51 PM »

I was helping a student with their homework. It seriously took 10 minutes to add 120 + 80. (This is a math class for credit). Then we got the answer of 400 square feet. (How much wall we had to paint). Part b asked how many gallons of paint we needed to buy to cover this. Stu Dent looks at me and then says, confidently, 6.5. For the record, he thought 120+80=155.
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merce
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« Reply #4934 on: January 23, 2012, 8:34:44 PM »

We're in our third week here and a student came up to me after class to say she was confused; she just doesn't know "where we're going in this class."
We sat talking a bit. I asked if she remembered in her HS English class they may have done, for example, American Literature and started with something Native American, then gone to something written by colonists like Crevecoeur and then maybe Puritans like Joseph Cotten and Jonathon Edwards, etc. We are doing the same thing except with the literature of another part of the world. The syllabus indicates our progression, IXth -century poetry, Xth century Author of SuperCool Story, etc.
After a while it occurred to me she had not read the syllabus.
Nor perhaps the title of the course: Literary History of LaLaLandia Part I: From the Middle Ages to the Baroque.

I'll ask students to look at the syllabus and draw a timeline and a map on the board next class.
And this is why, 4 times during the semester, I make the students turn in timelines with all authors or texts we have read.

I should have just answered "We're going for Baroque."
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