The administration at my university (and many other schools as well) has started referring to students as “the customer.” I understand the need to attract, recruit, retain and grow our student population. Of course, we have to have students to teach, duh. But this student-as-consumer attitude is folly.
Treating the student as consumer creates an atmosphere where they begin to believe they are paying for a degree, not earning a degree. They start to tell us that we have an obligation to pass them. We do not. We have an obligation to teach them how to learn. That is it.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not the jerk professor who just says, “deal with it” when a student comes to me for help. I will work with them one on one, as much as I can, to help them when they are stuck. They must be willing to work at it and not expect me to just throw some information at them that they can memorize and reguritate onto exams. The worst thing a student can say is “I don’t get it,” or “I am lost.” At least come to me and say, “I’ve read the chapter, and the first thing that I do not understand is…” That shows me you are taking me seriously.
Do I have an obligation to pass a student just because they say they are working very hard? No.