Thursday, November 9, 2006

You Want Them to What? Go to Class, Take Notes, Take Quizzes. Be Adults? You Want a Chocolate Fountain and a Backyard Full of Ponies, Too?

Every week a student asks me for (a) lecture notes (b) a "retake" on a quiz or test (c) whether I "drop" low quiz/test grades and (d) whether he can take a quiz/test at his convenience because he has an ingrown toenail (an actual excuse).

I could blame the students for their wheedling and whimpering, but I blame other faculty. Where are students getting the idea that faculty hand out lecture notes so the little cherubs don't have to tire themselves by taking notes or attending class? They get these ideas from other faculty. Who is giving them lecture notes? Other faculty. Who is letting them retake quizzes, drop tests, and reschedule at their convenience? Other faculty. Some "teaching excellence" or "academic support" person will answer that these dumbing-down techniques improve student learning. They clearly don't. Have we seen any improvement in learning since faculty began handing out notes, powerpoints, and "retakes"? No.

I have a proposal. Faculty should hang together. Don't give lecture notes, and don't post lecture notes. The cherubs will learn that faculty expect them to attend class and take notes. Don't give retakes. The cherubs will learn that the first test or quiz is real and they have one shot at it. Don't give make-ups. Don't drop grades. Don't come in on Saturdays. If they miss class for Uncle Ernie's birthday party, then let them take the consequences. Don't IM with students. If the cherubs have something important to address, then they can address it like adults.

Act like the bosses they will soon have. Stop making it harder on the rest of us.