The Awesomeness of Students: Part III


Another dispatch from the front lines of teaching my wacky (but mostly endearing) students (see also here and here and here). I had an email exchange with a student in my Logic and Critical Thinking course today. This student, it should be known, had kept up with the material, showed up for class regularly until right before the midterm. I have not seen her since the midterm, an exam she failed miserably. Since then, no student. This morning I got out of bed, grabbed my coffee and opened my email (half expecting news that Condi Rice got herself blown up) to an email from this student, “Dr. Shahar, are you using the same text next semester?” I responded most likely, but added that I will be adding another text to the required reading list. I also expressed concern that I hadn’t seen her, asked if everything was ok etc. Oh yes, she responded, “I decided months ago that I was going to retake the class. Thanks for your response!” Out of a sickening morbid curiosity I checked the roster for my Logic class next semester and guess what, she’s taking the class…again…with me. Why do students think this is a good idea? In fact, even with her excellent attendance for the first 4 weeks she was on the whole, not a good student: aside from being combative she didn’t take any of my suggestions, never attempted to redo any of her failing assignments after I offered, never showed up at office hours, scheduled appointments with me 3 times never to show up and continued to sign all her email correspondence with me “Still confused.” I mean really: what the fuck?

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8 thoughts on “The Awesomeness of Students: Part III

  1. Thanks! Well, naturally that’s what first came to mind ; )

    However, I just dont’ understand why one would (a) give up in a class and then (b) take that same class with the same instructor. So, if this student earns an “A” there will still be the business of the “F” the prior semester, averaging out to a “C” in the end. I don’t get it.

  2. I have some students who are now about to do this with me for the second time (as in, they failed the class two years ago, retook it and failed again this year, and will be retaking it again next year… Third time lucky, perhaps…). In my case, they don’t have a choice but to take the course with me – I’m the only teaching a course that’s mandatory for their degree – but it would often be much easier just to make arrangements the first time around to redo the assignments. I also tend to change assessment tasks reasonably drastically from one year to the next, so they won’t be able to benefit in that sense from having given the course a go. And, yes, similar dynamics around not accessing help that is available… My theory is that they exist in a perpetual state of hope that I will be run over by a bus before they run into me in this course yet again…

    Still, this isn’t the most puzzling thing I’ve seen a student do: I had someone get caught for plagiarising an assignment, and then turn in the same plagiarised assignment to me again the following year. Strangely, I caught the plagiarism the second time, as well…

  3. N., I just had a student that plagiarized not one, but two assignments in a row from Wikiepedia (often a dubious source of information to begin with). This is after I caught him the first time, failed him, but stapled a long explanation of exactly what plagiarism is and the consequences for doing so. He turned around the next week and did the same exact thing. Very puzzling indeed. There are two possibilities for your student I think:

    1. the student thought you would forget
    2. the student thought his/her writing improved so drastically that you wouldn’t catch it this time around

    Or, let’s face it, there is the possibility of “general jackassishness”…

    One day I hope a student plagiarizes my work, and I can say, well, kudos to you for your outstanding choice on the secondary source material, but still, you did plagiarize. 🙂

  4. I have a colleague who had a student plagiarise his work. Bit of bad luck for the student, actually: my colleague had posted a book review pseudonymously on some website, so it wasn’t immediately clear the work was theirs – the student found it, thought, “Hey! This sounds like that stuff we’ve been covering the course!”, and helped themselves.

    And, in fact, for the first few sentences my colleague in fact did like the piece very, very much – was thinking to himself that this student really gets it – and then, sadly, recognised his own text…

  5. lol – I had intended that just as a tease, not a serious comment – I liked the image (definitely tempting at times), of picking a fight with my class, sulking, snapping, etc. In other words, I understood you, but was just enjoying the “what if”…

    More seriously, in terms of the issues you raise above, it is an intrinsically difficult line to walk – in some ways regardless of subject matter, as students lives come into the classrooms in any context.

  6. It’s always awkward to see your undergraduate (no matter how advanced) students at the pub, it only happened to me once and it was very very late. Not too painfully awkward, she did tell her friends that my class was enjoyable. Awkward nonetheless. Especially since I was piss drunk.

    Remember that, Mikhail? That was quite some time ago. A few years at least.

    All I know is that there was lots of giggling and pointing towards our table and I avoided going to the bathroom for the much of the duration of the evening. At least I don’t go in to teach my 9am courses stinking like a brew house, like someone else we know. Ack. Disgusting.

    The obvious question is why were we hanging around the same pub as the youngsters? Ummm….college town. Is that a good enough justification Mikhail? What do you think?

  7. Pingback: Awesomeness of Students: Professor Zero edition « Perverse Egalitarianism

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