Archive for October 9th, 2011

When students don’t do well on exams I always encourage them to meet with me.  I don’t think there is anything particularly novel about this.  What I’ve found, though, is that the more students meet with me the less frustrated I am with them (and with myself).  Only a few of the students who failed a recent exam have come to meet with me, but each gave me insight into what went wrong that I would not have otherwise had.

Most students had not put forth the required effort, but the reasons for this varied widely.  One student, for example, had been working off campus over 50 hours per week leading up to the first exam.  Given that, it is no wonder that she didn’t do well.  When meeting with me she was confident that she would do better on the next exam because she has been able to reduce her hours to around 30 per week.  Another, who did not have the textbook until just after the first exam, reported being very excited by the topic of an upcoming assignment.

While I may still wish that my students were more motivated overall, these meetings allow me to see what else they have going on in their lives and reduce my personal frustration considerably.  Unfortunately, I suspect that these students are reluctant to meet with me because they fear punishment or don’t want to relive their poor grades (among other reasons) while I feel more like doling out punishment when they don’t meet with me.

At some point maybe I’ll have enough experience to assume that students are doing poorly because of external circumstances rather than because they are all lazy and uninterested in education.  Until then, I wish more students would meet me halfway.

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