Posts Tagged ‘Student Meetings’

In line with my post the other day about my decision to require students to meet with me, and suffering for that decision, Bradley Koch at Soc’ing Out Loud has a recent post about student reactions after receiving a grade that was lower than they expected. He discusses four ideal types of students: those who do nothing, those who drop the course, those who get angry, and those who seek advice during office hours. I’ve also encountered these general reactions (and I’m similarly frustrated by those who drop a course after receiving a single poor grade on an assignment) but I think that he misses an important group of students in his discussion of those who do nothing. He writes:

Most students do nothing. They show up as if nothing has changed. I suspect that these are the students who have done well on their assignments and those who are too lazy to actually open the email attachment that includes comments and their score.

In addition to those who have done well and those who are lazy are those who are intimidated by the thought of meeting with professors. While he notes that many students at his institution are from privileged backgrounds, lots of sociological research tells us that many students who are raised in working class and poor homes are much less likely to approach a professor and ask for help. Even if they do approach their professors for help, they are also more likely to be uncomfortable about meeting with us.

I don’t know what to do about this problem, but it is definitely something to take into consideration when reflecting on student reactions.


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I’m not sure how your internal clock works, but I personally know that I’m in the midst of a busy semester when I find myself looking forward to the day after Thanksgiving because I’ll be able to sleep in and, upon waking, do something not related to work.  This is sad both because Thanksgiving is so far away and because there is a likelihood that I will, in fact, have some work-related tasks to accomplish that day.  Regardless, my time this semester has been filled with the usual class prep, the new experiences of committee work and advising, and hours upon hours of meetings with students.  This final point has led me to realize that spending so much time meeting with students is making me a bad professor.

On Thursday of this week, for example, I had planned to spend most of my time preparing for class on Friday and Monday (the upside of three-day-a-week classes is that if you have enough of them your schedule appears clear on the other two days).  Those plans were in place before I gave an exam back that I also encouraged students to meet with me to discuss.  The result is five meetings with students spread far enough apart that students shouldn’t have to wait in the hall to speak to me but not so far apart that I can get any real work done between them.  This leaves me with less time to prepare for my classes on Friday and pushes some necessary work on research to Thursday evening and preparation for Monday’s class into the weekend.  In the end, I will likely spend less time preparing for class than I otherwise would have, so my presentation of class information will probably suffer and I will need to spend more time meeting with students to make up for the deficiencies caused by meeting with students.

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Before each semester begins I look forward to the gentle transition back to teaching.  When each semester begins I contemplate the reasons that this transition is actually abrupt.  The reasons I’ve considered range from teaching a new prep to heavily revising a previous course.  This semester, I filled my “transition” weeks with student meetings, hoping to prevent some of the problems that appeared in a spring course.  Again, I thought of how nice it will be when I finally encounter the mythical smooth transition.  Of course, this semester is also my first with advising and committee duties, which promise to interfere with these transitions for years to come.  At this point, it may be time to realize that the best transition is not found at the abrupt beginning of the semester but at the equally abrupt end.  Until then, I guess that I will embrace the distinction between break and not break by diving into teaching, research, and service, which reminds me that I still need to find some mythical time for research during the semester…

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