Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why My Heart Sinks When One-Third of My Students Fail To Turn in Their Major Project Draft

Partly, it's sadness, for them.

Partly, it's frustration, because I work so damn hard to keep these students on track, giving them what the literature calls "all the tools they need to succeed."

Partly, it's puzzlement, because when we had our most recent one-on-one conferences (this is a conference-heavy class), they all walked out seeming to have purpose and confidence.

Mostly, though, it's the sure knowledge that, when I stick to my guns and refuse to grade late work, as laid out in the syllabus, their shame will turn outwards to anger, directed at me, and I'm gonna get hammered on the evaluations. By fully one-third of my class.



feMOMhist said...

yup and honestly I wish I knew how to let go of caring/worrying about that. Because KNOWING IT'S THEIR OWN DAMN FAULT just doesn't seem to cut it

Good Enough Woman said...

Have you read any of Rebecca Cox's work (her book is "The College Fear Factor")? Based on research that she conducted in community college composition classes, she argues that one of the reasons students fail to submit work is that they fear the judgment that comes along with the grading, so they engage in what Cox calls "assessment avoidance." I found this idea interesting, since I *do* have those students who keep coming to class even though they aren't turning anything in.

Granted, many of them are just lazy, but after listening to Cox give a talk at a recent conference, I wondered if some of my students are fearing assessment because they think they'll be proved unfit for the course (even those--or especially those--who *are* fit for the course) or, to be plain, that their instructor will think they are stupid.

Still, it drives me crazy, too.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Students themselves are in the absolutely worst possible position to assess whether their professors are teaching them effectively, and the entire notion of teaching evaluations by students playing a role in faculty performance assessment is fucken ridiculous.

J. Otto Pohl said...

I tell students I only judge the work you turn in not you as a person. If there is no work turned in then it gets a zero. Although here at U of G we have no take home projects only a mid-term and a final exam. Classes are too big for anything else. Most classes are between 70 (400 level) and 300 (100 level) students.

Anonymous said...

I am so very there with you.

Historiann said...

You're tenured--what the heck do you care if your students lash out at you? Having tenure means never having to say you're sorry for holding your students responsible for the work schedule and deadlines articulated clearly on your syllabus.

One of the things I really like about my students at Baa Ram U. is that there is no grade-grubbing, and when students blow it they recognize that they blew it & don't tend to complain. On the other hand, I wish they were somewhat more motivated by grades, and that we had more of a culture of achievement.

Contingent Cassandra said...

This (or variations on this) happen to me frequently, and I feel all of the above (with the added anxiety that comes from not having tenure, and being evaluated entirely on teaching -- no research or service -- though not, thank goodness, via student evaluations alone), plus guilt-tinged relief at having fewer drafts to grade than expected/planned. As colleagues and I have more than occasionally remarked to each other, one of the harder parts of holding down an unreasonable teaching load is being aware that if all of your students actually did take advantage of all of the opportunities for learning we offer them, we'd all be utterly swamped. We're frighteningly dependent on student-conducted self-triage (which is about as effective as student evaluation of teaching -- in other words, not very).