The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It Doesn't Hurt To Ask...Does It?

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I started receiving emails from academic ad visors asking me what Joe or Jane Student must do to pass my class. Joe/Jane Student has not attended class since the third week of school. Joe/Jane Student has not contacted me to explain their absence or to discuss a plan to make up the work But, Joe/Jane Student has not trouble crying to his/her advisor about how they are now in trouble and want to "atone".

My guess is that the majority of academic advisers just send these emails even though the advisor knows that there is a snowball's chance in hell that the student will make up the work, let alone be permitted to make up work. It shows the student that every possible remedy was exhausted, but the buck stops at the instructor.

In my experience, that has not always been the case. At my last college, instructors were often pressured, even bullied, into allow students to make up work, even if the instructor's syllabus stated that no make work is permitted. The administration viewed that such harshness has a negative impact on student success. Ultimately, instructors, particularly adjuncts, would cave because of possible blow back from defying authority.

I have not had that experience at New College yet. It seems that when I tell the advisor that the student is SOL, the advisor will accept my decision and explain it to the student.

And that's the way it should be. What are we teaching students if we say "We will let you make up all this work, even though you have missed 3/4 of the semester without explanation or reason." "So what if there are those students who busted their asses, despite dealing with serious problems or issues." How does that teach students that with success comes responsibility?

It doesn't. It just reinforces that the student's behavior and choices are acceptable.

So until either students get it or I find some other way to explain to students that no make up work means no make up work, I guess I will just keep answering the emails.


Ianqui said...

Good lord, this totally resonates with me right now. You're lucky at least that you have to deal with advisers and not with the students themselves. How the begging puts me off. I really don't understand why we have to compromise ourselves and the students who did actually do the work in order to make sure these slackers pass. It's so frustrating. As I've been saying, my ideal situation is to give the student her F, and then let the university decide she can graduate if they're so desperate. Why should the instructor be responsible for the student's abysmal failings?

Seeking Solace said...

At my former college, the students would beg and plead. I once had a student cuss me out. Although it is tempting to give in, I just stick to my guns.

One of the reasons(I believe) why I was fired from my last teaching gig was because I would not pass a student who clearly committed plagiarism. The student needed my course to graduate. The Dean of Academics tried to make me change the grade so she could graduate on time. I would not budge. Two days later, I was fired.

I don't regret my decision. If you cave on something like that, the powers that be will get you to do anything.

Byrd said...

This type of attitude from these particular students irritates the ^&*(*!! out of me. I don't care that they won't graduate if they don't get a certain grade in a class. If they want to graduate and be an adult then they should act like responsible adults and get their backsides to class and do the work like the rest of us. Stick to your guns SS, don't give in to either the children or the administration that supports them. Remember that for all of the bad eggs there are still those of us who really do care about our grades and work really hard to do well in class. So fight for us because we need good profs who will back us up against these whiny children.