The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Monday, September 06, 2010

Where Have I Been? Out Of My Brain On The 5:15

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Warning: This post may go "POOF" if IHE picks it up without asking me!

Seriously, I've been busy. Midterm has ended and it is now the homestretch into the end of the term. The six-day steroid booster did the trick. I feel much better and I am ready to make the push to the end of the term.

My students received a major Seeking Solace Smack-down. They were supposed to turn in drafts for a group project. They had a month to do the draft. And you can guess what happened on Due Day...they did not turn in the draft.

To their credit, the two team leaders did a good job leading their team. They delegated responsibility, motivated their teammates and followed up with them. The team members let them down, leading to the assignment not being completed.

I asked the class why they were unable to complete the assignment on time. And, of course, the excuses began. But, it was one young lady that sent me into that dimension of pissed off where you can't see straight.

Excuse #1:

Student: "Well, I wasn't here when the assignment was given, so I didn't know what to do."

Me: "That was a month ago. You received the assignment when you returned to class, right?"

Student: "Uh, huh."

Me: "And, when did you return to class?"

Student: "Um, I don't remember."

Me (looking at my attendance sheet): "Well, you were here for the entire month of August, so you were completely aware of the assignment, isn't that true?"

Student: "Um..."

Me: "So actually, you had no reason not to know what was going on with the assignment...right?"

Student is silent.
Excuse #2

Student: "Well, Dr. SS, I just didn't understand how to find cases for our part of the assignment."

Me: "Well, were you present when we spent time in the library going over how to find cases?"

Student: "Yes, but I still didn't understand."

Me: "So what you're saying is that because you didn't understand what to do, you did nothing?"

Student: Well, I didn't know what to do."

Me (to the class): "How could this situation be solved? What could he have done?"

Student #3: "He could have asked one of us."

Student #4: "He could have asked the librarian."

Me: "Those are good responses. But, I think you are missing the most important one."


Me: "Really? It's the most obvious."


Me: "You don't know who the best person to ask for help?"

Student #5: "Um, I guess we can ask you...right?"


So, you can see why I was sent into orbit. WTF?

I decided that my students needed to understand that when they choose a behavior, the choose the consequences. But, I also wanted them to know that I was none to pleased with their lack of follow-through with this project. I told them how disappointed I was in each of them, using that classic "I'm so disappointed with you" look that your parents would give where you wished for any punishment other than those words. I explain how I had such great hope for this project because I believed in their ability to complete it. But, because of their lack of follow-through, they let me down.

Then, I made the class write an essay in which they discussed what each of their roles were in the breakdown of the project and how that impacted their team. I also asked them to come up with ways in which they would address this deficiency so that it would not occur again. I also reminded them that because the draft was worth 25 points toward their project grade, they were all 25 points in the hole. That was their choice and they have to live with it.

And, I sent them away.

I don't know about the rest of you, but inability to meet deadlines and lack of accountability is a huge problem. I don't think many of today's students have ever been held accountable for not doing what is asked of them. We live in a society of excuses, instead of stepping up and doing what's right. Perhaps no one ever taught these students that skill. Perhaps the student know, but no one ever called them on it when they did not follow through with a project. In either case, I wanted my students to know that what they did was so not acceptable and that there would be a consequence.


I could go on and on about how F'ed up the whole idea is. But, for now, I want to enjoy my day off!


Psycgirl said...

That is so infuriating! I think you handled it really well. A few of my new colleagues have no penalty for late assignments, as long as they are handed in by the end of the semester - I find that completely ridiculous! Deadlines are a part of life!

Another Frustrated Instructor said...

It must be that point in the semester. My students just blew off their Sunday at midnight deadline for a two week long assignment.

One even had the gall to email me Saturday at 7:21 pm with a question and then followed up at 7:48 pm with a very angry message because I hadn't yet replied.

Needless to say, my students will be getting a lecture and essay assignment very similar to your recent lecture tomorrow.

Part of me is upset about this, but my overwhelming emotion is confusion. It just doesn't make any sense.

Alice said...

Yes, "I did not understand and so did not do anything" is a frequent excuse that I do not tolerate, period. I always include a statement on the course syllabus and refuse to even consider the grade change if the student comes up with "I don't understand" excuse. Students talk, of course, and so I have noticed that the occurrence of this excuse has declined. Good job on being tough -- that's the only way to get their attention. If you spare the rod... :)

Anonymous said...

I can't comment for the steam coming out my ears! OMG how familiar this is. What's with these people anyway! If they did this at work they'd get fired.