Thursday, January 5, 2012

What Ambivalence

I don't know how I feel about this term.

On one hand, I'm having everything turned in through Blackboard and that's lovely. I actually feel on top of my grading and somehow this seems like less work than a stack of stuff. I don't know why this is--maybe because it's new? But I log in, do my grading, log out, and nothing is sitting there eyeballing me while I watch reruns of Modern Family.

On the other hand, one of my students was confused because I gave them an example of what I wanted them to do. He didn't know if he should follow the assignment instructions (design your own thingamajig) or recreate the one in my example. I'm not sure why this wasn't clear. I thought providing examples was a good thing, not a confusing thing. He may drop the class (I know I know, that's probably a good thing!) because this "example thing" is confusing him so much.


I have several professional students returning to school who seem quick to get work done and ask intelligent questions.

On the other hand.... I didn't get completely through answering this last one before my sleeping dog who passed out on my lap woke up and puked all over my mouse hand.

I think I'm done with grading for the evening.....


  1. I've had the example backfire myself. It's a unique kind of person that seems to happen to.

  2. I find that the more examples, reading guides, general information, etc. that I offer students (as I try to head off the proverbial questions at the pass), the more (inane) questions I get asked. I'm seriously considering going back to the era of not giving students any help at all and seeing what happens.

  3. I've had examples backfire on me, as well, mostly by students who aren't paying attention. They have a tendency to try to recreate the example rather than follow the assignment, then get upset when they discover they've made a mistake. Yet they continue to refuse to come to office hours and ask questions. . . .

  4. I sometimes get the idea that students like the one that was confused by the example aren't stupid as much as highstrung (of course, it comes across as really really dumb). They've screwed up somewhere before and now are afraid of screwing up everything.

    And well, not giving the example in this case is all but impossible. It's an online course and the example is part of the tech demonstration. Sure I could send 'em on their merry way without it, but if my onground students get it I think the online ones should too.

    Ugh. So much headdeskery.

  5. Experiencing confusion created by several possible paths to follow, the student will resolve the confusion by following the easiest path. Even if the path is obviously, even to a student, the wrong path. They would rather be wrong than be confused. To them, confusion suggests a lack of knowledge while doing something wrong means that the professor is being a jerk.

  6. Every time I give an example, I get a poor reproduction of it. And when I don't give an example, they write in my evals that I needed to give them examples or give them topics b/c they couldn't think of their own. What happened to creativity? Seriously? Have they NO ability to think beyond the example?

    @Beaker Ben: I am a jerk an awful lot of the time, apparently. :o)


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