Saturday, February 4, 2012

Student Self-Introductions

Add/drop period is finally over, so I sat down to read through the introductory questionnaires students had filled out, and put them in groups.  Herewith some of my musings as I worked my way through the stack:

???  and ??? – You sound like really interesting people, but what are your names?  I admit that those two words (give or take) are but one of many important details associated with you, but when I’m setting up groups on the LMS, I tend to use names, rather than, say, “nursing major with a particular interest in gerontology,” as index points.  It’s just the way the system works.  And given the explosion of interest in nursing, and the blurring of traditional gender roles (which I’m all for), I can’t even narrow down the possibilities by gender.  I’m used to finding a blank “name” line now and then, but two people in the same section is a record.  I did my best to guess who you were using process of elimination and information on the registrar’s web site.  I hope you’re paying better attention in class than you did to the directions on the questionnaire when I ask you to verify that you’re in appropriate groups. 

Fabulous Fred – Your friends call you “cave man,” huh?  And you’re dedicated to “truth, justice, and the American way” – or at least a fairly liberal interpretation thereof?  That’s interesting.  Very interesting.  And the drama major?  Not surprising.  Not surprising at all. 

Suntanned Suzy – I applaud you on your change of major from “customer service” to chemistry, with aspirations to go to med school.  That’s quite a leap.  Really, quite a leap. And yes, the fact that the weather here isn’t quite as nice as in Florida – at least not for the next two to three months -- will probably help you concentrate on your studies.  Watch out for the last few weeks of the semester, though.  Late April/early May brings some of our most pleasant weather. 

Sculptor/Surgeon Sam – You sound like a really intriguing person; the details you gave about your journey from being a sculptor who didn’t like the commercial side of art to doing a second Bachelor’s degree in preparation for applying to med school are quite fascinating.  However, given the concerns you expressed about my grading scale, which doesn’t specify how to get an A, I’m not really sorry you dropped.  Maybe my efforts to better spell out my approach to grading are paying off.  However, I’m afraid that you’ll find that my colleagues who teach other sections of this required course have grading criteria very similar to mine. 

Computing Chris and – isn’t that a coincidence? – Chris  – is there a reason other than “wanting to be able to support a family” that you two chose IT as a major?  Really; I get it; that’s a good reason to choose a major, but I’m more comforted by the students (including a number of your fellow IT majors) who also express some enthusiasm for the activities involved in their field of choice.

Engineering Eddie, Pre-med Mike, and Globe-trotting Glenda -- I realize your other classes (and/or your exciting extracurricular life) are going to keep you really, really busy this term.  But it's probably not the best idea to actually tell me that this class is a low priority for you, and you're worried that it will take up too much of your time.  Besides, I might just have the last laugh; more than one student has told me it was more useful than (s)he expected.    

A number of you – Yoga is getting really popular, isn’t it?  So far, I’ve had students who also expressed strong dedication to Christianity and Islam (as well as several who didn’t mention faith at all) describe it as the main thing that keeps them grounded and sane. 

And on a completely non-sarcastic note: it’s good to see so many veterans.  I’m glad you survived your tours of duty, and that many of you seem to have healthy, happy families, and skills, experiences, and interests on which you want to build.   I do hope the new GI bill is actually covering your tuition and expenses (as recently as a few semesters ago, the old one wasn’t really doing the job for most veterans).   I look forward to working with you, and with all the other enthusiastic, community-spirited students (including many of the ones mentioned above) who seem to make up a good 90-95% of the class.  I’m sure that, in the course of the semester, many of you will become overwhelmed, and a few will become whiny, and that a couple of rather obvious narcissists (yes, cave man, I’m looking at you, but not necessarily in a good way) will take up more than their fair share of my, and the rest of the class’s, time and energy, but really, right now, things are looking pretty good. 


  1. I stopped handing out surveys like this years ago. It's just too depressing, to read how empty their minds are, how modest their ambitions (if any) are, and how shallow their dreams (if any) are. Plus I'll get more than enough exposure to their illiteracy and sloppiness soon enough.

    Life loves its ironies. When I was a teenager, I was intrigued by the novels of Hermann Hesse, about spirited youths being stamped on by dull, stupid adults. Now I am a spirited adult, dealing the best I can with hordes of dull, stupid youths. God help and save the future, if any.

    1. I instituted a opening questionnaire I received from a researcher who suggested giving students a sense of collaboration in establishing course parameters increases their investment. To be clear, the intent was not to allow students to set their own rules, but feel like they had a voice! :) )

      The last question inquires about what should be the standards of behavior.

      To a person and to a word, virtually everyone says there should be "respect" and usually includes a reference to "opinions."

      Of course, there is no information as to what qualifies as respect nor what constitutes an opinion.

      Given attitudes and behaviors observed as the course progresses, I feel respect is defined as "applauding whatever contribution I make..." and opinion as "... from content pulled directly from my butt."


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.