Tuesday, March 31, 2015

a semi-quantification of caring

I care about my students, about their education and about my discipline.  I believe education plays a vital role in the development of a just society of engaged and effective citizens.  I believe a lot of other unfashionable things, to the amusement of many of my colleagues, which probably explains why I am a Grumpy Academic.  But as a good Miserian, I strive not to care more than they do... averaged over the semester as a whole.  Trying to compose another email explaining that their last-minute panic is not my emergency led me to doodle the following, which I thought I'd share here (click to embiggen):


  1. I also get that dejected feeling every time I grade the midterms. I wonder to myself, how I can keep a strong upper lip and forge through. I have to realize that not everyone is going to care as much as I do. I am always quite shocked at how unresponsive my students are, when their midterms are returned. Their poor grade was not as much a surprise to them, as it was to me.

  2. I love this! Thanks!

    (FWIW, at midterms in my comp sections, my current pass rate--C or above--is 59.5%. I expect a flood of emails and knocks on my door this week and next as we approach the drop deadline.)

  3. Excellent use of the poop emoji!

  4. Oh my god I love this so much. And so accurate this one!

  5. Everything about this is spot-on in my experience (and the rating scale on the vertical axis is, indeed, brilliant).

    Also, the point at which the red and green lines cross (and periods soon thereafter) is precisely when delusional colleagues, administrators, etc. tend to get involved, and conclude that the professor is an uncaring monster. They (and the fallen-behind students who are seeking sympathy and "help" from them) seem especially resistant to the existence of the "too late" period -- which is, in fact, a period of time that can be predicted with some precision by an experienced instructor, and which starts earlier in the semester than one would think.

    1. "a period of time that can be predicted with some precision by an experienced instructor, and which starts earlier in the semester than one would think."

      I sent my first warnings out three weeks into the semester. No prizes guessing how many of them are now failing badly.

  6. This is so good. Everything is better when you graph it.

  7. Actually my own level of caring shoots up exponentially towards the end of the semester, when I start searching for reasons--any reason--in their course records to let (most of) them get by with a C (as opposed to an F)--so as to artificially achieve a "success rate" that won't automatically get me in trouble. I even start smiling more often, and being oh-so-nice, with those student evaluations looming. Not that that changes anything. Student caring shoots up too, not as in "I need an A", but as in "can I still pass this class?"