Saturday, March 26, 2016

A weekend thirsty from Eating Low Salt. Dumbest thing.


Without question the dumbest thing my students do is write me this: "You know that essay I have been writing for 4 weeks? Well, last night I changed my topic. Here is an 11 page paper on something else. Hope you like it."

Q: What is the dumbest thing your students do?



46 comments:

  1. With me they get zero if they do what you describe. They also run into significant trouble if they ignore other sorts of directions, which they now do at an alarming rate without learning any lessons from their mistakes. Refusal to carry out basic work and follow clear directions are huge problems now (I've seen an explosion of these phenomena over the past couple of years). Another big problem is conceptual disjointedness: Many are unable to keep ideas straight or focus as required. I'm sure the reason here is complex, but I'm convinced that the scattering nature of contemporary digital life is a major part of the explanation.

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  2. The dumbest, dumbest thing? Off-track exam responses that simply IGNORE the question asked, often to the point of bizarreness. As though I'm somehow magically not going to notice the blatant irrelevance and lack of knowledge!

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  3. Prof SnugglebunnyMarch 26, 2016 at 1:16 AM

    If we are talking about dumb habits, as opposed to individual dumb acts, I nominate their steadfast refusal to take notes. At all. They stare at me grimly as though I am some kind of non-entertaining slam poetry/improv performer, who is simply pulling random words out of the sky and linking them into fantastical statements for purely aesthetic reasons.

    [Wow. I am suddenly remembering our fellow CM-er Stella from Sparksburg, who confronted the same problem and declared to her students, "If it's coming out of my mouth, assume it's important."]. As recently as a few years ago, if I wrote a term or a diagram on the board, they at least would write that down. But I noticed earlier this semester that even when I directly quoted some key definitions to the freshmen in my intro class (which I have started to do so that they can't say that I never told them "what I meant" by X), they just looked at me. "You should write this down," I told them. "It's important." Maybe two pens started moving.

    Yes, there are all kinds of ways in which I could "make" them take notes, or create additional incentives for them to do so. But frankly? Fuck it. I'm tired of playing circus ring-master, and this isn't seventh grade. Not taking notes kills their grades; some of them figure that out after the fact.

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    1. Yes, I do so love that I prepare/present a lecture and no one bothers to take notes. I tried, for a while, having "notebook checks". But it was too depressing. An hour and a half lecture translated into a paragraph of notes. And this is material they will use in their future lives. And then they crab about not getting an "A".

      Acadmaniac

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    2. Ditto on the notes. I see a lot of them taking iPhone pictures of the blackboard after I fill it. At least they acknowledge that what I write on the board might be important, but taking a picture does not involve the same cognitive synthesis as taking notes. Then there are the ones who just listen to their music without even pretending to pay attention. Why do they bother coming to class?

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    3. Prof SnugglebunnyMarch 26, 2016 at 2:07 PM

      [Also to @Old School (below)] - I guess it's comforting (?) to know that I'm not alone. Not only 'why do they bother coming to class?' but 'why do I bother working so hard to prepare?'. I worry that I have become a much worse instructor because I have adjusted to their behavior, too. How on earth would I manage in a classroom full of super-keeners who were hanging on my every word, intellectually engaged, and calling me out on every shortcoming? Oh, wait. . . no. . . not gonna happen. That in itself is depressing.

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    4. Thank all the teaching gods it's not just me. Or is that worse?
      I used to worry when students only wrote down what I wrote on the board, because sometimes I only wrote something on the board so that they would know how to spell it -- I never wrote up all, or only, the important concepts (and my own teachers actually never used the board or handed out notes). But last year all of them stopped writing down what I write on the board, too, including advanced-level majors. I wish mine would take photos -- but the only time I've ever seen one try to do that was when a student wanted to photograph a test that wasn't supposed to leave the examination room!

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    5. Yes, yes, yes on the no-notes students. I've really been hammering them on it this semester--with a little results. Maybe the lesson will stick with one or two--VICTORY!

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    6. "This is important, please write it down." I say this fairly often, and will pause my lecture to let them get their paper and pen out. I also switched to flipped instruction for most lectures: they have to watch the lecture (which the LMS tracks for me) to earn participation points. Some of them are watching and getting it, but the few who do not show their ignorance in class.

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  4. I'll tell them to turn to page X in the textbook to review something, and I'll ask them a question (and the answer to the question is on this page in the textbook). While I'm waiting for volunteers to answer my question, many of the students who don't know the answer will look at me and not at the page in the book. I want to tell them, "Hey, the answer to the question is not on my shirt; it's in the book on the page I asked you to turn to."

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  5. Snuggs, I have a colleague who is flabbergasted by the refusal to take notes. He's experienced this type of thing repeatedly over the last couple of years, and, like you, has explicitly directed them to take notes, but with only weak success. You're not alone.

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  6. The dumbest thing (some of) mine do is to hold beliefs that don't fit well with the program's nature:

    a.Believing that standards are downwardly negotiable.
    b.Believing that their instructors are kidding about standards.
    c.Believing that they are exceptions to the effect described by Dunning & Kruger.
    d.All of the above in the same interaction.

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  7. When taking a multiple-choice exam, not picking ANY of the choices. I always shake my head and think, "Come on, pick ONE: even if you don't know the answer at all, you have a 1 in 5 chance that you reduce to ZERO by not picking ANY."

    I'm also struck by how often they don't know third-grade stuff, such as the difference between "there," "their," and "they're," "it's" and "its," "two," "to," and "too," etc., and promptly drabble on about the undesirability of being "old school" when in fact that means "intelligible," not to mention their outright refusal to look up words they don't understand.

    But of course, it's tough to beat the "sheep incident."

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    1. Oh, welcome to my world as a CC comp grinder. I eat that shit sandwich daily.

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    2. When taking a multiple choice exam, with choices only from A to D, sometimes filling in Scantron bubbles for E, or even F.

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  8. I teach one online class a semester. It's a class with a college level prerequisite (worth noting because at my community college, you could still need to take many high school level classes just to get up to speed). So these students have been around the college block at least once, if not many times.

    A handful each semester take my ONLINE class with NO knowledge of using computers. They don't take the Blackboard tutorials because they can't figure out how (even though the Distance Learning office reaches out to each student taking an online class with detailed instructions via both snail mail and email--they read neither). They don't get my emails sent to their college account because they never figured how to use it. They can't find the syllabus. They say, when they call me, that they can't come in during business hours to meet with our distance learning support staff. With sarcasm in their voices, they tell me they WORK full time, and THAT'S why they are taking an online class.

    Augh. It's so incredibly stupid of them. It's always only a handful. But honestly, how do these people manage to keep themselves alive day to day?

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  9. The dumbest thing is asking why they are failing when they have not turned in any assignments or lab work the entire semester, which leads to the inability to pass any exams or quizzes.

    This, of course, is followed by "what kind of extra credit can I do to pass the course?"

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  10. 1. Handing in a research paper with a Works Cited page that has nothing to do with the sources used
    2. Rewriting their papers by merely fixing commas, and ignoring most of my comments
    3. Inability to find sources, after I've done all the following: shown them three times in class, given handouts, and emailed a video tutorial
    4. Plagiarizing an example essay that I WROTE and gave the class!!

    There are more, but I'm typing this via phone.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. It is a weird feeling to read a plagiarized paper that YOU wrote, isn't it? The very first thing I thought was, "Hey, this is really GOOD..."

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    3. Ha! The plagiarized paper has also happened to me. I wrote (under a pseudonym) some technical papers and reviews that were published on well known web sites in the IT field, and one of my students lifted about 90% of one of my papers. She was very unhappy with the consequences...

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    4. Prof SnugglebunnyMarch 26, 2016 at 1:37 PM

      Number 2. Hands-fricking-down Number 2.

      Worse, many of them fix the commas, re-submit the "improved" version of the paper as their final draft, and then do not understand why they don't get a good grade.

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  11. use white supremacist sites as sources for a paper in a class on immigration.

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  12. An inability to follow simple directions. In 1998, when I started college, the instructors at the beginning of the semester would tell us students to write on a sheet of paper our last name, first name, student ID number, and student email address. Too easy. At the top of the page it said in big block letters, LAST NAME. FIRST NAME. STUDENT ID. STUDENT EMAIL ADDRESS. It was also assumed we would write legibly. I never saw anyone back in the day get it wrong except maybe the occasional student who seemed high or drunk.

    These last couple of years I’ve been taking computer science-related courses. Almost every single time, some students can’t manage to do that same simple task. They write down their street address instead of their email address. Or telephone number. And worse, some students after the initial dumbass just repeat the same mistake, following what the student ahead of them did instead of following directions from the instructor or just looking at the top of the page for what’s requested. Or the writing is illegible. I used to wonder how these people manage in the real world.

    Tutoring. I started in 2000. The excuses these days for why students didn’t do the assigned reading are worse. They claim they didn’t think the required textbook was required. Or, they claim to have a different learning style. Or they don’t even answer my direct question, did they do the required reading for the assignment. They try to elicit from me information about the subject, assuming that I won’t notice they’re trying to play me and be clever.

    The students who do this are just as often adults with full-time jobs in the real world.

    Someone here posted he/she wonders how these people manage in the real world. I don’t believe these folks are entirely incompetent. They already know that to get into a club on a Saturday night, they need to show their ID. They need to have insurance if they drive a car. They have to go to a Motor Vehicle or Social Security office and fill out forms correctly if they want something. I think most of them do understand requirements; they just think they can ignore and BS about the ones they don’t like.

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  13. Go into serious debt for a "good paying job" yet allow the lower playing jobs they currently hold hamper their progress towards degrees necessary for the jobs they want.

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  14. My program trains students for a profession that requires them to pass a comprehensive exam before they can be licensed to render service. Many of our students schedule the comp for soon after their last finals of their last term. Then, they slack off in their courses while they try to cram the entire several years' of curriculum into a few weeks of review., and as a result, some fail one or more courses in their last term. They have to wait almost a year to repeat the failed course(s).

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  15. Sometimes they poke the bear.

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  16. A really strange thing that some of my students do when they take their first quiz, which is not timed, is that if they finish the quiz quickly, they'll just sit there with it on their desk, sometimes turning the paper over, and not get up and turn it in to me. I've always found this behavior strange. Isn't the "natural" thing to do, when you finish your quiz or test, to turn it in to your professor?

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    1. Something my students did might initially be classified as just inconsiderate, but it was also dumb because they could have easily thought of the repercussions and acted differently.

      Let's say we have a quiz for the last 15 minutes of class. After about 5 minutes, students begin to get up to turn in their finished quizzes and vacate the room. Well, apparently, when these students are done with their own thing, everyone else in the room can go fuck themselves, because the noise arising from the shuffling and zipping of backbacks, clomping of shoes, slamming of doors, etc. would surely rival that of an automobile assembly line.

      So new rule for short quizzes: nobody leaves until everybody is done. You (the student) can sit and wait it out QUIETLY, and your shit stays untouched on the floor. A few minutes of meditation won't kill you. Or think about that tough problem you've been working on in another class---whatever floats your boat.

      One result was that, to kill time, some of the quick finishers started actually checking their answers. Without the Evacuation of Dunkirk going on around them, students who used to ride out the full 15 minutes were able to finish in 10. So now the same quizzes are only the final 10 minutes of class, and the average score has improved slightly (I know, ...ergo propter hoc...).

      Perhaps some of my students have ended up in Jaime's class.

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  17. Picking just one . . . wow, that's a challenge. So I'll ignore the instructions and make a list.
    1. Ignoring the instructions. I ask them to write a five page paper analyzing a text on Victorian Hamster Cultivation, and they write me a three page paper on Edwardian Caviomorph Training.
    2. Plopping random quotations into a paper without any connection to what they're talking about, like they're goddamned decorations or something.
    3. Plagiarism. Fuck those guys, seriously. Haven't had one yet this semester, and that's good, 'cause I had three last semester and ended up in therapy. Seriously. Actually, literally in therapy.
    4. Wear earbuds in class. Or try to.
    5. Sit in class and text. I don't say anything, but I keep a little list. They will be surprised, when the day comes to assign participation scores. Oh yes.
    6. Eating full fucking meals in the middle of class. My syllabus doesn't forbid it -- yet. But it's getting gross. Huge styrofoam containers brimming with shit. Considering the number of times I delay lunch because I'm in meetings and don't have time to eat, it's nauseating to be starving and then to walk into a class and get three different greasy cafeteria take out stenches at once.
    7. Turning in the same paper without any changes for a revision, and being surprised when they get the same score.
    8. Sitting in a conference with me without writing down a single thing either of us says the whole time. This is almost always followed by #7.
    9. Correcting only grammatical errors that I mark, not the ones of the same type that I don't. If I mark three misplaced apostrophes and write "you need to review apostrophe usage," they will correct those three (sometimes by just moving the apostrophe around randomly -- its' for example), and no others.
    10. Not looking at the comments I write on their papers. I can see if they access the electronic comments. Many of them don't, even if the papers allow a revision.

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    1. Re #2, I wonder if they get that from the design of web pages, many of which are "decorated" with prominent quotes or excerpts. Except they aren't random, and their connection to the text is obvious or (hopefully usually) adressed in the text.

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  18. My current one is Dandy Randy, who made life easy for himself and handed in a lab report he found on the 'net from two years ago. He even managed to erase the name of the original student and insert his own in the PDF. What he missed was that there were screenshots of computer screens that included the date and time - from two years ago.

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    1. When this one happened to me, they didn't even change the name, and were copying from others in the same class. Unfortunately, the rigamarole involved in officially proving that they cheated was far more time consuming than actually shooting fish in a barrel.

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  19. Students equate success with whether or not I like their project. Yes, I like work that is well done. But it gets a good grade because it is well done, not because I like it. I don't have to agree with the student's opinion, but their premise should be well stated and supported. It's college, not high school. Stop asking me if I like it and just do a good job.

    As for not putting names/contact info at the top of assignments - I take off points for this. Also for turning work into places other than specified. Such as sending it to me in an email, rather than submitting it to the LMS. Or handing me hard copy instead of digital.

    No meals in the classroom. And if students choose to eat during the class break (it is a long class), food must be eaten and containers tossed in the cafeteria nearby or somewhere other than the classroom. The smell makes me ill.

    Acadmaniac

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    1. Good luck enforcing that. I never had much luck, even when it was college policy.

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  20. Student copied off of another student during a midterm with MC questions - with a different version, and so totally different marking scheme. His green-coloured exam book pages and the other student's purple-coloured pages should have been a warning, along with every page being plastered with stuff like "Version III". As a result, for the 1st time EVAR, I had this student who got 1 (one) correct answer on the whole midterm, when the lowest mark is normally 20-25%., which is the equivalent of totally guessing on every MC question with 4 or 5 choices. When I ran his answer profile with another version's marking scheme, it matched up with one student's Version I answer profile the way chocolate and peanut butter match up.

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    1. Similar thing here, except about 2/3 the way through the exam, the student suddenly went from getting about 2 of 3 questions right to 1 of 10. Yup, his Scantron for the last third matched his neighbor's perfectly, and you know the rest.

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  21. 1) Thinking that higher education means take the textbook, summarize, rinse, repeat. The concept of analysis or, heaven forbid, integration of student obtained scholarly sources is simply foreign.

    2) Utter Random grammar and structure's too witch they're is no rime or reason two and that, of coarse, is never corrected not even when they loose More & Moar Points.

    C) No effort, even after multiple assignments to learn even the basics of the standard publication manual in use by the entire university.

    The End) The repeated claim, on years and years of student evaluations, that feedback is the A#1 most important thing they value when it is demonstratively obvious that the vast majority never review and/or implement it.

    If they aren't there to learn, why are they there?

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    1. That post just gave me brain cancer. Well done.

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  22. Asking during the last lecture before an exam "Do we have to know this?" Nah. I'm just up here entertaining myself.

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    1. Better: "No, of course you don't. Unless you want an A, of course. But no one is force-feeding you."

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    2. I say something quite similar in response: "Do you HAVE to know this? Do you HAVE to read the textbook? No, you don't HAVE to know this. No, you don't HAVE to read the textbook. You don't HAVE to do ANYTHING. You are completely free to do NOTHING AT ALL in this course. But best of luck on the exam, if your intent is to get a good grade."

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