Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nerd News: The Student Who Wasn't There -- the Problem of Absenteeism

Take a look. The school in question is Dartmouth, but the problem is widespread throughout colleges and universities.

My policy for absenteeism is simply this: I don't care if you skip or not since everyone is free to torpedo themselves as much as they are free to work hard to succeed -- the choice is yours. But know this: You skip my class at your own peril. So don't come crying to me later.

I've purposefully designed my classes so that in order to do well on my exams, you have to BOTH do all the reading assignments AND come to the class lectures. Yes, I am wickedly controlling the information as much as I can. Besides, I'm an awesome lecturer, so you don't come, you're missing out, so there! :-P

I have had some students whine that I assign too much reading, to which my standard reply is "Shut up and get back to work. If you spent as much time working as you do whining, you'd be done with your assignment already." OK, I use more diplomatic language than that, but the basic message is the same.

I have to say, though, there's been a new wrinkle on the "lazy student who doesn't want to read" phenomenon. I got this question last week: "The syllabus says we're supposed to read pages 50-100. Are we really supposed to read all 50 pages?" *snort of derision* ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

What I wanted to say: "Yes, and just for being a pain in my neck, you get to do a class presentation on those 50 pages and also write a full book review of the entire monograph that the 50-page selection came from."
What I actually said: "Yes."

1 comment:

Brian J. Dunn said...

Good attitude, Minerva. If you are grown up enough to skip class you are grown up enough to accept consequences. That's what I told my students when I taught history (long ago...).

Lord knows, I accepted consequences when I was a student. never forget the arrogant TA who gave us a pop quiz on day one and assured as that we'd learn all that stuff. Since I got everything right, I felt I had a license to skip. Imagine my surprise when the mid-term consisted of one question asking for a compare and contrast of two terms I'd never heard of before ... The "B" I got on that test was one of the proudest moments I had in calling up any reasonably connected knowledge!

But even that didn't compare to me walking into a class on the last day to find out when the exam was only to find that people were already handing in the 100% take-home exam. I thought I was hosed until the prof. said that anyone not turning it in could do so in two days. At the break, I went up to him and asked for a copy of the take-home exam. He looked at me and asked, "Are you in my class?" It was a small class. And I aced that sucker.

Sorry Minerva, I know--bad student! But the man used the term "guilt" or a variation about a dozen times the first class in relation to America in Vietnam and I figured I didn't need my summer term filled with that.

Good times. Gooood times.