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mrbadger





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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:22    Post subject: Ranty McRant Thread 2 Reply with quote Print

The first one seems to have lain unused for a few years, unless I just couldn't find it, in which case, just, can whichever mod first looks at this move it to the right place please Smile

Now that's out of the way.

Ok. My students are at least nominally adults. It's fair to assume that having arrived at university they are:
A: capable of following basic written instructions.
B: as final year students, reasonably well versed in their subject.

So why is it, year after year, I have this same 'I've left everything till the last minute and now I'm stuck because I didn't come to the lectures or do any work and I don't know what I'm doing' crap?

And somehow this is my fault? Or they seem to feel it should be.

Not every student does this. Some students excel. This year some have done so well they've caused me to re-evaluate my marking scheme because it doesn't take into account the level of work they've done.

The assignment involves working with a real world code-base, so it's a 'live' thing, not exactly easy to get perfect, and the good students keep finding new ways to screw with my marking scheme and boost their grades.

Yes it's hard, it's supposed to be hard.

So it's not all bad, but I do get so fed up with trying to figure out how to get through to the kids who won't do the work till the last minute.

They're about to graduate, you'd have thought they'd have learned by now, but some of them seem actively hostile to the concept of self directed study, which is, to my mind, the entire point of university.

And that's not just because I'm old. I was a student myself just a few years ago, and my good students have the exact same viewpoint.

The world will not follow these people around and help them when they get stuck. I've tried, subtly, to point this out.

I could be less blunt, but I imagine the little snowflakes (oh, were not supposed to call them that, are we, bless their little hearts) might get offended.


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:34    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I don't think much has changed with regard to how students approach their studies. There have always been those who didn't attend lectures and/or didn't put in the work, and who winged it through the final assessments and exams with varying degrees of success (or lack thereof). However I don't think many of those who didn't succeed were particularly surprised by their situation, or tried to suggest that it was anyone else's fault but their own. What seems to have got somewhat worse is people's willingness to take responsibility for the situations they create for themselves, and for working out what to do to get themselves out of those situations. I also don't think it's limited to young people; many older people seem to have slipped into the same mindset.

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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:34    Post subject: Re: Ranty McRant Thread 2 Reply with quote Print

mrbadger wrote:
So why is it, year after year, I have this same 'I've left everything till the last minute and now I'm stuck because I didn't come to the lectures or do any work and I don't know what I'm doing' crap?


Being an adult has nothing to do with it. This attitude can be found throughout the supposedly "adult" world.
I am increasingly convinced that the whole idea of "growing up" is basically a myth, in my experience humans rarely seem to develop the complete set of behaviours that might be given that over-arching term.
I recently witnessed a group of 60+ women at a party behave in a way that was all but indistinguishable from a group of 2 year olds in a similar situation.


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:36    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

It's normal. My sister is a University professor and she has sent people to psychiatrists in vain attempts to help. Sending people to psychologists (not psychiatrists) or counselors usually makes them worse which makes sense since they don't really have the resources to fix stuff. Her grad students are the same also. They wreck equipment, waste chemicals/resources repeatedly doing the same experiment wrong again and again because they can't ask for help/figure it out/follow directions. They have trouble with deadlines and attending meetings and showing up for work.

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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:46    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

What is so different about me then? I never missed deadlines.

When I was given an assignment I started work on it that day.

If the lecturer hadn't started teaching us what we needed to know to do it, I'd go find the information myself, and treat the lectures as an extra resource, not the primary one.

Yes I was a mature student in my thirties, but I have students in my lecture in their early twenties who are doing the same thing.

One of them only seems to come to my lectures to use the computers, because he's essentially finished all the modules goals sufficiently to get a good first class grade ages ago, without my help.


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:50    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

mrbadger wrote:
What is so different about me then? I never missed deadlines.

When I was given an assignment I started work on it that day.

Not everyone is like you. I don't remember missing any deadlines but, with a few exceptions, I was never one for starting assignments any earlier than I really had to. I still find that I work better under time pressure than I do when there there is plenty of time available, and I don't think I'm particularly unusual in that regard.

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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 18:55    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I have to say I'm a bit surprised students are still like that. Back when I went to university you didn't have to pay tuition fees and you'd generally get a full government grant to live on, so it wasn't surprising students would treat it as an opportunity to booze for three years--after all, for most of them it would be their first time out from under Mummy's thumb. These days, when there's an actual cost associated with going to Uni, you'd think they'd have more sense.

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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 19:11    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

CBJ wrote:
mrbadger wrote:
What is so different about me then? I never missed deadlines.

When I was given an assignment I started work on it that day.

Not everyone is like you. I don't remember missing any deadlines but, with a few exceptions, I was never one for starting assignments any earlier than I really had to. I still find that I work better under time pressure than I do when there there is plenty of time available, and I don't think I'm particularly unusual in that regard.


I had to pay £12,000 for my time at uni. I'm still repaying it, but it was well worth it.

I worked out exactly how much each day of uni cost me, I think it was £25, and I got to university at 09:00, and left at 17:00, sometimes just to eat then come back to the labs and carry on working, since my room had no internet. Not always though, since after a while I had a pretty good collection of textbooks in my room.

I gatecrashed every tutorial I could, regardless of what module it was for, to the extent the lecturers just used to make me help once I was a second year, which got me plenty of experience for my future career. Some first years even used to think I was a lecturer. Of course a few years later that would be true, but not then.

I was determined to get full value for my twelve grand, and I think I did.

These time wasting students are spending close to fifty grand, and learning next to nothing. Worse, they don't even seem to realise that's what they're doing.


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 19:19    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Again, not everyone is like you. When I was that age I didn't know many 18-year-olds with either that kind of work ethic, nor with the foresight to think through the consequences sufficiently to enable them to prioritise attending lectures over a heavy night at the Student's Union bar. And I'm not going to try and pretend I was much different.

I take pjknibbs' point about who pays for their study, but bearing in mind that the majority of students are just taking out a loan, and that the debt culture these days doesn't exactly put much emphasis on thinking through the consequences of taking out that debt, I really don't see it making much difference.

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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 19:49    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

CBJ wrote:
mrbadger wrote:
What is so different about me then? I never missed deadlines.

When I was given an assignment I started work on it that day.

Not everyone is like you. I don't remember missing any deadlines but, with a few exceptions, I was never one for starting assignments any earlier than I really had to. I still find that I work better under time pressure than I do when there there is plenty of time available, and I don't think I'm particularly unusual in that regard.


I agree.

Back when I was 18- 22 I was a disorganized little shit - who would occasionally put in spurts of work.

Now that I'm approaching 30 I'm a hell of a lot more self directed and pick my own goals.

Personally Mr Badger I would tell them they are going to fail if they don't buck up their ideas - espically if thats true.

Yer the snowflakes might get offended - they should be more offended at being 50K in debt and nothing to show for it!

(cavat don't do anything that gets you kicked out of your Uni obviously Wink


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 20:24    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

I don't like to fail them, but only because that makes my module look really bad, and it is a very nice module.

Unless they've really done nothing, which has happened.

So for the less capable I have in place a 'simpler' route. With a fair grade cap.

One that means you won't get a very good grade, but you will at least get enough to pass the module, and can get up to a 2.1.

I tend to shunt students onto it depending on what they submit, rather than through talking to them, because the ones who talk to me and engage tend not to be the ones who will get shunted onto it. And by that point talking tends to have little effect anyway.

I get lots of irritated emails. Usually along the lines of 'why can't I have a first class grade for my half arsed late attempt at the work?'

I'm getting good at ignoring those.

My issue this year is some students who said they were weak at programming deliberately took this route, and proceeded to excel, frankly sh%tting all over my marking scheme by doing things I didn't know you could on that route (an issue when your assignment is based on a real world open source product), and causing me a bit of a headache.

I have yet to figure out how to deal with them.


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 20:36    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Unfortunately universities have become more of a factory for academic degrees. Universities' income depends heavily on students
(in particular on those from abroad because their fees are much higher) and hence it has become difficult to motivate student by "threats".

I do remember to have been asked by the HoD to re-revise my exams markings due to an "unwritten regulation" to achieve a fail quota
not less than 40% (I had 55% and that was justified not only because some lazy students but because of many students with lacking aptitude).

There was also a corresponding negative feedback from the quality assessment (you know, where students have a say how good the lecturer had
performed). Funny part is that those who "complained" never or rarely showed up for the example classes I had organized.

So, Mr Badger, take it easy and be assured that it is not your fault and that you are not alone with this problem Wink

Cheers Euclid


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mrbadger





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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 21:01    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

My class feedback this year notably included multiple comments of 'not enough personal feedback'.

And yet week after week I sit alone in my feedback session which is just before my class.

And in my class, which is often half empty, few students other than the keen ones approach me.

Another is that my lectures don't cover everything needed to teach them the subject.

Well what subject can be taught in ten lectures? I can't think of any.

And how would they know what subjects would be the best to cover? Them or me? I'm going to side with me.

This year has been a particularly wearing one, I have to admit, hard work, and with the exceptionally low feedback score, our worst ever, I am unamused, and even less willing to put up with the crap from the people asking for last minute help, since I know they will be the ones who marked us down.


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 21:46    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Some thoughts, with no promises given about level of structure:


I didn't develop anything resembling a healthy work ethic until I was out of university and in an actual job. It wasn't that I didn't want to work, or didn't feel terrible about every half-assed problem sheet or missed lecture, or promise myself every late night that it wasn't going to happen again. I just hadn't learnt the time management skills or awareness of my own psychological "quirks" necessary to actually structure my time usefully. I wouldn't claim to be a paragon of organisation now either, but at least I've got the hang of things enough to generally be fairly successful.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like going back to university now, with the benefit of everything I've learnt in the last decade. But I'm not looking for a career change and I don't need another degree for my current career, so I guess I'm not going to find out.

That said, it's not your responsibility to teach people how to function (I'm not even sure that's something that can really be taught), and it's certainly not easy to tell people who are trying and just in a vicious cycle of screwing everything up apart from people who are genuinely being lazy.

I also don't think the money is as much of a motivator as you think it is - for one thing financial responsibility is also something that has to be learnt, but for another student loans now are for all intents and purposes a 30-year graduate tax - almost nobody will actually pay them off, so it doesn't really feel like spending £50k on something.


On the other side of the fence, as a teacher I get really annoyed by people who don't seem to be putting the effort in (The pre-reading is two chapters! Do the pre-reading! // If you had been paying attention to me talking rather than doing other stuff, you wouldn't be stuck on this lab question!) so I definitely empathise. At least we get fewer of those in a professional environment.

And I've complained in this forum before about the average standard of people coming off computer science degrees. (Yes, being able to figure things out for yourself is a requirement. If you can't do that, go write somebody's boring Java business logic for the rest of your life. Ugh. This is why I like natural scientists - at least they're taught with the ultimate goal of being able to face problems that literally don't have answers yet and figure them out!)


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PostPosted: Mon, 11. Dec 17, 22:21    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

As for telling the people who are stuck from the people who are lazy, well that's practically impossible, especially on an 11 week module.

My only options are:

1: are the turning up.
2: are they asking for help.

If they are doing the first that's good, but if they aren't doing the second and the class size is such that I don't notice they're struggling (not hard to do if they don't actually talk to me), I still can't tell.

There are too many people who are better suited to college being pushed instead to university, and they can't handle the difference.

I'm not trying to be unfair to college. I'm just saying they sit below University in their entry requirements for a reason.

College is, as far as I understand it for kids their age, school plus. University definitely isn't.

I used College as a stepping stone to university in my twenties, it was fun, but nowhere near as hard.

I have my easier route, but my job is still to produce people ready for jobs in industry, not people with "I wented to youniversitee and drunked a lot" certificates.


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