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G5052

Oh, community college teaching...

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Last night I gave them an exam.  They had seen every question at one time or another, either on quizzes I gave them or "quick check" quizzes given for no grade after my lecture.  They had access to all of the quizzes I gave them to help them study.

 

The average was a 70.3%.   Three students told me that they forgot to study.  One thought it was on Microsoft Word (I gave that exam three weeks ago when he was there).  Several asked me about a curve afterwards.  I never curve, and have only done extra credit when there were significant technical issues for the majority of the students (not this semester).

 

Deep breath.  Move onward...

 

Thankfully my summer class will be mostly teachers who need the credit for recertification.  That will make a difference.

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That must be very frustrating.  It's not really different in our high school, so I imagine students graduate and continue on with more of the same.  (sigh)

 

It also demonstrates one of the differences between (some) community colleges and higher level schools.  The average for a test might still be 70% (+/-), but the questions on the test in higher level schools tend not to be those the students have seen before.

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Several asked me about a curve afterwards.  I never curve

 

 

I never understood grading on a curve.  Seems to me that there should some absolute things a student should know in order to pass the class.  Let's say none of your students studied, and it was a multiple choice test, and they all guessed randomly, not knowing any of the answers.  If you graded on a curve, some percentage of those students would be given A's.  That doesn't seem right.

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Thanks.  This is a class that EVERYBODY takes.  The goal is to be tough on the application part of it, and lighter on the terminology part because it's a "core" class.  So this was a terminology exam.  Not hard at all.

 

The math and science classes do stack up well, as do the sophomore-level classes in the majors.  I have a former student who is working on her PhD at Georgetown, and another in law school at UVA.

 

After 16 years of community college teaching, nothing surprises me though.  But after last night, I figure about 2/5 of the class is failing.

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I never understood grading on a curve.  Seems to me that there should some absolute things a student should know in order to pass the class.  Let's say none of your students studied, and it was a multiple choice test, and they all guessed randomly, not knowing any of the answers.  If you graded on a curve, some percentage of those students would be given A's.  That doesn't seem right.

 

Exactly.  I've taught this one or one like it for twelve years.  I know what the state expects me to teach and at what level.  If they don't reach that level, so be it.

 

Same thing with extra credit.  If I'm teaching it right, there should be no need for extra credit.  We had a mess one semester with the online homework checker that got the students really confused, so that semester I offered extra credit for anyone who wanted it because of the confusion.

 

The department coordinator offers extra credit, but it's an extremely difficult assignment for the class.  No one has ever completed it, but he offers it every semester.  LOL!

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When they ask me for extra credit, I usually ask them why I should give them extra credit when they didn't bother to do the regular credit.

 

I sympathize. I have one class where I predict that 3/5 of the class are not going to get a C or better. No, I am not curving. I am not curving you to a C in a developmental class so you can go ahead and not pass the class that actually counts for credit. Prerequisites are there for a reason. 

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I have my students complete an assessment after the first two exams.  It's simplistic (6 questions) and focuses on how much they prepared for the exam and what they (on their own) and I (in the classroom) can do to help raise grades on subsequent exams.  This semester I had about 1/2 the class ask me to conduct in-class review games (like Jeopardy) because that is what makes learning fun.  In previous semesters, the most common response to these questions had been for me to provide a detailed study guide with only the information needed for the test.  I guess students no longer want to take the time to fill in study guides.

 

I submitted more midterm warnings this term than in the last three terms combined.

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Is it any better at 4 year schools?

 

I am asking because none of the financials seem to be working out very well for dd #2, and we just 'toured' the CC today to see if 2+2 would be an affordable option that would be attractive to her at all.

 

She is already taking classes there, and has been extremely lucky with profs --- they sound like you guys! :)

 

I am really torn about how to proceed, because the thing screaming in my head the entire time was, "High School!! High School!! This feels exactly like High School!" I think this was mostly due to a bunch of guys negotiating with a science prof about the lab work they should have handed in but hadn't. It just felt so..... I dunno. Young.

 

But maybe I would get the same impression if I walked around a 4 year SUNY (state) school on a class day. Maybe it's not worth the (tens of thousands of dollars) of added expense to go to a 4 year residential state school right off the bat if it is very similar to the CC.

 

Are there kids that care at your CC?

 

I'd be so grateful if those of you with CC teaching experience would share your opinions.

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Hugs, Jen.  Sorry your finances aren't working out.

 

As much as I dislike our CCs, I would go that route before going into debt.  Debt is just not an option.   We just cannot go there with so many kids plus a disable adult child.  Ideals give way to reality.  So, a less than stellar option is better than no option.  People the world over make less than great work; our kids are no different.  They just work harder to shine even more.  

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Yes... definitely. I agree completely. I guess I am just trying to gauge how much of a difference there would be.... in the SUNY flagship for engineering for 4 years, vs 2 years at the CC and transferring over. IF I thought that it would be SOOOO much better - that the kids would care A LOT more.... etc., etc.... it would be an easier decision. But I wonder. Maybe that's just what college is like now in general? (So hard to make generalizations, I know. And every kid is different. And every college is different.)

 

 

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I don't know the answer.  I know my kids tend to put in way more time than their peers. I know ds has kids asking him why he works so hard when he doesn't need to.  His answer is b/c he wants to make sure he owns the material and doesn't just pass the exams.  And he does.  I think for motivated kids, excelling in limiting conditions isn't the same as avg kids skating along with zero resolve.

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But maybe I would get the same impression if I walked around a 4 year SUNY (state) school on a class day. Maybe it's not worth the (tens of thousands of dollars) of added expense to go to a 4 year residential state school right off the bat if it is very similar to the CC.

 

Are there kids that care at your CC?

 

I'd be so grateful if those of you with CC teaching experience would share your opinions.

 

My oldest missed National Merit Semi-Finalist by two points.  We visited various schools, and I shared with him the hard financial realities we face.  No need-based unfortunately, and the merit aid wouldn't reach to what I can put in.  He'd have to take out loans for the rest.

 

He chose to go to the local CC where I teach.  I teach online for a larger one further away, and he didn't like the atmosphere and larger classes.  So he'll start locally.  He's already done some dual enrollment there and was the top student each time.  I have no doubt he'll find his way.

 

There are indeed kids who care at this school.  The honors program is outstanding.  We routinely transfer the top kids with seamless transfer agreements to "name brand" schools.  Granted you have to watch the requirements like a hawk, but it happens.  If mine does accounting like he's thinking, he's going to have to take two semesters of business stats and one semester of Excel online from the more distant CC in order to have a smooth transfer to the business school he's chosen.  We can deal with that.

 

Every CC is different.  If you go that way you MUST be in constant contact with the 4-year so you are lined up to go there though.  I tell my students to go to the transfer seminars EVERY SEMESTER and double check, and to visit the department several times before they graduate from the CC.  In fact we're going to a transfer seminar next week even though he's just graduating from high school in May. Several questions have come to mind, and I've heard that the gal they send has been involved in transfer admissions from this particular school for about 8 years.

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Some of the SUNY cc's are really good. One of my relatives attended one and then transferred to an Ivy League. The non-majors classes were pretty light, but the majors classes prepared him well for the upper-division classes. 

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I have my students complete an assessment after the first two exams.  It's simplistic (6 questions) and focuses on how much they prepared for the exam and what they (on their own) and I (in the classroom) can do to help raise grades on subsequent exams.  This semester I had about 1/2 the class ask me to conduct in-class review games (like Jeopardy) because that is what makes learning fun.  In previous semesters, the most common response to these questions had been for me to provide a detailed study guide with only the information needed for the test.  I guess students no longer want to take the time to fill in study guides.

 

So do you do the in-class review games?  

 

I did for awhile, but I teach in the evening, and I got comments on my reviews that they were too tired to enjoy them.  That bugged me.  As if that was the only reason I did it.

 

We also changed textbooks, and the definitions part in the new textbook is dumbed down from what we had before.  My Jeopardy games would be too difficult now.  I'd have to redo them, but maybe for the last definitions test, I will.  Spring break project -- ha!  I also have to figure out a new Excel test because I'm unhappy with the one I used last semester.  Those are always hands-on though.

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So do you do the in-class review games?  

 

 

No, I don't.  If the students were preparing for the exams, I might consider it.  I know, however, that the games are being requested as a substitute for reading the book, reviewing notes, and independent study. One of the students who requested the games never purchased a text book.  I use BVT and the book is $49.95 for the loose leaf and $29.95 for the electronic version.  I have a couple of older editions that I allow students to use. I provide links to free online resources (including the PBS videos).  Many students just do not want to do anything outside of class. I refuse to enable this type of behavior.

 

I used to offer a 2-hour online chat the night before each exam.  The students were allowed to ask me anything about the exam, including specifics about the questions, and I would answer.  The students who participated were those who were earning high marks anyway.  The students in need of help all had excuses for not participating.  I no longer offer the chats.

 

--

In response to a previous poster~ yes, there are good students enrolled in CCs.  I have had a couple of them in every class.  As a matter of fact, my most outstanding students - who are both in grad school now - were homeschooled.

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I have students ask me about a curve every semester.  I give the class a maniacal laugh and then continue on with the lesson.  When they ask for extra credit, I explain that I don't want to over-burden them with extra work because I know they have their hands full with the core material.  I have about 1/4 of my students doing very well in my microbiology class this semester, 1/4 doing fair to middling, and another 1/2 that will likely fail.

When they ask me for extra credit, I usually ask them why I should give them extra credit when they didn't bother to do the regular credit.

 

I sympathize. I have one class where I predict that 3/5 of the class are not going to get a C or better. No, I am not curving. I am not curving you to a C in a developmental class so you can go ahead and not pass the class that actually counts for credit. Prerequisites are there for a reason. 

 

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I have already decided that DD will not do her dual enrollment at the local community college, but use the local university instead.  A friend of mine who teaches at the local community college was highly insulted and asked if this meant I thought poorly of the instructors there.  I don't think poorly of them at all; I think poorly of the administration and they are the people who set the tone from the top down.  And the tone at our local CC is one of "student success", which is not the same thing as "student learning".  Based on friends in the field, I do not see that same "Let's make it easy peasy" attitude at the local university I am targeting for DD.  I think if a community college is college level or "13th" grade depends very much on the administrators and whether or not they are looking to have students really learn, or just boost their graduation numbers.  I do know that I have seen top-notch students everywhere I have taught, so yes,they do exist in CC.  It's the kids who are bright, but not particularly self-motivated to do extra, above-and-beyond work, that will get a sub-par education at CC, because they either won't or don't know how to self teach to their maximum capacity.

Is it any better at 4 year schools?

 

I am asking because none of the financials seem to be working out very well for dd #2, and we just 'toured' the CC today to see if 2+2 would be an affordable option that would be attractive to her at all.

 

She is already taking classes there, and has been extremely lucky with profs --- they sound like you guys! :)

 

I am really torn about how to proceed, because the thing screaming in my head the entire time was, "High School!! High School!! This feels exactly like High School!" I think this was mostly due to a bunch of guys negotiating with a science prof about the lab work they should have handed in but hadn't. It just felt so..... I dunno. Young.

 

But maybe I would get the same impression if I walked around a 4 year SUNY (state) school on a class day. Maybe it's not worth the (tens of thousands of dollars) of added expense to go to a 4 year residential state school right off the bat if it is very similar to the CC.

 

Are there kids that care at your CC?

 

I'd be so grateful if those of you with CC teaching experience would share your opinions.

 

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No, I don't.  If the students were preparing for the exams, I might consider it.  I know, however, that the games are being requested as a substitute for reading the book, reviewing notes, and independent study. One of the students who requested the games never purchased a text book.  I use BVT and the book is $49.95 for the loose leaf and $29.95 for the electronic version.  I have a couple of older editions that I allow students to use. I provide links to free online resources (including the PBS videos).  Many students just do not want to do anything outside of class. I refuse to enable this type of behavior.

 

I used to offer a 2-hour online chat the night before each exam.  The students were allowed to ask me anything about the exam, including specifics about the questions, and I would answer.  The students who participated were those who were earning high marks anyway.  The students in need of help all had excuses for not participating.  I no longer offer the chats.

 

Yes, I don't like enabling either.  Even when I did Jeopardy, I only covered about 3/5 of the material on the test.  I told them that they had to do the rest themselves.

 

FWIW, I do have two students who have almost perfect scores. One was homeschooled, and one is a mail carrier returning to school for his post-retirement career. Both are very articulate and organized. They'lll do fine.  For that type of student, I'll press on.

 

My other online CC is making noises about having me teach a sophomore-level class in the fall. That might balance it all.

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This semester I had about 1/2 the class ask me to conduct in-class review games (like Jeopardy) because that is what makes learning fun.  In previous semesters, the most common response to these questions had been for me to provide a detailed study guide with only the information needed for the test.  I guess students no longer want to take the time to fill in study guides.

 

These are more things that would mimic what is often done - and encouraged for teachers to do - in high school.

 

As Reefgazer stated with her CC, our high school (and many others) is more focused on student success, so whatever seems to work to make it easier for them is encouraged.  Expecting work/effort has become a thing of the past I guess.

 

I'm not sure that lower level state/private schools are much different, esp in intro classes.  The intro classes at middle son's Top 30 research school are considerably more in depth (esp for math/science), but a big difference there is all the students who make it into the school are already on a different level.  This does NOT mean all students care about studying/grades, but there are definitely many who do.

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Yes, I don't like enabling either.  Even when I did Jeopardy, I only covered about 3/5 of the material on the test.  I told them that they had to do the rest themselves.

 

FWIW, I do have two students who have almost perfect scores. One was homeschooled, and one is a mail carrier returning to school for his post-retirement career. Both are very articulate and organized. They'll do fine.  For that type of student, I'll press on.

 

My other online CC is making noises about having me teach a sophomore-level class in the fall. That might balance it all.

 

I hope you didn't take my phrasing to mean I thought you were enabling.  I didn't mean it that way.

 

And I agree about staying the course for those students who "get it".  Those are the students I teach for.

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I hope you didn't take my phrasing to mean I thought you were enabling.  I didn't mean it that way.

 

And I agree about staying the course for those students who "get it".  Those are the students I teach for.

 

Not at all.  That's one reason I stopped Jeopardy.  I felt like they weren't digging into the material for themselves the way I wanted them to.  And it wasn't all about fun either!

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A little spin off here … are instructors even allowed to fail 1/3 - 1/2 half the class without it coming back as a ding against the teacher?  I'm just curious, because I hear a lot of "we aren't allowed to fail them."   

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A little spin off here … are instructors even allowed to fail 1/3 - 1/2 half the class without it coming back as a ding against the teacher?  I'm just curious, because I hear a lot of "we aren't allowed to fail them."   

 

Not a problem here as long I stick with what is in my syllabus.  And my dean has always backed me when I've had a grading grievance filed against me, which usually happens 1-2 times a year.

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Not a problem here as long I stick with what is in my syllabus.  And my dean has always backed me when I've had a grading grievance filed against me, which usually happens 1-2 times a year.

I'm glad you've got a good dean there. The last time I taught, I had two males who skipped 50% of the classes, did less than half the assignments, and got D's on their mid-terms, and E's on their finals. So, I flunked them. They had a COW at the dean. I mean they practically birthed calves on the office floor, and the profanity slung my way was of drunken sailor quality. Thankfully, the dean threw them out of his office and never relented, then apologized to me for having to hear that and made sure I was okay. He also made sure that security had escorted the two bums off the campus before he would let me go to my car with escort.

 

A good dean is a prize. Bad deans....well, I better not start on that topic.

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A little spin off here … are instructors even allowed to fail 1/3 - 1/2 half the class without it coming back as a ding against the teacher?  I'm just curious, because I hear a lot of "we aren't allowed to fail them."   

 

Yes and no.  My CC puts quite a bit of importance on not allowing failing students to continue post-midterm.  Any student without a chance of passing the class, a D or better, is supposed to be dropped at midterm.  Keeping a failing student on the books requires a compelling reason.  Instructors are allowed to drop students for lack of attendance as well as poor performance.

 

There is an unacknowledged disparity between adjuncts and full-timers.  Full-timers, more so than adjuncts, are more likely to drop and flunk students.  The general idea is that adjuncts need the numbers in order to receive courses in future semesters.  When I was new, I rarely failed or dropped a student.  Now, I may not like it, but if the student isn't pulling muster, out that student goes.  I don't want that student to pass my class and be ill prepared for higher level courses.

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If the class averages 70%, a good portion of them are failing? I hadn't thought of it that way.

 

1/3 - 1/2 students failing class leads my thoughts to other topics, such as the overselling of college as a path to success for everyone, and the nature of student loans devaluing education.

 

Glad to hear you are holding the line.

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If the class averages 70%, a good portion of them are failing? I hadn't thought of it that way.

 

1/3 - 1/2 students failing class leads my thoughts to other topics, such as the overselling of college as a path to success for everyone, and the nature of student loans devaluing education.

 

Glad to hear you are holding the line.

 

Yes, most got D's and F's.  I had some very high A's that pulled it up.

 

I do think that we aren't doing some folks a favor with open door admissions.  It builds false hope and perhaps a loan or grant to repay with no payoff.

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Yes and no.  My CC puts quite a bit of importance on not allowing failing students to continue post-midterm.  Any student without a chance of passing the class, a D or better, is supposed to be dropped at midterm.  Keeping a failing student on the books requires a compelling reason.  Instructors are allowed to drop students for lack of attendance as well as poor performance.

 

I *wish* we could do that here. We are not even allowed to tell them "I strongly recommend you drop". 

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I do think that we aren't doing some folks a favor with open door admissions.  It builds false hope and perhaps a loan or grant to repay with no payoff.

 

I'd prefer to see free CC with more stringent standards for continuing and longer periods of suspension for extremely low GPA, but still open admission. 

 

I don't know how it works in your classes, but most of the people who get D's and almost every single one who gets an F in mine has multiple weeks of unsubmitted assignments or skipped exams with no excuse or the like. 

 

Right now, someone who's getting straight F's can get a couple semesters of probation (assuming a successful appeal), then a semester's suspension, then MAYBE a year's suspension, and especially these people I really don't think we are doing any favor at all. 

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I know of two people who had low pass rates in the area and who did not have their contracts renewed after several semesters of that; one college flat-out said the reason it wasn't renewed was because of the low pass rate. 

 

I personally vacillate between failing them if they earn a fail, and not failing them if they earn a fail.  My contract would be in jeopardy if I had low pass rates repeatedly, but I am getting to the age and stage where I don't care as much about that.  If I take a stand against low standards set by the administration and lose my job because of it, what really has been accomplished when there are a million professors out there willing to step into my job and humor the administration's directive for passing everyone under the sun.

A little spin off here … are instructors even allowed to fail 1/3 - 1/2 half the class without it coming back as a ding against the teacher?  I'm just curious, because I hear a lot of "we aren't allowed to fail them."   

 

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I have never lost a grade appeal in 13 years of teaching because my syllabus is tightly written, follows college guidelines, and I don't deviate from it.  But pass rates are unspoken and fluid here, and too many failures over a series of semesters will mean your contract will not be renewed in 1 year/5 years/10 years (whatever time frame your contract is under).  Pass rates and grade challenges here aren't the same at all.  You're fortunate your administrators support your grading decisions in the long term.

Not a problem here as long I stick with what is in my syllabus.  And my dean has always backed me when I've had a grading grievance filed against me, which usually happens 1-2 times a year.

 

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I've hit upon an ingenious way of dealing with the current administrator-love for passing all the failures that show up in my class.  :sneaky2:   Most of my students are aiming for graduate school, medical school, or one of the allied health professions (some of which can be extremely competitive).  I really don't want to pass someone who cant tie their shoes/read/calculate, and then turn them loose to take care of one of my friends or relatives in a hospital setting.  Since passing to our administration is a "C", it is not that difficult to pass my class with the passing "C" (administration stays happy).  But getting a grade that is good enough for medical/PA school (a B+ or an "A") is damned difficult, so anyone who is pulling a "C" in my class isn't heading off to medical school anyway.  There 'ya go...administration is happy, and no one who is a danger to patients will be loosed upon the world.  :) 

 

Yes and no.  My CC puts quite a bit of importance on not allowing failing students to continue post-midterm.  Any student without a chance of passing the class, a D or better, is supposed to be dropped at midterm.  Keeping a failing student on the books requires a compelling reason.  Instructors are allowed to drop students for lack of attendance as well as poor performance.

 

There is an unacknowledged disparity between adjuncts and full-timers.  Full-timers, more so than adjuncts, are more likely to drop and flunk students.  The general idea is that adjuncts need the numbers in order to receive courses in future semesters.  When I was new, I rarely failed or dropped a student.  Now, I may not like it, but if the student isn't pulling muster, out that student goes.  I don't want that student to pass my class and be ill prepared for higher level courses.

 

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I do think you hit the nail on the head with this sentence.  It's one reason I am against "free" college for all.

If the class averages 70%, a good portion of them are failing? I hadn't thought of it that way.

 

1/3 - 1/2 students failing class leads my thoughts to other topics, such as the overselling of college as a path to success for everyone, and the nature of student loans devaluing education.

 

Glad to hear you are holding the line.

 

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I work at a 4 year college and there's definitely a range of students - some are engaged and really master the material while others do the bare minimum. Cs get degrees ...

 

I've gone back and forth on the community college thing over the past few years and have come to the conclusion that its a good option (maybe even preferable?) in some situations.  I would imagine that for general classes its preferable to be in relatively small cc courses rather than large university courses.  General Psych has 24 students max at our cc and 275 and the university.

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I am a bit disillusioned by this thread.  I always hoped/dreamed that teaching and dealing with adult students would be different, better.  Sounds like they have the same juvenile attitude. <sigh>

 

 

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Thanks.  This is a class that EVERYBODY takes.  The goal is to be tough on the application part of it, and lighter on the terminology part because it's a "core" class.  So this was a terminology exam.  Not hard at all.

 

The math and science classes do stack up well, as do the sophomore-level classes in the majors.  I have a former student who is working on her PhD at Georgetown, and another in law school at UVA.

 

After 16 years of community college teaching, nothing surprises me though.  But after last night, I figure about 2/5 of the class is failing.

 

But think about it this way: if you want a normal curve, you are going to have just 70% passing, right? That's how many people would pass in a normal distribution.

 

 

 

It's one reason I am against "free" college for all.

 

Why, who said anything about free college for all? Nobody does that. What some countries have is free competitive admission, in which the sole determining factor in admittance is your demonstrated ability through exams.

 

My heavens, free college for all would be insane.

 

College admittance based on merit rather than parental wealth, which can be inherited or even when entirely earned, totally unrelated to the students' academic capacity, is another thing entirely. I wish we had that. I know people who were National Merit Semi-Finalists who dropped out of uni due to inability to pay (I went to CC myself, one just never got back in--her parents were poorer than mine).

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I have my students complete an assessment after the first two exams. It's simplistic (6 questions) and focuses on how much they prepared for the exam and what they (on their own) and I (in the classroom) can do to help raise grades on subsequent exams. This semester I had about 1/2 the class ask me to conduct in-class review games (like Jeopardy) because that is what makes learning fun. In previous semesters, the most common response to these questions had been for me to provide a detailed study guide with only the information needed for the test. I guess students no longer want to take the time to fill in study guides.

 

I submitted more midterm warnings this term than in the last three terms combined.

Any ideas about whether this is a generational thing or a result of teaching methods at schools today? I think review days before tests are pretty common at our local high schools.

 

I am currently taking some online CC classes for a certicate program. Our professor provides study guides, which have made my life so much easier. It is the first thing I down load every week. I know other students have complained about their length, but I have felt well prepared for every test.

 

I say, provide a study guide. Students who actually care about their grade will complete and study it.

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I am a bit disillusioned by this thread.  I always hoped/dreamed that teaching and dealing with adult students would be different, better.  Sounds like they have the same juvenile attitude. <sigh>

 

It's difficult for students (anyone really) to know anything different than what they have experienced.  They graduate from "average" high schools (like mine) and assume school will continue the same way in their next classes - cc or otherwise.

 

As long as the powers that be care more about success via passing vs success via knowledge learned, not much is going to change.  Both in high school and in college there needs to be the opportunity to fail in order to inspire some (many?) to actually work.  Some students have always been self motivated and would be even if grades weren't an issue, but that's not the majority IME.

 

It used to be mainly top academic students who headed off to college from average high schools.   These were often self-motivated already.  Now, like everywhere, college is being encouraged to the masses - esp community college.  Some sort of degree is needed for many, many jobs.

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I am conflicted on this topic.  Yes, I think students should receive the grades that they earned in a course.  Ones that are unwilling or unable to complete the necessary work should just not be given an undeserved passing grade.  But.....I do think that colleges should have stronger paths for success built into freshman core courses.  For example, not all students automatically make a smooth transition to the rigors of college coursework.  I like it when voluntary help labs or sessions (extra and separate from regular class times)  are built right into the syllabus that help the kids learn how to get over the hump......here's how you study for this particular test, let's review the complicated concepts together, any questions or areas that student needs clarifying, etc......I don't mean give the kids the questions and answers but rather facilitate success for the freshman that might be clueless about getting the proper studying system set up. Surely the freshman has met the qualifications to attend that college and the prerequisites for the course, but if so many students are failing or rec'ing low grades then perhaps it's not a function of low motiviation or low ability so  assistance in learning how to learn at the college level might have to be addressed.

 

 

 

 

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I am a bit disillusioned by this thread.  I always hoped/dreamed that teaching and dealing with adult students would be different, better.  Sounds like they have the same juvenile attitude. <sigh>

 

Students are students though.  

 

One of my ongoing contracts involves teaching community college professors how to teach online.  And believe me, there's a few with an attitude in every group.  They don't believe that the deadlines for assignments apply to them, they hate using computers, etc. etc.

 

A few of them have even failed the course.

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I am conflicted on this topic.  Yes, I think students should receive the grades that they earned in a course.  Ones that are unwilling or unable to complete the necessary work should just not be given an undeserved passing grade.  But.....I do think that colleges should have stronger paths for success built into freshman core courses.  For example, not all students automatically make a smooth transition to the rigors of college coursework.  I like it when voluntary help labs or sessions (extra and separate from regular class times)  are built right into the syllabus that help the kids learn how to get over the hump......here's how you study for this particular test, let's review the complicated concepts together, any questions or areas that student needs clarifying, etc......I don't mean give the kids the questions and answers but rather facilitate success for the freshman that might be clueless about getting the proper studying system set up. Surely the freshman has met the qualifications to attend that college and the prerequisites for the course, but if so many students are failing or rec'ing low grades then perhaps it's not a function of low motiviation or low ability so  assistance in learning how to learn at the college level might have to be addressed.

 

Just so you know...

 

At this college all students have to take a "student success" class in their first semester unless they already have a degree.  And it covers how to study, how to talk to a professor, career planning, etc.

 

They have lunchtime and evening seminars every semester on topics like how to take notes, how to study in certain disciplines, etc.

 

I spend at least some time before every test going over how to study for the exam.

 

There are also special programs with peer groups for displaced workers, folks from families where no one has gone to college, etc. that have seminars and study groups.

 

Nursing has a dedicated retention specialist who runs a variety of programs oriented towards those degrees.

 

There is indeed a lot that can be done.  But sometimes despite it all...

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I am conflicted on this topic.  Yes, I think students should receive the grades that they earned in a course.  Ones that are unwilling or unable to complete the necessary work should just not be given an undeserved passing grade.  But.....I do think that colleges should have stronger paths for success built into freshman core courses.  For example, not all students automatically make a smooth transition to the rigors of college coursework.  I like it when voluntary help labs or sessions (extra and separate from regular class times)  are built right into the syllabus that help the kids learn how to get over the hump......here's how you study for this particular test, let's review the complicated concepts together, any questions or areas that student needs clarifying, etc......I don't mean give the kids the questions and answers but rather facilitate success for the freshman that might be clueless about getting the proper studying system set up. Surely the freshman has met the qualifications to attend that college and the prerequisites for the course, but if so many students are failing or rec'ing low grades then perhaps it's not a function of low motiviation or low ability so  assistance in learning how to learn at the college level might have to be addressed.

 

My dd's being forced to take a 1-credit course at the CC that I think is trying to address just this.  It's pretty much study skills and time management.  My dd is a good student, and thinks it's pretty much a waste of time for her.

 

The course isn't actually mandated for all freshmen (dd's actually a 16-yo dual-enrolled high school student in her 2nd semester), but is 'linked' to a bunch of common freshman-year classes.  So if you sign up for a certain section of certain popular freshman classes, you have to take "First Year Experience" (which is the name of this class).  If she's signed up for a different section of the same course (happens to be Intro to Criminal Justice in this case), she could have skipped it, but this was the time that fit into our schedule.

 

I asked why they linked this class, and they said that stats showed that students that took it had better outcomes (I'm guessing in academic achievement and retention).  Kind of an odd and scattershot way of getting kids to take it - seems like some kids who could really use it won't end up taking it, and others that find it busywork are forced to...

 

 

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I'd prefer to see free CC with more stringent standards for continuing and longer periods of suspension for extremely low GPA, but still open admission. 

 

I don't know how it works in your classes, but most of the people who get D's and almost every single one who gets an F in mine has multiple weeks of unsubmitted assignments or skipped exams with no excuse or the like. 

 

Right now, someone who's getting straight F's can get a couple semesters of probation (assuming a successful appeal), then a semester's suspension, then MAYBE a year's suspension, and especially these people I really don't think we are doing any favor at all. 

 

Wait. You can get a couple semesters of probation?! I didn't know that.

OTOH. Maybe it was best I did not...

 

I was one of those students that started out GREAT out of the gate. (straight As first semester) then I found online games (which could only be played after midnight) and started skipping classes.. and it went downhill from there.  Was on one semester of probation and did so badly I didn't even ask to continue (I didn't think they would say Yes!)  That was 1993.  I got a job. Worked for a while and went back to school (South Seattle Community) on my employers' dime and got my Associates in 1999. (Straight As again). Eventually decided a Bachelor's would be nice. Was working on the Bachelors and working full time when I got pregnant and ended up dropping the program so an AA is all I have currently.

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They graduate from "average" high schools (like mine) and assume school will continue the same way in their next classes - cc or otherwise.

 

Really?  When I went to college (in the dark ages), I knew it was going to be different from high school.  College isn't called grade 13, and we got to pick majors and classes, and there were going to be all kinds of other differences.  I wasn't entirely sure what all those differences would be, but I was not surprised at all that it was different.

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The average was a 70.3%.  

 

Is this a bad average in your experience?

 

In my dd's math midterm a few weeks ago, the average was 52%. That was bad & the prof was a bit taken aback.

 

I just went to look at overall undergrad stats for a local uni. They're on a 4.33 scale & for lower division courses the average final grades awarded across all faculties is 2.65.  Just to orient people, because our grading scales differ from the US,  B- is 2.67 & corresponds to 70-74% so the avg is just a tad under 70%.

 

 

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I am conflicted on this topic.  Yes, I think students should receive the grades that they earned in a course.  Ones that are unwilling or unable to complete the necessary work should just not be given an undeserved passing grade.  But.....I do think that colleges should have stronger paths for success built into freshman core courses.  For example, not all students automatically make a smooth transition to the rigors of college coursework.  I like it when voluntary help labs or sessions (extra and separate from regular class times)  are built right into the syllabus that help the kids learn how to get over the hump......here's how you study for this particular test, let's review the complicated concepts together, any questions or areas that student needs clarifying, etc......I don't mean give the kids the questions and answers but rather facilitate success for the freshman that might be clueless about getting the proper studying system set up. Surely the freshman has met the qualifications to attend that college and the prerequisites for the course, but if so many students are failing or rec'ing low grades then perhaps it's not a function of low motiviation or low ability so  assistance in learning how to learn at the college level might have to be addressed.

 

For each of the introductory physics courses, we offer 10 hours of homework help in learning centers at the department and 12 hours of free one-on-one tutoring every.single.week.

The students who would most need this assistance do not avail themselves of it.

 

And no, the info is not hard to find: I remind them of learning center in every single lecture, all times and locations for all assistance activities are on the course website, and on posters throughout the building.

 

The fail rate for the first course is steady at 20-25%. Most of these students never set foot into any help session - except for possibly the night before an exam.

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For each of the introductory physics courses, we offer 10 hours of homework help in learning centers at the department and 12 hours of free one-on-one tutoring every.single.week.

The students who would most need this assistance do not avail themselves of it.

 

And no, the info is not hard to find: I remind them of learning center in every single lecture, all times and locations for all assistance activities are on the course website, and on posters throughout the building.

 

The fail rate for the first course is steady at 20-25%. Most of these students never set foot into any help session - except for possibly the night before an exam.

I think this illustrates the "motivation" factor. Now, some of that can't be cured by any means due to personality issues, but for the most part, I don't believe this constitutes a large majority of failing students by any stretch. There is an issue in many regions of the US, mine included, in which education is simply not important enough in the home for  children to be raised to believe that they need to apply themselves at school. Since many states, again my own, tie school funding and "bonus" money to graduation rates, administrators are loathe to allow the natural consequences for not doing the work to take place because that would lower the graduation rate thus the money flow.

 

This adds up to teachers being pressured to give out passing grades that weren't earned and from a young age too which acclimates the student to paltry effort = passing grade or attendance = passing.

 

At no time did any of these students who earned "F's" simply for failing to do the work have to go look for or ask for help, so it's not surprising to me that they are lazy about looking for assistance when it is readily available in college. They are simply, like Pavlov's dog, trained to behave in such manner and receive their "treat", ie. a passing grade.

 

Colleges can't solve this, but I hope that most will hold their ground and not cave to pressure. This needs to be tackled at the root, and that's going to have to begin in primary school with students not being handed grades and promoted to the next without the necessary skills having been acquired. If they get the foundation, then high school teachers will actually be able to teach their material AND hold these soon-to-be adults accountable by allowing the natural consequences of their lack of effort to occur. CC's would then hopefully be able to retire their remediation hats and become what they used to be, a viable and acceptable alternative to gaining post high school education and training for the non-traditional college student.

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Is this a bad average in your experience?

 

In my dd's math midterm a few weeks ago, the average was 52%. That was bad & the prof was a bit taken aback.

 

I just went to look at overall undergrad stats for a local uni. They're on a 4.33 scale & for lower division courses the average final grades awarded across all faculties is 2.65.  Just to orient people, because our grading scales differ from the US,  B- is 2.67 & corresponds to 70-74% so the avg is just a tad under 70%.

 

 

 

Yes, it is a bad average.  Especially considering that they had seen every question on it.  I don't remember the exact average last semester, but it was a low "B."  That crew got my message about how to study from previous online and classroom quizzes.  Even in previous semesters where I only talked about how to study and played Jeopardy with them to review, it hovered around 78-83%.

 

Seems to be the trend though.  I emailed several other professors in my department, and they had similar stories.

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