Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The swings and roundabouts of outrageous students

Or perhaps that should read, "of outrageous policies for passing students who should have failed."

I have been reacquainting myself with a bunch of students who I failed a couple of years back. Students who turned up to one class in eight. Who completed almost none of the assessment. Who handed in scrappy torn paper with a few penciled and misspelled notes on it for the assessment they did complete. Who pled all sorts of excuses, and who someone must have taken pity on. Because they are still here and now taking my upper level classes.

I don't really understand how that works.


Then there's the opposite case. My wonderful hardworking failure from two years ago. She spent 20+ hours on some of the assignments that other students finished in two. She came to every office hour. She did all the extra practice exercises I recommended, and asked for more. She worked her way up from a 16% in the first assignment, to a 28% in the second, and a 54% in the final exam. That particular class had a policy for cases like that that if the final exam was a passing mark, and the student had shown diligence and progressive improvement, the final exam replaced the total that would have come from the aggregate mark. So she passed.

And now she is back, in my upper level class. Still a little confused (she accidentally enrolled for the wrong course and didn't realise until the third week). Still a little uncertain about some of the material. But full of really smart, thoughtful questions. The first to respond to anything I ask of the class. Doing all the reading, both required and optional, and looking likely to get some very good marks.

It's students like her that make it all worthwhile.


The History Enthusiast said...

I had a hardworking student like that in my class last semester. She was dyslexic, but she hadn't been officially tested at my uni, so I couldn't give her extra time on tests, etc... (I encouraged her to register with disability services but she didn't want to). She came into office hours, we did multiple sessions reviewing paper drafts, etc... and she was really a joy to work with. It's so refreshing to have a student who cares so much about getting an education.

Secret Squirrel said...

I suppose it's possible that this one has an undiagnosed learning disability. That hadn't occurred to me. I did encourage her to see the student services people last year for help with essays and assignments, so they should have pointed her in the right direction if they suspected a disability.