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Author Topic: "favorite" student e-mails  (Read 5294592 times)
frogfactory
Totally Metal
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« Reply #19680 on: August 18, 2012, 4:03:56 pm »

Ugh, conjugate.  Directing him to office hours is one thing, but maybe directing him to a personal tutor would be better?  At least that might give him a hint that no-one gives that kind of extra help unless they're being paid $50/h by the student to do it.

This depends on the type of institution.  At my alma mater and both my academic jobs, one-on-one tutoring for at least the number of office hours required to be held is part of the job (i.e., if no one else shows up, the student absolutely gets one-on-one tutoring for the entire time).  I took full advantage of that when I was a student and I encourage my students to do likewise.

Right. I'm not sure what the standard is here, but I certainly don't feel authorized to kick a student out during office hours just because they've needed a lot of help. So if one student shows up and uses all of my office hours every week, that's just my bad luck.

That's not what I'm suggesting.  But the thing about office hours the student needs to understand is that your time will be divided between whoever shows up, and they can't rely on having it to themselves as a weekly tutoring session.  If that's what they want, they need to pony up and get a tutor.

Sure, but is this not easy?

Set a time limit (say 5 minutes) if there's a queue otherwise continue to help the person in your office.

I'm not saying that it's not easy for the instructor to do that.  My point was about managing the expectations of the student.
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ptarmigan
grad student & chief dork dumpling
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« Reply #19681 on: August 18, 2012, 10:15:34 pm »

Ugh, conjugate.  Directing him to office hours is one thing, but maybe directing him to a personal tutor would be better?  At least that might give him a hint that no-one gives that kind of extra help unless they're being paid $50/h by the student to do it.

This depends on the type of institution.  At my alma mater and both my academic jobs, one-on-one tutoring for at least the number of office hours required to be held is part of the job (i.e., if no one else shows up, the student absolutely gets one-on-one tutoring for the entire time).  I took full advantage of that when I was a student and I encourage my students to do likewise.

Right. I'm not sure what the standard is here, but I certainly don't feel authorized to kick a student out during office hours just because they've needed a lot of help. So if one student shows up and uses all of my office hours every week, that's just my bad luck.

Granted that you may be over stating this to make a valid point, but I disagree.  Office hours are, or should be, an aid to independence not a crutch or substitute for study groups and individual effort.  I will work with a student every week if need be, but in each session I will only go so far as to identify something they can work on independently till our next session.  Often this is 15 minutes, seldom is it more than 1/2 hour.

I don't really know how to do this. Usually the (few) students who want a chunk of my time come in and say something like, "I don't understand this section/topic/concept." It's rare that my students would be able to read their textbook and understand it, so I think it does fall on me at that point to try to explain it, and that can take a while if they are really confused.
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He's on my roster, but if I've taught him anything, it isn't math.
cc_alan
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Caution! Nekkid Zamboni driver ahead.


« Reply #19682 on: August 19, 2012, 2:18:42 am »

Ugh, conjugate.  Directing him to office hours is one thing, but maybe directing him to a personal tutor would be better?  At least that might give him a hint that no-one gives that kind of extra help unless they're being paid $50/h by the student to do it.

This depends on the type of institution.  At my alma mater and both my academic jobs, one-on-one tutoring for at least the number of office hours required to be held is part of the job (i.e., if no one else shows up, the student absolutely gets one-on-one tutoring for the entire time).  I took full advantage of that when I was a student and I encourage my students to do likewise.

Right. I'm not sure what the standard is here, but I certainly don't feel authorized to kick a student out during office hours just because they've needed a lot of help. So if one student shows up and uses all of my office hours every week, that's just my bad luck.

Granted that you may be over stating this to make a valid point, but I disagree.  Office hours are, or should be, an aid to independence not a crutch or substitute for study groups and individual effort.  I will work with a student every week if need be, but in each session I will only go so far as to identify something they can work on independently till our next session.  Often this is 15 minutes, seldom is it more than 1/2 hour.

I don't really know how to do this. Usually the (few) students who want a chunk of my time come in and say something like, "I don't understand this section/topic/concept." It's rare that my students would be able to read their textbook and understand it, so I think it does fall on me at that point to try to explain it, and that can take a while if they are really confused.

For these students, I try to get them to tell me what they know instead of what they don't know. It's too easy for someone to say "I don't understand any of this". I have them get out their notes and also the book (if needed) and then start at the beginning of the problem area. And that's when I get them to tell me what they know.

Once I have an idea of where to start, I then talk about the next step and point out a few things. For someone who is *really* lost, I get them started on something and then tell them a problem that I want them to work on. This is when I sometimes ask them to go and work on it a bit before coming back to show me what they are doing. I do this to try and break the habit of needing to be reassured at each step.

This happens in lab quite a bit. A student will finish taking data and then come up to me for each calculation in order to be reassured that s/he is performing the work properly. After the second one, I tell them to go back and keep working.

Student: "But what if I'm doing it wrong?"

Me: "I'm trying to help you learn to figure that out for yourself."

<confused look>

Student: "But how will I know?"

Me: "Patience, grasshopper. You have not yet progressed far enough in order to snatch that pebble. One step at a time."

<insert some period of time>

Student: "I have a problem that I can't figure out."

Me: "What's wrong?"

Student: "This right here is not possible."

Me: "Huh. I don't understand. Why are you doubting your work."

Student: "Because <insert some explanation>."

Me: "AH HAH!"

<student backs away in fear>

Me: "Do you understand what you just told me? You told me that your work is wrong."

Student: "Uh... yeah. That's why I came to you for help."

Me: "RIGHT! And now you understand what you don't understand. You *know* that it's wrong."

Student: "How the he!! is that supposed to help me?"

<me, grinning>

Me: "You just did something very powerful. Even though you have incorrect work, you know that you have incorrect work. The only way to know that is to have some understanding of what you are trying to understand. Understand?"

Alan
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elsie
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« Reply #19683 on: August 19, 2012, 8:00:16 am »

And that is why the Zen monk role suits you so well.
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"People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect. But actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff." - the Doctor
ptarmigan
grad student & chief dork dumpling
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« Reply #19684 on: August 19, 2012, 9:35:42 am »

You rock, cc_alan. Maybe someday I too will have skillz.
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He's on my roster, but if I've taught him anything, it isn't math.
yemaya
Clown-hating
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« Reply #19685 on: August 19, 2012, 11:45:15 am »

Sigh. I received a rather entitled email from one of my online students, 3/4 of the way through class.  Essentially, she wants to be able to retroactively do work that was due weeks ago, extra time to do her work, etc.  (And there's the usual whining about work, etc.)  It's an intensive course and students have known about the work load since well before class ever began, let alone the end of the drop period.  I also warned students that they'd need the full week to do all of their reading for the class each week well in advance of the start of the course.  I repeated this warning the first week of class.  I declined her request, noting that it wouldn't be fair to give her more time than the other students.  It's not a required course for this student.  It's also a course that's offered every semester, so she would have ample other opportunities to take the class if her schedule meant she couldn't the handle the workload.  I'm sure that there will be further whining and/or threats to "take it to my supervisor."  Thankfully, my dean will back me.
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Historians are gossips who tease the dead.  ~Voltaire
llanfair
Still reading past her bedtime and Very
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Whither Canada?


« Reply #19686 on: August 19, 2012, 1:49:55 pm »

... Me: "You just did something very powerful. Even though you have incorrect work, you know that you have incorrect work. The only way to know that is to have some understanding of what you are trying to understand. Understand?"

Alan

This is it exactly.  When they don't know how much they don't know, they're lost.  When they get that they're on the wrong track, there's hope for them.

And I <heart> Alan.  But he knows that.
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Stop looking for zebras when the horse is already standing on your foot.
cc_alan
is a wossname
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Caution! Nekkid Zamboni driver ahead.


« Reply #19687 on: August 19, 2012, 2:23:45 pm »

Nothing like swiping from others. Which I do again and again and again and again. Swipe from one and pass to someone else... swipe and pass!

Alan
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Guess what? I got a fever and the only prescription is MORE COWBELL!
octoprof
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Love your loved ones while you can.


WWW
« Reply #19688 on: August 19, 2012, 3:59:27 pm »

Sigh. I received a rather entitled email from one of my online students, 3/4 of the way through class.  Essentially, she wants to be able to retroactively do work that was due weeks ago, extra time to do her work, etc.  (And there's the usual whining about work, etc.)  It's an intensive course and students have known about the work load since well before class ever began, let alone the end of the drop period.  I also warned students that they'd need the full week to do all of their reading for the class each week well in advance of the start of the course.  I repeated this warning the first week of class.  I declined her request, noting that it wouldn't be fair to give her more time than the other students.  It's not a required course for this student.  It's also a course that's offered every semester, so she would have ample other opportunities to take the class if her schedule meant she couldn't the handle the workload.  I'm sure that there will be further whining and/or threats to "take it to my supervisor."  Thankfully, my dean will back me.

We love your dean!
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ptarmigan
grad student & chief dork dumpling
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Posts: 4,218


« Reply #19689 on: August 20, 2012, 3:27:54 pm »

Maybe I'll develop more of that skill over time. I've definitely given a student a bunch of problems to work on and then let them do that in my office for a few minutes. But if they tell me they don't understand the unit circle (meaning, trig functions) then I will go over it with them from scratch if their confusion seems general, which is often the case.
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He's on my roster, but if I've taught him anything, it isn't math.
llanfair
Still reading past her bedtime and Very
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Posts: 32,664

Whither Canada?


« Reply #19690 on: August 20, 2012, 3:41:41 pm »

In my discipline, the equivalent skill - which I'm still working on - is letting them talk in seminar, rather than feeding them too much.  I was lucky this summer with my class, who were engaged and chattered away, but I won't always be so fortunate.  I need to learn to let them work it out for themselves.
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Stop looking for zebras when the horse is already standing on your foot.
shadowfaxe
Member
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« Reply #19691 on: August 20, 2012, 4:24:46 pm »

This was the first e-mail of the semester.  It arrived a couple hours after I posted the syllabus on Blackboard.

"Do we need a book for this class?"

No salutation, no signature line, no name.  Of course, I went scrambling for my copy of the syllabus.  Sure enough, REQUIRED TEXTS was there in capital letters.  But maybe I should have used the word "books" instead . . . 
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dept_geek
SPAF by decree, documentor of local meetups, and
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through a glass darkly....


« Reply #19692 on: August 20, 2012, 4:27:48 pm »

"Do we need a book for this class?"

Fantasy reply, in its entirety:


Yes.
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science_expat
Science Expat. Just pretending to be a somewhat
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« Reply #19693 on: August 20, 2012, 5:18:12 pm »

"Do we need a book for this class?"

Fantasy reply, in its entirety:

Yes.

Why is that a fantasy response?

I had a student in my office recently who asked "what did I miss yesterday?"

My response: "class"
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"Continue to speak truth to power and try to provoke evidence-based debate and decision-making. The holders of power will not like it and your career trajectory will not rise as high as you wish, but you will retain your professional integrity and the respect of those people whom you also respect."
kaysixteen
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« Reply #19694 on: August 20, 2012, 6:16:02 pm »

But the key question is, will someone at the tutoring center 'help' hu, i.e., digest the material and spoon-feed/ tell hu the answers, or will the tutors there simply do the same eminently reasonable thing you did?  And will the tutors also tell hu that in the future hu needs to read the course materials and take notes in class? And, if hu does not do so but reappears for more 'tutoring', will hu be thrown out?
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