Respect for Professors

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Hi All,

I would like to get your thoughts and advice on an important subject that has been bothering me for a while. I work as a Assistant Professor at a mid-level regional teaching university. I took this job 2 years ago, moved from industry into academia. Here are things, with proper advice, I feel that are real opportunities towards my continuous improvement as a teacher.

Most students does not seem to care about, pretty much anything and lack respect to the faculty. Few examples:
1. They want jobs (graduation) /internships (during summers to fulfill degree requirements. I work my rear end off to bring tens of employers through career fair and I announce it to all the students. Only a tenth of the students show up and the no-shows reasons for not showing up: (a) I had homework due (b) I had house chores (c) I had work. A 60K job (on their backyard) versus a 5 point homework or a house chore? Then few weeks from graduation they come to me and blame the department for not getting jobs.
2. Employer recruiting speech and interviews, only 3 out of 40 show up. Similar reasons as above. I work hard to bring these employers to campus and I end up being embarrassed. When I ask students to show up even with extra credits, they don't.
3. Always playing with smart phones in class, want the least amount of work. Just 10 years ago I used to read a whole book to prepare for final exams with no study guides. Now, I spend weeks summarizing them and preparing lecture slides (15 ppt files overall). I tell them the exam will contain questions from these slides. They want study guides even for that, they can't even read just 15 ppt slides? I tell them that is their study guide and they get mad and rip me off in my evaluations. The only thing I can do it just give them the final exam questions (which I am not going to).
4. When I give them advice they do not follow it or even acknowledge (when sent through emails). They never take initiative to do anything such as student clubs, etc.

Just venting, I feel I work 70-80 hours a week to help and create opportunities for my students. But most of them does not even appreciate any of it. I don't want appreciation, I just want them to use the oppurtunity and do well for their future.

Should I go take a "hot to motivate students" or "student motivation for dummies" class or something. Just frustrated.

Thanks in advance for your inputs.

Not to be too cranky or cynical, but this is pretty typical behavior from students, not a unusually lazy group. It is also a pretty typical feeling of frustration for new faculty members. Faculty members were normally very engaged and motivated as students, and tend to think other students they end up teaching will all be the same way.

To get students to show up for such events, you have to be part showman and part salesman. You have to convince them that their education and future careers will be a failure unless they attend. Otherwise, they won't see the value in going. Remembering back to my days as an undergraduate student, I was not sure if job fairs were just companies trying to increase their visibility to sell more stuff to students, or if those employers were really looking to make hires from the students attending. Increase your sales pitch.

Alternatively, you can take the tyrant route and force them into going by making attendance a required part of a course.

Maybe others will have better suggestions...

Some students will behave as poorly as you allow them to behave. They have decided you are a pushover.

Make the career stuff a required part of the course and flunk the no shows. See a smartphone in class? Ask them to leave, immediately. Don't do studey guides, or do guides that basically tells them to read the damn book.

At the start of each class and regularly throughout the semester, sell these policies, explain why they are the most awesome policies ever.

[Let's bracket the smartphones and study guides for a moment. That's a separate issue.]

I'm sorry you're frustrated, OP. It sounds like you're doing a lot of innovative things regarding employability of students. To use a common cliche <interthreaduality>, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Some students are simply not ready to be in the workforce. It's sad, but true.

The three students who did show up to hear the employer talk are likely the same three students who will best represent your university. Focus your attention on them. You can also focus your attention on trying to identify other students who are ready to benefit from the resources, if given the appropriate nudge. Don't waste your time on the Suzy and Sammy Snowflakes who don't care. From my perspective, it's better they not attend the talk at all rather than come begrudgingly and text-message or eyeroll their way through.

You also may want to consider what sort of motivation you gave students to attend the event. How far in advance did you announce the event? Do you often talk about workforce development during class? These can all have an impact on whether students decide to attend the event.

[regarding the classroom conduct and study guide complaints]

These are both issues that have been discussed in previous threads.

Smartphone abuse during classtime drives me crazy and I don't yet have a good answer for you. I encourage you to talk with your colleagues about institutional norms at your campus and what sort of policies will/won't be supported by administration. (My current university has absolutely no qualms about instructors throwing texters out of class; at my previous place, it would have been bloody murder to enforce such a policy).

I agree with LarryC, as always.  The students' behavior is deplorable but predictable.  What you can do is hold the line.

You also need to stop working 70-80 hours a week.  Seriously.  If you were an aid worker saving lives after a natural disaster, yes.  But even at a university of superb motivated students, 70-80 students is not sustainable or sane for you and not worth it for them.  In the situation you're in, even less so.  Remember the Forum saying that "you can't care about their success more than they do."  And you're not saving lives, you're arranging interviews and dealing with unmotivated students.  Dial it down.  When you have a balanced life, their immaturity will frustrate you less.  Please take this to heart.


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