Friday, April 26, 2013
One student failed my first two tests, and missed the third. I really don't like giving a make-up, but I write a test up just for her. She takes it. Then she comes to my office 2 minutes before class wanting to know how she did.
I give 28 points for free (out of 100). She scored a 29...and had no idea that she has no clue whatsoever what's going on. Even the "gimme" question, just pressing buttons on a calculator, she had no clue.
The question, by the way, was like "If you invest $10,000 at 15% for two years, how much do you end up with?"
Her answer: $17.45. I mean, seriously, no clue at all, every answer was totally off the wall like that. She's hardly alone, several students decided to wait until the day of the test to figure how to use a calculator to calculate interest...we've been on that topic for weeks.
Another student really was angry with me that she's failing the course. "I want my $400 back!" she says. I tried to explain that this is just the same course most folks take in high school, and that she could just read along in the book, and study, and she would have been fine. "I don't have the book." The semester is almost over, and she still hasn't gotten around to getting the book (and yes, she was handed more than enough loan money to buy a book)...and it's my fault she's failing. The worst of it is she gets to evaluate me (and teacher evaluations are 22%, yes, that exact percentage, of what determines job performance), evaluating the quality of my teaching and materials (i.e., the book).
It's been over 15 years, incidently, since anyone that knows the subject matter has evaluated my teaching. Other than students, all I've had is an administrator come in, watch me teach, then tell me what topics I need to remove from the course, to improve retention. I could literally just spew random words and the administrator (and most students) wouldn't even know.
Another student wrote me a long hate-mail detailing how badly I sucked, and how it's my fault she's not learning, and that it's important that she pass the course, because it's one of her last courses for graduating. Every line of her letter (not text) had at least one grammatical error in it, but I responded. I told if she could learn 8 pages from the text one her own, I'd pass her, and gave her 3 weeks to do it. She couldn't, because, she, too, didn't think getting the book was worth it. What goes on in other courses that you don't need to be able to write a complete sentence, or be able to read a book?
I had one high point, however. All semester, this totally hopeless girl interrupts class time and again to ask, well, questions that anyone paying attention would know. The course is statistics, and the quesitons are like:
"How do you know which one is the mean?"
"What does the x with a little bar over it mean again?"
"How do you know that number is negative?"
"Which one is the standard deviation?"
"How can you tell .02 is less than .05? Is there a formula for that?"
She'd even ask the same question several times during class (much like the first two questions). I politely answer again, and again, and again.
Finally, another student blew her gasket, and told her: "Why don't you just study?!"
The whole class, sans me, laughed uproariously. I'm sure she'll slam me on the evaluations, but damn...why not just study?
If I had thousands of students each semester, the above might be attributed to just being flukes, but they're not. I barely have 80 students total, and at least a dozen are "winners" like the above.
You might have noticed I used the feminine pronoun every time. That vast bulk of my students are female; the only time I get half or more of the class being male is when I start to teach what used to be first year math courses, like calculus. I'm hardly alone in noticing this.
I see there's a family with multiple children going to college before hitting puberty; I'm sure the kids are fairly bright, but I'm also sure college isn't what it used to be, either.
Next time around, I'll detail what exactly administration is planning to do to deal with the disaster of remediation.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
With most students coming to college, that means that much of the money spent on "higher education" is actually spent on 9th grade or lower material. It's only natural to ask if it's done any good. As before, note that over 90% of remedial students don't get even a 2 year degree within 3 years:
(this is from a study called "Bridge to Nowhere"; presumably, if remediation helped them, they'd only take one more year to get such a degree).
Remediation doesn't do students much good, obviously, although their debts are just as real as for students that actually have demonstrated interested in learning.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
A student in my 2nd year statistics course scored a 100 on the third test of the semester; this was a bit of a surprise, since he failed the first two tests. I give a test about once a month during the semester.
I asked him what changed, and he gave an answer I've heard many times before: "I studied today". One day. I've had students literally rip me a new one because they studied for two hours, and still didn't do well on a test. I've been "nudged" by admin to lower my standards to the point that a student need only pass one test to probably pass the course, so he's golden now.
This is what college rigor is now: study for a day, and you can master a full month of what is now college material (far less than what I covered in the 90s).
Hmm, a semester of material for a course can be mastered by a student that simply tries for a single day. A student takes maybe 4 courses a semester. 32 days of study for a "year of college".
So, a 4 year degree now safely represents about 4 months of effort. It's probably better than that, since a student has less opportunity to forget than in the 4 year degree (which takes 6 years for most students, anyway).
I've often heard it said public school takes so long to cover so little, in order to delay entry into the workforce. Is it the same for higher eduation? It sure looks like it.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
College Preparatory Algebra II:
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013