Saturday, February 23, 2013

University Students and Their Expectations

A couple days ago I posted on the pleasant experience I had in Reno, meeting up with two former students.  I wrote about how pleased I was that they'd figured out that personal responsibility is one of the important life lessons to be learned at college.

Clearly not everyone has figured that out:
Such accusations reveal little about the professor in question; no one ever satisfactorily distinguishes a boring professor from a boredom-inclined student — which is not to suggest that boring professors do not exist, simply that Rate My Professors cannot recognize them. What the comments reveal are students’ assumptions about what they are owed by their teachers and what constitutes a good classroom experience. Most pointedly, they show the extent to which higher education in North America has become a consumer product like any other, catering to client satisfaction and majority appeal. Reading through the comments, one is disheartened not only because so many are crude and illiterate but also because they indicate how deeply most students have imbibed the canard that university is about being entertained and helped to feel good about oneself.
The following observation, though, doesn't apply only to college:
Statistical researcher Valen Johnson has demonstrated in Grade Inflation: A Crisis in College Education (2003) that student responses to their university experience have been corrupted by an entitlement mentality about grades. Because students tend to excuse poor performance by pointing to external factors, they often blame their teachers when marks are lower than expected — when, as one student wrote on the site, they are “completely blindsided by a bad grade.”


Mrs. Widget said...

My husband was given a bad rating on "rate my professor". He does not care. It is not official, it is anynomous, and he cannot challenge those that post; eg "you never came to class."

PeggyU said...

I thought there was a way for professors to leave comments. Not sure how a student could be completely blindsided by a bad grade, since most teachers hand out syllabuses that explain their grading systems, and if the students keep track of their test and quiz scores, they should be able to figure out roughly where they stand.

momof4 said...

Peggy: You are assuming that (1) the student read the syllabus and(2) understood that the professor really meant what s/he wrote. Hence the explosion in the number of students trotting into their profs' offices at the end of the semester, demanding extra credit, extra time, a re-do, a better grade etc.(from what I've read) - because their k-12 teachers allowed these practices. Ed theory is that grading on actual performance (even 0s) might damage the fragile psyche of kids who think they should have As and Bs for below C level work or no work at all.