Professors encourage revision in writing, and research in original sources, and discussion in class, because the process of arriving at the endpoint is as important as the results. I think we all agree with that, no?

But I wonder whether this emphasis on skills and process itself helps fuel the “I worked really hard so I deserve an A!” attitude. Are we planting the seeds of our own destruction?

An undergraduate at RYS was thinking along similar lines, though in a less sophisticated way (skills and process are not exactly the same thing as effort, although they can look like it at times):

Also, if the final product is all that matters, then why do you care if students skip class?… If you want students to stop assuming that effort will bump their grade up, then perhaps you should stop punishing others for lack of effort.

and gets tough, besides:

If the final product (conveying the material) is all that counts, then it doesn’t matter if you hold office hours every single hour of the day if you can’t effectively communicate the material…I suspect a number of individuals think their professorial effort should count, but that students’ effort should not.

Ouch. (Although, if the RYS selection is representative, I’m almost the only person who thought Becca had a point.)

I work this out in my own mind by making it clear that there is a certain portion of the grade that depends on effort, and nothing else does. In fact, my syllabus explicitly says “discussion is the only component where I can give you credit just for trying.” But I don’t really know whether students recognize the distinction I am making.

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