Uni­ver­sity stu­dents want marks for ‘try­ing’

National Post (Latest Edition) - - Front Page - BY SHAN­NON PROUD­FOOT

Most uni­ver­sity stu­dents be­lieve that if they are “try­ing hard,” a pro­fes­sor should con­sider in­creas­ing their grade.

One-third say that if they at­tend most of the classes for a course, they de­serve at least a B, while al­most one-quar­ter “think poorly” of pro­fes­sors who do not re­ply to e-mails the same day they are sent.

Those are among the rev­e­la­tions in a new study ex­amin- ing stu­dents’ sense of aca­demic en­ti­tle­ment — the men­tal­ity that en­rolling in post-secondary ed­u­ca­tion is akin to shop­ping in a store where the cus­tomer is al­ways right.

The pa­per de­scribes aca­demic en­ti­tle­ment as “ex­pec­ta­tions of high marks for mod­est ef­fort and de­mand­ing at­ti­tudes to­ward teach­ers.”

It’s a hot topic — and source of much frus­tra­tion — among in­struc­tors, says au­thor Ellen Green­berger.

Novem­ber is­sue of the Jour­nal of Youth and Ado­les­cence.

Tech­nol­ogy may en­cour­age some of this de­mand­ing stu­dent be­hav­iour be­cause e-mail is quick, pro­vides easy ac­cess to pro­fes­sors and opens the door to a less for­mal and re­spect­ful tone, she said.

“In-per­son com­mu­ni­ca­tion obliges you to look the per­son in the eye as you’re about to say, ‘You re­ally ought to give me a B be­cause I came to most of the classes.’ ” she said. “Try say­ing that face-to-face.”

How­ever, pro­fes­sors may well be guilty of the same im­per­ti­nence in e-mails to their stu­dents, she said.

Gil Troy, a his­tory pro­fes­sor at McGill Uni­ver­sity who has wit­nessed this be­hav­iour in his own stu­dents, blames it largely on the self-es­teem move­ment that ties eval­u­a­tion of work with per­sonal judg­ment.

“If I give a stu­dent aB or a B-mi­nus or a C — God for­bid — I have to ex­plain to them, be­cause they haven’t learned it in ele­men­tary school, that I’m not eval­u­at­ing their per­son­al­ity and I’m not even eval­u­at­ing work they in­tended to do,” he said. “I’m eval­u­at­ing the work they sub­mit­ted and it’s not per­sonal.”

He sees the roots of this in his own chil­dren’s ele­men­tary school, where spell­ing is some­times not cor­rected for fear of squelch­ing stu­dents’ cre­ativ­ity, and walls are adorned with gram­mat­i­cally in­cor­rect work.

The “con­sumer revo­lu­tion” has also con­vinced some stu­dents that uni­ver­si­ties and pro­fes­sors are ser­vice providers, Mr. Troy said. Both he and Ms. Green­berger be­lieve anony­mous stu­dent course eval­u­a­tions have fu­elled this and left some pro­fes­sors ca­pit­u­lat­ing to stu­dent pres­sure be­cause eval­u­a­tions can be tied to ten­ure and ad­vance­ment.

“It’s kind

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.