Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Today on Professor Facepalm: Smack!

Clueless Non-Trad, at end of class: Excuse me, Mr. Facepalm, but I missed some of the stuff on Socrates... and Plato...

Prof. Facepalm, erasing whiteboard: I don't doubt it. You were an hour late to a class that lasts an hour and twenty-five minutes.

Clueless Non-Trad: Uh, yeah... I was busy. Could I get that stuff from you...?

Prof. Facepalm, now staring at Clueless Non-Trad: "Get it?" How?

Clueless Non-Trad: Uh... could you go over it again, maybe? Real quick?

Prof. Facepalm: It took an hour to go over it before. How quick would you like it?

Clueless Non-Trad: Just, um, real quick.

Prof. Facepalm: They were Greek. Quick enough.

Clueless Non-Trad, actually writing this down: Uh... that's all you said?

Prof. Facepalm, returning to erasing boards: I'm not re-teaching the material just for you. Get the information from another student.

Clueless Non-Trad: I asked one, she didn't take any notes...

Prof. Facepalm: Well, at least she was here.

Clueless Non-Trad: [flees]



  1. Something that particularly annoys me about students like this is when they write in anonymous evaluations and the-site-not-to-be-named, "Prof is not approachable or accessible."

  2. That's not actually applause - it's the sound of a thousand facepalms.

  3. I have a clause in my syllabi that says students are responsible for getting material they missed, and that they should get class notes from a classmate. I will provide any copies of handouts (which are usually posted via our course site), and answer any questions. But I do not give out copies of my lecture notes, nor do I repeat lectures/demonstrations. At least in theory.

  4. Strange, in my experience older students aren't that clueless. I'd be more worried about the student who didn't take notes. I mean, if what was discussed isn't easily found in the literature, how do they expect to remember it?

    I have a habit of posting lecture notes, and sometimes I wonder if attendance would be higher if I didn't. The notes can be more terse (or way more detailed) than the lectures, so it is a rare student who could easily learn just from reading them. But they don't realize that until it's too late.

    1. On average, I find that older students are less clueless/more mature (duh!) than younger ones. But that isn't a universal pattern. Some people don't go to college at the traditional age because of life circumstances (money, becoming a parent, needing to help out other family members, etc.), and they generally only become more ready (though they may have less and less time to devote to getting an education, even as their financial need for the better job an education might bring increases). Others don't enter college, or don't make it through college on the first try, because of other issues that may be more persistent, and more persistently disabling (e.g. mental illness and/or mental disability). If the issue is treated, they're often ready, later on, to complete college, but if it isn't, they may be no more ready to cope with college (or even less so) than they were at 18 (and all too often, going to college is suggested by no doubt well-intentioned folks as part of the treatment process, rather than something that should be attempted *after* they've developed the life skills necessary to succeed in college, and in other parts of life that require things like time management, self-disicpline, and the like).

      I suspect our views of non-traditional students are, to some extent, shaped by the last generation of non-trads, who were often women who re-entered college some time after stopping short of a degree mostly because they married and began raising a family. The rising generation of non-trads is more varied, and includes people in the situations mentioned above, plus a rising number of veterans (who can be extremely able and disciplined, but/and, sometimes at the same time, more significantly disabled by things like TBI or PTSD than they may realize on starting college), immigrants who didn't graduate from American high schools (which is usually enough, in my experience, to prepare students pretty well for an American college), and others who may find college more challenging than the "traditional" middle-aged-mom non-traditional student.

  5. I don't understand why some of my students sit through a lecture minus pen and paper even when I point out NOTEworthy stuff on the PowerPoint. Evidently they think they will remember all of this at mid-term in their SuperBrains.

  6. Do notes matter?

    I have actually asked, in class, that students not only write something down because it is important, but so important that they should tattoo on the inside of their eyelids (fluorescent ink) because it will come up over and over.

    So, why is it I'm asked, after I get all harsh on a paper, if we covered this? I want to do a facepalm, but on them. At speed.