CDZ What students say says more about them than it does about the topic they're discussing

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by usmbguest5318, Nov 17, 2017.

  1. usmbguest5318

    usmbguest5318 Gold Member

    Jan 1, 2017
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    Some weeks back I was looking at some student comments about some of their economics classes and instructors. Among the remarks are:
    • Int'l Economics -- This course is a survey course; it's not a weeder class; it is not a prereq for anything and has no prereqs.
      • "It is a difficult course, only about half the class gets As and Bs." -- Say what? Half the class does not get As and Bs in a difficult course, the most "difficult courses" being those wherein the subject matter is difficult, those wherein the student must figure out much on their own, (and related to that) those wherein the teaching approach is "weeding," and those wherein scores are force-ranked for As and Bs and perhaps for Cs. Half a collegiate class getting As and Bs happens in courses having none of those attributes.


        • ...To wit, "Gives out 30 questions with all but one question of the final [among] them." -- Just how hard is a class wherein the professor informs the students of all but one question that appears on the final exam?
      • "His tests are always fair, no huge curveballs." -- "Huge" or not, "curveballs," so to speak, are par for classes from high school through undergraduate college classes. I dare say that if one's getting no "huge" curveballs, the instructor may be setting the bar too low. That may not be the case for this class for it isn't part of a "track" within the school's undergraduate economics program. (One doesn't even need to taken principles of economics, the course-pair that gives one a basic understanding of economics, to take this class.
      • "The course is extremely exam dependent (2 tests, 90% of your grade)." -- It's college; get used to it. I wonder what this student is going to think if s/he goes to graduate school.
      • "No homework makes it tough to keep up with the material." -- It's college; you're supposed to assign yourself "homework" if the professor doesn't do so for you. The professor provides a syllabus and you have a textbook. It's your job to use those tools to figure out what "homework" you need to do to keep up. That's part of the burden of being an adult. One may not always as an undergrad be forced to "step up" in that way, but when one is, well, one just is, and do so one must.

        Having said that, the student's comment is at least actionably and objectively informative. In that regard it is at least a useful comment.
    • Principles of Microeconomics -- This is generally a "weeder" course for econ and business majors. It's meant to be hard because no school wants "lightweights" graduating from their program.
      • "Just work really hard and you'll do well." -- Well, that can be said of pretty much any college class if, as with any high performer, "doing well" means earning an A. I don't have a problem with the comment other than that it's trite.
    These days, I interact with very few collegians and recent grads, my kids, their friends and, every so often, some of my friends' mentees being the primary 20-somethings with whom I converse. Quite frankly, they mostly don't make insipid or highly subjective remarks like most of those above, at least not to me. (How they communicate with others, I have no idea.) Generally, they find something of gravitas to say or they say nothing. Perhaps that has something to do with the personal nature of my relationship with them.

    All that notwithstanding, I was most dumbfounded by the emphasis on how easy the class is or isn't and their utter unawareness of what makes a class be easy or hard. Upon noticing that, I was immediately reminded of how silly so many student protests about matters of free speech are. It's one thing when someone having something of substance to offer to a discussion exercises their free speech right. It's wholly another when one, in this case a student, has something to say about matters they don't fully comprehend.

    From a student's perspective, college may be about "getting the credits/grades/degree." Sure, part of it is about that, but what's vastly more important than what grade one earns is what one learns about the process of discovering and aptly analyzing information and situations and becoming adroit at doing so as an adult. Of the ~20 ratings and comments I read, only three mentioned anything even close to that latter aspect of having taken the course they did. What that suggests to me is that many people attend college and haven't any idea of why they are really there and what be the scholastic objectives and methodologies of the school, yet they are willing to opine upon such things. It's not wonder nobody serious pays them much mind, save, of course, when they are physically violent.

    • I just happened to look at one professor's ratings, of which there were about 20. Maybe it's different for other students? Maybe many students who "get it" don't bother to post ratings?
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Toronado3800

    Toronado3800 VIP Member

    Nov 15, 2009
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    Interesting. The schools I attended were what I believe was a good community college and a pay for diploma state school. I spent a good amount of time taking courses and hunting for a field, working full time and averaging perhaps 9 hours a semester while working full time. Needless to say by the end of my college career I was older than my average classmate and felt I had a unique perspective.

    When students complain about Curveballs it is most likely in reference to things they did not believe to be applicable to the course. At work we all probably have tasks which don't seem applicable to our departments much less ourselves. A student who gets by on hard work not comprehension may never realize it the professor was showing them that unless the professor explains it afterwards. The next question being, should the professor of explained it? Is the professor a good teacher? Its not my first calling even on subjects I consider myself a near expert in.

    Seeing the difference in perceived difficulty vs the grade bell curve of the grades earned would be interesting. I'll tell you many college classes I took were plum too easy for high school level work. I'm not a genius, foreign language classes others breezed through I had to work at, but many classes covered in a semester what should have been covered in a week or month especially at the four year school.

    You are absolutely right about the complaints about lack of homework and how heavily weighted some are towards exams. Those complaints are probably from students who appreciate more structure. At times more regular homework would have and would still benefit me by making it plum apparent what I did not understand preventing cramming sessions! Still though, you are 100% right, the company I currently work for is not the strictest on structure by far and certain people need the regular homework and someone looking over their shoulders.

    Very interesting.
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  3. oldfart

    oldfart Older than dirt

    Nov 5, 2009
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    Redneck Riviera
    I used to teach college economics and had the opportunity to teach in a variety of environments. This course (International Economics) is from the information given a "service course). As such it is really not meant for majors, as it has no prerequisites and is a prerequisite for no other course. Most of the students will be non-majors, who are fulfilling a general education requirement or a requirement for a related major.

    I taught such a class in statistics for MBA students. The key is the department has to clearly identify why they are offering such a course and that will drive the material covered and the grading system. It was a mandatory course, so most students regarded it as essentially pass/fail. I had a set of unit exams and students could take each as many times as they wanted. It set minimum scores for A, B, and C work for each unit. Students could take the exams until they got the grade they wanted and then move to the next unit. I like the idea of self-selection in target grades; students who only wanted a C could move through the course pretty quickly. When they finished all the units, they had a C for the course. Students who desired a B for the course ended up retaking some of the unit exams. I doubt if even 10% of the students seriously tried for an A, but that was there choice.
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