Sunday, November 22, 2015
Seasonal Retail and Final Exams
Personal respect isn’t a substitute for a fairer political economy, of course. But in the meantime, we could do worse than to acknowledge the strain. Some students are working hours that put them in danger. Letting them know that someone cares doesn’t fix the problem, but sometimes a little respect at the right moment can make it bearable. And learning that the issues aren’t just personal may help people connect the dots, and start to work on the politics of it. That’s my annual holiday wish...
But putting the blame on the person rather than the structures that the person has to live within makes people feel discontented with themselves rather than becoming activists to change the structures.
Excellent point about dropping some assignment, because it also obviates the need to deal with checking if an excuse is fabricated or the documentation forged (with the academic honesty implications for the student) when the problem is that they just need to work longer hours. And I like the idea of reminding them of it now, when stress is at its maximum. Excellent suggestion.
However, I never explain that on the first day of class. The most at-risk students are the ones who will use their "get out of jail free" card on the first (often formative) assessment and lose twice: when they get to the second assessment and when they really need to drop an assignment because life intervened. I consider the shift to an on-line syllabus one of the greatest inventions in this regard, because students don't read it! That means I can tell them about the replacement/drop policy partway into the semester, when it really matters for retention.
I too am a big fan of the dropped exam policy. First, it keeps me from going crazy dealing with make-up exams and verifying excuses; I don't give make-ups because if you really do have an emergency you can use your free pass. Second, it rewards improvement since that lowest first exam is dropped.
But...as CCPhysicist notes, I also see those who struggle the most play hooky on the first exam, then realize that they really should have just saved the drop for the next one. I believe in transparency so I tell them the policy from the beginning, but perhaps I should rethink that.
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