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  1. #1
    jam937 is offline Registered User
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    Pressure to pass students

    I have not been teaching long and I have only taught, in-class, at two private, nationally accredited schools. I am amazed at the pressure to pass inadequate or lazy students. Does every school have this pressure or just the private and/or nationally accredited schools? Does this exist when doing online teaching ?

    Here's one example. I had a class with 15 students. Three students only came to class 1-2 times in 7 weeks then dropped. They were going to fail so they dropped to save GPA. I failed another 3 students who also never came to class, arrived late, left early, never did any homework, did very few labs, failed most of the open book quizzes, did not show up to class for the project lab (show up = pass = 17% of grade) and failed the open book, open note final exam. So only 9 out of the original 15 passed the class. So I had a success rate of 60%. I'm told that it's very bad and I could not be asked to teach anymore if it repeats. The students do an evaluation on instructors and my score was very high. So the students like me.

    I've been trying to reflect about what I could have done differently with the 6 students that did not pass the class. I spoke to the Dept. Chair weekly about these 6 students and he said I was doing all I could. He said he had the same students and they were failing his class. I could have tried to help the 3 that dropped with their personal problems but I don't get paid for that job nor do I want that job. The 3 that I failed I had been speaking with every time they came to class about their lack of work and failing grades. I spoke with my chair every week as well. I feel the class is already as easy as it gets.

    My chair says he isn't telling me to pass students but it does affect my success rate when I fail them which determines if I get to continue teaching there.

    Any thoughts?

    I know this is a long post/rant, but it is frustrating.

  2. #2
    cookderosa is offline Resident Chef
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    I think it's hard to say as an outsider looking in. I think a no-show is a no-show, and they should withdrawal to preserve their GPA, I don't think that's a fail. Sometimes people register for more than they intend to take just to be sure they get a seat, and then drop after they finalize what they really want to take. So, those 3 I wouldn't count.

    You have to look at it as 12 enrolled, not 15. So 9 out of 12 passed? That's 75%, I'd argue that it's not 60%.

    I think it is especially hard when you're face to face with students, because it can feel like they SHOULD have a good attitude as part of their grade; and personality can influence you greatly. It shouldn't, but it does, let's be honest. I don't know your class or you or your syllabus or anything, I'm just reading a few words on the internet, so I'm not going to jump to conclusions. I would just say that time and experience can help you assess potential strengths and weaknesses of your syllabus and evaluation methods. It IS possible that there are problems with you,but it is also possible that you had a bad class. It happens. Rock solid syllabus, be sure you can document EVERY POINT awarded or withheld. I would only offer to be careful that you're not being punitive as a substitute for being rigorous. Good luck! It gets easier!
    Last edited by cookderosa; 01-13-2013 at 07:35 AM.
    Jennifer
    MS Applied Nutrition, Canisius College
    AA & BA Social Science, Thomas Edison State College
    AOS Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of America

    The placebo effect should be kicking in any minute.

  3. #3
    ProfTim is offline Registered User
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    It's all about the numbers. Students who fail run the risk of being SAP'd out of school. With them go the student loans that they get. I had a student who was always late for class, turned in poorly completed homework, left early and didn't do well on exams. He complained to the department chair and dean that I wasn't helping him. I always offered tutoring outside of classtime for my students. The ones who were serious about their studies and were struggling with the material took advantage of the sessions. Many of the ones that needed to attend didn't bother to show up. I was always a good teacher and really enjoyed teaching the students who really cared. I just go tired of the politics involved and ended up leaving academia and returning to the business world.
    MA - Webster University
    BBA - Northwood University
    AAS - Jefferson Community College

  4. #4
    Randell1234 is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by jam937 View Post
    My chair says he isn't telling me to pass students but it does affect my success rate when I fail them which determines if I get to continue teaching there.

    Any thoughts?

    I know this is a long post/rant, but it is frustrating.
    I have taught classes where 50%+ fail. All that matters is that you reached out to them to try to help them pass. I have taught online for 6 years and worked/work for 6 schools (for profit and non profit), the passing rate has never been an issue.

  5. #5
    CalDog is offline Registered User
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    I am amazed at the pressure to pass inadequate or lazy students. Does every school have this pressure or just the private and/or nationally accredited schools?
    In general (there are always exceptions), the pressure is greatest at less selective schools that are heavily dependent on tuition for income. Such schools simply can't afford to lose students. Examples would include:

    - virtually all private for-profit schools, both NA and RA (which, as for-profit institutions, seek to maximize revenue)
    - many private non-profit schools (if they aren't wealthy and need all the revenue they can get)

    The pressure is lower at more selective schools that are not as heavily dependent on tuition payments. Examples would include:

    - most public schools (which are subsidized by the government)
    - some private non-profit schools (if they have large endowments).

    Selectivity makes a difference. The top public and private schools get more applicants than they can take -- so for every student who flunks out, they can easily find a transfer student to put into the available slot. Why go to the trouble of keeping a poor student when there are lots of good students trying to get in?
    Last edited by CalDog; 01-13-2013 at 06:57 PM.

  6. #6
    RFValve is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by jam937 View Post
    I am amazed at the pressure to pass inadequate or lazy students. Does every school have this pressure or just the private and/or nationally accredited schools? Does this exist when doing online teaching ?

    I know this is a long post/rant, but it is frustrating.
    I have never been forced to pass a student but I have been reminded on how expensive is to recruit students and that I should do everything to keep the student in the program such as offering resubmissions, call the student to make arrangements, etc.

    There is a clear conflict of interest in my opinion between being for profit and quality of education . At the end of the day, these are paying customers that are bringing income to the school so the priority is to keep them even if this means to sacrifice quality.

    Not all the for profit schools put pressure on instructors to pass students but it happens at some.

  7. #7
    me again is offline Registered User
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    Welfare Public Universities?

    If a college or university is subsidized with welfare tax dollars, such as the public university system, then there is less pressure to pass students because government dollars keep those institutions in existence.

    Welfare has it's advantages.

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  9. #8
    ryoder is offline Registered User
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    You guys will laugh but I wasn't doing so well in taekwando. I only went twice a week and was having a hard time perfecting my forms. I told my instructor I didn't want to belt test on the next round and that I would wait till the next one in a couple of months so I could really earn the belt. He pressured me immensely and so did his father who owned the school. These guys were legit too. His father is very well known in the TKD world but they do have a business to run. I think he figured I would catch up eventually.

    The same thing happens in elementary school. I don't like it either.

  10. #9
    jam937 is offline Registered User
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    If my students come to class and attempt the work then they will almost certainly pass. The course materials and grade weights almost guarantee it. Much of the work gets a 100% grade if they simply attempt it. I can also apply a grad curve to tests if needed.

    The problem is students who only show up to 4-5 weeks out of 11 and never turn in any homework. These are the ones where I am pressured to find a way to pass.

  11. #10
    graymatter is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by jam937 View Post
    Much of the work gets a 100% grade if they simply attempt it. I can also apply a grad curve to tests if needed.
    Ah, one of those messing things up for the rest of us. ;)

    I was afraid to fail students at the beginning but was coached by mentors and administration to do so.

  12. #11
    RFValve is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by jam937 View Post

    The problem is students who only show up to 4-5 weeks out of 11 and never turn in any homework. These are the ones where I am pressured to find a way to pass.
    At one school I used to work for, I was required to call students that were slacking off and offer them a make up plan to pass. This becomes an overhead for the instructor that has to be chasing after weak students.

    At some point I found the trick to teach these online courses without headaches, as my part of my faculty manager duties I was required to monitor other classes. Some instructors were just giving As to every student without a single line of feedback. The student would take an A without complaining and the school was happy because no student was dropping the class, the instructor was happy because the little work required to teach the class and great evaluations that was getting that would lead to more contracts.

    It is a headache to deal with winning students, slackers, etc, just give everyone an A and your life would be a lot easier.

  13. #12
    cookderosa is offline Resident Chef
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    I shared this with another member, but it seems relevant to share here too. I'm in the second semester of my MS Nutrition degree at Canisius College in NY. Last semester was tough, but this semester's courses are actually a bit MORE in my wheelhouse than last, so I felt pretty good going in. First DISCUSSION FORUM post from my stats teacher gets me an Eyebot video note to tell me that my forum post for week 1 (an introduction) it wasn't long enough or high enough quality, he wanted more, I should do better, blah blah. He told me that it wasn't due yet (I was a day early) so I had time to correct, but if I didn't it wouldn't be full credit. On a INTRO DISCUSSION FORUM post! I was pretty floored actually. He'd drop me like a hot potato unless I stepped up lol, clearly no pressure to pass. Last semester one of my profs was the dept chair and made my OCD look like slacking. She dropped me a letter grade on a major paper for exceeding the word count by 100 words. Seriously.
    Jennifer
    MS Applied Nutrition, Canisius College
    AA & BA Social Science, Thomas Edison State College
    AOS Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of America

    The placebo effect should be kicking in any minute.

  14. #13
    ciub is offline Registered User
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    jam 937 I truly believe you did it for the students' well being. let everyone pass is not serious nor proper for education

  15. #14
    CornCod is offline Registered User
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    You have to give them the "motivational speech" at the beginning of the semester. Basically I tell them if they read the assigned materials, come to class and hand in all their assignments, that they are almost certain to pass. I repeat shorter versions of "the speech" several times during the semester. When I was an undergrad, professors never had to become motivational speakers, but sadly we have a lower quality student these days that has to be pushed.

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