21 May, 2008

Not hard enough for one fella

Looked at my student evaluations an hour or so ago. This is the second time I've taught Calc II, and just like last time there is one student who complains that s/he wants to change his or her major away from math. Just like last time, yes, I'd advise that for this student. Considering that I often encourage some students to switch to mathematics, and sometimes they do, I'm not bothered by that comment at all.

The response from the Calc II students to this question delighted me:
The instructor sets high academic standards.
Strongly agree: 100%
Agree: 0%
Neutral: 0%
Disagree: 0%
Strongly disagree: 0%
No one will ever accuse me of grade inflation, that's for certain. Anyone who passes a college-level class should feel like s/he earned it. Nothing demoralized me as a student so much as knowing I'd receive an A for nothing more than breathing the same air as the professor. (Graduate-level math courses, too! not just humanities courses.) I never learned much in those classes; I always learned the most in the classes where I found high standards. Some of my favorite classes were humanities classes where I struggled to do well. (Civ II, for example. I started with a C on the first test, and a B on the second. He was a great professor.)

Eh, what? What's this? In my senior class, Abstract Algebra, I find this reponse to the same question:
The instructor sets high academic standards.
Strongly agree 76.9%
Agree 23.1%
Neutral 7.7%
Disagree 0%
Strongly disagree 0%
That's disappointing. Apparently my standards weren't high enough for one fella. Was the material not hard enough, or something?!? And two students could only bring themselves to "agree" with the statement. Clearly I have to set even higher standards next year. How about a twenty-page report on group representations, which I don't even discuss? Would that shut yer yap?

...prolly not. It looks like this one fella might just have been marking 3's all the way down the worksheet. I'll bet s/he's one of those who complained about the heavy work load, too. And they had only half the load of last year's class, or something like that.

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