Field of Science

End of the semester in sight

A good friend was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, and as he put it, "Duluth is not the end of the Earth, but if you stand on your car's hood you can see the end from there." Monday is not the end of the semester, but when the Phactor stands on his chair he can see it from here. Now is when steady, diligent work the whole semester pays off. If students aren't on top of things now, it's basically too late. Students asking for help have run out of time, but you try to help them anyways. One fellow wanted to know what he was doing wrong, and after analyzing his approach, the answer was simple; he was doing everything wrong. Poor notes, tired old highlighting of text material, no integration of lab material, and so on. His old study just before an exam was totally inadequate for the volume of material being covered and he was over-whelmed. If the skills do not progress and continue to improve, the wheels begin to fall off as advanced undergrad courses stress the system. And this happens to pretty bright kids too because high school, and then all too often community colleges, just don't push them along or challenge them sufficiently to induce changes, and the bright ones get by pretty well. About half of the struggling students know something is wrong because they figure out that not everyone is having a problem; the other half know it's poor teaching. Their expectations and the reality of higher education are just not matching up. A few are still plagued by inattention, immaturity, and disinterest, and these are not a winning strategy for any endeavor; maybe the think the Phactor doesn't notice that they are playing with their little wireless toys. In the end this is what you end up evaluating, those who can and those who can't, or rarely those who won't.

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