Field of Science

Doom Looms - end of the semester version

While looking forward to the end of the semester, the last couple of weeks are not the Phactor's favorite time of the semester because now it all comes home to roost and you end up explaining the sad reality of their situations to students. 
Upon learning that their potential grade in your course is nothing to brag about, you're asked, "Can I get some extra credit?"  Now of course this student has cut nearly 50% of the classes and turned in none of the required lab reports, but now they want an extra chance to get some credits.  Sorry, but you should have made more of the opportunities you had all semester, so you got some nerve to ask me to make some new opportunities just for you.  Besides fairness requires me to offer similar extra credit opportunities to everyone in the class.
A student has complained about being treated unfairly.  Class participation made up a fixed % of their grade and they never said a peep, never contributed to any discussion, and had they not answered, present, in response to the initial enrollment check, you might think them mute.  They also failed to post any of their ideas or comments on the alternative non-vocal course e-bulletin board, or enter into any of those discussions.  The professor didn't explain that this was an alternative, yet everyone else in the class knew about it, and used it.  Deaf perhaps too. 
A student concerned with poor exam scores comes for help, and when you discover they have very poor study skills, basically last minute cramming, you offer to help them construct an approach for dealing with content heavy advanced courses.  Hesitancy.  No, they really don't want that kind of help, they just want to get enough credits to graduate.  Don't you think you'll ever have to learn anything again for the rest of you life?  Don't you think effective learning is one of the most marketable of skills?  Bottom line, effective studying is just too much work and takes too much time to fit into their life style.  Think they'll come to me later for a letter of recommendation?  Think maybe a former student now in a position to hire will notice they took a course with one of their professors?  Believe it or not, they might ask for a recommendation.  It happens all the time and the Phactor always tells them that perhaps they should seek a recommendation from someone else because they can't understand that we are bound to provide an assessment of their abilities based on our experiences with them, and not obliged to simply say, "They're really, really nice."  Even if true, and it may well be true, our recommendations are our gold standard.  You can't fudge it for one because in the end that may well be detrimental to all the really really good ones who also sought your recommendation.  And yes, even if you don't ask for a recommendation, people come to me and ask me to evaluate students I've had all the time.  The person you're interviewing with may have been in my class 20 years ago, but they still remember.
Well, that's if for now, but there's still 2 weeks of classes left before final exams, so this is probably not the last. 

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