Students Failing my Underwater Remote Control and Basket-weaving Class

27 Sep

The University has instituted a new program called "Early Alert," which is designed to give poorly performing students an early warning that they are "deficient" in their coursework.  This means that they are earning a D or less in a 100 or 200 level course.  Currently, that is 26% of my International Relations class.  While not surprising since I pointed out the first day of class that I expected 25% of the class to get a D or less, it concerns me because of the how students have been graded up to this point in the class.  To understand my conern, you just need to know that I have been using a personal response system (i.e., clickers) in my class that allows me to ask students questions and have them respond electronically.  I can track attendance based on who answers questions and do short reading quizzes.

If you have simply attended every class session and responded to most of the clicker questions you have a C+ in the class.  This is true even if you have missed every quiz question I've asked so far due to the extra credit you have accrued by attending class regularly (On a side note, thanks to my generous extra credit policy another 25% of the class currently has over a 100% in the class).  Here's what concerns me:  If a quarter of the class is "deficient" when all they have had to do is sit in a chair for 50 minutes three times a week and click a button occasionally to pass, what is going to happen when they take their midterm and actually have to demonstrate an ability to think!

It does not inspire confidence.

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