Monday, October 23, 2017

Why is it important to push college students to solve their own problems?

If you work in higher education you have likely heard just about every excuse for not turning in your work. With sappy eyes and a truly heartfelt plea they contact their professors in an effort to just let them turn in their work late just this time. The excuses range from the simple such as I didn't have time all the way to serious medical issues.

As professors we should show a level of empathy for those problems that are very much out of their control that could impact their grade unfairly. However, this isn't the same as giving a free pass or allowing students with any excuse to skirt the rules.

They are rule violators that have a hard time holding themselves accountable for learning and unfortunately eventually fail out of school or fail themselves in life. It is those students we should push to solve their own problems so they can master new skills.

Let us say a student has already received a free pass on one assignment and now needs more time on another assignment. You suspect the student isn't being honest so what do you do>

1. Ask lots of questions: When you ask a lot of questions you will soon find the truth of whether the student had an issue you can help them with or it is more of an act of laziness and bad choices.

2. Let them think through the alternatives: Don't consider giving any extra grace unless the student answers your questions and thinks critically about what they can have differently. You are helping them in the long run achieve their goals.

3. Hold your ground: There may be times when you need to hold your ground. The student may not have answered your questions. provided a reasonable explanation or thought through the possibilities. Without holding your ground the student won't learn. 

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