The Comm and Gender Spot

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Academic Apathy

In grading my first set of exams in many years, and my first one ever that wasn’t a multiple choice exam, I am struck by how unprepared many of the students were. Now I’m not saying that there aren’t good grades. My students run the gamut from A to F. But there are many more students on one end of that spectrum than the other.

I’ve expressed this view to others and have been told that I may have unrealistic expectations, that I’m comparing my undergraduate students to how I was as an undergraduate. Only once as an undergraduate did I ever go into an exam feeling like I was unprepared; it was for my history of 70s and 80s rock music class and I was just coming off of having walking pneumonia. I bombed the test and felt horribly afterward. My grade in the class never recovered, ending up with my only undergraduate C grade, and I forced myself to take another music class that summer to prove to myself that I could hack it in a music class and that the previous one was fluke.

In grading last night I saw many a question without any sort of answer even tried to be given and even full pages completely blank. I would never have even thought to turn in an exam with a completely blank page. But for some students it seems that they could really care less. They’re there for the C-grade and nothing more. Again, this baffles me to no end!

While I agree that many undergraduates go to college too early and should have taken a year or two off after high school, there are some students that should not even be in college in the first place. I’m sure some of my students fall into these categories, but it can’t be all of them.

Again, I know that this does not apply to all of my students. I have quite a few really good ones. But maybe someone could explain the undergraduate student academic apathy to me that the others have. I’m just not getting it.


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