Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mowgli makes meat unsafe.

I learned that the whole controversy about the FDA started in 1909 with a book called The Jungle Book.  This book revealed unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the factory. Then in 1906 a new act was put in effect called the Pure Food and Drugs Act and Meat Inspection Act. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another "special composition" or 90% of your students hate you.

"Another" refers to this post. This one was a LOT more work, because Stu was a real ass in class, very negative and lazy. Lots of eye rolling, tongue clicking, and sighs. The letter is still sincere, but I did NOT like composing it. I wanted to slap a fast and nasty one off, but I figured if I needed to leave a trail for deans and coaches, it needed to be good and thorough. Hearing back from you all, I'm starting to think that I could be quicker, more to the point, and leave a lot of the encouragement out, and save myself some headache. FYI, the course is a pre-req for the teaching program. 

Stu writes:

I just looked at my grade and there is NO reason why my grade should have dropped 11 points. I dont understand why you would give me 5 OUT OF 30 points for my paper I mean was it really that bad !!! Most teachers would give me more than that for effort. I asked you for help because i didnt understand it and you basically just blew me off and told me to ask a classmate. Sorry I dont know what im doing with anything in your class but at least i tried. AND you didnt grade the science seminars. AND&&& I went from a 98% average for labs to a 81% because of 2 grades that makes no sense ! The extra credit comes up as F's. I had a C all semester and was 1 point away and then it dropped to a 64. I dont think thats fair at all and im not the only who feels that your gading and teaching is unfair. They just wont speak up they ask me or Bri to speak up for them so just know 90% of your students feel the same way i do.

 I reply:

Hello to you too. It seems as though you are upset, and you need to take a deep breath and reassess the situation. I'll try to help you, and I mean that
respectfully. This could be a situation that gets blown up over e-mail. I want to be clear that I mean everything here with a tone of respect.

1. Did you add the grades up yourself? You'll find the extra credit is adding up just fine, but not displaying on one part of Moodle as EC. That's simply a
limitation of the software, and why I have reminded your class repeatedly (probably every third week) to add it up yourselves.

2. Did you read the graded paper? Go and read it. Here is the summary: The five points I gave you on your paper were a gift, because a VERY LARGE portion of it is word- for word from internet sources. Here's what I didn't do: I didn't report you to the dean as I am supposed to. I didn't e-mail your coach. You had the same problem with another assignment, and for two plagiarized assignments I am *required* to FAIL YOU IN THE COURSE. I didn't do that. I am going to send a copy of this e-mail to your advisor, so that they can evaluate the situation for themselves.

3. I recall that you didn't come to class on the day that I spent 1 hour explaining your assignment. I also remember that you asked later was for me to explain the assignment to you. Like I say to everyone who misses a lecture, or anything else, "please get the notes from a friend or come to my office hours". You didn't make an appointment or come to office hours. I disagree with you that you asked for help on the assignment and I "blew you off".

4. More than a quarter of your grade came down to the final week of work. This is very typical of many college courses. It is completely possible that someone's grade could come down a lot of they do poorly on the final assignments. You got a 53% on your final. You failed your paper because of integrity issues. It's just the math. Could you explain further how that is me being unfair to you?

5. You are right. I haven't graded the seminars yet, and am working on it right now. Your grade was calculated carefully by hand by me and my calculator, and did not include the seminars counting against you. Your grade, according to my calculations (again by hand) is 66 + 245.5 + 171 = 482.5 divided by 737 possible. That is 65.4%. A VERY solid D. To get a C you would have to earn 47.5 more points than you have. There is no way that the seminars would make a difference.

Stu, your efforts this semester were definitely better than last semester. Thanks. I had been proud of you and I was really rooting for you to succeed. I ALSO was happy to think that you were going to get a C. I'm not out to get you or want to see you fail. I have to say, though, that the integrity stuff was really discouraging. Again, I care, and I take it personally when you do stuff like that. I enjoyed having you in class, even when you complained loudly about many things in lab, especially the smelly ones. :)

I think that the biggest problem was that even though you were doing the work, you may have been trying to get by with filling in the blanks but not *really* understanding the material. You got an average of 83% on your quizzes- GREAT GREAT improvement!!! But you still failed all of your exams. I don't know if you got a tutor, but you didn't come to me for help. I agree with you that you may have done enough work to get a C, but you didn't UNDERSTAND the concepts enough to get a C.

Here's my advice, which you don't have to listen to at all: take this class again. Next fall I won't be me teaching it, and that might make a difference for you. Given how much you have improved over these two courses, I feel confident that you'll be more ready to succeed because you have been able to take your intellectual work ethic up a notch. Moreover, I think you'll be a better teacher for it. I want my kids to have teachers that really love to learn and spread their enthusiasm for learning to their students (my kids). If you conquer this class, you will have a lot more confidence in yourself and your ability to learn difficult things. That will make you a great

What else can I do to help you?