Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Academically entitled" students expect good grades for little effort

A recent study by University of California, Irvine professor Ellen Greenberger shows that some "academically entitled" students expect good grades for modest effort and have demanding attitudes toward teachers.

The study asked approximately 400 undergraduates aged 18 to 25 whether they agreed with these statements:

  • If I have explained to my professor that I am trying hard, I think he/she should give me some consideration with respect to my course grade -- 66.2% agree
  • If I have completed most of the reading for a class, I deserve a B in that course -- 40.7%
  • If I have attended most of the classes for a course, I deserve at least a grade of B -- 34.1%
  • Teachers often give me lower grades than I deserve on paper assignments -- 31.5%
  • Professors who won't let me take my exams at another time because of my personal plans (e.g. a vacation) are too strict - 29.9%
  • A professor should be willing to lend me his/her course notes if I ask for them - 24.8%
  • I would think poorly of a professor who didn't respond the same day to an e-mail I sent - 23.5%
  • Professors have no right to be annoyed with me if I tend to come late to class or tend to leave early - 16.8%
  • A professor should not be annoyed with me if I receive an important call during class - 16.5%
  • A professor should be willing to meet with me at a time that works best for me, even if inconvenient for the professor - 11.2%
She found that students holding these beliefs are more likely to engage in academic cheating, exploit others, shirk hard work and display "narcissistic orientation."

The study found that students who say their parents often compare their achievements to siblings, cousins or friends are more likely to engage in these behaviors, but found no connection between self-entitled attitudes and grades.

If you are a student, do you agree with the above statements? Would other students you know agree with them?

Monday, November 3, 2008

A culture of cooperation or competition?

The Internet applications and skills we teach as part of Computer Literacy 3 often center on collaboration and common interests, but we will fail without a compatible culture and reward system.

Our traditional students may be accustomed to a culture of competition. This point was made in a New York Times article Combat to College, which describes the experience of GI Bill veterans returning to school after serving in Iraq.

These students are different from mainstream students in many ways, but one that caught my eye had to do with their culture of cooperation, which was summed up by John Schupp, a chemistry professor at Cleveland State University, who sees camaraderie in the classroom as crucial to getting the veterans to show up, to stay and to thrive.

“They tell me over and over they wouldn’t have come to college otherwise,” he says. “In the military world it’s the team. The squadron must survive. When you come to school it’s all personal — my books, my grade, my stuff, my notes. They’re isolated, because other students haven’t seen what they’ve seen.”

We discuss willingness to cooperate in my classes, but instilling a cooperative culture among today's students can be difficult.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Collaborative writing by small and very large groups

Wikis are perhaps the simplest collaborative writing tool, but they are best suited to compiled and simple co-authored documents.

For more complex co-authored documents we use network-based word processors. While they are limited and slow today, they will improve as technology like JavaScript interpreters, development tools and network speed improve.

For massively co-authored documents, documents with many authors, we need to add structure and social networking features. This class note discusses two sites for creating massively co-authored documents, PublicMarkup and WePC.