Students come in all shapes & sizes, not to mention attitudes. I currently have one student with an attitude I’m amazed his parents haven’t corrected. His name is Eli, and he is the most complaining student I’ve encountered to date. I’m always lecturing too fast, he rolls his eyes if I ever misspeak, & my assigning homework is perhaps the greatest injustice he’s ever experienced.
He’s come to my office twice now to gripe about the homework. First, let me provide a little background. I give two homework assignments per chapter, one called LearnSmart & the other called Graded Assignment. LearnSmart is a series of easy multiple choice questions intended to be completed after (or as) the student reads the chapter, and should only take about a half hour. Its purpose is to force students to read the chapter, and to do so to absorb the information, not just so they can say they’ve read it. The Graded Assignment is the more conventional homework problems one would expect in an accounting class. According to Eli, the LearnSmart takes him 3 hours to complete and is extraordinarily tedious. It’s not like chose created these assignments with that intention. These homework assignments are the very ones all the other instructors use, and I’m just following their lead.
I went on my work trip to Houston a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t have anyone to cover the class on Thursday, so I made it an independent work study day. Eli specifically approached me before class to make sure that was going to be the case. I told him (and the rest of the class) that I would post some of the class workbook solutions, so they could try those problems on their own and check their work. When I returned on Tuesday, we would do some problems of the other problems, review for our next exam, then we’d have the exam on Thursday.
Last week Eli stopped by to complain, “Let me get this straight, you leave to go out of town, we have to teach ourselves the math, and as soon as you come back, we review for the test, then have the exam.” That was literally how he greeted me as soon as he knocked on my door. I reminded him that we would spend have the class going over the last chapters problems before reviewing. I didn’t remind him how he beseeched me to have Thursday off. Unfortunately, part of this job entails putting diplomacy in front of honesty. I then tried to explain to him that the class requirements are what they are, and being summer semester, the material is going to be condensed, to which he replied, “Well, now its condensed because summer break is next week and you want to take the week off (note: the school closes down the first week in July, and a lot of employees take that time off).” I pointed him back to the syllabus addendum that contained our semester schedule. Since the beginning of the semester, the plan to cover all required material has been to spend one class period lecturing over the chapter and the next class doing the workbook problems to see the material’s application. He then circled back to complaining about how long the homework takes, but he acquiesced that I can’t just get the rid of the homework because one student complains.
On test day, Eli almost forever preemptively vindicated me in front of the Dean. This course’s class room is in our buildings only auditorium style room. It’s not huge, just 25 seats, but it’s still set up like a (small) auditorium. The Dean asked me last minute if I’d be willing to move the class to one of the smaller rooms, so he could conduct some interviews in the auditorium room, and I said I would. We were just having an exam that day, so it’s not like we needed it. I made the announcement online where Thursday’s class/exam would take place, and sure enough, Eli stopped by that day to tell me “that’s a bunch of bull crap.” If my boss asks me to change rooms, it’s not like I can say “no.” He wasn’t complaining at me; he was complaining to me about the Dean. I found out just prior to the exam that he almost went in our original room to complain to the Dean, presumably in between interviews, though I love the notion of him walking into the room during the middle of an actual interview to complain. He didn’t though, and I had to conceal my disappointment. He’s a good student, though. Prior to the exam, he had a 100 average, and me made a 94 on the test.
I may have found a way to placate him, though. My policy is to drop the two lowest LearnSmart & Graded Assignment grades, so four homework assignments in total get dropped. We only have two chapters for the remainder of the semester. Students who have completed all their homework up to this point, which Eli has done, can skip the final two chapters’ homework without a grade penalty. Right before the break, I conveyed as much in an online announcement with the warning that any students who do take a pass on those assignments needs to find another way to practice the material on their own terms to make sure they do well on the our 3rd exam. Obviously, I made that announcement for Eli, but I didn’t single him out. Hopefully, that quells him for the final three weeks, but I get the impression he can always find something to gripe about. I don’t think he’s taking Accounting II, and even if he does, I’m not teaching it next semester, so he’ll become another instructor’s problem then.
Last updated July 04, 2019