I admit, I’m prone to the pitfall that undergraduate students want the least onerous possible path to graduation… I teach the capstone for undergraduates in the College of Business at my University. If they have taught me nothing, they have taught me there are two kinds of students — I classify them as “C’s get degrees” and “A’s at any price” — and yes, I share these categories with them, usually to a chorus of chuckles. The A’s will do whatever it takes to get a good grade from me, including but not limited to, arguing and negotiating over the specifics of a rubric and whether or not the textbook uses an active or passive voice in its description of Porter’s Five Forces for above average returns; while the C’s will ignore all attempts at contact unless I include the words “required to pass” in the message.
I’ve adapted by making everything on my course site (the LMS, aka Canvas) as explicit as possible. I’ve created two different levels of detail. I use the LMS to spell out the bare minimum requirements for any assignment including a title, list of check-off items, and a rubric while also listing a “More assignment information” (sample) link to a Google Doc that spells out a summary of all pertinent items, common processes, rubric specifics, and frequently asked questions.
Does this make me a pessimist? Does this make me a realist?
My pessimism is driven by the comments on my $ET$ ($tudent Evaluations of Teaching $cores). My realism is driven by a small but steady trickle of comments from a rarified group of students who thank me for introducing them to realistic expectations AFTER they graduate. Of course, only the first group are counted toward my likelihood of acquiring a contract in the following AY.
So, in a way, this post is a condemnation of $ET$. They are completed by students who have no context for assessing education and do not reflect the learning that comes later when they do know better…