Professor Barb Warner (University of South Florida) shares this: one of her students brought her a medical excuse note written by Leslie D. Parchmento, M.D. As Professor Warner notes, something about it didn’t sound right so she decided to check to see if the office existed...
Yep, there's a website where students can buy fake doctor's excuses!
I've had some issues this semester with getting students to come to class on time and to come back from break on time. Most of the students are good about this but a small percentage don't seem to get it and then are "surprised" at the end of the semester even though it says in my syllabus that excessive tardiness will result in the loss of points.
In the spring I've decided to approach this a different way. I'm making professionalism worth 5 percent of the students' total grade. I'm planning to put together a spreadsheet where I can check off those who engage in professional behavior as defined below. This includes stapling papers they are turning in to me instead of the "dog ear" approach.
As my students are mostly management majors, professionalism is a good skill to learn; however, I think it is important to any discipline. I'm planning to give them feedback after three weeks as to the number of points they've earned just by behaving as a professional would and am hoping this will encourage appropriate behavior for the rest of the semester.
The wording I'm planning to use is:
In the work world, professionalism is very important. We will follow that model in this class. This means on time attendance each class period, returning from breaks on time, turning off your cell phone, treating your classmates and professor with respect, and turning your work in on time (stapled if appropriate!). You may earn up to 5 points per class for professionalism.
Any thoughts from other professors? Have you tried rewarding for professionalism?
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." Aristotle
This is why I insist that my students turn in papers that look professional-correct spelling, clean pages, stapled, not dog-eared at the corners, etc. This attention to detail will help them in their careers. Why not learn this habit now?
Cal Newport, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of two books, How to Become a Straight-A Student and How to Win at College, shares the following advice for students for improving their test scores:
A common complaint I hear goes something like this: “I studied for hours and hours, reviewing every practice problem I could find, or re-reading every assignment and all my notes, and then, when I sat down for the test, I had no idea how to answer the questions!”
I call this the Study Time Paradox because no matter how hard these students study, their grades don’t seem to improve. In this post, I want to describe a solution to this problem; a simple hack that requires 5 – 10 extra minutes a day but can produce significantly better grades.
Lurking behind the Study Time Paradox is the following truth: there’s a difference between knowing information and understanding concepts. This should sound familiar. This is the same observation that motivates the use of question/evidence/conclusion note-taking and quiz-and-recall test review instead of transcription and rote memorization.
The piece of advice presented here, which I call the Story Telling Method, is a complement to these strategies. It can be described as follows:
After each class, tell a “story” about the material covered—a five minute summary of the concepts that drove the lecture. Don’t bother writing it down. Instead, just say it to yourself while walking to your next class. Treat it like you’re a literary agent or movie producer pitching the lecture at an important meeting. Cover the big picture flow of ideas, not the small details. Answer the question “why was this lecture important?”, not all the information it contained. Play up the flashy or unexpected.
For example, after an Art History lecture, you might tell the story of early renaissance artists clashing in Italy, and how and why Cimabue and Gitto—the superstars of their era—were able to break out. You can do the same for technical material. After a calculus course, for example, you could talk about what problem a derivative solves and how integration extends the idea to do something even cooler. You don’t need to review the chain rule, instead explain why someone would want to know the slope at a point on a curve.
The Story Telling Method has an important benefit: it takes the large volume of information you just received and organizes it within a coherent framework. Not surprisingly, this makes it much easier to retain this information. Later, when you approach exam studying, having this narrative framework reduces review to a simple task. By contrast, if you approach studying with just a large pile of notes — even if they are taken carefully in the question/evidence/conclusion format — you might have some long nights ahead of you.
Thanks to Mike Wagner for pointing me (and my students!) to this tip on studying!
Patti Digh will be speaking to my MBA class at the University of South Florida in Sarasota on Saturday, December 6 about Leadership and Diversity. While in Florida, she will do an author reading and booksigning for her new book, Life is a Verb, at the following bookstores:
7:30pm Thursday, December 4 at Barnes & Noble, 11802 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.
NOTE: Barnes & Noble will donate 10% of ALL sales at ANY B&N store on December 4-9 (not just Patti's book) to a local charity, Metropolitan Ministries, that helps the poor and homeless.