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  1. #1
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    A question for professors.

    Suppose you are teaching a class of, say, 15 students. This is an intermediate level course in some subject. We'll say the course has a prerequisite called Course A. However it turns out that only 5 of your students demonstrate sufficient knowledge of course A; 66% of the students aren't up to par as defined by the requirements.

    How do you reconcile this? Do you adjust the class to the new median? Or do you continue as planned and let those students struggle?
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  2. #2
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    kill them all.
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  3. #3
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Take a field trip to the Spam factory to see how it's really made (for extra credit).

  4. #4
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Tell them to HTFU
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    We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
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    Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.

  5. #5
    ....gets the cheese Second Mouse's Avatar
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    Professor Mouse sez: Continue as planned, with the nominal expectation that everyone who's signed up for this course has fulfilled the requirements by taking Course A. Teach to the students who've prepared appropriately and don't penalize them; let the rest of the class struggle and get a failing grade, or drop the course and, go back and take Course A so they're equipped to get everything they should from the current course. Works out best for everyone in the end.

    Unless this is a troll thread, in which case I agree with answers 1 - 3 above.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a professor, but I play one on TV.
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  6. #6
    Lost Again gitarzan's Avatar
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    I thought it depended on who slept with the professor.
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  7. #7
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    My wife is a high school teacher, so a little different on the surface. She teaches in an inner-city school, and her subject is 10th grade AP World History. Now, AP courses are supposed to be college level, so maybe this is not as far off the original question. So she has students that are supposedly the brightest in their class. Because of the middle schools they went to, though, they have not really been taught how to properly write an essay (a prerequisite for her course). She does go back to the beginning for that and teaches them the process. Because of this, she has only a small handful of kids, maybe 10%, that score well enough to get college credit for her class. However, she does see that, compared to other teachers, when her kids go to the 11th grade AP US History class, they do much better than the kids from other teachers.

    That said, even with her "remedial" tactics, most of her kids are failing at the moment.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  8. #8
    Found my way <3 2 Ride's Avatar
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    This. I feel sorry for guys in college, cuz most of the time you don't have this option.
    Quote Originally Posted by gitarzan View Post
    I thought it depended on who slept with the professor.

    The serious answer:

    You signed up for a class knowing that it had a certain set of prerequisite information. The instructor is charged with teaching specific content based upon departmental decision and catalog description for programming. There is a small amount of creative license that goes along with that, but for the most part the content does not get watered down. Shame on those 2/3 of students for registering for a class for which they were ill-prepared and expecting the professor to make it easier on them. It's not his problem. It is the students' problem.
    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. - Jimi Hendrix

    Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. - John Lennon


  9. #9
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by <3 2 Ride View Post
    Shame on those 2/3 of students for registering for a class for which they were ill-prepared and expecting the professor to make it easier on them.
    You gotta pay the piper. If the prof waters down the class, everyone will be screwed when they attempt to take the next step.

    Better to let the idiots and the uninitiated fail now than make sure no one is prepared for what is to come.

  10. #10
    Blasted Weeds Tude's Avatar
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    I've run into two sections here at college where the professor, via his Chairperson, can approve of a student taking the prerequisite AND the class that requires it during the same semester - criminal justice and human services degrees (certain courses only as well) - and basically these are internship placements so it's not class time as much (I currently have 4 students taking both their HUM 201 and 202 together - which incorporates 270 hours of internship beyond class time - and they do, do it - that's quite an undertaking. Other than that the student is not allowed too (via computer protocols) register for a course where there is a prerequisite in place that they have not taken. I am not a professor, but my boss and I administer a department that places our service-learning project into those courses.


    I'd say if the student managed to get through the system to get into a class without the prerequisite course to give them the background needed, then it should be up to the professor to advise them to either withdraw -- or based on the college - get into some tutoring. It's really not fair to the students taking that course to be held back by people who do not have the proper background to actually the course.
    Last edited by Tude; 11-15-10 at 05:56 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    Suppose you are teaching a class of, say, 15 students. This is an intermediate level course in some subject. We'll say the course has a prerequisite called Course A. However it turns out that only 5 of your students demonstrate sufficient knowledge of course A; 66% of the students aren't up to par as defined by the requirements.

    How do you reconcile this? Do you adjust the class to the new median? Or do you continue as planned and let those students struggle?
    Continue as planned and let the students struggle. You are doing a disservice to the 33% who are prepared (less education than they paid for) as well as the 66% who are not prepared (they are missing out on a life lesson about being prepared). Most schools offer a method of dropping classes after the first 2-3 weeks so it will not harm the student's record. The professor should also talk to the teachers who taught the pre-req class to see what is happening (massive curve?).

    Every major has those 2-3 classes that weed out a LOT of students (lack of aptitude or effort, etc.). Electromagnetics (physics) was one that I can recall from my college days.

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    Last edited by Greg_R; 11-15-10 at 06:38 PM.

  12. #12
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    The Prof should advise the ill prepared 66% to look up the word "prerequisit", and then to withdraw from the class and stop wasting everyone else's time and $$.
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  13. #13
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    The problem in the class i speak of is that everybody did complete the prerequisite, it's just obvious that very few people (about 1/3) performed adequately in it. The prerequisite is calculus 1, but much of the class struggles with basic algebraic manipulation. We spend --no exaggeration -- half of the class going over simple algebra. Instead of saying "and now we solve for y," the professor goes through each step. He even reminds us of how to multiply "two story fractions." I think the last time I saw an educator do this was in the 8th grade; I'm now a senior in college. I want to say something, but I'm afraid of coming across as a know it all.
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  14. #14
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    Is the class calculus II? It seems odd that you're only taking this in your senior year. It makes me think that this skill is not an emphasis in your major and thus you're going to get a watered down version (with a lot of hand holding).

    I would talk to the professor during office hours and let him/her know your concerns. Often, particularly @ small colleges, there is an emphasis in retaining students to keep money flowing into the school. The professor may be under pressure from his/her department head to dumb down the class.

  15. #15
    . botto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    Suppose you are teaching a class of, say, 15 students. This is an intermediate level course in some subject. We'll say the course has a prerequisite called Course A. However it turns out that only 5 of your students demonstrate sufficient knowledge of course A; 66% of the students aren't up to par as defined by the requirements.

    How do you reconcile this? Do you adjust the class to the new median? Or do you continue as planned and let those students struggle?
    ask a real professor, not a virtual one.

  16. #16
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    No, the class is intermediate macroeconomics. I'm a math minor and economics major, and took calculus II a few years ago.
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    Go talk to your professor. They will love you for it.

    My wife deals with this crap all the time, and the one snotty know-it-all that stays after class and tells her to ignore the other idiots makes her day.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Keith99's Avatar
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    A good profesor who sees something like this asks WHY? Why are the students not prepaired. If they took the prereq. I'd want to know how that could happen to so many. I would not want it to become a regular occurance.

    The better Profs I have had would pretty much stcik to the original course plan, for the regular course hours, but try to provide help, or at the least guidance to that those who are lacking could catch up.

    In an area like Economics it is entirely possible that the gaps are more disagreements about what is important or even what is true between professors. Saddly in that situation it is often the students who suffer.

    In a sense I have been on both sides of this issue as a student. I've been in classes where the vast majority were ill prepaired. (In one I caught the prof making an error, a significant error. Hard to believe for the prof involved as he was very very bright. I also owed him, his reccomendation basically gave me a couple of fellowships that paid my tuition. It was a 2 hour class and I spoke to him at the break. His responce was to write out teh correct equations and ask me if I wanted to try to teach them to that class, actually quite nicely. It then dawned on me he was simplifying on the fly). In the one where I was ill prepaired I had the math needed, just 5 or 6 years rusty. I checked with the prof first. It was fine with him and he was even willing to take it into account when it came to grading (at least for my gentlemans 'B').

  19. #19
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    To be honest I think the reason is that students passed Calc 1, but barely; a D- is still passing. Not only that, but unfortunately, I think a small majority of students in the economics department here are lesser inspired in the first place. They are frustrated because they come here as freshmen expecting to study the financial market and get rich, only to be disappointed that the economics degree isn't the same thing as a business degree. There exists only one class in finance and two in accounting -- the department focuses on economics as a social science, which has become inseparable from math.

    I know from talking to other professors that there's a substantial amount of disagreement on the importance of theory in these courses.

    I've had classes where the professor doesn't particularly care what student's backgrounds are. The course is the course and she wasn't prepared to budge, ie water it down. And, of course, the other extreme which I have now.
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