Hard work doesn’t always pay

Congress is currently avoiding dealing with the problems created by a culture of entitlements. Most college instructors would also prefer to avoid dealing with the problems created by a culture of entitlements.

Hard work doesn't always pay The academic problem is laid out in a 2009 NY Times article on students’ sense of grade entitlement. In the article, college students are quoted as saying they deserve at least a B, maybe an A, if they “work hard”—which they generally define as coming to class and doing assignments. College faculty, on the other hand, say coming to class and reading assignments is worth only a C.

I know from experience (mine and my students’) that students can work very hard and still not learn the required material if they work hard:

  • At the wrong things.
  • To compensate for inadequate entry-level skills.
  • To compensate for a learning problem.
  • Because they lack good study skills.

As a writing teacher, I find I am better able to cope with students sense of entitlement if I:

  • Evaluate entry-level skills and teach any skills students lack.
  • Teach students to be efficient writers.
  • Require a modest amount of writing regularly.

For the record, I define modest amount of writing as roughly identical to what students in the article would define as hard work: attending class and doing the assignments.

How will you address the grade entitlement issue this fall?

Photo credit: “Studying Late-2” by Lusi
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