Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hello, my name is....

Last week I had the students in my class do some work in the lab that formed the basis for the next two labs. When I looked at the results they got I realized that I was going to have to re-do much of the final step so that the actually would have something to work with this week.

However, I needed some details from each group in order to help me create the right conditions for the re-do. I emailed the whole class to send me the information I needed and their partner's name so I wasn't doubling up on information unnecessarily. Only 20% of them got back to me, which is not entirely surprising, but what was shocking is that only half of those who responded knew their lab partner's name.

Last week was the ninth lab of the semester. NINTH. That means I have several students who have worked with a classmate for hours on end of this semester and have never learned their name. And I only had 20% respond to me! WTF? Maybe I'm just getting old enough where I like to the names of the people I work with, I don't know. Now get offa my lawn.


  1. I make it a point in labs to talk directly to stus with their names, and I give them silly names as the semester goes on. The first person who wants to burn the place down gets Pyro in front of their name, so like Pyro Bill wouldn't stop messing with the flicker. If I ask someone to pass out supplies, I call them something related, like Waxpaper Sally. The student who runs circles around the benches gets Tornado, the stu who gets the squeaky chair is Squeaky. It helps me with their names, and they get a kick out of it. I also made name labels for their benchspace and it's big enough that I can see it from the front. When I put stuff out for them to collect, I say to go grab parts A and B from the back of Tornado Jim's bench.
    I'm not surprised they didn't get back to you on email. They are on fb and twitter! Get with the program!

  2. Did you have higher expectations for the mouth breathers? Back when I taught chem lab, one of them asked me what the H on the board meant. I told them the H stood for my own personal hell, its hydrogen, do you need me to spell it for you too?

  3. WOW! That is crazy. How can you be in lab together for that length of time and not know your lab partners name? I mean on some level don't you have to trust them enough to do their part of the lab...at least you did in chem lab!

  4. They work as partners for basically the whole semester and often use their combined initials to label certain things, which meant that those who did not know their partner's name maybe some hilarious guesses (acknowledged as guesses or not). I find it humorous that I know almost all of their names and the extent of my interaction is mostly standing in front of them, but they don't know the people they work with one-on-one.


  5. Wow! That is crazy. It is stories like this that make me question the whole teaching thing.

    These are supposed to be adults who are taking classes out of choice.

    Surely they need some sort of name to use cell-phones and emails? How can they expect to pass if they are not communicating with lab partner outside of class?

    A professor is supposed to be a resource, not a nanny. If a student cannot be proactive in their own learning they do not belong at university.

    You care too much. And I am never going to make it as an assistant professor if I am expected to pass a certain percentage, regardless of inadequate performance.

  6. Maybe they've just been reading too many pseudonymous blogs

    (runs away)

  7. And maybe I should just have three of them talk among themselves all day until they agree on everything and pick up a LOLcat fetish :)

  8. touché :)

    (Although I'll have you know that the last three photos of my cat that I posted were 100% on topic and relevant to the thread)

  9. Dr. Girlfriend - I'll have more on your comment as soon as I dig my way out from under the weight of my current commitments.

  10. Prof-like, I look forward to you learning your opinion.

    I understand that you post was light-hearted, but I really do despair of (supposed) adults who act like apathetic children being forced to go to class.

    I would give my attention to the 10% of your class, and forget the rest.

  11. I find it rewarding to "educate" my students in the beginning of the semester that the class (lab and whatnot) they are taking is their own responsibility. I usually tell them that it is their job to make the class fun and enjoyable, and to do that will take efforts on their side. Students usually respond with higher engagement and less lethargic. To create a environment that the majority of the class cares more about the class than the teacher/professor is incredibly important. It also relieves some stress on my shoulder. Honestly, I think that it is the students' responsibilities to learn and engage in all aspects of a class, not mine.
    I agree with Dr. Girlfriends' comment that professors are resources but nor nanny. And I convey that to my students clearly and directly.
    Nevertheless, there will always be a few students (depending on the class size) who never seemed to care. Well, I generally warn them individually in a kind way, and then tell myself that I'm not their nanny and they are going to be responsible for the consequences resulted from their lack of efforts.
    Undergraduate classes can be frustrating sometimes.

  12. Next semester, before they start, tell them to start with introducing themselves to the lab partner? ;)