Students Who Blame and
Instructors Who Don't
by Jack H. Shrawder, Executive Director,
Teaching For Success, Faculty Success Center
Tip from the TFS Adjunct e-Mentor Program: Clarity, Confidence, and Capability
Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes real happiness. It is not obtained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
A TFS Adjunct Faculty LinkedIn Group member recently described the need to solve a common problem:
I am fairly new to college teaching. I teach introductory classes which are mostly college freshmen. My experience with this population is their lack of responsibility for their progress. Many blame the instructor for their poor study habits and reading skills. Many share the belief that they are spending too much time reading and that instructors are giving too much work. Many complain about their lack of free time after class and weekends. Some are having problems with the retrieval of information from memory for exams. Some students have even suggested I read the chapters to them to help them with their studying for exams. Any suggestions on how to handle this group will be greatly appreciated. Discussion Link
How to Apply Teaching For Success Principles to This Problem
I see the class you describe as an opportunity to exercise a leadership role in bringing to the instructional table the issues of roles, expectations, and responsibilities right up front in the first couple of class meetings.A discussion that brings to the fore a clear understanding of your role, expectations, and responsibilities incurred as a college instructor and the role, expectations, and responsibilities of a college student creates a better learning environment.
Sometimes we, as instructors, assume these concepts are clear and understood by all college students when, in fact, they are not. If not addressed at the outset, a great deal of time and effort must be spent later to deal with problems created by those who bring a fixed or closed mindset to class.
The mindset transition to an adult occurs when the individual decides he or she is responsible for what happens to them and the knee-jerk reaction of childhood to blame someone else or something else transforms to one of personal responsibility to find solutions to the inevitable ups and downs of learning new knowledge.
Some students have a belief that adults or instructors in general don't have problems, setbacks, frustrations, etc., and they think that their life or learning problems should be at the top of everyone else's concerns.
When I take on the instructor role, I believe have a leadership opportunity to teach my class on the level of an adult, high-achievement mindset experience where responsibilities and expectations are clear.
Furthermore, the negative consequences of relying on childish tendencies to blame, complain, and employ lack, loss, and limitations thinking to solve a problem are treated as a drag on learning and student motivation.******************
Recommended Ideas for More Teaching Improvement
Leadership in Balance
In How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci, Michael J. Gelb explains how Leonardo used seven leadership principles to energize, enrich, and balance life.
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Jack H. Shrawder, Executive Director, TFS Faculty Success Center