College Students: often have a false sense of their knowledge or abilities:
Wed, 05 Oct 2005 11:30:17 -0500
Subject: xxxx examen hoy
My name is I. M. N. Denial and I am a student in your ABC 999 class MWF xx:xx-xx:xx. Let me start by saying that I think you are an excellent teacher. You are obviously very
knowledgeable and I feel like I have learned a lot from you so far-- to be honest, more than I
expected to learn in a XXXX course!
However, I feel that I need to be vocal in saying
that I did not think that our exam today was very fair or logistically possible. The exam
was 6-7 pages long with at least 10-30 questions on each page and we had less than an hour
to finish it. I studied for a week for this exam, and I knew the material backwards and
forwards... as you will see by the answers I managed to complete.
However, when covering two lengthy and difficult chapters that require such intricate memorization, especially the charts for the
answered almost all of the questions, I was so shaken by the lack of time (I didn't even
reach the last two pages until we had 5 minutes left), I am sure that many of my answers got
mixed up unintentionally. For a test of that length and difficulty, we needed at least
an hour, or the test should have been cut down by 2 pages to fit into 50 minutes. I just
took the LSAT and the GRE within the last month, and we had more time and were less
pressured for those exams! I understand that you cannot make an exception for one person;
however, the majority of the class (at least 15 people) remained in the room and had not
finished the test when the time was up. I sincerely hope that you take this into account
when grading these exams and making the following exams. I do enjoy your class very much,
and I appreciate that you and your exams are very challenging; but there is a fine line between
challenging and impossible.
Have a great fall break and I look forward to class on Wednesday.
I. M. N. Denial"
So, what does our "little darling" have to say? Well, our student, who thought, uh, makes that, "knows" that they know the material "backwards and forwards" is telling the professor that the test was too long; that it was impossible to finish in the allotted time.
What this "little darling" is clueless about is that this test had been finished by other students in the past. The assumption that our Mr./Ms. "N. Denial" is making is that they represent the very top of all students in this class and that because they couldn't finish the test comfortably then certainly no one else could either.
What hasn't occurred to Mr./Ms. Denial:
- That there ARE students who might be able to finish the exam; it just so happens that our "little darling" isn't one of them.
- That there are some items in a subject that one needs to know well enough to have "instant recall" of them.
- Mr./Ms. Denial being good (relatively speaking) at one level doesn't mean that they are going to shine at the next level up.
- If Mr./Ms. Denial's performance on an exam isn't what they want it to be, the fault might not be the exam; it might be their own skill level.
But that is how it seems to go these days. Because of all of this emphasis on building "self esteem" during their previous levels of education, students show up in our class as raging ego-maniacs and many just can't handle the fact that they simply aren't that good; success for them will require them to spend levels of effort that they haven't previously thought possible (or necessary).