Wednesday, January 24, 2007

One more thing about that silly photo - The Student Story.

I wrote about this a couple of days ago, but one more thought about the silly photo that the DE found on the SIU webpage.

It was OK that the photographer took the shot. They take lots of pictures and throw away almost all of them looking for the one great shot in the bunch.

It wasn't OK that it was choosen as a good picture. It wasn't OK that it was put on the SIU webpage.

It was a good thing that the DE saw the picture and wrote a story about it. They really got the idea and wrote a constructive story about how SIU needs to improve. Good work.

The point that has been missed until now is why no one has called out the students on their complete lack of skills learning the material of the class. When you look at the students, no one is taking notes. As some of you know, when you take notes a different part of your brain is being used and you learn in a much improved way to passive listening. Of the 11 students we can see in that almost famous shot, only one looks to be taking notes. Students who don't take notes in math classes don't generally pass.

If I had to pick the one key point of SIU's downward slide, it would have to be the low academic achievement of students that SIU has allowed in these last years. The students aren't being challenged, grades are being given to students who have not learned the material and done the work, degrees are being awarded to some students who simply do not deserve them.

Should SIU give away results like the local junior colleges? Should SIU cheapen their degrees to the point that employers no longer expect a minimum level of achievement from SIU graduates? Should a SIU graduate's first manager in the real world be the first to demand reasonable effort and results? I think this has been the management message at SIUC over the last few years.

The students and SIU need to get it together and figure out how to teach the students to learn. To demand the students learn and to fail student who don't. The place is full of smart kids who need to be asked to jump a higher bar and the university is failing them. Of course, this generation of students is very happy to slide by.

The reputation that should really worry SIU is if people believe that the students who go to U of I get good jobs and the students who come to SIU move back into their parent's house and become assistant managers at Subway. Doesn't matter if you do good research then, SIU will be on the road to heck.


pens down said...

Although I agree with the main point of your post, I disagree that the students should have been taking notes in that picture. In a traditional math class, the professor spends almost the entire class period writing on the board. The five or ten minutes that the professor turns to face the class are the only time all period that I, as a student, can use my facial expressions and body language to communicate whether I understood the material. I don't want to waste those minutes looking down at my notebook to write.
Of course, even if you look at it from my perspective, the students in the photo are not doing well. The message most of them are communicating is, "I'm not interested and don't really care about what you're saying."

Peter in Carbondale said...

In summary, BS! If they were taking notes, they would have a pencil in hand and have assumed the correct position. Maybe they would be looking up at the teacher, but students taking notes don't look like those students.

Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

Well, does this speak to the quality of instruction? If professors are giving grades away, what does that say about the faculty. It has got to start somewhere. Oh, some will probably say its the fault of upper administration. Sure. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Peter in Carbondale said...

>> If professors are giving grades away, what does that say about the faculty. It has got to start somewhere. Oh, some will probably say its the fault of upper administration.

Is it the students fault they don't work hard, learn nothing and get a good grade anyway? Is it the professors fault that if they flunk the students who deserve it they will be fired? This is all about management.

It is the fault of management.

Anonymous said...

The professor was probably taking roll.

You cannot make any judgment about the students, the professor or even the evil adminstration just from this photo.

pens down said...

Taking roll?

The professor doesn't have a pen in his hand to mark who is there and who isn't. The class looks too big for him to be able to take roll and remember who was absent without marking it down.

Anonymous said...

I am a student in this guys class. He prints and hands out the slides of the days lecture to every student as they enter as a courtesy. He wants the students to be able to listen to him rather than feverishly writing the entire time. He also takes attendence daily which many teacher don't. A picture tells a thousand words but if you look again maybe you will see what I see him lecturing and the students following along with notes provided by HIM.