Monday, December 4, 2006

The Average Science Student

The average science student does not exist except in a set of ideals that changes from faculty member to faculty member and from discipline to discipline. The way that I was taught, and was taught to teach, leads me to the following set of ideals:

It is assumed that the average student has a University degree as their primary immediate goal.

The average student should get a grade of C.

The average student should understand 2/3 of the material taught.

The grade should be independent of the actual work done and should reflect only what the student has demonstrated that they understand.

The average student should expect that their study for any course should be two hours of personal study for every hour of instruction. So an average student taking five lecture courses of three hours a week (15 hours of instruction) should expect to spend an addtional 30 hours a week on personal study.

The average student can do all the work necessary for their courses during the weekdays (8 AM - 5 PM, 9 hours a day and five days a week gives 45 hours) and evenings.

If an average student wants a better mark than C they have to work harder and longer.

If a below average student wants a mark of C they have to work longer and harder than and average student would to get the same C grade.

It is very common for above average students to "settle" for a grade of C or even lower so that they can live a more relaxed lifestyle with free time for jobs and a social life. There is nothing wrong with this but the student must live with the tension between their potential mark if they had have worked and their actual mark.

The most significant problem with students that "settle" for a mark lower than they could potentially achieve is that they often set the model for less able students that cannot afford the luxuries of ample free time and/or jobs with a high number of working hours a week.

If the average student wants to have a job they have to work more efficiently than an average student that does not have a job.


Mike said...

Puh, if I'd every invested 2 hours per hour of lecture, I wouldn't have to revise for my final exams at all. Solely due to this fact I think the average student will never exist.

Ψ*Ψ said...

For many students, a job is more a necessity than a luxury. Not all of us are supported by our parents.

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For a while it was all about research and then it was all about teaching and now it's all about trying to find a balance while teaching at a small liberal arts and science university.