I haven’t posted to this blog for quite awhile and for a variety of reasons. However, I suddenly feel like writing again. I’ll start with this question:
As an educator, how do you know which course requirements to strictly enforce?
I ask because, in my classes — all of which are online or hybrid– students are required to complete a “Warm Up” quiz with a minimum 90% score. The quiz, which is assigned at the beginning of the semester, is not calculated into the students’ course averages. The quiz simply “tests” the students’ reading and comprehension of an Introduction to Course webinar as well as key course documents, such as the syllabus. I do not care if students work together on the quiz. I also allow students to submit subsequent course assignments. I just place these assignments on “hold” as I wait for those students who score lower that 90% on the quiz to revise their incorrect Warm Up quiz answers.
In most of my classes, the students complete the quiz and zoom ahead. Yet, each semester, I have at least two students who have to be reminded several times to revise their quizzes so that I can score their other assignment submissions. It’s happening again this semester.
Some of my colleagues would say that I should just overlook the students’ seeming unwillingness to complete the Warm Up quiz and just grade their other assignments. However, something bothers me about this advice. That “something” is summed-up in the total lack of standards I encounter everywhere I go. I meet a lack of standards when the young grocery store clerk fails to say “hello” or “thank you”; I meet a lack of standards when I hear a weather man say, “…and the storm has went out to sea”; I meet a lack of standards when I have to ask a restaurant server to provide me with silverware. I meet a lack of standards pretty much all day, each day, and everywhere I go.
It seems to me that America, in particular, is beginning to suffer from this inattention to standards. We are rapidly losing our competitive edge because we are, in turn, losing our competitive spirit. Instead, we look for a reason to convince the standard bearers that they are too anal. The standard bearers often grow weary from hearing complaints about their alleged rigidity and will sometimes give up on enforcing the standard. Let this happen too often and, well, standards become an endangered species.
For this reason, I am loathe to back away from enforcing a classroom standard. So, I err on the side of rigidity. I will continue to remind the students who have not completed this semester’s Warm Up quiz with a minimum score of 90% that they must do so or their other assignment submissions will remain in my “hold” file. If the situation goes on for long enough, the semester will end, the students will not have earned any course points, and I will be forced–by the students’ own choice–to assign an F to these students for the course.
Too stiff? Well, I’m more than willing to change the grade if the students–within a reasonable period of time–change their attitudes and pass the Warm Up quiz. However, I am not willing to send the message out that, if a student resists for long enough, I will “cave” and overlook a course requirement/standard. To do so, would be to add to the heap of other bent and dying standards we have accrued in this country.