Wednesday, July 18, 2012
College is the new kindergarten
I've been teaching an online course this summer, which more or less requires me to use Canvas. (I guess I could have built a website and such, but Canvas is there, and set up for this kind of thing, so...) But what I've noticed, at least at my school, is that the Canvas gradebook totally enables the instant gratification neediness in students. They freak out if their grades are not posted RIGHT AWAY. They send me emails asking WHY grades have not been posted. They are SURE that there must be some mistake that accounts for that void sitting there in the gradebook.
Me, on the other hand, I hate posting the grades, because as soon as I do, the grubbing starts. The demanding-to-know-why-I-only-got-an-A-minus starts. Which makes me want to not post grades. I'm required to let my students know how they're doing before the drop deadline each term. Freshmen and transfers get midterm grades as well. But I'm not actually required to let them know how they're doing at every moment, and I'm disinclined to do so because of the grade-grubbing and the whingeing and whining.
On the other other hand, the gradebook feature is handy and easy to use, except that it is visible to students. It's not that I think their grades should be a complete surprise to them at the end of the term. They should get enough feedback to know if they're doing OK, or not. And my assessment and pedagogical strategy is to give them more frequent assignments rather than a couple of high-stakes ones. But that only increases the frequency with which they are inspired to complain.
I suppose I could do what I did before Canvas, which is keep my own grading spreadsheet, and make students ask me about their grades. I'm curious about how the rest of you deal with this, and if you see the same instant gratification syndrome in your students.