Monday, March 08, 2010

Very few seniors go to class

As a university teacher, who is responsible for having a class full of seniors who are graduating in 10 weeks?

1. Should I be strict and fail students who never come to class?

2. Should I just be happy for the 8 out of 30 who come since we can have a discussion class? It is only the second week and I have already lost more than half the students.

3. Should I become a motivational teacher who uses words to motivate students about the importance of learning?

4. Is something wrong with my teaching methods therefore students don't attend? According to this article, "Our View: Attendance Polices are not Motivational Enough," it is the teacher's fault.

5. Should the students be responsible for their own learning?

One big difference between the colleges I attended in the states and the college I am teaching at in China is choice. In the states, I could pick and choose which electives I wanted. At my Chinese college there are no choices. The courses you have to take are set in stone for each and every semester. There is not a national curriculum so every college creates their own four year calendar of courses. This semester, my school decided to create a new course called English short stories. Even if you are not interested in reading English short stories, you still have to register for the course and take the final.

The seniors this semester are only taking 3 courses: Russian, Extensive reading, and English Short Stories. I am assuming that since the seniors have now finished all of their national exams, these classes are kind of like electives, but you are forced to take them.

How does one motivate students to want to learn for the sake of learning, for the sake of interest? How does one motivate students when they have spent a lifetime being motivated to learn through the fear of not passing a national exam?

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