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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Question for the internets

I have a Katrina refugee in one of my survey classes; she joined on Monday. I talked to her after class, told her that the books were in the bookstore, and briefly let her know where we were on the syllabus. Luckily, she'd apparently previously read the first work on the syllabus, so she won't be too monumentally behind.

However, I gave a quiz today, and she apparently only knew the answer to two of them (the two terms I had discussed in class on Monday), so she came up to me after calss to explain that she didn't have the book yet, because she works at a bookstore and they were ordering it for her so she could get it free rather than paying the $50-60 new price. It should be in next week. And I said, well, you really need to be doing the reading before then. You can't help the fact that you missed two weeks of class, and obviously I'm not going to factor into your grade any of the homework or quizzes that you missed before you joined us, but you're going to have a really hard time catching up if you don't start now. There are copies in the library. There are editions on the internet.

And I'm wondering whether this is reasonable, or if I ought to show more leniency. My instinct is to give her a 2/10 on the quiz, but be generous at the end of the term if her quiz or overall grade is borderline. I just don't think it's in her own interests to get that far behind, especially in a work that presents many students with language problems (if you know what course I'm teaching, you can probably guess which text I'm talking about!).

Also, although I don't know her escape story or anything, I do know that she's native to the area, and so presumably back home with her family rather than completely relocated. Which I think matters.


link | posted by La Lecturess at 12:59 PM |


Blogger Ianqui commented at 2:35 PM~  

I think it's reasonable to expect her to do the work, and if the books are available at the library, she should do it. If she continues not to do any real work for you, then there's a bigger underlying problem that you'll have to deal with (perhaps in conjunction with deans and counselors). I guess you may want to find out more of her story if it isn't awkward to ask so that you can better assess what her psychological state may be (and whether it's contributing to her neglect of her classroom work).

Blogger jo(e) commented at 2:46 PM~  

I would give her the low grade on the quiz, with the idea that if the rest of her work is fine all semester, you always have the option of tossing out that one grade because it is an outlier. But I think it's okay to jolt her into doing her work. It's kinder in the long run.

As long as you have copies of the book on reserve in the library, there is no reason for her not to do the reading.

Blogger Lina commented at 3:50 PM~  

sounds fair enough. God, if my lecturers had shown half the humanity you had...

Blogger shrinkykitten commented at 8:49 PM~  

Well....I think we just can't imagine what it must be like for her. She may well be in shock still -- she may feel depressed, have some sort of acute stress response. It might help to meet with her and talk with her about your expectations and what she thinks she can get done now. You may also want to consult with the school's counseling center to see if they have any helpful pointers.

Even if she escaped relatively unscathed, she may well still be hugely affected. Her story, so to speak, doesn't really necessarily indicate her experience.

Blogger What Now? commented at 10:32 PM~  

I agree with jo(e). And if she is having serious emotional or psychological fallout from her Katrina experience (and goodness, who could blame her?), you're going easy on her quiz grade isn't going to help her out any. And isn't the whole argument for signing students up in other schools that returning to the normal work of college will help people adjust to their lives after this terrible experience? So help her adjust; treat her normally. At least that's my two cents' worth of advice.

Blogger BrightStar commented at 10:36 PM~  

I agree with what people have said on here. -- about giving her the grade for now, but perhaps dropping it later, and talking with her.

Are there books on reserve in the library for the course? That's what I try to do for students who can't afford texts. She could read those until her book(s) come in.

Anonymous John Ball commented at 10:48 PM~  

You're instinct for dealing witht he situation seems right on. The thing I worry about in circumstances like this is that the student really shouldn't be taking courses this term. If she's not emoationally ready then she should take time out. Either letting her skate or failing her would not be helpful. If you have the time, you might try to find out if she can continue and, if you feel she might sink, suggest taking the term to regroup.

Blogger Scrivener commented at 2:14 PM~  

I'd say you handled the situation the same way I would've.

Blogger La Lecturess commented at 10:35 PM~  

Thanks, guys, for mostly supporting my instincts, though I'll definitely try to draw her out a bit, Shrinky, and keep an eye out for any signs of problems. We'll see if she has the book tomorrow...

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