Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interesting observations

We had a little discussion in lab today about laptops in class. Most of my students in this class are pretty serious, pretty driven. A lot of them seemed to think laptops in class were a bad person talked about how the person next to her in one large class annoyed her, because this person would play around on Facebook and have the sound notifications (I guess it makes a sound when someone sends you a message or something? I so do not do Facebook) on.

I don't have any laptop folks this semester, which is good. I'm very conflicted about it. On one hand - I have had a few serious students, a couple with learning disabilities, who used laptops - and they used them solely to take notes. On the other hand, I've had a few students in one of my class that I suspected were playing around on websites (we have on-campus wireless internet. And even if we didn't, enough people seem willing to shell out the bucks for one of those cards that gives them wireless through their cell phone plan). I tended to let it slide and not say anything...because people who mess around in my classes and don't pay attention tend to earn poor grades anyway.

But...I was at some meetings where a bunch of people had laptops open, I was in the back of the room, and even though the talk being given was very interesting and an important topic, the shiny screens were distracting and unpleasant. (I know some faculty have back-of-the-room-only rules for laptops, and I think I'd probably suggest that if I had people bringing them. Though the back of the room...well, I don't know if you've seen the Spongebob Squarepants episode where Patrick went to boating school with Spongebob for a day, and they were talking in class, and Mrs. Puff send Spongebob to the back of the room...and he got all freaked out and scared because the back of the room IS a different's a lot harder to pay attention and it's often where the less-motivated hang out).

Another interesting observation: most of these folks are medical sciences people. People who have taken multiple anatomy courses, including ones where they actually work with human cadavers. And today, we were working with live crickets. And that freaked a few of the people out, and they couldn't bring themselves to touch the crickets. I always laugh a little bit about it (in a good-natured way), and try to goad the people along ("You touched a DEAD PERSON'S SPLEEN and you're bugged by a little cricket?") but I do let the people who are genuinely distressed (I guess some people really are) be less involved with that part. But it does always surprise me what things bother some people.

I don't know. With a few exceptions I'm pretty happy with the (majors) students this semester (The non-majors, a few of them could do with a little growing-up, in my opinion.). A lot of the majors students I have are genuinely nice people - polite to one another, polite to me, they clean up after themselves, all of that. They're mostly pretty good students too (I think my average on the first exam in one of the classes was a low B). But honestly? I'd rather have a classroom full of C students who were kind and worked hard but maybe didn't quite get things, than a classroom full of A students who seemed apathetic or were competitive and rude to each other. (And I have seen competitive and rude A students in my career; mainly when I was a TA at a large, competitive school that turned out a lot of pre-meds.)

(Interestingly, I just realized: a lot of my students this semester are non-trads in some way - either they're a bit older and are returning to school, or work for a living and are going to school part-time, or are parents of young kids. Coincidence? I don't know.)

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