Category Archives: Teaching & Higher Ed

Busy, yes. Productive and effective, not so much.

I have become increasingly aware of how my institution values being busy over being productive and effective. This is especially true right now, during advising and registration.

The amount of time required to manage an always increasing number of advisees—meeting with them, answering follow-up questions, helping solve residual problems— takes away from doing pretty much everything else. Like teaching. Or helping a student with an internal research grant application. Or grading papers. Or writing grad school recommendations.

Worse, the emphasis is on scheduling, approving graduation applications, and solving problems with our online registration system so there is little time available for actual advising. You know, career goals, and such, the things we should be doing when we advise students.

So, we are very busy with advising, but I would hardly say that we are being effective. The good news is, registration ends this week so we should be able to get back to work!



You’re not “just kidding.” You’re just wrong. And that’s okay.

Recently a student asked me for an answer to a question on an assignment she was doing in my ECG Assessment class. I tend to answer questions with a questions, so I asked her, “what do you think the answer is?” After some discussion she came up with a response. Which was wrong. And she replied, “just kidding.” She wasn’t kidding, and she didn’t know the right answer.


This was far from an isolated incident. When a student answers a question incorrectly in class or  in conversations outside of class, the most common response is “just kidding.” I first noticed it years ago, mostly from female students. Now I hear it equally from male students. I even hear it from other “adults,” most recently when an acquaintance didn’t remember what grade my son is in—”just kidding.”

It’s as though being wrong is so unacceptable, it is turned into a joke. The message seems to be “I wasn’t wrong, I was joking, and I knew the right answer all along.” The problem is, most students who say this really don’t know the right answer.I worry that this lack of ownership will prevent students from identifying weaknesses and missing opportunities to fill gaps in their knowledge.

So, now when I hear a student say “just kidding” I say “no, you’re not just kidding, you’re just wrong, and that’s okay.” Then we work to find the correct answer.

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Five students came to see me about their exam. They were the wrong five students.

I gave my first exam in Exercise Physiology last week. Predictably, grades ranged widely, with some students doing very well and others, well, not. There were five students who failed. So, I sent them a friendly email asking them to meet with me to discuss their exam and, more importantly, what they can do to salvage their chances to pass the class.

And five students came to see me. But they were the wrong five students.

F grade

The students who came to see me all earned As or Bs on the exam and wanted to see what they missed or to talk about some of their answers. One student who earned a high A just wanted to find out what she got wrong (very little). None of them really needed help, but they still took the time to see me.

This is probably why these five students did so well. And why the other five didn’t.

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