Why the poor performance?

Recently my students sat a programming test for one of the courses I teach at University, and the results were rather dismal. Before I explain the reason for this poor performance let me first refute the most common excuses.

  • The students are dumb
  • The instructor is useless
  • The exam was too hard.

My students are not dumb. Even though the bar for university entry has dropped, the students in my class enthusatically engage with discussions, questioning and thoughtful responses. This classroom participation allows the students to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject matter and allows me to readjust the approach or pace at which I am teaching. From this engagement I can see anecdotal evidence that my students are not dumb.

The instructor is not useless. I take great pride with imparting my knowledge onto eager students willing to learn, however if you want empirical data then look no further than the Lecturer of the Year award, student testimonials and the numerous articles I've had published with my previous students. These are not the hallmarks of a useless instructor.

The exam is not too hard. A friend pointed out that the good thing with someone getting full marks is that it can validate that your exam is not too hard. The programming test was open book! The students had access to their lecture notes, code samples that we'd written as well as the course text book. Not only that but the code samples from the previous weeks required the same type of thought process for the programming test.

Coming Up
In my next blog post I will identify the 2 main factors that contributed to the poor performance which will leave you asking Why would a student allow these to go unchecked. But then you'll realize that it's not just isolated to students, but the workplace as well.

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