professornana (professornana) wrote,

When will they ever learn?

The refrain from "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," asks: "when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?" That refrain could be the mantra for me as I read the briefs and newsletters and other email flyers, etc. from various organizations. The latest email centered on higher education and office hours. Now, office hours are a tad different for me. I teach in an online program. Many of my students live hundreds of miles from campus and have "day jobs" teaching. So, my office hours are virtual, and they are basically 24/7. Students can communicate with me anytime that is convenient for them, and I will reply at my own convenience. I do hold traditional office hours on Tuesdays from 7:30-4:30 for anyone who might want to come to campus, and I can arrange other meetings that are mutually scheduled. So, perhaps I should have just ignored this mailing. But I could not avert my eyes. Here is one of the bullet points about office hours:

"Reward those who come with points. Make the visit worth something; those who use this approach recommend just a small amount of points. You also could reward with food—fruit, protein bars, or a less nutritious, but likely more popular, option like candy. We give our beagle a treat if, at bedtime, she goes outside and does her business in a timely manner. Does she need a treat to hurry her back inside when it's 10 degrees? Probably not. It's not quite the same, but do points reinforce the belief that every educational activity must include them?"

The concept of rewarding students to take advantage of meeting with a professor is simply beyond the pale. Perhaps I should reward them for turning in work on time or coming to class or any number of tasks that are EXPECTED? And the analogy to a beagle is, quite frankly, offensive.

When I had FTF classes, I did not have to wheedle students to come and talk to me during office hours. They came as they needed advice, answers, etc. And I often had office hours right before and immediately after classes as well to make hours convenient.

Extrinsic motivation does not automatically transform into intrinsic motivation. If I read for points, what happens when the points are removed form the equation? If I come to a meeting for points, will I still attend when there are no incentives? When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
Tags: idiocy, incentives, rewards

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