A common scenario that has been cropping up in high school and college classrooms is that of a student coming up to a teacher after class to argue over a grade, or trying to get extra credit for doing nothing. Students are gaining a greater sense of entitlement, feeling they deserve the grade just for showing up.
Fortunately, teachers can do a lot to change this sense of academic entitlement by curbing it early.
Kalpen Trivedi, an English professor at the University of Georgia explained to Redandblack.com that teachers often enable it.
“It's true that grades are generally higher than they used to be, but it's not entirely the fault of the students,” he said. “It's not that they're complacent, but rather that this is what they've been given, having been pushed along in the system.”
Recently, Tracey E. Zinn, a psychology associate professor at James Madison University, and two other associates, Jason P. Kopp, Sara J. Finney and Daniel P. Jurich, presented research that examined students with a sense of academic entitlement.
They found that clear symptoms of entitlement will often present themselves early allowing teachers to tackle it before it becomes a problem. These symptoms include:
• The belief that knowledge is a right. Meaning that it should come with little work and effort.
• High grades should come from non-academic aspects of school, such as attendance or paying for school through tuition and taxes, rather than work.
• If a student didn't perform well on a test, it is a sign that the test was too difficult, not that the student did not understand the material.
Fortunately, these symptoms can easily be curbed through teacher-student interactions in elementary and middle school.
Zinn explained, “We often think students walk into class agreeing with you or knowing what is the right thing to do, but it's important to explain why you have particular policies ... and explain the value of the task you ask them to do.”
Teachers need to be up front about the expectations they have from students from the first day of class, and not stray from it.
For example, one of the most common things a student will do is ask for extra credit for often doing nothing more than showing up. The obvious solution to this problem is to eliminate all extra credit.
While this is a valid solution, extra credit can be a valuable and enriching tool, as there are many projects, videos and other tools that can supplement the current curriculum. With a little effort, teachers can create extra credit projects that students will love, while teaching them the important difference between extra credit and free credit.
Ultimately when dealing with an entitled student, it can be very tempting to just give the student the grade to get them out of there. However, that not only does a disservice to the student, but it is also a disservice to that student's future teachers that will soon have to deal with the unruly, entitled student that has been created.
Daniel Duerden is a writer and content editor for 360 Education Solutions