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Misread The Teacher’s Knowledge Level

, , , , , | Learning | June 27, 2018

(I am a teacher’s assistant at the department of mechanical engineering, teaching mainly an intro-level mechanical design course. As the course is rather difficult — especially given that it is taught to first-year students — it is common for them to do assignments together, in small groups, then hand them in individually as per course requirements. One semester, however, there is a student that does so well that it becomes a habit for him to do assignments soon after they are posted, and then share them with all the other students in the course, at least as reference material. While it is strictly against the rules, I willingly ignore it, as he does help the whole class to do better — but of course I can’t tell the class that I know what’s up… At least until I have to make the following announcement at the beginning of one lesson, after returning the assignments and reviewing common mistakes with the students.)

Me: “Guys, I know that this course isn’t simple; I know that you do the assignments in groups, and I’m quite used to seeing the same odd mistake pop up in several people’s assignments when grading them.”

(I then look directly at that excelling student, and continue:)

Me: “But guys, if all of you are going to base your work on one student’s solution, at least make sure that that one student didn’t misread the question!

(Cue laughter and that student’s face turning beet red.)


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