Some Students Should Be Sectioned

, , , , | Learning | September 7, 2017

(I teach at a large university that has over 30,000 students. Some of the introductory and GE classes are very large, containing 350 to 400 students. In addition to two smaller classes for majors [about 40 students each], I also teach one of those 400-student freshman courses. The class is divided into 15 smaller discussion sections taught by TAs. I do the lectures for the class twice a week. This exchange happens over the e-mail.)

Student: “Hi! I am in your class, and I wanted to know whether we have a quiz this Friday.”

Me: Hello. Which class are you in?”

Student: “Your Tuesday/Thursday class.”

Me: “I teach three classes that meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Which one are you in?”

Student: “I am in the history one.”

Me: “I am a professor of history. All classes I teach are about history. What is the title and number of the class you are taking with me?

Student: “Oh! I didn’t know that. It’s HST 101.”

(That’s the one with nearly 400 students in it, and the quizzes are given by TAs in their discussion sections; schedules may vary.)

Me: “Your TA is giving the quizzes, not me, so you need to ask them that.”

Student: “How do I ask my TA?”

Me: “You should probably email them.”

Student: “What’s their email?”

Me: “It’s on your syllabus. The TAs for each section are listed right below my contact information.”

Student: “But which one is mine?”

Me: “The one whose name appears next to the number of your section.”

Student: “How do I know what my section is?”

Me: *entirely losing patience at this point* “Go to your [Student Enrollment System] page and look at the courses you are enrolled in. Find HST 101. After 101, there should be another number, like 01, 02, etc. That number is your section number. Then find the name of the TA for that section on your syllabus and email them about the quiz.”

(I didn’t hear from the student or about her again until the next week’s TA meeting, when one of the TAs mentioned that she had a student finally show up in her discussion section that she hadn’t seen before, but whom she had tried to contact multiple times at the beginning of the semester because the student was not attending. The student finally showed up because a sorority sister of hers told her that there were graded quizzes in the sections. Guess who didn’t pass the class?)

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