The Life of a Wannabe Academic

Detail of the life a new academic. The progress from graduate training to professor. Includes reflections on the job hunting process, research in technology and education, and what it is like to be a new college professor.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The persistence of students

Right this moment I am sitting in a nearly empty classroom with one students working on her final exam in one of my classes. It is currently 4:27....the exam started at 12:45. Now before people start to comment to themselves "I would never allow a student to work so much over time on an exam" let me give you this significant piece of information. The student is Japanese and is struggling with her English.

I am often in awe of this student and her persistence in all of her classes. She has a basic understanding of the English language....much more than I have of Japanese....however, it is not nearly enough to allow her to really perform highly in her classes. She never complains, never asks for favors (except for extra time on exams and use of her electronic translator), and always does what is expected of her. However she usually does rather poorly on papers and exams. I struggle with this issue because I feel that she could understand the material if it was given in her native language, but it cannot. So I feel that I am grading her more on her grasp of a new language than on her knowledge of the subject matter. I know that K-12 teachers must also deal with this issue....when testing a student whose second language is English, are you really testing their knowledge or their ability to use English. A question of test validity arises and how one might interpret this issue will likely lead to their opinion on the matter.

For me I can only try to help this student with her language issues and work to increase her knowledge of the English language. I am still in awe of her persistence and temperament during this past semester. I cannot say that I would have as much patience and persistence as she has.


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