Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Academic Profiling

Here's where I reveal myself as evil and heartless and concerned more with the measurable outcomes of my class than with my students. This is just like the students who are more concerned with their grades than with what they've learned.

Last night I received an email from a student who failed my class. I don't want to quote it because the particulars are somewhat unique. My student was dismissed from the University because of his poor grade in my class. Students are not dismissed after their first bad grade; they are put on academic probation and are given certain GPA benchmarks to meet.

But my first thought was: He was on academic probation when he signed up for my class! The students most likely to fail a math class are those who have the same course before; next most likely are those who are on academic probation! And then I had this terrible, terrible idea: I wondered if there was a way that I could screen my classes and discourage the students least likely to succeed from taking my class. If students get to pick their professors, why can't professors pick their students?

ps. Don't worry: if I really felt this way, I wouldn't have volunteered to teach the 250-student Calculus For The Masses class.

pps. My green laser pointer arrived in the mail yesterday. It is BRIGHT.