This past weekend, I was speaking with a student about her statistics course. For the purposes of this story, her name was Janet. As always, we covered the basics. We discussed specific concepts. Janet had no problem understanding the material. The material was not the issue. The complexity of the equations did not phase her , yet we both stared blankly at her test grade with disbelief- it was an F. So I asked a few questions to figure out the problem. She attended every class. She handed in every assignment. She met with the teacher…the teacher! She shared with me an overall disdain for her instructor, Mr. Jerkins. Now her professor , Mr. Jerkins, was very knowledgeable about the subject but he did not believe in helping his students. His philosophy was the student must struggle, a belief shared by many educators before him.
Some teachers believe it is a right of passage to spend many hours and sleepless nights buried in books, power point slides, and supplementary materials. Teacher who believe you should struggle tend to put less emphasis on making sure you understand the material. The lack of detail in class puts pressure on the student to fill the “gaps” of information. You must teach yourself. Be your own TA or teacher’s assistant. Hit the library or internet and figure out what the teacher wants you to master. The answer should hit you at 3 am between your third cup of Starbucks coffee and your fourth snack from the local vending machine. Suffering is learning right? Right??! …Not exactly.
It is your responsibility to do the work outside of class. Study the material. Learn whatever the teacher presents before you. But suffering challenges the will to survive not scholastic ability. Seek help whether it is your program director , student assistant , or teacher. A lot of times, you may discover that the teacher is unaware of the lack of instruction. In the case of Mr. Jerkins, you may need to develop your own coping mechanisms to survive the course. But do something! Don’t go out without a fight!
If you liked this post, please stay tuned for more advice on surviving statistics courses. -Amy