Why won't they prepare?

I normally run the threat-of-dire-punishment routine with my first semester students to force them to prepare for lab. He who does not prepare sits outside the lab in the hallway preparing. There are very few people who choose to sit outside more than once.

I decided to try a different route this semester. We are all adults here, aren't we? My evaluations often note that I treat them like little children. So I gave a big pep talk the first week on how to study and why they are at university and that it is their responsibility to take charge of their learning, not my responsibility to throw food chunks in their little upturned open mouths.

We had three "warm up" labs getting ready to work hard, and then yesterday the first lab with actually doing some programming started. I suggested preparing the lab up to a particular point, and checked their level of preparation by going around at the beginning of lab.

5 were prepared with something written down. 32 at least brought the written answers to the little finger exercise lab last week with them. 8 didn't even manage that and 8 just didn't show up.

How on earth are they going to get an education? How did they graduate from high school? What were they thinking? There is only a 90 minute lab and they have a lot to learn and understand from the experiments. The lab just started with a "get to work" order from me, which rather confused some people. "But what are we supposed to do?" Uh, read the lab sheets before class, come prepared, and do the exercises here, where you can ask me and fellow students for help and show off what you got running?

No one, not even the prepared ones, got very far in the lab. No cool solutions to wow everyone. The guys who "already know how to program" were completely and utterly lost. They could not "find the bit to program" - which they weren't supposed to do. They were to be experimenting in a closed environment with expressions. They didn't want to do the given experiments, because they were so "baby easy", and then they picked some really complicated stuff they wanted to do and did not know where to start.

I forced a couple of guys to re-do the "baby" stuff - and sure enough, there were some odd things happening. They had just let their programs run a few seconds and were convinced that they were just fine.

Sigh. At least I had my Master's seminar in the evening. Nice to have students you can have a proper conversation with and want to learn.

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