This morning, February 19, I was part of a panel discussion regarding student excuses. No, this was not an opportunity to trash talk our students, yet an open discussion on current themes we find in the excuses received. These themes ran from personal responsibility, family issues in which the family member dies several times within the semester, group dynamics, etc.
Of course, what would a panel about student excuses be without some actual examples of these excuses. Of those shared, here were some of my favorites:
- One student claimed their mother died during the semester…. THREE times.
- Excerpt from a parent to a colleague regarding their child: “Since you knew you were going to fail my child…..”
- Students attending a Christian university always say “have mercy on me.”
- Students of a colleague began a Facebook group titled “Kelly’s f*@%-ups” (My colleague name is Kelly.)
- Student claimed her grandmother died. Colleague asked “Is this the same grandmother that’s already died twice this semester?” Student responded “it just took the old bat a long time to die.”
Of course there were others but these stood out to me. Here are some of the suggestions provided by the panel and attendees.
- Establishing a common ground with students. In essence, reminding them that we are human as well, we all go through things, yet we are still responsible for our choices.
- Consider using a coupon in class. Outline that the coupon is only good for the specified class and with xyz assignments.
- Reinforce to students that honesty, just like dishonesty, comes with consequences.
- When students ask faculty to accept late work when their policy states otherwise, ask the student “What would you do if the roles were reversed? How would we justify this action to your classmates that submitted their work in a timely fashion?”
- Include a mercy clause in your syllabus. In essence reinforce to students that honesty is always the best policy. PERIOD.
- Reinforce to students that in-class activities, although fun in nature, are outcome driven. Thus, fun does not equate to an easy course, easy professor or easy grading.
Of course there are several others that were voiced, yet they can all be tied to those listed above in some way. What are some additional themes or funny excuses you would add?