Is a Sense of Entitlement Hurting International Students? by Steven E. Hudson

May 26, 2016

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The academic year is coming to a close and ‘of course’ students are concerned about their grades.  This is normal, but obsessing over “an A” is not normal.  On ‘international school campuses’ world-wide students are ‘claiming’ I must have an “A”, I paid money (actually their parents or their parents’ company paid) and I deserve an “A”, I won’t get into ____ unless I have an “A”, I did all my work you have to give me an “A”, et cetera and ad nauseam.

 The experiences of many teachers are similar to those of Dr. Grossman …

 Prof. Marshall Grossman has come to expect complaints whenever he returns graded papers in his English classes at the University of Maryland.

“Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,” Professor Grossman said. “Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.”

He attributes those complaints to his students’ sense of entitlement.

“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.”

 Since the majority of students attending international campuses aspire to attend major, world class universities we find from a 2008 study conducted by Ellen Greenberger, et al. at the University of California, Irvine and quoted in Student Incivility, Intimidation, and Entitlement in Academia, Barb Holdcroft that among university students…

  • 2 percent of students believe that “trying hard” should result in a good grade;
  • 7 percent believe that completing most of the reading for a course should result in a B grade;
  • 5 percent believe that a professor should respond to an e-mail the same day it was sent; and
  • 5 percent believe that students should be allowed to take calls during class.

When one adds to this some facts concerning some, but not all, students attending an international campus we find …

  • that they feel that amount they pay in tuition ‘entitles’ them to high grades;
  • they feel that they are entitled to use their ‘technological devices’ when and where they desire, and that consequences do not apply to them;
  • they feel that classroom rules, due the status their family has in the community and/or corporate structure, entitles them to special consideration;
  • they feel that they have the right, due the status their family has in the community and/or corporate structure, to arrive or leave as they wish without consequences;
  • that they feel they should be given ‘credit’, in the form of a grade, when they prepare for a class;
  • that they feel entitled to certain grades, regardless of whether or not they have earned them; and,
  • they should receive the highest grade possible for plagiarizing material for a presentation, project, research paper and not face penalties.

When one considers the average, and or mathematical mean, of the numbers from 1 to 100 one finds that the average and/or mean is 50 or 50%.  When one considers the normal grading scale we find that ‘average; is half-way between an “F” and an “A” or a grade of “C”.

In her blog posted on Prep Scholar Samantha Lindsey states the following …

 “The overall average GPA nationally is a 3.0, but this may be deceptive.  The average in core subject areas is actually a bit lower.  The average GPA is brought up to a 3.0 by the higher grades that students receive in courses that are not part of the core curriculum  The core curriculum in the data that I looked at was considered to be math, science, English, and social studies courses.  The average GPAs for these different types of courses were the following:

Math: 2.6

Science: 2.70

English: 2.85

Social studies: 2.89

“This shows that students tend to have lower average GPAs in math and science courses compared to English and social studies courses.”

 So, since the scores, as Ms. Lindsey, states them are well within the rage of scores from 2.0 to 2.9, which is defined as a “C” then one has to arrive at the understanding that the ‘average student performance in the core subjects’ is a “C average.  How then, is it possible, that it seems as if the majority of students feel they are entitled to a grade of an “A” or a “B” when they only do average or below average work.

The real questions go even deeper …

  • Are education professionals – teachers, administrators, etc. in the business of making students feel good or are we in the business of preparing student for their future?
  • Is it more important to tell the truth and prepare a student for the ‘possible failures and/or shortcomings they may/will face in their future or is it the role of the school do help students feel good about themselves and not tell the truth?
  • Are we, as professionals, doing a ‘service’ or a disservice when we inflate grades or allow students to feel entitled?

A last thought … it has been my privilege since 1982 to teach in a variety of settings, environments, countries and levels of educational institutions and for this I am extremely grateful.  However, it seems as if this “sense of entitlement” which appears to prevail across societies has grown in the recent decades.

Is it only me or are you too concerned about the quality of the product that we, as professionals, are placing into society when we allow the concept of ‘entitlement’ to cloud our judgement … are we really protecting the child from having low self-esteem, confidence, etc. or are we protecting ourselves from those who practice arrogance by virtue of ignorance … in simple words, if we lie, and that is exactly what it is, when we “adjust and/or modify” grades, are we really serving the interests of society or are we serving our own interests, which may verge on being selfish to avoid conflict, not be liked, avoiding having parents pounding on your classroom/office door, etc.?

Comments? Please Scroll Down

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References:

Roosevelt, Max (2009) Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes. Feb 17, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/education/18college.html?_r=0)

Holdcroft, Barb.  Student Incivility, Intimidation, and Entitlement in Academia in American Association of College Professors, May – June 2014 (http://www.aaup.org/article/student-incivility-intimidation-and-entitlement- academia)

Paslay Christopher (2012)  Why Students Feel Entitled to( Grades they Haven’t Earned in Chalk and Talk, November 14.  (https://chalkandtalk.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/why-students-feel-entitled-to-grades-they-havent-earned/)

Lindsay Samantha (2015) SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips:  What’s the Average High School GPA? In PrepScholar, Aug 7.  (http://blog.prepscholar.com/whats-the-average-high-school-gpa)

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Will Taking That Photo Land You in Prison?

May 19, 2016

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..As Westerners residing & teaching overseas it’s easy to slip into believing we are somehow exempt from many of the realities to which host nationals are subject. In some instances this is most definitely true. But when it comes to the laws of the land, we are deceiving ourselves if we think we’re exempt.

Teachers will say they are law-abiding citizens. Overseas, however, one may not be aware of what’s considered an offense & quite innocently find yourself imprisoned. Something as benign as snapping a photo of a public building or making an angry hand gesture may be all it takes. In some countries, for example, just one drink is considered “under the influence” & punishable by law (as the bartender/police work in tandem to report your actions). Ignorance of local law is never an excuse…at least not one that carries any weight in a courtroom!

We’re all aware chewing gum in public in Singapore is a criminal offense, but did you know in Thailand it’s an offense to step on money (which no doubt has something to do with the fact the King’s picture appears on the currency)? So, the question becomes: What other little-known offenses might lead to a jail term throughout the world?

Be aware — If you are a U.S. citizen, for example, there’s little your government can do to help should you get into trouble overseas. Here’s what you can expect in the way of help from the U.S. government:

– An insistence on prompt access to you
– Provide you with information on the foreign country’s legal system
– Provide a list of attorneys
– Contact your family/friends
– Protest mistreatment, monitor jail conditions, provide dietary supplements
– Keep the Department of State informed as to your situation

If this doesn’t sound like much help, it isn’t!

Citizens of countries other than the U.S. can expect to receive more-or-less the same level of help from their governments. In any case, the legal systems of foreign countries can/do function in ways that may seem archaic by our standards. Yet, as guests in foreign lands we are not exempt from prosecution & our governments do not have the power to have charges against us dropped. ISR hosts Reviews & Articles from teachers detained overseas. The experiences are understandably frightening.

ISR recommends you learn the unique laws of your host country by consulting the Country Information web site of the U.S. Government or a web site from your home nation.

If you have personal anecdotal experiences to Share we invite you to inform your colleagues, below.


How Will the U.S. Elections Affect International Educators?

May 12, 2016


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From experience I’ve come to realize that people around the globe know more about U.S. politics than most Americans. It’s truly embarrassing when my Romanian neighbor quotes unfamiliar events in U.S.-international politics and then waits to hear the ‘special’ insights and opinions of a ‘real’ American. No matter where I travel in the world I meet people preoccupied with American policies and as I’ve learned, what America does at home extends far beyond its borders and into the lives of even our most distant neighbors.

...As the U.S. primary elections progress, each of the potential candidates, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, look to be solidly in the running and yet extremely polarized in their views. No one knows what surprises lie ahead, and in the words of Bob Dylan, “He who is first may later be last.”

As one of these candidates becomes the next supposed ‘leader of the free world,’ I am concerned. How will a new U.S. President’s political outlook on world affairs affect International Educators living and working as guests in foreign countries? I’d love to hear what the international teaching community is thinking.

Keep up the good work, ISR!

Signed: (name withheld)


A Whole Lotta Drinkin’ Going On

May 5, 2016

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When you’re immersed in a foreign culture & don’t speak the language, it can be difficult to make friends outside your circle of faculty acquaintances. If, additionally, you’re living on a school-housing compound with nothing much to do & miles away from a lot more of the same, you’re sure to feel isolated.  If this sounds like a good reason to mix up a few after-school drinks with new found faculty friends, you’re not alone.

Teachers report they do drink more overseas compared to back home. The question is, how much more? One teacher tells us her high school students make bets on which teacher will come in the most “wasted” on Monday morning. We’d like to think, however, that this is the exception.

Pakistan, Qatar, Kuwait & other desert countries with little to do (that is, if you’re not passionate about sand dunes &/or shopping) impose bans on alcoholic beverages. You’d think drinking in these locations would be at a minimum. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Western expats can obtain a “license” to buy alcoholic beverages sold at government-run stores. Although the government hooch usually tastes like paint thinner, top-brand alcoholic beverages confiscated from incoming travelers also finds its way into these stores & is sold under the table by agents “supplementing” their incomes. Teachers in the Middle East tell us their schools are party central for fully stocked drinking parties.

It may well be that the level of drinking among colleagues overseas is more or less the same as that back home, with the difference being that overseas you’re more aware of what colleagues are doing outside school. We’ve heard some overseas schools referred to as “alcohol drenched,” “big drinking culture” & “shooter central.” If my school back in the States fit this description it was certainly well hidden from me, but we wonder what the situation seems like for International educators.

We invite you take our short Survey & rate the level of alcohol consumption at your international school on a scale of 0 – 5. Think of 0 as being “no drinking going on” & 5 as “let it flow, flow flow.”

Please scroll down to Share what’s going on at YOUR school.
Feel free to name your school if the “spirit” so moves you – pun intended!