Spring at University

This post is also available in: Spanish

For many people, Spring, and May in particular, means social celebrations; many of them are related to religion such as weddings, baptisms and first communions. However, for university professors this season indicates that the deadline for final dissertation (TFGs) is close and, therefore, an endless number of unpleasant feelings start to surface.

My approach to this issue won´t be from an academic perspective, so I won´t bring up the discussion about whether they are useful or not, nor the different types of TFG related to the degree studied, nor other circumstances related to them. On the contrary, I would like to refer to the feelings that the professor and the students experience at this time of the year.

Each time I talk with a colleague over a cup of coffee, the recurring theme of conversation is about the poor standard of work produced by their strudents, their lack of accountability, and above all, how badly they write. And it is true, when you spend so many hours in front of a computer screen reading an incoherent text, full of grammatical mistakes and spelling errors, without a solid argument, you end up downhearted, sad, fed up and feel impotent. In my case, many questions without answer crop up.

Sometimes I think that what we ask from the students is comparable to expecting them to be ready to run a marathon in only four months, just because they have legs. It may be the reason why our students also feel frustration, helplessness, and way they are doing awful. This may be the explanation of the bad work produced.

We are different side of the same coin, with similar feeling albeit in different positions. How can we deal with this situation more constructively? I have some ideas I usually present at the beginning of the course, such as dividing the final goal into intermediate ones, and to work at least three hours a day, five days a week, during the four moths they have to finish the paper. But I am afraid they put off the work until the deadline is nearly over. Then, they try to convince their tutor that the paper presented is good enough.

Perhaps, as it is in social celebrations, we might celebrate the end of the course and congratulate ourselves because of the effort made instead of feeling furious and frustrated, so why don´t we do this? Dear students and professors, do you have the same feelings described above? Do you feel, as in my case, lost in a useless effort? Today I invite to comment on this post especially to the university community, although all comments are welcomed as you know.

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