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There’s Always That One Guy (well in this case, two)

This past week was Vision Board week in my Intro to Business class.

It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s when each student takes five minutes to share his or her goals and dreams with the rest of the class. The whole process takes a full week, but as I’ve noted before, I believe it is time well spent.

As I noted in my earlier post about the Vision Board project, the assignment accomplishes many things:

  • it gets students thinking about their future
  • it offers students a chance to be creative with the photos and quotes they select, and with the design of the board
  • it offers students a chance to work on their public speaking skills
  • it offers students the chance to get to know each other in a meaningful way

But as great as the week was, a couple of students put a bit of damper on things (at least from my perspective) by not showing up to make their presentation, and never notifying me of their absence in advance (or since).

Out of 85 students, maybe two doesn’t sound so bad.

But looked at from another perspective, if 83 out of 85 students were fully capable of completing the assignment and showing up to present, then surely all 85 students were fully capable.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand what motivates such student behavior. Whether it’s skipping out on a presentation like these two guys did, or cheating on a test, or not contributing your fair share to a team project, it’s just plain wrong.

Yet it seems like there’s always one (or two) students who engage in such behavior.

Are they lazy? Do they just not care? Do they weigh the pros and cons of such behavior and believe that the consequences aren’t severe enough? Are they feeling stressed out?

I’ve heard that research shows that students who cheat in college are more likely to engage in unethical behavior in the corporate world, and I’m guessing those conclusions could be extended to this situation.

Students who don’t show up for their presentation are likely people you won’t be able to count on as a colleague in the corporate world.

So while these students may not view the consequences of such behavior as significant at the collegiate level, there are serious repercussion for such behaviors once they graduate.

Maybe I need to stress this more, beginning with the first class of the semester, and reinforcing the message throughout the term. And I need to let students know that if they are feeling stressed, I will work with them as best as I can to help alleviate the stress – but they need to take the first step and let me know. Otherwise, I can’t help them.

While it’s too late for these two students in my class now, perhaps their failure can serve as a lesson for students in the future.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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