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What’s the harm in failing to fail?

by Kelly Beischel PhD, RN, CNE My client, Susan, was steaming. And rightly so. Susan’s department director went over her head and told Susan’s failing students that she (the director) would change their course grade if they passed the HESI, a standardized test. True story. I’ve heard this story, or a version of it, more times than I can count. And I too am furious. How have we come to this in higher education? As a society, we have evolved into “trophyizing” (yes, I made that word up) children for simply trying, for showing up, for giving their all. And sometimes they don’t even have to show up or give their all yet still receive a trophy.   Just as distributing trophies to undeserving children, the practice of passing students when their grades suggest otherwise serves no one. It’s unethical in fact. Why? Because it teaches nothing. Except perhaps, “If you whine loudly enough, you can get your way.” The official term for this is “failing to fail.” While Susan’s story may be infuriating, administrators are not alone in the practice of failing to fail. Faculty have cited knowing the student’s name, giving the benefit of the doubt, fearing the student would be held back or removed from their course of […]

How to be an effective teacher in a world of teachers living in denial

Kelly P. Beischel PhD, RN, CNE I recently had breakfast with the associate dean of a local college who I’ll call Thea. We met to discuss faculty development opportunities and how faculty development changes student outcomes. You know me. I was giddy with excitement to talk about these passions of mine. As we talked, Thea pulled out her journal to take notes. And we discovered that she and I use the same planner/journal. I can only imagine what the waitress thought when we geeked out about best systems and strategies for using our planners and journals. For me? Heaven on earth! I love the systematic rhythm of using planners and journals. And then something AMAZING happened. Thea told me that her faculty expressed, during HER performance evaluation, that she needed to provide them with increased timely communication.  And what was her response to their feedback? She went about developing a system to do just that, to improve her communication in a timely manner. Hence, the planner and journal. Why is this amazing?  Her faculty were given voice. How many times have you been given the opportunity to provide feedback on your administrator’s performance?  Yep. That’s what I thought.  Very few times, right? But, Thea’s faculty were given voice, the chance to […]

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