Although the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s goal as a state university is to educate its students, it goes without saying that sometimes the student may not earn the grade they need in a class, and thus have to retake it.
The Louisiana Board of Regents requires that all Louisiana universities give their students a “broad-based common educational experience” that pushes them to study subjects beyond their major.
According to the Board’s website, all students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Louisiana are required to take at least six credit hours each of math, English and behavioral sciences as well as nine hours of natural sciences and three hours of arts.
Professor James Kimball, Ph.D., has taught math at UL Lafayette since 2008. Kimball described how, as far as what he’s seen in his time here, the lower, entry-level classes tend to have more repeats than higher level courses.
Kimball explained what he thought to be the reason for this trend: Newer students lack the work ethic that college classes demand of them. He added some students are naturally good with academia, and because of that they might come into college with a “false sense of security” about what they need to do to succeed.
“When I just say ‘go to class,’ it seems almost trite, but that’s all everyone ever says ‘Oh you just need to go to class,’” Kimball said. “Well I mean okay, that’s fine, that’s great, but going and filling up a chair can’t be just that. You have to be invested in that course, so you have to be active, you need to be listening, paying attention, taking notes.”
Kimball acknowledged that the end grade isn’t all on the individual student, however. He described how important it is that the professor stay as open and clear with their students as possible, something he stresses to graduate students and new professors.
“Something else I say to the grad students: (The students) may or may not completely understand the mathematics and the material you’re talking about, but they understand what fair is, that’s not a complicated concept,” Kimball said. “So, as long as you’re fair, and you’re very clear, you’re open, you set forward your expectations, there’s usually not an issue.”
Another UL Lafayette professor, Sherry Krayesky-Self, Ph.D., gave a similar cause for students needing to retake a class.
“I definitely can tell you that students who are repeating classes, frequently, have had trouble with time management, and they’ve had trouble with things other than just the academics,” Krayesky-Self said. “The idea is, ‘Well, the reason you didn’t pass the class is because you’re just not smart enough.’ That’s not true.”
Krayesky-Self teaches Biology 110, or the entry-level biology class for biology majors. Biology 110 is listed to hold up to 250 students per section, and Krayesky-Self estimated about 1,000 students take the class in the fall across different sections.
Krayesky-Self said that, even though her classes are so large, she does notice when a student ends up in her class a second time. She recommends students try to pick up time management strategies from wherever they can find them, be it from their family, their tutors, or even from the internet.
Krayesky-Self also said students aren’t using the resources available to them — such as the learning center and the Biology Department’s Mentoring Matters program — as much as they could be.
“If I have 250 students in a classroom, and I have 70 of them that are regularly going to SI, or the academic mentors, or the tutors in Lee Hall, if I have 70 who are regularly doing that, I would be excited,” Krayesky-Self said.
“It should be 200 who are going, and 70 who are not, but that’s not the case. Everybody thinks that they can do it better themselves, and it’s just not true. More than one mind is more powerful.”