Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sometimes Dropping a Community Service Learning Course is the Most Responsible Thing to Do
I'm redefining success in a community-based learning context again.
Normally, when a student drops a course, you would consider that a failure. You might even take it personally? And with so many students who respond positively to the chance to use their Spanish in the real world, it's actually kind of surprising when they do drop.
But given the extra responsibilities that everyone incurs in a CBL class, sometimes the students who do not drop can be more problematic than those who do.
Today I received the e-mail below from a student who took a hard look at his schedule, the course requirement and the syllabus. He came the conclusion that as a responsible student he could not over-commit himself.
That, to me, is success: to communicate our expectations clearly and to have students make an honest assessment of their ability to meet them--or not.
Here is the e-mail. It is also a model because it is written succinctly, clearly and professionally.
"After giving this some more thought and reading through the syllabi for the two courses I have decided that the time commitment may be a bit unmanageable for me this semester. I may look for opportunities to volunteer in the community that are not associated with any coursework. Thank you for your time and for the information you sent me."