Genetics Problems

Lee Hadden hadden at
Wed Nov 1 18:34:57 EST 2000

I can't resist the urge to add my comments re homework and the frustrations and experiences shared by so many of you. I think a comment one of my daughters made two years ago nicely highlights the problem so many of us encounter in our contact with students.
As a high school junior Katie took a college algebra course here in our summer school program to avoid another math experience in public school [that's another frustration to air in a different arena].  She is not a math person, nor am I [athough math made a whole lot more sense when I had to help my kids understand it to be able to do their homework].  She did nicely on
the first test, and the second and the third and got the highest grade and only A in the course; the only HS student among 12 college "students"!.

The college students would often talk on break about their latest test grades and finally one asked Kate how she had done on her test -- a 94.  What about your first test?-- a 92.   One of them asked her how she managed that.  Her response:  "Well I read the book, study my notes, and do the homework assignments, and pay close attention in class." [And she did work for
several hours on her own every afternoon before playing and working, with neither my prodding nor assistance at any time.]  One student, who was failing the class, again!,  responded: "Well I guess it might help if I did my homework."!!!   [homework was discussed each day , questions answered and more diffucult problems worked if necessary, but it was not collected.]

After recounting this conversation to me  when she came to my office that noon, she said, "Dad, why in the world would anyone go to school, pay to take a course [retaking for many of them] and not do the work, and wonder why they were having problems??!!   How else are they supposed to learn to do it?"

And I think that both summarizes the problem and points to at least one solution.  It's their choice and their responsibility;  ours is to offer all reasonable guidance, insttruction and assistance.  But if they want to cheat themselves and "beat" the system, they can and may [for awhile].  If they want to avail themselves of the opportunities provided, they will.  They
cannot be made to learn, but they may at some point see the need to learn.  They may then realize that without struggling and wrestling with the material, and shedding blood, sweat and tears over it, they will never posess the knowledge they seek to gain by counterfeit measures.  They want immediate  mastery without earning it, just as they master the virtual video game
universe so easily with clicking and pointing the mouse.  And worse, they want rewarding grades because they occupy time and space, as was too often granted them in high school.  Privilege and reward, without responsibility or accountability.   Put the monkey on their back and get it off yours [ours].  It's difficult, if not impossible, to undo 18 years of neglect and
bad habits brought into college, during any one college course and maybe even in 4 years of them.

And don't forget to focus on the accomplishments of responsible students at least once a day.  Burnout or insanity can be averted and hopefully avoided by recalling the successes and building on those!  Best wishes.

Dr. E. Lee Hadden
Professor of Biology
Department of Biology
Wingate University
Wingate, NC   28174

hadden at

Nancy Kirkpatrick wrote:

> For years I have pondered the homework question.  I always assign homework in genetics, but with 60+ students in class grading became too burdensome.  So I came up with the idea of a homework quiz.  Every Friday I give a quiz containing two problems very similar to their homework problems for that week.  If they did the homework, they should be able to pass the quiz.
> It's not the perfect solution.  Students still want credit for doing the homework.  So this year I give them the quizzes.  They also have to hand in the homework, but I don't grade each problem.  They just get a checkmark for having done it.
> Nancy Kirkpatrick
> Biology Dept.
> Lake Superior State University
> Sault Ste. Marie, MI  49783
> >>> <sjohnson at> 11/01 4:00 PM >>>
> sorry to hear about the homework cheating in your class, deborah.
> however, i'm glad to hear that you're assigning homework. my
> students look at me like i have at least two heads when i give an
> assignment. many don't bother to do it - even thought it counts
> towards their grades - they'd rather moan later (and pretend it's my
> fault). i wonder just how many plant-edders go through this extra,
> but valuable, hassle, and how homework grades are worked in.
> please respond.
> sandra
> From:                   dcook at ("Deborah A. Cook")
> Subject:                Genetics Problems
> Organization:           BIOSCI/MRC Human Genome Mapping Project Resource Centre
> To:                     plant-ed at
> > Plant Edders:
> >
> > In looking over my genetics class homework assignments,
> > signicant copying from the solutions manual is going on (I was
> > warned also by a student).  This is really obvious copying in the
> > form of a table from the study guide/solutions manual being lifted
> > directly.  Anybody out there have new or different sources for
> > genetics problems that I can get to quickly?  I haven't had much
> > time to check the net, but any links would be appreciated. Any
> > suggestions on how to deal with the copying are also appreciated?
> > R
> > Thanks,
> >
> > Deb
> > Deborah A. Cook Ph.D.
> > Associate Professor
> > Biological Sciences
> > Clark Atlanta University
> > Atlanta, GA 30314
> >
> > ---
> >
> *************
> Sandra L. Johnson, Ph.D.
> Plant Physiological Ecologist
> Middle Tennessee State University
> Biology Department     PO Box 60
> Murfreesboro, TN  31732
> Phone: (615) 898-2021
> FAX: (615) 898-5093
> ---
> ---
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