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Allowing C+ Students To Become A Students

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Student Learning and Research

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.145.1 - 10.145.10



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Paper Authors

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Macy Reynolds

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3249

Encouraging Achievement in Engineering Classes

Macy Reynolds University of Dayton


How often have you scratched your head over that engineering student whose performance at the end of the term did not match the abilities and potential that you saw in class? It’s easy to slough this behavior off as laziness, as having too many outside interests, or even as a mismatch of teaching and learning styles. These students often will tell you that they are trying to do the work and that they really like the class, but they rarely earn more than high C’s. Perhaps there is an explanation for this seeming disparity. If the student is really trying but not performing up to either your or the student’s expectations, the gap between perceived ability and actual performance may have an explanation. This paper will look at the possibility that these students may have an “under the radar” learning disability. In other words, there is a learning disability of some sort, but it’s not severe enough to be found in a formal diagnosis. Over many years of teaching, this prognosis has become more apparent to this author while observing and helping students with these characteristics.

Student A

Let’s look at two typical students whose grades were lower than it seemed they should be. I’ll introduce you to Student A who is an average student in Engineering Technology. The professors would say this individual is not their favorite student because of a seemingly non- caring attitude in class. The individual doesn’t participate unless called on but is able to answer oral questions well and often asks perceptive questions. The student performs about average on tests but some of answers are excellent and explore an area that even the professor hadn’t thought of. A professor might even suspect cheating because of the wide range of quality on homework and tests.

Meanwhile the student has found a co-op job with a local company, and after several co-op terms, is considered by his boss and co-workers to be one of the best co-op students they have ever had. The strengths they see are the ability to relate to employees, perceive problems, and work on solutions without even being asked. In fact, they offered the student a full-time job with the engineering staff at a handsome salary after graduation. It wasn’t until the college records went to personnel that management became aware of his GPA. The company’s policy was to hire engineers who had over a 3.0 accum – student A’s grades were a 2.5. Although the boss was shocked at his lackadaisical grades, he had no problem with the student’s performance on the job. Clearly Student A could apply classroom learning outside the academic environment but had trouble with traditional assessments in school.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Reynolds, M. (2005, June), Allowing C+ Students To Become A Students Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14251

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015