Asee peer logo

Successful Students Do Not Do What They Should: An Inspirational Seminar For The Classroom

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Academic Standards & Issues/Concerns & Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1177.1 - 10.1177.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Chris Macnab

Download Paper |

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

Successful Students Do Not Do What They Should: An Inspirational Seminar for the Classroom C.J.B. Macnab Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Calgary


Most engineering instructors are encouraged to achieve teaching excellence. But how can instructors encourage students to achieve learning excellence? This seminar can easily be used by any instructor, in any course, to motivate students to undertake successful learning strategies. This paper outlines and gives the rational behind a presentation that can be found at Any interested professors can give this 50-minute presentation to their class, or use this paper as inspiration to create their own seminar.


How can students find success and excel in university? The answer would at first appear to be of interest mainly to students. However, successful students cause less work for instructors and administrators. Successful students are also the ones who make the teaching experience enjoyable and rewarding for professors. But few students, left to their own devices, will acquire the skills they need to do this. Why not help them out a little? It is true there are many resources available to students, such as books on study skills [4, 6, 7, 8] and books on learning styles [3]. It is also true that very few students will investigate them without some inspiration.

Students easily fall into patterns of behavior that prevent them from acquiring new skills. Students who do not think critically about their actions will simply do what they think they should do. In the students’ past teachers and parents have given expectations to them on school attendance and study habits. Rather than explaining the rational behind such expectations, too often enforcement is the only consideration. The typical methods for enforcing expectations are guilt (European-descended cultures) and shame (the rest of the world). The most common expression of expectations come in the form “You should” (act in a certain way). Many students end up with a set of imaginary rules in their heads on how to attend school. For the purposes of this paper the following definition is provided:

Definition An imaginary rule has no consequence for breaking the rule other than guilt or shame.

Regardless of which expectations are are helpful for student learning and which are not, students

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright c 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Macnab, C. (2005, June), Successful Students Do Not Do What They Should: An Inspirational Seminar For The Classroom Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15223

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