Thursday, March 12, 2009

Last-Minute Begging

I see this happen from all kinds of people.

Students: "I know I haven't turned in half of the assignments and I haven't been in class for the last month and this is the last week of the term, but I'm failing the class and is there any way I can do something for extra credit?"

Professors: "I know grades for this term were due a few weeks ago, but I've been so busy with other things that I never got around to sending them in. I hope that didn't inconvenience you by preventing your graduation, or making it impossible for you to get a final transcript for that job you're applying to. I'll get it in this week, I promise!"

Professionals: "I know you asked me how I was doing on my task list every week for the entire project and I've said fine, but I realize now I'm three weeks behind and we've got a milestone due tomorrow. Can I get some help?"

For some reason, some people have a really hard time saying that they're behind until it's too late to do anything about it. And yes, I've been guilty of this in the past, which makes me quick to spot it in others.

Now if only I can find a way to convince students of the danger of this without them having to live through the hell-stress of being about to fail, before the lesson sinks in...

1 comment:

Jonathan L. said...

Sounds like an opportunity for a simulation game.

Seriously, though. There's a game mechanic in there. Imagine a game where a critical component of success is recognizing when you're going to get overwhelmed in the future and asking for help at the right time.

It's easy to make this subtle (or at least a non-obvious lesson), too. Imagine a "hold the fort against the alien swarms" game where you can press a button (a limited number of times) to call in a burst of reinforcements. If you press it too early, you waste the aid. If you press it too late, you die. If you don't press it at all and survive, you get an exceptional reward. If you press it only when you need it, you simply survive – you used the tool at the right time for the right reasons.