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The Tale of Two students

Upon your arrival at work on Monday, the enrollment manager introduces you to two new students. You introduce yourself as the manager of the ABC Computer Lab and welcome your new students. You provide both students with an overview of the Lab. Students are able to attend from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 in the evening. Each student is required to log in and work on their course work. You explain that this is independent study, but if they need help they should ask. Both students are eager to get started.

Through your normal intake process, you find that Napoleon Dynamite is 24 years old and dropped out of high school after his sophomore year. He has worked in various minimum wage jobs. Napoleon realizes that to fulfill his dreams he must do something different and that is why he is at the ABC Computer lab.

Lois Lane is a 34 year old single mom. Lois dropped out of high school after her junior year. In fact, she was “encouraged” by her guidance counselor to drop out because she was low on credits and would not graduate on time anyway. Lois was encouraged to take the GED exam instead. Lois failed the GED after several attempts. After having her first child, the hopes of a GED were fading. Realizing that she has a chance to make a better life for her daughter, she is trying again.

For the next week you observe Napoleon and Lois work independently at the computer. Both appear to be engaged. Periodically, Napoleon will ask you for help. When you ask Lois if she needs help, she says no. During the course of the week, you tracked the attendance for Napoleon and Lois. The daily attendance for Napoleon was 4 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours, 4 hours, 3 hours, and 3 hours. The daily attendance for Lois was 3 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour, and zero hours. When Lois fails to show up for the next three days, you call her up to ask what is going on. She states that she is busy and will call you back.

Questions to Consider

1. Based on your experience, briefly state what you believe is the difference in Napoleon and Lois?

2. Take a moment to review your answer. Does your answer focus on the student’s ability or lack of ability? Does your answer focus on what the program offers or does not offer?

One Last Thought

Some people may say gender or age would explain why one persisted and the other did not. Others may reference the challenges of being a single parent. Still others might say that the student was not motivated and did not have what it takes to succeed. Some may say that the program did not offer sufficient support or provide adequate instruction.

While each of these answers may be appropriate, have you considered the learning characteristics of the students? What about their individual learning styles? What about the student’s readiness to take on an independent self-study course?

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