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Student Is Not Doing Work – It Is Frustrating

Home > Maths Tutoring Blog > Student Is Not Doing Work – It Is Frustrating

Student Is Not Doing Work – It Is Frustrating

2018-08-03T00:30:56+00:00 Posted in All Categories, Motivation & Interest by

Lack of discipline and commitment regarding homework. It is frustrating when I identify a ‘gap’ and create a worksheet, especially to target their weakness, and they lose it, or don’t bother doing it! Especially since I have explained how doing the problems will help them, and gone over a few examples to make sure they are able to do them. How are they going to improve without putting in the work?

Your frustration is understandable. If you put in time and effort to create a worksheet for a student then at the very least you should expect that they will put it to use or attempt the questions.

There are 3 items i would focus on in this scenario:

  • Understanding the student’s motivation and improving it.
  • Doing the best you can to help this student given their current motivations
  • Developing an understanding with the student so that your time is not needlessly wasted

1.   There are plenty of posts in this blog related to motivation and interest in math – have a look at some of them. It is a challenge with many students but in order to improve the student’s work ethic you need to understand what drives them. What do they want to get out of the tutoring? What interferes with completing the homework? Is it interruption of leisure activities, fear of failure, work overload? Does attempting the work make them feel stupid? Do they disagree with you secretly about the relevance of this work? Have the upcoming holidays reduced the student’s desire to work hard? If the student isn’t completing their homework then there must be reasons for this. In the cases when that very same student does complete their homework, there are reasons for that also. If you understand all these reasons then you will have more leverage to get your work completed and motivate the student to do more.

2.   Whatever the student’s level of commitment, there is a way to help them as much as possible given the commitment level you are dealing with. This may mean focussing only on current class work and not worrying about future content or gaps for a little while. It may mean finding what content the student does enjoy working on and focussing more on that. It may mean setting less homework. Perhaps the commitment levels are not sufficient for any real improvement at all in which case you need to discuss this with the student/client. Sometimes you need to take a step back, put aside your passion for achieving high success and ask “What kind of tuition can i offer this student that they are willing to receive and participate in? And what kind of improvement can that achieve?”

3.   It is absolutely ridiculous that you spend time creating worksheets that the student loses or doesn’t complete. It is almost disrespectful. Assuming that you have at least a reasonable relationship with the student it would be fair to say that they don’t want to “disrespect” or frustrate you. Sometimes it is a good idea to open up to the student about how you feel. In the same way that understanding a student will help you tutor them, allowing the student to understand you will also help support the tutoring effort. Talk to the student about what they are willing to do and what they are not. Before creating a worksheet ask if they will actually do it. Explain that you really want to help them. Explain that you feel it isn’t fair for you to spend time creating worksheets that they have no intention of completing – if they won’t do the work they should at least tell you so you don’t waste your time. Involve them in setting their own homework.