Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Step 3: Explore Strategies

Explore potential strategies.

My students don’t seek help when they need it.

Students have made a strategic decision about their performance.

There maybe two reasons why students make a decision to put in less effort and accept the consequences. Some students may have decided that they are "just not good" at your/the subject and decided to focus their energies where they see the best pay-off. Other students might consciously deemphasize courses outside their major or have already accepted a job offer and may simply decide to put less effort into their final semester. Understanding which of these reasons drives the decision will dictate your response.


Discuss with students their beliefs about learning.

Students who believe that they don’t have the “gift” of writing, math, science, etc., don’t expect much out of their effort and thus don’t exert it, resulting in poor performance. The first step in helping these students is to reframe their belief so that they understand that learning is not innate but instead results from effort.

Accept it.

Some students who are capable put less time and effort into the course for pragmatic reasons (e.g., not their major, already have a job offer) and are content with their grade. While it may be difficult for us as faculty to resonate with this decision, it is their prerogative.

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