During the last semester my supervisor Prof. X held a seminar for bachelor and master students (mostly computer scientists). According to the study regulations the students have to

  • give scientific presentations (based on journal or conference papers) and
  • hand in seminar papers on the topic of their presentation (i.e. their papers should cover the results of the original paper, lay out details of proofs, add additional explanations or examples, etc.).

The final grade consists of 2/3*presentation + 1/3*paper.

Prologue.
At the beginning of the semester Prof. X’s research assistants compiled a list of interesting research papers. At the first seminar meeting the students were able to choose the paper they would like to present to the rest of the group at the end of the semester. Furthermore Prof. X made it very clear that understanding the topic is just a portion of presenting and writing down scientific ideas. Every student was assigned to a seminar supervisor to whom they could talk when they ran into problems.
Half-way through the semester there was an obligatory meeting with the supervisor and a deadline for handing in a draft of the presentation slides. At the end of the semester we organized a little “conference” and the students presented “their” papers. Afterwards, they received written feedback on their presentations from all participants (students, research assistents, and Prof. X). Six weeks later they had to hand in their seminar papers.

Problem.
Unfortunately the quality of many seminar papers is relatively poor; even the papers handed in by students who had understood their topic “quite well” and had given good presentations are surprisingly different from what we expected.

Main issues:

  1. Even though they were allowed to use their native language, many papers had bad spelling (obviously no spell checker was used) and bad grammar.

  2. In some cases it was impossible to understand the basic ideas if one had not already been familiar with the subject.

  3. Imprecise language and almost no sources cited, e.g. “Algorithm Y is rather efficient in comparison with other algorithms.” [citation needed].

  4. Some students only cited a single source (= “their” research paper).

Questions.
How should we address these issues? Of course, we are going to give some feedback on their seminar papers. I am worried about the next seminar. Reading all these papers was (mentally) exhausting. Should we require that seminar papers must be handed in first? How could we install an iterative feedback process?

I am looking forward to your ideas and experiences.

Context: I am an assistant professor of mathematics at a small liberal-arts college in the US.

I did my graduate work at a large public university, and there I rarely encountered students who had previously taken a class from me, let alone ones who had failed one of my courses. Now that I’m at a much smaller institution it happens somewhat frequently, and I’ve only finished one semester here!

At this time I have no idea how I should react to these encounters. Generally former students and I exchange a pleasant greeting, but I find myself instinctively trying to avoid students who’ve failed because I’m afraid that they are still angry at me, I don’t want them to feel bad, etc.

The title of my question says it all: How should I react when encountering students who have failed one of my courses? I could simply treat them like any other student, but I’m concerned about reinforcing the stereotype of “the tone-deaf mathematician with poor social skills.”

Perhaps this question is a better fit for the interpersonal stack exchange, but I figured I’d start here.

There is a professor who has made several reference letters for me, and I would like to thank him. However, I have some doubts as to whether it would at all be appropriate to thank him with dinner delivery to his office, say. I feel that simple verbal thanking is not sufficient at this point, but then, the atmosphere of formality is still there at the level of university relationships. What are one’s ideas on this? If sending him a fine dinner would not be appropriate, especially without first discussing this with him, what is another way of thanking a professor, which would be considered “formally appropriate”?

I am a student who returned to school to get another degree. This time around I wanted to learn Spanish as well. Spanish is hard, especially for a 30 year old single dad who never spoke a word. Anyway, in the first couple of weeks, I noticed a girl who is always answering correctly when the teacher asks the class questions. So I started sitting next to her and would ask her questions whenever appropriate, “hey, what is this word again?” She would answer, and I would thank her then, as well as at the end of class.

Today, she came into class and pulled her chair/desk away from me by a good foot or two, sat down and didn’t say hi or anything. I figured she was having a bad day, so I tried to keep to myself, but then we got grouped together for an activity. The whole time, she kept her face in her phone and gave me curt answers if she answered me at all (she played like she didn’t hear me a lot). Thankfully, and absolutely nothing against her, the others in the group noticed and stepped in to respond to me when she didn’t.

I felt pretty bad. I wanted to say something, like “hey, sorry for riding your coat tails so much, but I appreciate you,” or something like that, but decided just to get out of dodge. I feel like I abused her help, so I am considering maybe sitting across the room from her from now on to relieve her of my madness, but I hope I don’t make her feel bad by doing so, especially if she was just having a bad day.

So maybe I was thinking about leaving a note or something just saying, “hey, I feel like I need to give you some space, so please don’t take it personal that I am sitting away from you. we are good. :)”, but I feel like thats creepy. Should I just move and shut the F up? What do you think?

Alright this question needs a little more context. This is not about me but I will define the situation as if it were for myself, so feel free to ask me directly for clarifications.

I’m a German student currently in my second year of a university course that combines both teaching (to children) and art. The problem is, with actual practice during internships, I quickly realized that teaching is not for me; plus, art doesn’t guarantee me stable outcomes at all, the jobs are very rare and underpaid.
So now I’m fully decided to change my course,I’ve already started searching by:

  • Looking up the available diplomas in different universities in my country, and the contents of the classes they are made of. This didn’t give me the inspiration I expected, and didn’t give me a relevant sense of what was really taught.

  • Going through various online orientation tests, but their questions are not precise or numerous enough to give me relevant tracks; most of them lead me up to the legal field, which I highly dislike.

  • Going through various lists of jobs, also to get inspiration and know about stuff I didn’t know. But it still does not give me a solid overview of what the careers actually entail.

  • Talking with as many people as I can about it, to share experience and knowledge.

But all this brought me no closer to my goal as I’m still stuck at the same point. So my exact question is: what would be the best tools/ways/methods to find and analyze relevant programs that I could enjoy, as well as their outcomes ?

P.S.: I didn’t find any other relevant SE community in which I could ask this; if there are, I would be happy to move my post.

Alright this question needs a little more context. This is not about me but I will define the situation as if it was for myself, so feel free to ask me directly for clarifications.

I’m a german student currently in my second year of an universitary course that combines both teaching (to children) and artistry. The problem is, with actual practice during internships, I quickly realized that teaching is not for me ; plus, artistry doesn’t guarantee me stable outcomes at all, the jobs are very rare and underpaid.
So now I’m fully decided to change my course,I’ve already started doing some searches, they included :

  • looking up the available diplomas in different universities in my country, and the classes’ contents they are made of. This didn’t give me the inspiration I expected, and didn’t give me a relevant sense of what was really taught in there.

  • going through various online orientation tests, but their questions are not precise or numerous enough to give me relevant tracks ; most of them lead me up to the legal field, which I highly dislike.

  • going through various lists of jobs, also to get inspiration and know about stuff I didn’t know. But it still does not give me a solid overview of the actual tasks

  • talking with as many people as I can about it, to share experience and knowledge.

But all this brought nothing, I’m still stuck at the same point. So my exact question is : what would be the best tools/ways/methods to find and analyze relevant studies that I could enjoy, as well as their outcomes ?

P.S. : didn’t find any other relevant SE community in which I could ask this ; if there are, I would be happy to move my post.

The word “paper” on this site seems to be extensively used to refer to serious scientific publications/articles by PhD students and other researchers.

Now I am coming across its use by students completing a diploma in legal executive studies — which is not even bachelor’s degree level. Here are real examples:

  • I live in … and will be continuing on with my Legal Exec papers from home, having completed two papers last year.
  • I have finished 3 papers and I hope to complete 3 papers this year.
  • Only 2 more papers towards completion!
  • I am hoping to complete my two final papers this semester (Business and Estate Law).

Never having been a student in an English-speaking country before, I am now struggling to perceive what exactly those “papers” are. Can someone please explain? The examples above are from New Zealand.

My master’s mentor was a PhD student in my university.

I had an interview in a Dutch University for a PhD position, and the committee made me feel weird about my former mentor being a PhD student. Although the University and my supervisor have said it was okay, I am still a bit worried about my chances.

Does having a PhD student as a mentor lower my chances?

Suppose a graduate student is found to be noticeably or even significantly behind in overall academic and research competence. For example, they may have significantly weaker language and comprehension skills and technical skills such as using a computer or navigating the web. They may also be lacking other peripheral skills which are often important for graduate students. This may be indirectly related to being from a minority and/or underprivileged background where such exposure and opportunities to learn can be limited.

The question is, can he/she be held to the same standards as his/her peers when comparing their relative performance? If they are, would this be considered to be discrimination if his situation was known? On one hand, same treatment would be fair to his peers and avoids human judgement. On the other hand, one could argue that it is unreasonable to expect the same amount of performance when they are missing necessary skills and experience.

Edit: There was a comment that ‘held to the same standards’ was too vague. As a result I want to provide some hypothetical situations in which it is necessary to compare the performance of a student with his/her peers.

Suppose an advisor has limited funding for RA and travel opportunities. They want to provide them to students with the best performance either as a means of rewarding them or to provide a better return on investment. This would mean the graduate student in question would have little chance of obtaining it. Is this discrimination or an unfair bias?

Suppose again the average graduation time for a program is 5 years. However, due to the slow progress of the student (compared to their peers) they may be held for 6 or 7 years before being deemed ready to graduate. Is this a discriminatory practice?