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Annoyed With Students

  1. Nov 3, 2012 #1
    I'm annoyed. I'm just an engineering undergrad myself, so technically I'm one of these people. But lately I've just become so sick of students, particularly undergrads, who have absolutely no drive to learn, and are unwilling to put out any effort towards figuring things out. They expect their hands to be held, and aren't willing to just sit down and think things through to their logical conclusions.

    You can see some of this in the homework help sections here on PF. You'll get these people posting who have no idea what they're doing, even though a tiny amount of thought could let them arrive at the right answer. I don't want to post the example I have in mind, because it's cruel to mock people publicly for not being very smart, but it's annoying to me. They post here the day before their assignment is due with all these silly questions that could be easily answered if they had just paid attention in lecture, or at least had the decency to do a quick google search. How are any of these people going to succeed in life if they don't take some personal responsibility for their own education?

    I want to become one of the contributors/helpers on here now that I'm starting to reach some basic understanding of aerospace engineering and physics, but this kind of stuff just puts me off -_-
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2012 #2
    If you think that the OP in question doesn't want to put in the effort, then feel free to report the thread.
  4. Nov 3, 2012 #3
    This same sort of thing really frustrated me when I first started tutoring, but I've mostly gotten over it. If you're in a position to tutor one of them or answer their questions, I've found that the best method is to not give into their laziness. They want to frustrate you into just giving them the answers, but don't let them.
  5. Nov 3, 2012 #4


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    I agree with Jack21222: just let them figure it out.

    If you give them the answers and they really have absolutely no intention of putting in any effort then that just sends the signal that they can get away with it.

    It's like giving a junkie more smack: the junkie loves it because they get what they want even though they are wasting away their life and possibly affecting others around them (including making them really angry, especially if they want to help them).

    I'd advise you to find the ones that want to put the effort in and you'll be much happier and still be helping people and let the others come into contact with those who just don't see that they are making things worse.

    You are not a bad person to ignore others who have a different outlook and attitude than yourself: we are all different and we all have different expectations and this idea that everyone will just naturally work with others and get along is just ignorant of how the world works.

    It's one thing to respect anyone though: that's another thing. Respecting people means letting them do whatever the hell they want (even if it doesn't feel right to you) and letting them deal with the consequences of their actions without harboring any kind of mental or physical resentment towards them and I do understand how hard that is (especially when all you really want to do is to help them as a natural instinctual response).

    Let them live their lives, face their consequences and find your own life to live by your own values to face your own consequences: you can't get a better deal than that right?
  6. Nov 4, 2012 #5
    A lot of engineers are like that get used to it. At least in America where the majority of us (my home country) are pathetic.
  7. Nov 4, 2012 #6
    I did some tutoring also calculus,mechanics and basic e&m. My impression was that the students I had were not lazy but somewhat afraid or insecure. A lot of times I asked them how would they think of solving a problem and then try to convince them to actually do it. Most of the time they got it right.Most of the students were smart and driven but they were so afraid to make mistakes that they didn't try their ideas. They all want to do the Feynman physics method instead of (what I hope to be) the usual method of trying your ideas and sometimes(to often) realizing that you wrote a couple of pages of nonsense.
  8. Nov 5, 2012 #7
    Don't be frustrated. Take the opportunity to do your best and stand out. If you are in the US, this is unfortunately how they've been taught to learn and habits are hard to break. High school math is nothing more than regurgitating algorithms to solve a problem that they've already seen with some numbers changed. Be the thinker, ask questions, go to the library when you have a problem or idea, find other thinking students, get to know your professors. They will love you and you will be rewarded.
  9. Nov 5, 2012 #8


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    "What do you mean no effort? I put the question on the forum!"
  10. Nov 5, 2012 #9

    D H

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    Not just technically. You are one of them. This is what you said about learning various integration techniques:
    The difference between you and the students you deride is a matter of degree, not kind.
  11. Nov 5, 2012 #10
    Pardon me, but I most certainly am not. I fail to see the usefulness of memorizing advanced integration techniques, and I think I made my point quite clear. My perspective is colored by my engineering background, where numerical/computer methods are infinitely preferable to analytic methods in the vast majority of real-world circumstances. You'll forgive my reliance on computers, but frankly it's just plain more efficient.

    In other words, please get off your high horse. It's called having a difference of opinion. It is flat out mistaken to say that I'm someone who doesn't want to think just because I'm more concerned with the physics of a given situation than the mathematics involved.
  12. Nov 5, 2012 #11

    George Jones

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    You are not very concerned with the physics of the situation, if you do not have enough "drive to learn" integration techniques.

    Integration techniques (e.g., substitution, parts, partial fractions, etc.) transform an integral into an integral that looks different. The transformed integral sometimes makes differing physical effects more apparent in a way that a symbolic answer which Mathematica might spit out, doesn't.

    Why limit yourself?
  13. Nov 5, 2012 #12
    I have never once encountered a situation like this.

    I don't. I'm fully aware of the existence of these techniques. That is sufficient should I ever really find myself in need of an advanced integration technique. I haven't yet. Knowing integration by parts and substitution, which I don't consider "advanced", has been sufficient.
  14. Nov 5, 2012 #13


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    meh... I didn't have the drive to learn them, but I learned them... and I haven't used them once in my research since. The computer; it does everything. Hundreds of people who are interested more in mathematics have already written all the algorithms you will ever need; you just have to find them and learn how to use them; focus on what you're interested in, don't jump through intellectual hoops just because old people are mad that you don't have to learn what they learned.
  15. Nov 5, 2012 #14

    Chi Meson

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  16. Nov 6, 2012 #15
    whats wrong with them? thats their choice.

    also, some people think things are obvious, other people less so. I had a double pulley Lagrangian problem that I just couldn't solve regardless of how much time I put into it until I begged for help and someone told me the obvious solution.

    however i believe that your complaint says more about the type of person you are, than others. you seem to have a low tolerance to those different and less able than you are.
  17. Nov 6, 2012 #16
    Don't do it then. It's a win-win situation.

    You don't get annoyed. We don't have to see a whinging thread in GD.
  18. Nov 6, 2012 #17
    Isn't the whole point of engineering to get a result with minimum effort? Making things cheaper, more reliable, and faster are important in engineering, so why would the students choose a slower path when that's not what they're going to be doing at a job?

    I'm an EE student and I completely understand why a chunk of engineering students don't care about the basics of their disciplines; because that's not how it's taught. Personally, it drives me nuts and every day I am frustrated with how engineering school is done. Only on special occasions are there lectures/HW that stress the derivations/theory of the topic, and those are the lectures where most of my friends say "Well, that was a waste of time." Most days the lectures are just going through problem after problem learning some unmotivated tricks to solve them. The students tend to like those ones, I mean it makes the problem sets go a little faster when they're just thrown the equations and don't have to think about knowing what they really mean.

    For problem sets, I am sad with engineering because it's mostly the same problem over and over. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the amount of work needed to complete one assignment most students tend to resort to computers to solve things. This takes even more understanding away from learning and I must say that I've fallen into that trap as well but I can't say it's not motivated. I look at the math and physics majors problem sets and they are so much more conceptual than an engineering one. I can see why math/physics people are frustrated with how engineers approach problems but I don't think it will ever change.
  19. Nov 6, 2012 #18
    This is not directed at you, it's more of a general thing.

    Seeing as this thread began on vitriol, it's time for me to vent a spleen about this. You see the above from a lot of people on his forum. 'Engineering is not intellectually rigorous', 'it's not this, it's not that.' If you wanted 'extreme rigour' that borders on mental masturbation you should have done some sot of pure or applied physics.

    Engineering is not about conceptually solving problems. It's about producing practical solutions to problems. An engineer requires a massively diverse skill set, probably more than any other profession. Engineering encompasses business practices, legal practices, marketing, management of men, time, budget and resources. That's on top of actually solving the technical problem.

    It's why engineers work in teams, large base skill set with a couple of specialties.

    Oh and as much as they may get frustrated with us. We get annoyed with the mountains of theoretically brilliant, but practically useless crap maths people spew at us.
  20. Nov 6, 2012 #19


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    Speak for yourself mate. Engineering isn't a clique.
  21. Nov 6, 2012 #20
    I am.

    And I feel much better for it.
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