Helping Students Who Struggle

Students “earn” the grade they receive for an assignment, project, or course. Every faculty member at Oak Valley should maintain clear and consistent criteria for grading student work (often using a well-organized rubric).


Over the past three years, some faculty members have provided a great deal of latitude to students who may struggle with assignments or be late in taking a midterm or final exam. While grace is a good thing during a particular crisis, the habitually late or ill-prepared student should be provided with clear expectations for what it takes to meet the standards of your grading.

Providing continual exceptions to your grading standards does nothing to help a struggling student develop discipline. In fact, it may inadvertently undermine the standards, especially if students become habituated to handing in late or incomplete work. Ultimately, a little tough love will help a struggling student, especially if he or she understands and is able to rise to the standards presented in your course. If he or she is unable to regularly meet those standards, please let Dean Board or the student’s advisor know of the problem.

Dean Board seeks regular progress reports during week 2, 4, 6, and 12.

As you are aware, Dean Board seeks regular progress reports during week 2, 4, 6, and 12. This is your opportunity to hit the panic button on behalf of struggling students, any student who has a C- or lower or who is demonstrating signs of struggle (not turning in assignments or not showing up to class).

Never assume the best. Sure, there are plenty of students who hit a low point and turn things around on their own, but more often, the case is a struggling student will struggle until there is an intervention. It is not necessary for you to conduct the intervention, but if you feel comfortable, you can certainly play a role. Take the student aside, offer guidance, support, and a caring attitude.