I recently got an email from a military pupil at the start of Week 2 of a class. This pupil explained that there have been several great reasons for missing the first week of class, including a foot injury, a platoon’s field exercise and a grandma who had a stroke. The pupil promised to communicate better and work harder in these weeks of this course.
As an instructor, what could you do with a student who wasn’t in class the first week of this course? You’re faced with answering some important questions:
- Would you let this pupil catch up on the work?
- Do you give this military student an extension to make up the work during Week two, which means double work for that student and additional work for the instructor?
- Do you give the student a zero for Week 1?
Similarities and contrasts between Army and Civilian Students
Online colleges can be a incentive for both civilian and military students. Every year, I teach around 500 civilian and military students.
The ratio of military to civilian students in my classes seems to be roughly 50-50. They’re usually at the exact same age bracket and their reasons for attending college are all about the exact same as well. Some seek a promotion in rank, though other students need a career shift.
I’ve noticed that military pupils appear to engage in the Week 1 trade of introductory information more readily than civilian students. These army students may be working onboard a Navy ship off the coast of Japan, in a base camp in Afghanistan, on a foundation in Germany, or in a cold and snowy outpost in Alaska.
Sometimes, these military students are deployed for some particular training or assignment while they are taking classes. The majority of these military pupils wish to make their college degree as quickly as possible and improve their chances for another career as a civilian after they leave the ceremony.
All Online Students Will Need to Work on Time Management Skills
Civilian and military online learners both need to work on their time management skills for their studies and scheduled jobs, such as a weekly conversation among classmates and the professor on a pertinent subject. Students might also have to write a one- to three-page paper, which requires reading and research.
Online students often have private or job-related issues that interfere with their time management. Both military and civilian pupils might have family problems that require their attention. Some pupils have to go on a business trip or on maneuvers during the program.
All of these situations can impact students’ classwork. But military pupils can be involved in combat training and deployment into hostile regions where school assignments are tough to complete under the best of conditions.
An eight-week online course is demanding in terms of time management, research, reading assignments and involvement among students and with the instructor. No student ought to be given a free pass on the assignments or tasks which are due each week.
But a battle situation or even a long-term military training practice could lead to physical and emotional issues that rarely affect civilian students. While weekly assignments are still due by certain deadlines, their due dates can be extended if need be due to a student’s extenuating circumstances.
For instance, should you punish a pupil for not being included from the weekly forum discussion? The answer is yes, however, with the circumstances moderating the punishment. The grading rubric is clear on what’s expected from pupils, but the rubric’s requirements should be taken into consideration along with a elastic date for completion.
Working with Army Students Experiencing PTSD
Former APUS vice president for Strategic Initiatives Phil McNair at 2013 published an article on pupils with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He said what might be evident to some, but a lot of other people might not be aware of the effects of PTSD on students.
“PTSD is certainly not limited to military and veteran students; this knowledge is useful on many levels,” McNair wrote. “A student may display disruptive behavior in class or using a staff member on the telephone, by way of example, and an overall understanding of how such behaviour may be linked to PTSD may be useful for the teacher or staff member.”
McNair known for”a degree of compassion and understanding. If the pupil is a Marine deployed to a combat zone, as an instance, the teacher should know what that means in regard to the student’s ability to complete coursework and how it may affect his interactions with other pupils in the class.”
Educating Online Courses with Compassion
Online teaching today requires some empathy for all pupils. But military students, that are sacrificing much to this country, deserve time handling flexibility within their weekly classroom assignments.
That places additional time handling pressure or changes on the teacher in addition to on the pupil. Each educator of military students and their unique stressful situation must turn into a coach and mentor to help them succeed and fulfill their instructional objectives.
In a subsequent article, McNair talked directly to students:”If you have been diagnosed with PTSD or suffer from what you believe are PTSD symptoms, you might be concerned about going to school. Can your symptoms interfere with your capacity to go to class, or finish your schoolwork? How will other pupils react if they know you have PTSD? What’s going to occur if your symptoms cause you to act inappropriately, such as in a scenario where something happens that reminds you of your traumatic experience? Will your instructor treat you differently if she finds out you have PTSD?”
Within my lengthy teaching career, I have sensed a shift from rigid adherence to late assignment policies and harsh grading to a supporting hand to our students that are late with their job or have personal or psychological difficulties attending class. The shift is toward a more student-centric and more friendly culture. The instructor has become a mentor, counselor and mentor, not only a professor ensuring that all students adhere to a rigid program.
An effective college experience which culminates in a graduation ceremony is a superb sense for all students. The ceremony is just one of accomplishment of a significant goal and can be a life-altering event for this student.
In the long run, we teachers should not treat military and civilian students differently. But we must have compassion and understand the challenges that our students face, particularly if they require the need to make up missed work.