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Due to the Corona crisis I was forced in to a temporary career switch. Currently I am working as a sort of "supervisor" for students in a controlled environment where they do projects provide from companies. So they get some practical work experience while not directly working at a company (Seeing most companies don't accept interns due to the corona crisis).

My issue however is that the students (in my opinion) are nowhere near the level they are supposed to be. They are in their second year of college(software engineering), yet barely have complete understanding of the basics. This is partially due to classes falling out due to the Corona crisis, but also in my eyes because their program is slow paced and wrongly focused (Nearly the entire year is dedicated towards HTML/CSS, they barely touched PHP/JavaScript/Databases and had nothing in terms of documentation).

This forces me to spend more time doing lectures and teaching them what they were supposed to learn then actually doing my so called "supervisor" duties of managing the projects. To help them increase their level of knowledge I started making my own little assignments for them to practice with and referring online tutorials to them but, I can not force them to do them so a large chunk just ignores it.

Seeing I am doing a good-job I will also be doing extra groups as of February and will be giving actual lectures besides my supervisor role.

This is my first "teaching" job and I am wondering how I can advise the school to make changes in their curriculum without sounding like a know it all/arrogant. Seeing the students have shown to me that with the right structure they are more then able to grasp the material but the schools pace and prioritization of the materials is to slow/focused on the wrong things. As a result the students literally telling me that they don't see the "urgency" of doing their work seeing the got way to much time to do it and it's boring due to the ease of it.

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  • $\begingroup$ What level of students are these? Are they secondary? undergraduate? graduate? And what sort of institution is providing their education? $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Jan 16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ @BenI. Due to every country using their own system I can't find a proper translation, all I can say is that if they continue their studies (so in about 1 and half years) after this the next step would go to a "university of applied sciences" and start their bachelor degrees. $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 16 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ How about the rough ages of the students, then? $\endgroup$ – Ben I. Jan 16 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @BenI. my youngest student is 17, eldest is 24 (3 years younger then me) The majority is between 18/20. $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 16 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ As an additional thought, rather than an answer, the manner of presenting your issues to the institution, rather than the reasons and facts, might be addressed on a sister site, Interpersonal Skills. Don't just repost the question there, however. Take what you've heard, and decided, from here and ask there about how to approach the discussion. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Jan 16 at 21:35
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You might not like this answer, but I would be cautious. There could be many reasons why their curriculum is laid out in the way that is.

They might be dealing with students of more varied abilities at the start than you think. They might have later coursework that depends upon mastery of the current coursework. They might only have it in place for historical reasons. This current curriculum may well be in place because of certain problems with another approach that they took in the past. Or, they may feel that the mission of their program is somewhat different than you think it is. (This last is almost a given, actually.)

Therefore, the first order of business is, at least for a while, to do more listening than speaking.

Now, as for what you can do: at least in the US, many institutions that teach to the ages you mention have periodic curriculum reviews. Sometimes these committees can even involve outside representatives from industry. You could express your interest in serving on such a committee if your institution engages in this practice.

Beyond that, you can certainly share your observations. Most people (though certainly not all) would be willing to engage in such a discussion with someone who is not pushy or overly-opinionated. And, in such a conversation, you may well find that there is openness to change! What I would stress, however, is that you should also remain open to the idea that things are in place for reasons that you simply don't know, and they might not ultimately choose to change the structure.

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  • $\begingroup$ The reasons they have given is to prepare the students for the continuation of their careers, urging them to pursue a Bachelor degree. Our work office cantina is littered with flyers from a school that offers such bachelor degrees (the same school I attended little under three years ago). And in my opinion it doesn't really prepare them that much, and if they don't want to to continue their education after this degree they won't be able to do much more then basic web development and some C#. $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 16 at 20:30
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My advice and experience isn't happy here. If this is a temporary position that you don't expect to hold, then it won't matter much, however. And note my caveat after the break below.

The only thing you can really do is point out the deficiencies. What competencies would be required of these students for the task at hand and statements that they are poorly prepared. How to deal with that would be up to the more formal faculty with curriculum experience. They might decide that no changes are needed and that the students will have what they need at the proper time.

But the unhappy part is that they won't be happy with you and will resist what you say. Well, maybe that is too strong, but they won't gladly hear your concerns. I've tried to do a similar thing when I held a permanent (TT) position and learned that "we have our ways of doing things and they are fine, so shut-up". If you can accept that as a possibility, then go ahead and say what needs to be said. Otherwise, bite your tongue, carry on, and find something easier to do.


It sounds like their educational program is focused on web development and nothing further. That might be fine for them, but not for you. Perhaps there is just a mismatch between that and what the current projects require. So, another option would be to use more "webby" sorts of projects than general application development.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well the education is focused on all forms of software engineering (including C#, Java and Python). But they start with HTML and CSS as an easy step in, which is fine...but in my opinion they stay to long on the first stepping stone while the students are more then ready for the next step. And all the projects are webby, but also back-end while nearly their entire education seemed to be focused on the front-end. $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 16 at 19:51
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In thinking about the caveat at the end of my other answer here I have a different tack you might take to make your life better.

Rather than trying to mold the students to things that the current projects require and that they will probably learn in the future, why not mold the projects to what the students already know? Life would be easier, though the results less useful to you. But reinforcing what they have learned would be very useful to them, I think (actually, I know).

This answer was also partly influenced by another recent question here on the Google Summer of Code. Students, there, build projects with the help of some organization, but the organization makes no commitment to use any of the results. It is purely an attempt to expand student horizons. They have enough different kinds of projects that your issue doesn't arise, and students can match themselves to projects for which the feel competent.

You might explore that option with the companies you work with.

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I would second the recommendation to be cautious. "Newbies", no matter what the field, tend to have more energy, more enthusiasm, and less knowledge of the specific context for curricular decisions and the players and issues involved. It is difficult for people with a strong point of view to present it without sounding arrogant or blinded to other factors that may be even more important to the faculty. Listen more, link in to the "interpersonal skills" site cited above, and try to understand why they are doing it in this way. It may be that your additions may be valuable for a subset of students, but not all. Be open to different possibilities.

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I would strongly warn against saying anything.

You could ask questions to find out why things are like they are. You could note that you dont think your students are where they should be. You could question whether y'all need to make changes to be more effective with the covid style of learning now used.

If you could prove that you have ideas that would work then you could cautiously ask about doing those. But in the OP I see your OPINION more than I see any facts that things must be changed

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  • $\begingroup$ The point that students are bored and the curriculum doesn't supplement the stated goal would make it more then an opinion issue right? $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 18 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ Not really. Until you know why and how the department set things up this way it is your 'more than opinion' against those making the decisions about how things should be run in their dept now with covid constrainging things. No matter what level you are at, since you are new, you should not do anything too actively nor aggressively. You seem to be upset because your job has changed due to covid19 at least as much as you claim to care about the students. You also did not tell us what type of school this is as that would also make a big difference. Looks like majority here agree with me. $\endgroup$ – adjunct prof Jan 18 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Actually said what kind of school it is in the comments in the original post. $\endgroup$ – A.bakker Jan 18 at 16:48

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