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Oh, I can tell after just reading the first two paragraphs that yes,
you've nailed a huge, important factor:  seeing an assignment as a means
to an end, not a ritual to be performed so you get your paycheck for
hours completed.

I'm not sure "organization" is as important as that ability to get
outside the assignment.  I *have* had well-organized students who,
nonetheless, didn't make the connection between completing assignments
and learning.

Classic example was my student who got all her math homework right but
failed the first test, utterly miserably.  I discovered that she would
find the answer, then figure out some arithmetic that would produce that
answer, perform those arbitrarily chosen steps, and proceed to the next
problem.

On her second attempt she did pass the course; she said, "The most
important thing I learned was to ask, 'What am I supposed to do here?'"
She was and is perfectly *capable* of seeing the patterns and
understanding the reasons why "subtracting a negative number" becomes
"adding a positive number." It simply didn't occur to her to go through
that process.

I think the "worker vs. manager" metaphor is a powerful & effective
one, which so many of my returning students can relate to.  (I'm also
thinking that if students really, honestly, *can't* perceive that
"management" perspective, that they may be the ones whose limitations
are at least somewhat  more intrinsic).

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Academic Development Center
Parkland College
Champaign, IL  61821
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