I was asked to go to speak to the incoming class of freshmen at their orientation. When I go there, I found them sitting in the usual pattern. The last rows at the back of the lecture hall were quite full, while the first two rolls in the front were completely empty. They were behaving exactly like a normal class of our university’s students: the majority of the students prefer to stay as far away as possible from the lecturer.
Before I spoke about Service Learning, my assigned topic, I sketched on the board the result of a study that I did two years ago, on my database class. It was a graph plotting the final grade of each student (y-axis) against the distance between the student and the lecturer (me) at the first class (x-axis).
There were a lot of fluctuations in the curve, as expected. But there was also a easily discernable negative correlation between the grade and the distance: the further away the student was, the lower was the final grade. The study did not look into the cause, but the negative correlation was obvious. I wonder whether they might behave differently this year.