For some working students the future is bright

Reylito A.H. Elbo

Reylito A.H. Elbo

ASIDE from death and taxes, there are many things in life you can’t avoid. For many people, they include being overweight, breaking the smoking habit, alcoholism, addiction to pornography, among others. For my students last week, they can’t avoid taking the final written examination as partial fulfillment for passing basic courses in business management.

Their judgment day included answering questions about real-life situations. Here are some practical questions designed to test the students’ understanding of key principles under a course on CSR (corporate social responsibility), among other management courses: Coke and fries are known to be unhealthy to people. Therefore, what is the possibility for Jollibee limiting its sale to customers under a CSR program? Toyota is known for its strategic supplier partnering program, how is it possible for this car maker requiring its suppliers to produce only car parts using zero toxin or sustainable materials?

The SM Group has funded the construction of a new and modern UP campus facility at Bonifacio Global City. Define and explain at least two reasons for its charitable act. If you can’t measure, you can’t manage.

Therefore, what’s the significance of having an assessment and tracking system that is needed for a corporation and its charity-partner?

Really, it is not the answers that could enlighten us. It starts by formulating the best practical questions that at times are considered more important than answers. Imagine how students reacted to those questions judging from their body language. Those who are on the verge of failing are the first ones to submit their answers within the first hour.

Those who were expected to get high marks, were those who persevered to maximize the allotted two hours answering essay-type questions that require kilometric answers but subject to one condition. The correct answer or answers must be explicitly stated in the first two opening statements. If not, your teacher will no longer read your remaining answers, no matter how they appear to be well-written.

For a long time, I’ve known how students respond to such type of questions. First, if you allow them to answer their tests under an open-book set-up, the teacher must be clever enough to formulate intelligent questions. Second, the test must be completed under time constraint, usually in less than one hour.

If you’re a student, how bad do you feel about the final examination as your last chance to pass a course?

You should feel bad, but I’m guessing you would feel a lot worse as the options may have become overly limited that you’ve no other recourse but to repeat the course, most likely under a different teacher.

By my rough calculations, students fail because they don’t show up. Isn’t that 80 percent of success is secured simply by showing up? And the 20 percent is done by active listening. For this term, however, I’m a bit surprised that close to 50 percent of my students failed to show up.

Does it have something to do with the schedule – Saturday, from 2:40 to 5:40 p.m.?

Contrast this with another class earlier in the morning, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Morning students got good grades and it was always an enjoyable experience interacting with these young people, who work for some business process outsourcing companies or in a call center environment. Despite their unholy work load earlier that ends at 6 a.m., they must report to my class at 8 a.m.

Oh well. That explains it. My afternoon class is composed mainly of full-time students who have nothing to lose except the money of their rich parents. They’re joined by about three working students who are dead serious in passing the course, if not in getting high grades.

There are of course other factors at play. Am I a boring teacher? Sometimes, I tend to look at it that way.

That’s why I’ve to minimize my lecture to allow the students to develop their answers to my guide questions as indicated in the course syllabus. More often than not, the students are assigned to perform the role of the teacher by choosing the topics they want to discuss on a particular day.

The teacher and other students take turn in raising all possible intelligent questions, including the “teach back” approach when a student uses the teacher’s slide presentation and explain it before the class. We’ve done everything to make it interesting starting from Day One when everyone is allowed to answer three key questions in the course card: “What’s the best way to learn this course? What’s your target final grade? How would you achieve it?”

Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.


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