Learning from failure is important for instructors as well as students
Thanks for this Ashleigh--I suppose that every class is different, and it can be hard to make things work regardless of who is in the class. And, of course, students talk to each other, so sometimes one person who hasn't really signed on can influence others to do the same. When I tried having final grade discussions last semester, one student who hadn't been doing the reading (but had talked a lot in class) staunchly insisted that he should get an A. He said that grades were really important to him, although, he said, the grade was really "up to me"--he seemed to be playing a game, rather than thinking about the goals of learning. I found it very frustrating, though I told him that I didn't really think he deserved an A and that we needed to talk about self-assessment and how to participate in class discussions. He admitted to not having done the reading, but he thought that talking was "all that mattered"--he'd learned this, he said, from another student.