Professors question effort of student body; expect more

A number of FAMU professors from different schools and colleges gave their perspective on students’ performance in the classroom and noted that some, if not most of the students in their classes are not putting forth maximal effort.

The professors defined what types of students they view as overachievers and those they view as underachievers.

They also made suggestions to students who need to do better.

Melanie Abrams, an English professor, teaches all classifications and said she has noticed a less-than-stellar student performance.

“I am unhappy and disturbed. I’ve noticed a yearly decline in students’ preparation (for college),” she said. “They come in less prepared in terms of skills and clueless. They really don’t understand what you have to bring in order to succeed.”

Abrams said students cannot expect to do well if they hold the belief that “the little I have is enough,” – a belief of underachievers.

“An underachiever refuses to accept that they need to do more to get something,” Abrams said. This type of attitude may also affect students’ chance of being successful in the real world.

“(They) will be bewildered that life does not work out and wonder why,” she said.

Abrams advises students to make maximum use of their time and opportunities.

“You don’t have to like the class or teacher, but try to figure out what you can get out of it. You’re here; you might as well get something out of it,” she said.

Dr. Angela Thornton, associate professor of pharmacy practice, agreed with Abrams. Thornton said it is not good when students take some classes more seriously than others.

“It’s all about learning and you can learn something from each class,” the associate professor said.

Thornton said only 10 percent of her students can be described as overachievers – students she defines as those who keep striving for the top and even though they may score 90 on an assignment, it would not be enough because they want a perfect score.

Still, Thornton said the student with the better grade is not always the better student, because in a field like pharmacy, being able to communicate is just as important as knowing the information.

“A lot of times, the better student may be the B or C student. Those are the ones who communicate better,” Thornton said.

But the definition does not end with desiring the highest grade in a class.

Karl Lawrence, an assistant finance professor, defined an overachiever as “someone who is able to exist beyond their expectations.”

Lawrence said more than 60 percent of his students can be described as overachievers and the remaining students are just not passionate enough about the field.

“Others (have) not yet found their calling because they do not exhibit the passion,” he said. “They are just sleeping.”

Another educator at the University recognizes this lack of passion.

Professor Bernard Smothers of the School of Allied Health and Sciences suggested that not having enough passion affects students’ performance.

Smothers said most of his students have a “pretty good attitude and complete their assignments,” but admits he has to push some “to pursue additional knowledge.”

“In class I can only impart so much information,” Smothers said. “I’ve talked to professors here and at FSU and they agree you have to make (students) learn nowadays. The reason is because they are making the choice of profession based on necessity versus what they like.”

Smothers added that if students pursued those fields they were passionate about, then they would pursue additional information outside of class.

Smothers defines underachievers as “students who have a lot of potential but are not using it.”

He said this attitude is detrimental to society as a whole.

“They are the ones who we will rely on,” Smothers said. “They need to be proactive and pursue what is necessary to get where they want.”