Going to college is a stressful and time-consuming experience. In the seemingly never-ending quest for good grades, students tend to hyper-focus on the course material and set aside the simpler yet no less important life lessons.
That’s what inspired one Texas A&M University professor to take a different approach to the end of the semester. Dr. Meg Patterson (pictured below with her husband, Clint, who also works at the school) teaches an undergraduate health course and just gave a very unconventional (and heartwarming) final exam.
Rather than test her class on everything they’d learned throughout the semester, she chose a simple message to emphasize: be good to people, and be grateful. One student was moved to tears by the gesture. She felt compelled to share it with others.
Analysa Gonzales uploaded photos of the exam sheet to Twitter with the caption, “Today, I took this test at Texas A&M. I cried when I saw what was written on [the] exam. There needs to be more professors like this in the world.”
In the exam, Meg asks students to list people they’re thankful for, pinpoint the good within themselves, detail their personal growth, and provide constructive feedback on the course.
“Write down a compliment about yourself that is not appearance related,” one question asks. She then goes on to say, “By providing your initials here ___, you are committing to reminding yourself of all the good within you. You are amazing. I have a PhD, I totally know what I’m talking about.”
She also asks that they commit to remembering all these things and acting on them in positive ways. Additionally, Meg ends the exam with a heartfelt message describing how much she cares for her students. She also gives them sound advice for the future.
“If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this class, it’s this: be good to people, because everyone is doing their best given their circumstances … Also, food for though as you navigate through the rest of your college career … take a minute, breathe, and regroup when things don’t go according to plan or don’t follow a perfect formula. Find the resilience and grit within you to accomplish your goals, even when they’re difficult.”
Meg’s “gratitude exam” struck a chord with thousands, many of whom are students themselves who wish their own professors would follow suit. Above all else, they appreciated her compassion.
The best educators are the ones who make an impact in their students’ lives, and Meg is certainly one of them. Great job, Dr. Patterson, and keep up the amazing work!
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