Classroom Fortress: The Nine Kinds of Students

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It doesn't take long to learn that there are different kinds of students.

In fact, there are exactly nine kinds.

As luck would have it, they align with the classes in Team Fortress.

Read on for my classification.

The Soldier

Quiet, obedient and consistent, the Soldier charges into every assignment and stops only once enough damage is done to get the desired grade.

Soldiers don't show off.

Soldiers don't ask questions.

Soldiers don't complain.

Soldiers just get the job done.

Trademark question: "What will we be graded on?"

The Heavy Weapons Guy

The Heavy Weapons Guy isn't the swiftest.

To compensate, he unleashes a near-aimless fusilade of effort in class, at home, in office hours, on the newsgroup, over email and with the TA.

The trademark behavior of these students is doing everything the hard way.

The Heavy Weapons Guy usually grinds his way to a solid C.

The Demoman

Nothing can satiate the Demoman's thirst for knowledge.

The Demoman is the student that aces all the assignments, nukes all the tests and earns all the bonus points.

The trademark maneuver of the Demoman is blasting the curve into orbit, leaving behind only the charred remains of his classmate's grades.

The Sniper

Snipers excel at acing tests, but are almost nonfunctional for any other task.

Since they lie virtually motionless for most of the semester, they tend to surprise the crap out of the instructor when grading exams.

[In my courses, your grade is either your project grade or your final exam grade, whichever is higher. Every year, a Sniper with a solid F on the project makes a headshot on the final to emerge with an A.]

The Medic

The Medic answers questions for classmates in the classroom, on the forum and in person.

Medics usually get their grades bumped up by half or even a whole grade.

When a Medic attaches himself to a Heavy Weapons Guy, the instructor is often so grateful that the Medic earns an A.

The Engineer

Engineers create infrastructure that makes labs and assignments easier.

Having a couple Engineers in a class improves everyone's grades.

In computer science, the Engineer corrects bugs in assignment specifications, provides test cases, builds testing frameworks, and gives away helper scripts.

Like the Medic, the exceptional Engineer often bumps his grade by a half or whole letter grade.

The Scout

Not really prepared for (or interested in) a difficult course, the scout sits in on the first week of several classes, and drops anything that looks it might require more than showing up and staying awake.

Scouts that fail to identify and drop a difficult course end up charging ahead to map out the territory at the bottom end of the curve for everyone else.

Trademark question: "Do you expect students to work hard in this class?"

The Spy

The Spy, of course, attempts to cheat their way through.

The redeeming weakness of the Spy is that students too stupid to pass the class are usually too stupid to cheat without getting caught.

Trademark statement: "Oh, I didn't know that was considered cheating."

The Pyro

The Pyro loves to flame the instructor, the class, the assignments, the tests, the textbook, his partner and pretty much anything that isn't himself.

Pyros can and will complain about everything.

Pyros will challenge every point lost on an exam or assignment.

The only redeeming quality of the Pyro is that their unyielding sense of injustice drives them to turn in any Spies they uncover.

Trademark statement: "It's not fair to grade me on that."

Related resources

All images in this post are © Valve Corporation.