I am a PhD candidate and I have recently received an undergraduate (Bachelor degree student) to work for a short duration. For purpose of discussion, the work is mainly mathematical in this project.
I have chosen this student based on the classes he has taken and works he has done. They were prerequisites for the work that should be done for me. So, he has the knowledge required. However, since he has started working on the project, I see that he makes very "silly" mistakes or takes too long to perform some calculation. I have told him several times to check his math and I am suspecting that he does not put enough effort into the project. My friends have told me that it may be that I expect too much and not all people understand stuff as quickly as I do, given that I have been working in this field for so long. I took their approach and started detailing everything to the student. I gave him small lectures, codes that I have written, and told him to come to me every-time he has a problem. However, I see that my lectures come to deaf ears. When I discuss with him about material covered, he still cannot answer. When confronted about it, he told me two years have passed since he has taken the prerequisite courses (which is true) and that he has hard time to get back on track. Still, the knowledge is there and he should be able to use it.
We are almost half-way through the project, so I cannot dismiss him. However, my biggest questions:
Is he just being lazy or is the topic too difficult for his level of skill?
I suspect that he is being lazy and giving up because he may be overwhelmed.
If anyone has any idea on how to encourage the student or make sure that he puts more effort without lowering his motivation. The followings are options I am considering now:
Use fear. I will let him know somehow that he got to put more work and I am not impressed with what he has done so far. Hence, anything that he does now will be reflected in my future references for him.
I have already told him to send me some works that he has done previously to this project. I told him that I want to see the level of math he is used to.
Stop helping him. I will stop supervising his progress and if he needs help he will come to me. Otherwise, it is as if I do not care about the output of his project. When he will come to meet with my supervisor about his progress (we have weekly meetings), my supervisor will be able to see what I am seeing. However, this approach does not suit me as I do not want to involve my superior in this mess.
Any comment is appreciated.