I just started advising graduate level students, but I am having a lot of problems. I thought I would be a patient, understanding, helpful advisor but really I am being tested.
One of the students only copies things, she did some literature review and presented it, fine, but when I ask the finer details it is clear that she hasn't grasped concepts that she presented. I talk about the problem that we will work on and hope she will grasp the big picture, but then when she struggled, I thought maybe we should start small. So I gave her a machine learning task, straightforward task, gave her resources. Nothing. She says she doesn't understand how it is related (literally only difference is the dimensions of the data, but she has difficulty grasping high dimensions of data and doesn't see it is just a matter of array size). Then I found her a tutorial, step-by-step, which uses an identical format of data, I asked her to try to understand and write a report so we can talk about it (when I don't ask for something concrete she just doesn't do anything, I asked her earlier for progress email exchanges and she just went missing). For this tutorial, where each line of code is explained, each line of data is explained, she still asked a million questions (only on the format of the data, nothing about machine learning part). I answered patiently, and asked her to please please try to "understand" what we are trying to solve. About her data questions, I sent her a million links to show all she has to do is "google", it is a famous dataset, there are even discussions about it on kaggle. Honestly, this blows my mind because this is not something even undergraduates should ask. Just file operations, she asks "do I use this file" or that file as input without considering what we are solving. So for the report, she sent it the next day, seemingly just translated the tutorial. And I explained her, it is not homework, but it is to help her understand. She said she can't meet online when I offered to talk about what she learned etc. Anyway, I asked her to move on to our dataset keeping this example in mind. And she asked me a million data format, file reading questions. For the sake of moving on, I wrote a very detailed guide (which I really shouldn't have to), and now she did like one step and asks me if it is correct.
I followed a similar route with another student, and when we did a meeting on a small task he was supposed to work on (image classification), it was clear that he learnt -nothing- at all although he had running code. I mean nothing about how the example works. He just repeatedly talked nonsense about input/output and neurons mimicking the brain when I asked what a convolutional layer does. I said it is okay to say that he doesn't know if he doesn't know, and I explained it to him. But, all book and video resources I sent him has this information and he had 2 months on this.
The first student was assigned to me because I was told she had a high GPA and I needed to graduate a graduate level student asap so that I can rise etc etc. (Really not something I care about, but the school does this for everyone who just started a position) She seemed very eager but I am beginning to doubt she has ever written code for a project.
On the other hand, I accepted the other student because he was so keen to learn machine learning, and also because he is an international student (not many people in the dept are open to international students other than me). None of these are project hires. I try my best to tell them that they need to do research, they need to work on novelty, they need to understand the theory and inner workings of machine learning.
**- Can I outright tell them that there is a limit to what I will answer? That I am not expected to answer all their questions? And I really shouldn't? What is the opinion on this? I don't think for a graduate level student, I should be wasting time on file operation. More importantly, I need the students to think on what we are trying to solve, so that they will know what they need as input. I want them to think about it and understand it, I showed them the way but they just won't walk from there. How to not be a jerk but communicate this if they aren't responding to my requests for them to try to understand what we are trying to solve, draw connections with other works, study inner-workings of theoretical concepts **
Obviously, I can't give a whole lecture on the topic, so they need to learn these on their own.
My plans for a journal club seems delusional right now.
On another note, I have undergrads who had failed the graduation design project before (so not the typical "best student" profile), but passed the last semester with flying colors when they worked with me, and they never tired me as much. We worked closely and they were able to complete all the tasks, understand inner workings, even add their own contributions. I made them explain each line of code they wrote, when I asked them to make changes in a short time they were responsive, and they thanked me for my interest and for helping them learn from scratch.