This question has been bothering me for some time as I had to fail a student as you'll see later on. I am hoping that another SE member has seen a student or may have even been a student like this.
During my course - a business course, not a writing course - I had a student in my class. Every week I assign a paper based on the reading students should have done, but not based on questions they can answer directly from the text book. The questions pertain to current or recent events within the business world involving their studies.
Most students say it takes them anywhere from 2-5 hours working on the assignment that is due each week. I've never had an issue with a student not being able to finish the paper in time and I am more lenient in grading a paper that has less than the assigned pages than most.
Now, this student, I will refer to her as "A", seemed to be falling behind around the third week of the course. I quickly noticed that all of her citations for her research on the weekly assignment were books and textbooks but not excerpts taken and cited from online sources.
After a class I sat down with A and asked her why she prefers citing so many books and not looking online for the sources. I also asked if that's how her old school had required students to do most of their research.
My question was followed by that she doesn't really understand how the internet works and the only thing she really knows how to do is use a Word processor. I don't care what platform my students find their sources on from but I was now concerned because she, like I said, seemed to be falling behind.
When asked how long she spends on the assignment each week she said it takes her 3 days of going through books in the university library and the local public library. I advised her to seek out a librarian that works at my university and ask for a tutor there that I personally knew and would be willing to help her.
In the end this student kept falling more and more behind as the semester went on. An assignment that shouldn't take more than a couple hours was taking A days to complete, and with a final research project worth 30% of the grade she would have no chance of completing it on time using just books as resources without the help of the internet to at least guide her to the correct books.
Is this a common thing to happen with some students and could I have done more without giving the student "special treatment"?