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Is there a word/term in English that describes a student that has bad grades, weak performance...

I am writing a PhD thesis so I need a word that can be understood by native and non-native English speakers.

Example:

The heuristic model gives to better students an opportunity to find possible solutions, whereas weaker students are encouraged to locate at least one, from many, to the problem.

  • I've met a number of people who would describe the process of completing their PhD as writhing ;-) – long Apr 13 '14 at 22:58
  • @Mari-Lou A: Thanks for pointing out the typos. PS: I am not writing a thesis on strong vs. weak students :) – Dr Casper Black Apr 14 '14 at 6:52
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Alternate terms for "weak student" are "underachiever" (consider this Ngram), and "underachieving/low achieving student."

For your example, consider "lower achieving students."

The heuristic model gives higher achieving students an opportunity to find possible solutions, whereas lower achieving ones are ...

Consider also "lower performing students," "low scoring students," and "low graded students":

The heuristic model gives higher performing students an opportunity to find possible solutions, whereas lower performing ones are ...

The heuristic model gives higher scoring students an opportunity to find possible solutions, whereas lower scoring ones are ...

The heuristic model gives higher graded students an opportunity to find possible solutions, whereas lower graded ones are ...

  • I've modified the example sentence. You might want to edit your answer accordingly. – Mari-Lou A Apr 14 '14 at 7:18
  • @Mari-LouA Thanks for letting me know, Mari-Lou. But what still makes me cringe in the example is "gives "to" better students an opportunity..." I'm pretty sure the phrase could work just as well, not to say better, without that redundant "to." books.google.com/ngrams/… – Elian Apr 14 '14 at 8:22
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The term struggling learner, or struggling student, is often used to describe a student who has difficulty in keeping pace with their classmates or expected learning benchmarks in a developmentally appropriate environment. They are separate from students who may have special needs or who have been identified as at-risk.

  • I think struggling is really good and the others aren't but still +1. – RyeɃreḁd Apr 14 '14 at 20:28
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nonachiever (or non-achiever)

a student who fares poorly in the classroom or has failing grades.


Other than that, "weak student" is correct also and more common.

weak: Lacking aptitude or skill: a weak student; weak in math.

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Dunce, but probably not in this context ;)

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I prefer "struggling" because struggling can become stronger and achieve higher, it does not define them as statically as the other options.

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