I've been thinking about a contrasting example to the student who sparked the last post. This one is a student with a troubled history, on probation. Bad family situation, and no money. He was struggling, and told me he couldn't afford the books. Now, I put everything on reserve, but students don't like to go the library. They like e-reserves. I do provide some materials that way, but that isn't possible for all the reading.
At about the midpoint of the semester, I told him he would fail the class if he continued with the same behavior; I said he could get a D or C at most if he stepped up immediately. When addressing the entire class, I said that one of my frustrations is that students aren't resourceful. For instance, one of the books that is assigned is an edited collection of journal articles - the vast majority of the journals are available in online format from the university library. Do students who don't buy the books ever search the library catalogue and get the articles that way? No. They either whine to me, or try to play the games of multiple guess and forum of ignorance.
You know what? He took it to heart and made extreme effort for the second half of the semester. He took my advice about being resourceful; searched the library for the articles and used them. His writing and class participation were good, very insightful. The end result? A B- in my class, and he emailed me not to ask why he didn't get a higher grade...but to tell me that his GPA wound up being OK this semester and he wasn't kicked out. Also he said that he knows he has to try harder next year. So he'll be able to be at college for his senior year! This made me very happy. I wouldn't mind having him in class next semester; it was well worth my time to work with him.