Surprisingly, of the 8, all except one were among the best in the class (given their intellectual ability). So to hear from them that they wanted to do it on their own without much interference from me was a bit saddening. But I let them be, as per their preference. I knew too well that committing themselves to the tough work meant really going through the grind for I'd not spare them at any cost. They preferred to hide behind the myth that they circulated among the whole course, that the new mode of doing the dissertation was tough and not really helpful. I told this in the most friendly manner and at the end of my sharing, each of them apologised for taking it light. They acknowledged that they never put their best, either for fear of my demands or as an act of sheer laziness.
I also told them that I consciously choose never to say a word of appreciation to any of them, for the simple fact that they did not deserve it. And flattery is something I do not indulge in. They agreed to it and were only grateful that I took time to correct their papers in spite of their half-hearted involvement.
I plan to meet the second years and have an open discussion about this soon. They need to wake up before it is too late. In the meantime I hope the third years, at least those whom I addressed this evening, will air constructive views.