I have been thinking a lot about what is going on with the students in this day and age. I have been teaching for over 20 years and it does not use to be like this. I had students who would come to class, do the assignments, study for exams and take the grade they got. I did have some classes where the whole class did not do well but that was predictable because of the material. They had their text books to study from, they would come to office hours or form their own study groups.
There are so many things that have changed in the past few years that I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know if this is a national issue or just in my college (a two year college).
I have seen that students don’t buy text books, they cannot “afford” them. To counter this problem I have offered students a free text book from my office – but they don’t want to take it. So it means – they don’t want to use the text book. It is possible that a number of instructors are using their power points as guidelines. They are printing and giving those so students don’t see the need for buying text books. I don’t think these instructors realize the damage they are doing. Students are not learning how to read and understand material on their own. They rely on the instructor now to explain everything.
Students don’t have note taking skills. Their writing speed is so slow that it slows me down. It may come from all those power point notes they have been getting from instructors. No need to take notes – just add pointers. But when I tell them to print out specific power points slides for class they don’t! I am at a loss!
Not taking charge of their own education. Why do they think that they can come to the lecture for three hours per week and be able to do well on the exam? For something like chemistry or any subject for that matter, one would need to spend so much time outside the class to study. They don’t remember anything from class so even if they ask questions I have to go over the entire topic.
They don't think remembering any information is good for them. They are so used to looking at their phones for info that they have forgotten how to memorize. It is also a result of a lot of instructors now giving open book exams. No pressure on students to remember anything.
Respect and attitude. These two things are of course character and not about studying. But I feel that both these will affect a person’s learning in the long run. If one has no respect for the professor or the subject then how can you expect to learn anything. If the student thinks they are smart already….well then! And attitude! Oh God! This is big one. There is no humility in their behavior and there is no shame. Both of these qualities are required for one to realize that they have put some effort in their learning rather than blaming someone else or being okay with a "C". They have been asked to challenge everyone around them but not themselves.
I will admit that not all students are a gone case but a lot of them could be so much more if they could only push themselves a little more.
The saddest I feel is for those who know are performing poorly in a class but still don’t get help. They have so many other distractions in their life that they are not able to focus.
One last thing I would say about the American education system that bothers me a lot is “W” on a transcript. The ability of a student to withdraw from a class. Why? It’s a commitment – for only 15 weeks. Students should have to go through hoops to withdraw from a class. But here it is so easy. I think it is more of a monetary thing than anything else. At least the college got the money – what do they care if the student withdraws? If they did, I think their graduation rates would be a lot higher.