Saturday, May 03, 2014

The university president is meeting with my department on Wednesday, and we've been told to come prepared with questions and comments. If I have the opportunity, I plan to ask whether there is any chance of going back to the pre-kegs-n-eggs fiasco spring schedule. The current one is terrible -- a mid-March St. Patrick's Day break rather than February and April. It's at odds with school schedules in February, and Passover and Easter mean that many students miss class in April anyway, and the absence has to be overlooked since it's for religious reasons.

I've been thinking about comments as well, and while it is unlikely I'll have the opportunity to say much, it's useful to reflect on things that could be shared. I am one of the few (if not the only) faculty member to deal with undergraduates, and their issues are different than graduate level.

Technology has influenced them greatly. I'm no Luddite, in fact, I am a champion of technology, but sometimes it gets in the way. They text on handhelds constantly, they have a reduced attention span, they don't read. Another thing that has a negative impact is that many work nearly full-time. They will miss class to work, and sacrifice studying, reading, and being prepared for class.

The limited attention span, lack of reading, various distractors, and general exhaustion seem to be resulting in students who don't follow assignment guidelines -- they think instructions are mere recommendations, not requirements, or they don't understand them, or they don't bother to read them at all -- or maybe they just aren't paying attention.

Naturally, this doesn't describe all students, and maybe doesn't even describe the majority. Unfortunately, the more difficult students and classes tend to overshadow the shining stars. The lack of engagement of some -- no matter how much effort I put in -- can be draining by this point in the semester.

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