"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Do Students Expect and Value?


"Thank me later." This is part of Robin Berman's book "How to Raise Your Kid with Love and Limits". The phrase acknowledges that being thankful oftentimes requires time. How we see things change as we grow older and become more experienced. Asking students about a class they are taking can sometimes yield different responses depending on when such questions are asked. Instant gratification leads us to favor what appears to be pleasing at the moment. Challenges, on the other hand, appear exactly opposite to what we expect based on a sense of entitlement. But looking back, after years have passed, we may actually thank those who have helped us grow stronger and even happier.


Helping a child grow and mature is a challenge to every parent. It is likewise a challenge to a teacher. Going through kindergarten, the elementary and high school years, a child also learns what to expect and value. Education at home and school can help determine whether someone will grow up with a sense of resilience or with a sense of entitlement later in life.

Years ago, researchers at the University of Maryland, Arkansas Tech University, and University of Macau published a research article in the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education that presented the results of a student survey aimed at gathering what students expect and value in an undergraduate classroom after attending several lectures. The authors made this study to impress upon educators the importance of knowing what their students expect. It was therefore suggested that teachers might not know exactly what their students actually expect and value. Results from the pilot study which involved more than 800 students enrolled in science and math courses at the University of Maryland were shown in a graph.



Above copied from
SCHMITT, Karl R.B. et al. A Survey Tool for Assessing Student Expectations Early in a Semester. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, [S.l.], v. 14, n. 2, aug. 2013. ISSN 1935-7885. Available at: <http://jmbe.asm.org/index.php/jmbe/article/view/581>. Date accessed: 29 Sep. 2015. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v14i2.581.
The results actually offered trends that were quite clear. One trend cited by the authors was the following:
"Even after having seen the syllabus and attending class, no survey element was expected or not expected by 100% of the students, indicating that there were a significant number of students who were unclear or unable to recall parts of the course."
This was quite a disconcerting finding. In addition, a large percentage of the students expected and valued PowerPoint presentations. On the other hand, most students did not see class participation or discussions worthwhile.
The students surveyed in the student were second year college students. At this point, it is not quite clear if "Thank me later" could still apply.



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