Monday, February 06, 2006

Doing What They're Told

A plethora of quotes for you from College Knowledge:

What was surprising was that even at America's best universities, faculty frequently commented on the gaping holes in students' content knowledge. It was not that the students did not know anything; they knew quite a lot. However, they were often unable to connect what they knew or see how the pieces fit together. (p. 113)

Although knowledge of specific content and even the memorization of specific facts can still be an important part of a course, college often requires students to go beyond what is written in the text or said in class to develop a deeper understanding of underlying theories and principles in a discipline or area of study. (p. 123)

These activities require much more independent action by students and less guessing what instructors want to hear, following textbook directions, or simply completing assignments. In short, they value engagement and motivation over passive learning. Students eager to face an intellectually challenging environment will fare far better in such courses than those who only seek to get a good grade or complete a requirement. (p. 123)

This means that those who routinely did what they were told and only what they were told to do in high school are at a distinct disadvantage. (p. 126)

Because the homework is not collected or graded, she finds it difficult to motivate herself to complete the assignments. (p. 128)

What must students know and be able to do in order to succeed in entry-level university courses? . . . A dominant theme raised by those who were involved in the standards' creation was the importance of the habits of mind students bring to university studies; these were considered by many faculty to be more imporant than specific content knowledge. (p. 173)

There's a lot of different ideas here to comment on, but I grouped these excerpts together because I felt they all spoke to one central, common theme. If we are not asking students to really go in-depth in their learning, to go beyond the ordinary and everyday, to look at the big picture; if we are only asking them to routinely complete assignments and do what they are told; we are failing at preparing them for college (and beyond). We are conditioning them to be good little high school students, but - particularly in a flat world - unsuccessful adults. We can do better.

1 comment:

  1. When we as educators teach in isolation, then what else can we expect than that students will learn in isolation. The cross-curricular approach offers the opportunity for students to see connections between disciplines annd make connections to other life experiences. The constructivist approach to teaching should work to help students become "deeper" learners if they are construction their own learning.