One of the things I’ve been talking about with various other academics is the way in which the structuring of ‘teaching time’ into two high pressure semesters (or three is you count ‘summer school’) – with a constant barrage of internal assessment – affects student participation in the wider campus activities and even coming to class. Certainly, it appears to be getting harder to get students to develop creative ideas and projects (which take time to mull over or collaborate over) than just to set a couple of academic essays and an exam within the time constraints they are under. Here’s a couple of links that pick some of that up:
And then I had a chance to read this on the train last week, that talks explicitly about the cost/benefit calculations that contemporary students make in attending things like lectures.
- Should we still lecture or just post examination questions on the web? The nature of the shift towards pragmatism in undergraduate lecture attendance
At that link you can find an electronic copy of the paper: Dolnicar, S, ‘Should we still lecture or just post examination questions on the web? The nature of the shift towards pragmatism in undergraduate lecture attendance’, Quality in Higher Education, 2005, 11(2), 103-115. (abstract below)
An empirical study was conducted to gain understanding about the motivations of undergraduate students in attending lectures. Students were highly heterogeneous regarding their reported lecture attendance motivations, with two segments representing prototypical extremes. The student group labelled ‘idealists’ in this study reported genuinely enjoying lectures, were mature-aged students with working experience and more frequent in the arts subjects surveyed. Students labelled ‘pragmatics’ in this study were most highly represented in the commerce subjects surveyed, were among the younger students, reported attending lectures to get the information they need to succeed in the subject and reported the lowest lecture attendance while achieving the highest grade-point average of the students in the study. Generally, as opposed to the findings of previous studies into reasons for lecture attendance in the 1970s, a shift towards pragmatism among students seems to have occurred and now defines the reality of the tertiary education environment.
Also, the class I’m studying in academic practice spent the last session looking at how eLearning and other technologies might be used appropriately with the classes we teach in. So this link to reflection on teaching in locations with little or no IT infrastructure might lead to creative teaching about and with those things.