Tracking Student Success: Traditional/Non-Traditional Students

This article was posted was posted today in the Chronicle of Higher Education:More Colleges Track Nontraditional Students’ Success – StudentsHere’s my question – what about tracking the success of traditional students? Why is tracking non-traditional students the best thing since sliced bread? I understand that non-traditional students have a lower success rate, but it’s not like traditional students have it easy.Also, while I’m ranting – what exactly is a “traditional student?” Maybe they should use the phrase “stereotypical student” instead. It’s my opinion that “traditional students” are a thing of the past.Am I the only one bothered by this?

Spoonfeeding Today’s Students

spoon feeding babyI had a meeting with an instructor yesterday that got me to thinking. During the conversation, we began talking about today’s students and their “learning styles.” This was triggered from a student suggestion to provide more straightforward responses to student questions in class. There was a little more context at the given time, however, due to anonymity, I won’t divulge any more than that statement. It got us to talking about how expectations of students are much different today than they have been in previous generations. Now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, there are lots of studies that corroborate this claim. But it begs the question, how much information should be given to them as opposed to forcing them to retrieve the information on their own?My feeling is that, the more critical thinking that’s involved, the better. Students don’t necessarily agree with this, because it poses more work for them. However, in the long run, the ability to think critically is what’s going to stick with them after the semester ends. One of the frequent complaints from educators is that content is not retained after the assignment, reading, or exam. While this is a broad generalization, there is merit to this, the reasons of which I’ll explain in a later post. However, it’s the non-content related skills that are most important, even more-so than remembering what year the Spanish Inquisition began (for example 😉 ). This is because it’s the life skills that all students will use, regardless of coursework, career choice, or life experiences.Students want to be spoon-fed. They want all of the answers handed to them so that they have the answers to the test. Yes, I went there… This is a matter of whether or not to teach to the test. I have always been against this practice and will continue to be until my dying day. Unfortunately, this problem of wanting to be spoon-fed goes to the masses. Today’s students are different than generations past and it’s the responsibility of the educators to ensure that students are learning as much as possible, even if that means altering the expectations of what skills students are taught.In conclusion – screw the spoon-feeding. Make students use critical thinking to obtain the knowledge. It may require a little prodding to point them in the right direction, but don’t hand out the answer like it’s candy on Halloween. Stick to your guns, educators!Was this even a coherent post?What are your thoughts on spoon-feeding today’s students?