Opinion | My College Students Are Not OK

Opinion | My College Students Are Not OK


After his classes were mostly face-to-face, he said, he had to retire from extracurricular activities and his grades suffered. The best approach, in his view, would be to “let people choose” how to do their classes, “because we now have the infrastructure in place to be able to record lectures and have them in person for learners. best of all. “He said.

Distance and recorded classes can also allow students who work or care for children to integrate the school into their schedules. Ulam senior Ahlam Atallah said online courses allowed him to take classes while his two children were at home. He also did not have to travel to the extensive suburban campus or find parking.

But he found that teaching at home divided his attention. “You can’t talk about this novel you’re reading when you have a 2-year-old running around and asking,‘ Mom, mom, can I have a snack? ’” Ms. Atallah. Last year, with the two children in school in person, she attended almost all of her face-to-face classes, even those with recorded lectures. In the classroom, he said, “I can devote all my attention to the class, my teacher, and my classmates.”

For most students, including those with children, being in person helps them to focus and excel. Mr. Vancil told me that he had already developed good learning habits when he got to college. In my experience, most students do not. It is therefore worrying to hear that students are asking for more distance learning classes and more flexibility. They demand conditions in which, on average, they are more likely to fail.

Some teachers are doing extra work to provide opportunities for students to reduce the learning gap. Dr. Walsh described her workload as “astronomical, exhausting.” Dr. Austin allowed students to rewrite assignments in the past, but extended the policy to exams. He found that many more students had to rewrite their assignments. He estimated that the rating of the rewrites “doubled” his workload. But he added: “If I didn’t do the rewriting, I would have more people who would fail my classes.”

Because it is the students who are at stake in education, they have a lot of responsibility to rebuild their ability to learn. But faculty and administrators need to provide students with an environment that fosters intellectual habits such as curiosity, honesty, and participation in a research community. These habits are not just the means to a good education; to a large extent, they they are education.

To build a culture that will encourage these habits, universities could draw lessons from what may seem like an unusual source: the University of Dallas, a small Catholic university with a curriculum of great books and a reputation for conservatism. Several of his teachers told me that the breakdown of learning nationwide was simply not happening there.



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