Dear Dr. Kirk:
What is with college students today? They are demanding, extremely vocal, think they know it all, and don’t want to do the work I assign. I have been teaching 15 years and am at a loss as to what is happening and how to handle this generation of college students. Any suggestions? ---At A Loss at Midwestern College
Dear At A Loss,
Yes, they are demanding, vocal, and think they know it all. They are also smart, technologically competent, multi-taskers who want to know why the work you are assigning is going to be useful for them to do. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think our students are bad. I think there is a great deal of pressure on them today. All of my students have double majors, jobs or internships of 30+ hours a week, are active in organizations, have team projects in most of their classes, etc. They believe that they have to do all of these things in order to get a good job. They have little patience for “busy work.”
Our job is to establish our credibility starting with the first day of class as to how the course will be worthwhile. Think about what it is you are trying to do in the classroom. Are you passing on a body of knowledge of a specific subject to the students? Are you teaching them how to learn? Are you giving them practical information on how to be an expert in their field of study? Are you role-modeling skills to help students become productive, useful members of society? Or, perhaps you aim to do all of the above? The readings, assignments, and exams you choose to give your students should reflect what you are trying to accomplish. You need to sell them on why you are the best person to teach them and why the homework you give will help them be successful in your course as well as in the "real world."
How about the rest of you? Are you having problems with classroom management? What do you find works for you?
And in case they still whine? Professor Joseph A. Braun shares his rubric on whining.