Lectures and Engagement

Access to higher education continues to be an issue in Higher Education, but degree completion is a rising issue as well.

“…one-third of students from even privileged socioeconomic backgrounds—top half of the income distribution, at least one parent with a college degree—fail to graduate.Such students quit not because they lack funds, but because they lack motivation and interest.”

Why is motivation and interest a problem in the United States education system? In my opinion, it is because students are not being challenged. Yes, students have assignments, comprehensive exams, and deadlines which are supposed to prove that they have mastered course material which can be hard to balance However, all this proves is that students are able to regurgitate and memorize information. For some disciplines it is necessary and acceptable that students memorize course material such as the STEM fields. Although I do not believe that students are taught properly in how to engage in the K-12 system or within undergraduate curriculum.

One of the main issues is “teaching to the test” when educators are expected to cover specific material in a short amount of time in order to prepare students for standardized testing. Freire’s (2012) “banking” concept explores the idea that students do not have the ability to critically think in class because they are expected to memorize information, rather than question it (p. 72). The idea that faculty are doing students a favor by passing along their knowledge is done to maintain control and seen as a “false generosity” (Freire, 2012, p. 44). It is no wonder that students lack interest in their courses. Within my core curriculum for my undergraduate degree I had some opportunities to engage in class, but my elementary and secondary education was focused on standardized testing. For the first time I found that I was coming to my own conclusions and thinking for myself after I enrolled in graduate school.

Within my academic program I have been taught to challenge and question my instructors and peers. Course material is no longer seen as black and white and class discussions no longer incorporate the idea of right and wrong answers. More importance has been placed on providing evidence from course readings and experiences to support my answers. So my question is how can educators engage students at all levels of education when standardized testing is the motive for students to do well?

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6 Responses to Lectures and Engagement

  1. Yousef Jalali says:

    You addressed the important issue of our approach to assessment and emphasis on teaching to test. I believe the concern is valid to some extent in higher education as well. Despite all findings from learning science and some new revolutionary frameworks, such as liberatory perspective, the conventional approach towards teaching and assessment has not been changed significantly in many institutions.
    Lack of attention to different ways students perceive information, lack of engagement within community, classroom and beyond, lack of attention to the notion of uncertainty and important of real world cases, and finally lack of attention to the role of student as an agent in the process of learning, might be just some initial thoughts which might open the dialogue to explore the question you posed at the end.

  2. Matthew Cheatham says:

    I think you have made some great points, but I would like to challenge your point of fields like STEM only really “teaching to the test” as it’s a lot more than that. Even if they might be “teaching to the test,” the test might include the information about a specific design model that is essential for students to learn before going into the field and memorizing it is really the only way to approach the situation so the tests are designed for that. I know this is not the best way for all situations and the “banking” model/concept you introduced does apply to a lot of other situations related to classrooms with lecture style or “teaching to the test” classes.

    • CorlH says:

      Thank you for your comment. I do address stem in this blog “…or some disciplines it is necessary and acceptable that students memorize course material such as the STEM fields.” My comment on teaching to the test is more directed towards K-12.

  3. Brittany H says:

    One of the articles from the week 3 readings talked about innovative class structure and basically meeting people where they are. Allowing students to learn in ways that are comfortable and accommodating may be a way to engage and shift from a big part of our education system which is heavy emphasis on standardized testing.

    • CorlH says:

      Brittany,

      Thank you for your comment. My questions is more geared towards suggestions from the class rather than the readings. Do you have any feedback?

  4. Ashley Carter says:

    Heather,

    Thank you for your post! I completely agree with your thought process and argument in your post. Much of what you’re saying regarding k12 and undergraduate education is my (unfortunate) lived experience. It wasn’t until graduate school that I was challenged to think critically and for myself. That I was allowed to draw conclusions for myself and challenge the words of my teachers/professors and that of the authors.

    I don’t know if there is a concrete course of action to your question but I think that one way to engage students at all levels of education is to remove standardized testing and allow students the option to explore their own learning. Of course there are course of objectives and benchmarks that all classes must meet but it should be up to the teacher AND the student on how they get there. Teachers should be allowed to remove the standard and exercise creative freedom in using tactics/methods that engage students in a way that’s meaningful to them. When I was a preschool educator, my school moved from concrete curriculum to the Reggio Emilia Philosophy. I initially hated this because the children were allowed to discover and learn in the classroom what they wanted to and I was forced to come up wit lessons on the fly. However after several years, I noticed my kids were still learning the material that I wanted them to learn (ABC’s, numbers in English, Spanish and Hebrew, etc.) even though I wasn’t teaching the “conventional” way.

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