Spread too thin…

Do you ever feel like you’re spread too thin?

Of course you do. You are. Everyone feels that way at times. And there are times when we probably truly are too busy. Yet we somehow make time for everything.

My concern is that the pressures surrounding student life – academically and socially – oftentimes foster a culture where it’s OK not read all the material for classes in-depth, and to skim what you feel is less important. For tenured graduate students, the hope is that you have a pretty good feel for how to do this effectively and you get what you want/need to get from any given class you’re taking while balancing the other responsibilities you have. Undergraduates, however, still need to practice that skill. If they’re never instructed on how to do this, how can we expect them to weight through the materials (with the idea that we assign more than what is reasonable, so that we give enough of a jumping off point for the people who want more info)?

I guess my main fear is that you assign too much, don’t tell them how to juggle it, they get stressed and end up not doing any of the reading and struggle through the material as a result.

Does anyone have any resources on ways to teach this? Or exercises for them to do? The thing I can think of is to simply assign the readings you want to, and then talk about how to hone in on the important information after addressing, up front (in syllabus or in lecture) that this is something they need to know how to do. The problem I see there, is that they might “catch on” and end up not looking at most of the readings in liu of just reading the “most important” one.

Hmm. Something to ponder while making our syllabus.

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