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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Can we move our students from consumers to realistic achievers? 09-01

Can we move our students from consumers to realistic achievers?

cluelessstudent
The scenario is a painfully familiar one…






















For the last two decades the scholarly study of “academic entitlement” and its relationship to the higher education experience has yielded some important insights. While defining the concept is tricky, Singleton-Jackson et al. (2011, p. 232) identify the following facets of the phenomenon:
1) a belief that some reward is deserved that is not justified based on one’s actual academic achievement;

2) that a high academic entitlement disposition implies a diminished role for personal responsibility in actual academic achievement; and,

3) that a high academic entitlement disposition also implies expectations about the role of instructors that are above and beyond their obligation of providing educational opportunities and effective, quality instruction.
These tendencies should come as no surprise to us, as we have been and will continue to teach the Millennial generation — and their expectations based in part on an educational consumerist perspective — for the next six years. First year college students, in particular, are vulnerable to experiencing a system shock as the work patterns that yielded high achievement in their K-12 past don’t seem to cut it in the bigs. So is the answer to provide toughlove and get them used to lowered expectations?
We don’t want our students to be demoralized, and to settle for lower expectations for their performance in our classes.  Indeed, a healthy body of research confirms that establishing high expectations for students can be a powerful means of achieving effective student learning outcomes.
Maryellen Weimer of The Teaching Professor Blog addresses an important dilemma we all face as college teachers:
Unrealistic expectations present teachers with a conundrum. We want students to believe in themselves. We want them committed to doing well. But we need them to be realistic about what success demands.
Her useful recommendations bear some attention as we start our courses this year — how can we use the first day, the first week of class to set expectations that are both realistic and aspirational for students? 
How can we use the first few weeks of the term to provide formative feedback that helps students adjust their expectations while maintaining their morale? 
And how should we respond to the first big exam or essay to help keep students motivated and on the right track?