What are your New students like?

I facilitating a cooperative workshop series for our faculty, staff and administration on the topic of helping all our students succeed in their first term (or year) at Cape Cod Community College. The question asked of participants in the first session was: "What is the profile of the 4C's student and how has it changed over the past 5 years?". The second session was based upon the results of the first one and asked the question: "How do we help all our beginning students succeed?".

The workshops were sponsored by the College's Developmental Education Committee to address the problem of student retention and to look at ways of helping all students succeed in their initial efforts at college. Faculty and staff worked in pairs first then as a group of the whole to explore everyone's perceptions of what our students are like. The consensus was impressive with very little disagreement.

The basic conclusion was that there is a bimodal distribution with motivated, prepared and interested students in one mode and ill prepared, unmotivated students in the second mode. Students in both modes have many outside influences which can adversely effect their success as they attempt to start college. The following list summarizes our deliberations. The list tends to focus on the lower mode but many of these characteristics apply to both groups.

In order that we not come out of this discussion too DEPRESSED, I would like to follow this with one about helpful ideas and will send along a compilation of our deliberations from the second workshop at a later date.

I would like to ask if other people are seeing these characteristics and changes in their students. I suspect we are not unique and that other community colleges are facing similar trends. I would especially like to hear from other colleges.


Please respond to the list so we can all share your observations and that will avoid the need to send out a lengthy summary.

Results of workshops held at Cape Cod Community College- Student characteristics

More younger students (recent high school grads)
Fewer bright recent high school graduates
Older students more anxious
Decrease in verbal skills and participation
Motivation is "economical" rather than intrinsic
Increased time employed outside
Increased money problems
Increase in "recovery" students (addiction)
Decreased writing abilities
Decrease in interest in reading
Decreased reading comprehension
Increase in numbers actively involved with drugs (leading to acting out behaviors)
Increase in Consumer orientation (in regards to education)
Increase in learning disabilities (family related)
Decrease in respect and decrease in being well mannered
Increase in identified learning disabilities (new)
Increase in head injury students
Students learning styles are more action oriented
Increased animosity between bi-modal groups (good students resent disruptions)
Decreased knowledge base (less reading)
Increased demand for more help
Lowered expectations by students of work outside of classroom
More bright students with special needs
Increase in lower functioning students
Increase in non-English speaking students
Increase in attitude that attendance = pass (entitlement mindset)
Increased psychological problems (more willing to talk about it)
Limited vocabularies
Increased personal crises and family problems
Increased economic strains
Decreased problem solving skills
Increased destruction of library materials
College is not a priority
Lack of pride in assignments
Decreased individual responsibility
More single parents (both male and female)

From: Gaye Holman <GDHOLM00@UKCC.UKY.EDU>

I think your staff grasped well the new problems the students are bringing into the school. It is over-whelming at times trying to find ways to help them learn while they are so burdened by other issues.

I think you underestimated somewhat the strong students we are also seeing. We see a large number of students who normally would have gone to the University or a private college but are at our community college for a few years because of the lower costs. Money for everyone seems to be an increasing problem. We continue to see non-traditional students and are doing a lot with the extended campus concept. The older students are almost always a joy - motivated, inspired and inspiring. They sometimes are the ones who keep me going.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ "
From: mcontino@uclink4.berkeley.edu (Mike Contino)

When I taught community college and spoke about my classes, I would often say they fell into 3 categories. 1: those usually just out of high school, weren't ready to work nor to go to 4 year college, didn't know what to do, so they went to community college. This might match w/ your not prepared/not interested group. But as I recall they were not the majority. B: those just out of high school who were more than ready for college, but who wanted to start at a community college for financial or other reasons.

Your prepared/interested group. Third: your older, returning student. Almost always they were exceptionally motivated and some were well prepared, fitting again into the

above group B. But many were not at all well prepared. Often these were women returning after raising a family and they had been subject to the prejudices of "You can't handle that; take home ec." and the like. So using your terms, I would classify them as motivated but not well prepared. I remember one who had never written a check because her husband wouldn't let her.

By the way, I find much the same to be true of the students at the state university system who are in my math classes for those hoping to enter the teacher credential program (but very few fall into the #1 category). Many, however, have had very negative encounters with mathematics. With what they've experienced, they should be FURIOUS. But they were always told it was their fault that they didn't get it. They "just don't have a math mind" or whatever.
From: oakesre@ntr.net (ray oakes)

I just read, with great interest, your message concerning current student achievement trends. You're right, one can become slightly depressed when you look at the trends. However, there is plenty of room for hope, and my own personal experience has been for the most part, positive.

I'm an associate professor/program coordinator at Franklin Pierce College, where I've been teaching for ten years. Prior to that, I was at the University of Louisville for five years. At both schools I've handled a wide variety of students, both returning adults, and traditional college students. Right now, I'm on sabbatical, finishing up my Ed.D at Louisville. At FPC, I'm the chair of the Academic Standards Committee, and sit on the admissions committee. This has been a real eye-opener for me. One thing I agree with in your message 100% is the notion of a bi-modal group. On one hand, we have the good students who have mastered the basic skills of reading and writing. Although their grades may range C to A, depending upon the class, it is readily apparent that they belong in a 4 year institution. They have the right attitude, and they are serious about learning. The other group is a bunch of educational "losers." They have not mastered the basics and come in with bad attitudes towards education.

Some of their "failure" can be attributed to LD problems, but a majority seem to have just failed (or have been failed by their previous education) to learn to what they should have. These students present a great problem to anyone who has them in class. Do you dumb down the course so they might make it, or should you just let them achieve at their current level, so you can fail them out of the institution?

This is a difficult problem that has no easy answers. Some of my most rewarding moments as a teacher have been in turning around those student's attitudes, and showing them the way to success. I'm glad to say that I've had a lot of luck in doing that, but there still is a certain level of failure experienced every year. Although I can (and have when necessary)talk a good game about throwing the rascals out, it is a problem that has left me on too many occasions numb and hurting. After all, it is
people's lives we are talking about, and their potential economic and emotional well being for the rest of their life.
What are my students like? Following your list, I have the following comments:

More older students: at U of L, yes; at FPC's main campus no; at the FPC continuing education campuses, yes.

Fewer bright recent h.s. grads: not in my experience

More bi-modal students: yes, yes, yes. Our older students generally are better than 18-22 year olds, however.

Decrease in verbal skills and participation: Among freshpeople and sophomores, yes, but there seems to be a turn around in juniors and seniors. (This may be attributed to the type of classes and teaching approach).

Motivation is economical instead of intrinsic: This has changed for me...I'm seeing more students last 2-3 years who are in it to learn, rather than just worrying about the bucks. However, it is clear to most students that a college education is the ticket to a better economic future. But I don't see the blatant greed that I saw in the late 80's early 90's.

Increased time employed outside: Yes, but when tuition costs $20,000 grand a year, you can and must understand it.

Increased number of students in recovery: Yes....when I was acting associate dean of students for a year, I saw this all the time. But I don't see it as a real problem, as long as they don't have relapses.

Writing problems: Yes, but....we have developed a writing across the curriculum approach that seems to be working at the moment. My typical student paper has actually been improving over the last few years. However, when they're bad, they are really bad.

Increased substance abuse: Yes...this is a major major problem...I haven't had acting out problems, because anyone who is really into the drugs and alcohol, usually doesn't make it to class. They just are busy wrecking the dorms.

Increase in consumer orientation: Yes, but so what? If I'm paying good money, I want an effective education. Sloppy work is sloppy work, whether in the classroom by a teacher, or on the assembly line or in the boardroom.

Increase in LD (family)/Increase in newly diagnosed LD. We have over 10% of our population that has been identified as LD in one way or another. This makes it hard to teach on occasion, but it goes with the territory. I LIKE to know if there is a problem, so I can effectively deal with it. There is nothing wrong with altering your teaching approach to fit your audience. However, I don't believe in lowering standards to "help" the LD. But I see nothing wrong for modifing my teaching and testing approach to fit the individual's learning style.

Increase in head injuries: Haven't seen this problem. Student learning styles more action orientated: Run for the hills, it's
the Sesame Street generation!

Increased animosity: Yes, but not in any large amount. By the second year, the bad actors are usually gone. This is a big problem though, not so much in classroom behavior, but in a more subtle way. Classes tend to be pulled down to the lowest level, if you don't watch it.

Decreased knowledge base: Yes, in a big way. I find myself explaining what should be obvious way too often. Don't they teach history, government, reading, or English anymore, anywhere?

Increased demands: Yes, but isn't that what we are supposed to do when we teach?

Lowered expectations: Yes, but that doesn't mean we have to accept it. I tell them up front what I expect, and then grade accordingly.

More bright students....: Not really, I love it when I have bright students. They make everything worth while.

Increase in lower functioning students: Yes, this has made the job tougher.

Entitlement mindset: They may come in with it, but I talk about this upfront. If they don't like it, too bad.

Increased pscho problems: Yes, but I don't mind this. I see it as part of the job, maybe I can help them.....(I'm always hopeful, maybe naive, but hopeful). I also have a long term depression problem myself, so maybe I'm much more sympathetic about this area.

Limited vocabularies: No....I teach communication, so I guess I see the people who want to talk for a living. A side note, with a lot of dyslexic students, one of their compensatory techniques is an increased verbal ability. This I see all the time.

Increased personal crises: Yeah, this is happening all the time. I just try to help in my limited role as a teacher in getting the right kind of help to them.

Increased economic strains: It gets worse every day.

Decreased problem solving skills: This depends, what end of the bi-modal curve are they on?

Increased distruction of library materials: It seems to be high, but it really hasn't changed in my 10 years at FPC.

College not a priority: Lord yes! "Dude, I'm going out with the Dead for a week. (me) Hey, Garcia's dead! (student) Bummer, man!"

Lack of pride: Yes, but if you let them know your expectations up front, this usually isn't a problem for me.

Decreased individual responsibility: Yes, to a frightning level. But I must qualify this, as most of the time they see themselves as working within a group, where they think their own personal responsibilities are less. It is part of our job to hold students to high personal standards and to make sure that expectations are met. I've seen a huge increase in student mis-behavior, usually in non-classroom situations.

More single-parents: Yes, but you make the accomodations necessary. Because of my own personal teaching style and value system, I just go with the flow, making the necessary adjustments for the individuals involved. I've had kids in my classroom on occasion, which doesn't bother me in the least, as long as they respect the environment. I'm pretty loose about this kind of stuff, feeling it's part of the territory. I try to work with a combination of humor, understanding, high standards, and no absolutes (except in the area of honesty). Flexibility, and treating the students with compassion, empathy and honesty goes along way
towards fixing the problems. I also make a point to let the students know when I'm having a bad day (physically or emotionally) so they can understand me and where I'm coming from. This helps keep the communication channels open and avoids incidents and misunderstanding. I really like the vast majority of our students, good or bad, and never fail to learn from them.
From: ronmark@ix.netcom.com R.P.Allison

This is very interesting, however, it would seem that what you have is not
so much bimodal, but both ends of a spectrum; with the majority of students
falling somewhere between the two poles. Most of my 25 years teaching in
college have been spent in Catholic schools of moderate size (about 1500
students). The students I have today, and those of 25 years ago are about
the same regarding their preparation for college. I have been witness to
their change in dress, change in attitude about life, change in plans for
the future, change from hope to cynical. Yet, they do about the same quality
of work today that they did all those years ago. One thing I have noted
though is that their free time is spent more now working one or two jobs to
pay for college; rather than partying as they did 25 years ago. They are
apprehensive about life after college; but then they were also apprehensive
25 years ago; except then there were what we called steady jobs available.
Jobs that offered security. Today, they know there is no security. But then,
I am 48 mo. from retirement, maybe it is me that has become cynical, and not
From: Andrew Boggs <andrew@AMS.QUEENSU.CA>

I might be able to shed some light on what students are thinking; if
not what we are like.

We're scared.
We're scared about our futures. We want to learn, but pressures
outside of us aren't telling us to learn - they're telling us to train.

We're mad.
Our futures seem to be have been dragged away
from us. We feel like, to some extent, we are in a toxic academic
environment that is far from prepared to deal with the areas of study
we feel need to be pursued. We're not getting into post-graduate
placements as a result of these pursuits.....

Tragically, I think, "students", which should be such a diverse,
non-definable group, are too easy to define: lost.
Overall, we are seeing the structure of academia falling around us,
are powerless (for the most part) to prevent it. We hope for change,
but are expected to help mold a faculty culture that doesn't want to
change. I am certainly not referring to most of those that have taken
the time to sign on to this list serve, but it is an up-hill battle;
where are our allies?

One should never try to generalize any "group", especially when
considering such a grand section of the learning community as
"students", but, to some extent, we are all in the same boat. We are
disappearing from the classrooms, not because we're out drinking or
because we've given up, but because our "classroom" learning is not
reaching us.

So, I suppose, when one asks the question "what are your students
like" the best answer is: "ask them".
From: Heather S Keddie <keddie@EDUC.UMASS.EDU>

Thank you Andrew for your comments! My students share some of the
characteristics Ted listed - many work full-time, many have children
(full-time work in itself!) but I do not find them less bright or less
motivated. I find them to be curious and excited about new ideas. I
find they refuse to define one (U.S.) culture and believe in diversity
and equality. I find they are eager (desperate?) to have someone take
them seriously as individuals and intellects. My students are also aware
of the limited professional opportunities they face and the ever
increasing credentialism. Perhaps one of the most telling
characteristics many share is an awareness of being judged by the grown
ups of the academy and being found wanting.
From: Marilyn McKnight <mcknight@WHSCDP.WHS.EDU> edstyle

Dear Ted,
I recently read your list of factors that influence college level students and their performance in academic environments. Although I am an ELEMENTARY teacher I was disturbed by how closely your comments reflect the influences placed students as young as 6,7,and 8 etc. I am very involved with global education -- was a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Finland, a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines and have taught in South America -- and also very interested in creativity and how it is involved in the teaching and learning process. I have taught some graduate level classes in global education and will be teaching a new course this summer that

focuses on creativity and intelligence. Have you done any research or study with your classes on creativity and its relationship to performance and achievement? I would be interested in discussing these topics with you.
From: Barb Stuart <BKS@CEIS.UHCOLORADO.EDU> edstyle

Training and Development, students stayed 45 minutes
late to describe what worked - until 10:45 PM! My
assessment, the first night of class pretty much followed
your list. I found that I was really s t r e t c h i n g to
develop each class to be more interactive, structured to
reach and engage the "bimodal" students, there was more
attention to norms of respect which the group brought up.
It was a very successful class, they claimed they learned
alot, I got excellent evaluations and I felt like I really
had to grow as a teacher to meet the needs I could meet.
I wonder if by the time students get to college or return
to grad school they suffer from hyper stim burn out?
How can we create a classroom environment and
curriculum which engages them?
From: Mikie Matthews <mikiemat@tenet.edu>

Your student's characteristics are matching our own children's in our
district. These problems are definitely universal. All I would add is
decreased interest from any family members unless they see a chance to
sue the schools for something, then we suddenly meet the heretofore
non-existent "parent/grandparent/guardian/youth home
director". I am very interested in hearing
more from you as your committee progresses. Thanks for the e-mail..
From: john_damron@mindlink.net (John Damron) tips

Your are right, this _is_ depressing. A question that comes to mind is
this: How good is the prospect that these problems can be _effectively_
addressed in late adolescence or adulthood? And how much will remediation
cost in time and money? Some of the problems you list are not educational
in nature and it isn't obvious that they can be adequately addressed by
community college staff.

One thing seems clear with respect to the problems that are clearly
educational in nature. Virtually all should have been addressed _years_ ago
when these students were young, open, impressionable, and attending public
schools. In my judgment, that they were not is added proof of the
continuing decline of public education in North America.
From: lmaitlan@nylink.org tips

Perhaps answers are more difficult to arrive at than any of us would like.
I have a class of students with all sorts of learning and behavior problems.
They have failed numerous subjects in the past, and several are not doing
passing work in my class. Yet they tell me they are going to go to college.
They tell me that it doesn't matter how they do in high school, that they
can still get into college. That they can be admitted to college, I see as
a problem. That means that admission is not earned.
From: mflick@lane.k12.or.us (Marilyn Flick)

John Damron, for a college instructor, how can you be so simplistic? If
students have more drug problems, are older, are more economically
motivated, etc., from your list, WHY is this because of public education?
Are not we ALL a product of our entire environment--home, society, world,
and school? I am a high school teacher and I won't be blamed for the
changes in the students you get in community college.
I will say that I am a part of a school that has done a lot of
restructuring in the past 8 or 9 years. And if you think what you have now
is bad, you will be happy to see what you will get in the next four or five
years. My students are respectful, work for higher standards, and , in
short, make my day! I have never had a less stressful year of teaching as
this, my 26 year. Some things in changing in the schools, families, and
North America. I hope you appreciate that work of all of us when they get
to you.

Marilyn Flick
North Eugene High School
From: WOR96ISB16@MECN.MASS.EDU  Rose Reith

I just read your post, and I have to tell you that your list of descriptors
really describes what I see here at Worcester State. Of course, we are in the
same state (geographic location), so that's no surprise I guess. I work
in the writing center, and sometimes the stories/excuses/conversations
that I hear/read/participate in really amaze me. As a non-traditional (over
35) student, I can say that you were right on target about the motivation
issues, and from my work in the writing center I can see the truth of the
psychological concerns. For a while last year I felt as if I should have
had training in counselling- but that is not something that interests me,
and I resent people who need to spill their guts to anyone who will listen.
I wish there was a greater awareness of discretion- essays on drinking and
abortion for example should not be written with such cavalier attitudes.
I can see how you would worry about depression setting in after contemplating
your list- How can educators ever come up with practical, workable programs
to address issues like these?
From: mather@hg.uleth.ca

We're about a different a school from you as can be found in North America
(mind you, I know Boston--got my PhD from Brandeis). University of Leth-
bridge is a small undergraduate university in the middle of small-town
Alberta. Despite the students' complaints, a university education is still
relatively inexpensive in Canada, and our enrolment has bee rising steadily
(and even, despite cutbacks of funding of 15% over the last few years, not
falling now).

Our students are more diverse; this is a result of the expansion in educat-
ional opportunity over the past couple of decades. Yes, this diversity
includes single parents, minority students (in our case Natives), older
students, individuals with handicaps such as language disability, mental
illness that would have simply excluded them before.

Note the diversity is not well reflected in either Faculty or curriculum.
Our students are considerably more goal-oriented. It is widely perceived
as a cold, hard world 'out there' and most are looking for practical skills.
They are often not sure how what we teach 'in here' will help them 'out
there', but the expansion of Applied Studies and Co-op are one of our res-
ponses to this pressure to be practical.

Again the Faculty and curriculum do not shift well.
Our students are considerably pressured. This results from part 1 above, and
also that they are nearly all contributing to their own education financially.
This leads to diverse goals for the same person, perhaps to a lesser committ-
ment to the strictly academic side of their complex lives. They are tired!
But I don't think that they are on average less committed or less hard working
that we were as undergraduates. There were a lot of lazy students 30 years
ago, a lot of partiers, a lot of athletes, a lot of people there because their
parents were able to send them.

The university was set up by monks in the Middle Ages who had nothing to do
but eat, sleep and study. It is not realistic in the face of thses new time

Perhaps you get the impression that I like our students, and you would be
correct. Not that I like each and every one of them, but there are a lot of
hard-working and dedicated people out there, and their increased sophistication
sometimes results in them getting the better future they want.
From: Ann Muir Thomas <ATHOMAS@soceco.uci.edu>

I see a lot of the same characteristics at UC Irvine -- far from a community college, but the student body still has a lot of what you describe. I'll be moving on soon to either Cal State San Marcos or Bentley College (in Boston), and will be curious to see if the same holds true at either of those places. Thanks for the listing... I can't wait to see your follow-up (suggestions)...
From: "Sharon K. Calhoon " <SCALHOON@iukfs1.iuk.indiana.edu> tips

Our school is going through a similar process (although in a much different way). It's my impression that the faculty here (a regional campus of Indiana University) would agree that our student population reflects the same changes you list.
From: Melissa Bachman <BACHMAN.M@calc.vet.uga.edu>

>More older students 30-35+
>Fewer bright recent high school graduates
>More Bi-modal students
> Older students perform better
> Older students more anxious
>Decrease in verbal skills and participation
>Motivation is "economical" rather than intrinsic...

I'm wondering if the changes are related to the increase in the population that
is now looking to get a college degree or some type of additional education
other than high school. How many of the students with the listed
characteristics would have attended college ten years ago? It would be
interesting to see the statistics. I would also guess that there has been an
increase in the number of community colleges as well as technical schools which
has increased the opportunities available and has attracted a group of the
population that wouldn't have been in school ten years ago due to lack of
opportunity or need or even ability.

So I guess, looking at the glass half full, you may be dealing with a population
of individuals who wouldn't have been in any type of educational environment ten
or so years ago. The increase in older students is a great encouragement. The
increase in unmotivated, less able students may seem difficult to deal with, but
may imply that more individuals are getting an opportunity they may not have had
in the past. I wonder how many of their parents have any education other than
HS or even have a HS diploma?

Hi, Ted,

Your list of characteristics sounds familiar. I teach at a regional branch campus of Ohio State with about 1200 OSU students sharing a campus with an autonomous technical school. (administratively wierd, but not relevant to your concerns).Our population is maybe a bit more rural & agricultural than yours (I'm guessing), but i still see parallels. "Head injuries" is a hard characteristic to pin down, but i can sense in this community an undercurrent of violence/dysfunction/xenophobia that scares me. I see some implicitly skeptical/cynical attitudes to literacy in general that make me wonder about public education and community life. The ethnographic studies by Shirley Brice Heath help me understand some of these attitudes locally.

Just to have some grip on local literacy dynamics, I figure this: writing is a kind of technology, "the totality of means humankind uses to provide itself with sustenance and comfort." (that's from the hypertext Websters dictionary i found somewhere on WWW) But when a population has historically not been permitted to use it that way, but has been convinced by educators that it is busy work or belletrism or expressivist art-for-art's-sake, then can we blame them for resisting that which has been used to beat them over the head? When they've never been permitted to use it for getting sustenance or comfort (or even shown _how_ to use it for that), and when they've never seen anyone else using it for that, then they figure "why should I bother?"

I'm skimming the surface here, and I apologize for too much brevity and maybe vagueness, and i don't know if I'm helping matters any with my two cents worth. Still, what you describe sounds as though your campus could be a barometer for community people to understand some deep social issues.

Would it help or confuse matters to remember that people's behavior is the result of adaptation to real social, economic, and psychological forces? Clearly a lot of it is dysfunctional or misadaptive, but something somewhere is broken, and you're seeing just the surface.

Mostly, I can commiserate with you. And generally, I'm stumped about the big picture as well.
From: Pat Cabe <CABEP@sassette.pembroke.edu>

We are a regional campus of the University of North Carolina system, enrolling currently about 2900 students (roughly a tenth of them graduate students in nine masters programs). About 80% of our students are commuters; 60% are white, 25% Native American, and 15% African-American. We draw our students primarily from this county and the surrounding half-dozen counties.

Looking at your list, essentially every one of them applies to our students. Furthermore, we see many of the attitudinal characteristics even in the graduate students. Some things I have no real knowledge about (e.g., frequency of active drug use).
From: "David E. Boliver" <dboliver@aix1.ucok.edu>

I would like to respond to TPANITZ' from a four-year plus
master's institutional perspective. I spent 26 years at Trenton State
College, New Jersey, took early retirement and started over 3 years ago
at University of Central Oklahoma. In each case, I am at a former state
teachers' college, now a multi-purpose institution serving the state
capital region. I am a mathematics education person housed in a
mathematics department, where I teach secondary methods, content courses
for all and visit both entry-year and student teachers in the classroom.
I have certainly seen much of what he has observed as well as the
addition noted by Martha Smith. However, the two instituitons of which I
have been a part have made very different policy decisions about how to
deal with this. Trenton State was underfunded and located in a state
where the popular political culture really believes in higher education
as primarily for the intellectual elite. Beginning in the mid 1970s, TSC
limited enrolment and let it be known that they were going to go for the
best students. By the time I left three years ago, they were selecting
1000 Freshmen per year from about 6500 applicants. Almost all of the
students were of traditional age (17-22) and 40% of the Freshman class
arrived at or above the level of Calculus I, regardless of major. Most
of the other concerns were dealt with, but the expectations of
mathematics were still often a problem and while the students were in
some sense better prepared, the mathematics they aspired to learn tended
to be so much more ambitious that there was still a gap between
preparation and aspiration for many. The whole notion of student
responsibility was significant and Martha Smith is quite right that is an
area for extensive work for everyone. Few knew how to take notes
effectively and my SOP for freshman classes included time teaching them
how to take notes effectively. Even those who had calculus in high
school had often only seen "drill and kill" and needed to be extensively
reoriented to do what I wanted.

At University of Central Oklahoma, the administration long ago
chose to go for growth and bill itself as the state's only urban
university. Located on the north edge of metro Oklahoma City (population
approx. one million), we have fewer than 1000 dorm rooms for a student
population of over 15000. We have noticed a very curious phenomenon.
The overwhelming majority of our successful graduates came to us as
transfers from other 4-year or 2-year institutions. The successful
students tend to be the group TPANITZ described as the successful mode,
but we do save a few from the other group. There are serious problems
here, but a key notion, it seems to me, is essentially a political one.

Is it to the benefit of the people of the state to operate as either UCO
or TSC does? I suppose the answer is largely one of perception and the
two situations differ precisely because the perceptions of the populaces
served differs similarly. Personally, I would prefer to be at an
institution which both maintained a standard that only the successful of
the bimodal groups can achieve, then worked on outreach to move students
between the lower and upper group. Does this institution exist? What
outreach measures does it take and what do they cost? How can other
institutions be sold on these approaches?
From: SSloan@vax2.winona.msus.edu (Sally Sloan)

In reply to mcontino-

>Third: your older, returning student. Almost always they were
>exceptionally motivated and some were well prepared, fitting again into the
>above group B. But many were not at all well prepared. Often these were
>women returning after raising a family and they had been subject to the
>prejudices of "You can't handle that; take home ec." and the like. So
>using your terms, I would classify them as motivated but not well prepared.
>I remember one who had never written a check because her husband wouldn't
>let her.

I see many like this in our El Ed program conducted in another city. As an
old "non trad" myself I find I can relate to their experience and they
relate immediately to me. Seems to save a lot of stress for everyone. I
often wonder if those experienced as non trads shouldn't teach them a
course early in their return to educ.

>By the way, I find much the same to be true of the students at the state
>university system who are in my math classes for those hoping to enter the
>teacher credential program (but very few fall into the #1 category). Many,
>however, have had very negative encounters with mathematics. With what
>they've experienced, they should be FURIOUS. But they were always told it
>was their fault that they didn't get it. They "just don't have a math
>mind" or whatever.

I heard that one just this week. However - I also get the anger big time -
but at me and the course. When there is no alternative but to suggest
(carefully) that they might not be well prepared for the experience because
of a history of negative encounters etc I am often faced with STRONG
responses of anger. It simply cannot be that they are not prepared for
elementary math, the course must not be suitable. We have these long talks
about what they percieve is elementary math and a reasonable expectation in
such a course. Mostly that boils down to the same "give me a high grade but
don't make me think or have to study long hours" I used to hear in the high
school. Even the motivated non trads seem to resent working hard for a long
time and getting an incorrect or no answer.

Is everyone getting pressure to give grades for effort??? Are we back on
the responsibility thing again? By the way my standard comment on that is:
would you want open heart surgery from a doctor who couldn't do the
assignments but had worked at them a long time? I use the same response for
partial credits. Because I am old fashioned (??) I think that partial
credits are generally although no always, ill advised at lower levels of
math. I am particularly hard hearted when the math is actually part of the
pre-requisite for the course. Two to the third is just not 6 whether the
whole exercise or part of it...

Which raises a question - what do the rest of you think about algebra
skills for elem ed teachers? Or perhaps the larger question - how much math
beyond that to be taught should a teacher have?
From: SSloan@vax2.winona.msus.edu (Sally Sloan)

Reporting to Marth Smith's questions from Winona State Univ - 4 yr
institution, several colleges, education is just one, lovely rural setting
along the Mississippi river (first barge is finally through folks - spring
is truly here!). 7000 students. Educ grads about 300/yr

>Increased time employed outside -
I have only one student who does not work full time

>Increased money problems
Same student is the only one without loans

>Decrease in respect and decrease in being well mannered
We have fairly super kids here but there are some who have to vent
their spleen and evaluations are painful. Talk about attribution theories!
Why doesn't someone do some research on the validity/reliability of student
evaluations of faculty and courses? If you push them to learn they kill you
on evaluations. (then come back years later, too late for promotion, and
thank you!) The Japanese prime minister was right - we are a lazy nation!

>Lowered expectations by students of work outside of classroom
If they do not have the low notion they get hit with harsh reality
- our children really cannot hope to achieve what we did, I am old so I
grew up when it was always possible to surpass anything your parents had
achieved. My kids simply do not have the same opportunities.

>Increased economic strains
Affecting politicians who affect us. We are facing the end of
higher ed as we know it. For those of you outside MN - we have been
forcibly merged, community colleges, technical schools and 4 yr
universities. State admin want toal contro, of the "you are in the army
now" type. Faculty could be transferred anywhere anytime if the state gets
its way. Everyone would teach the same loads as high school regardless of
the level of the courses. Classes are starting to run in the hundred even
in small little "personal" colleges. yes there is increased economic strain.

>Decreased individual responsibility
DO WE EVEN HAVE TO ASK THIS?? For an old timer like me it hurts really
bad as I see and hear younger faculty as well as students ignore or reject
>individual responsibility and blame others for every imagined inconvenience
>let alone real problem. What happened to the awareness of the "angry young
>man"? as it was called? I see all this anger and little introspection.
>One that I didn't notice on Ted's list is decreased attendance. This
>has come up on several occasions recently with colleagues.

If you mean cutting classes we do not see it much in math. if students do
not come they generally have canceled the class. If you mean a decline in
enrollment - absolutely! Which accounts for some of that economic pain.

>Every year, we have an Experience Faculty Conference run by our
>Center for Teaching Effectiveness. Recently, the topic of creating an
>atmosphere of mutual respect in the classroom has been addressed.
>Discussion indicates that this is a widespread phenomenon. I tried
>some of the suggestions given there this semester in my calculus
>class, with noticeable success. In particular, I passed out a sheet
>of "Student responsibilities" (attached below, in case you're
>interested.). My impression is that many students need and are
>receptive to guidance.

We agreed to the 4 yr guarantee idea because it would tell parents and
students just what it takes to get a degree in 4 yrs. I have seen this used
effectively in high schools and teach the idea in methods classes. Thanks
for your copy Martha - I will try this in college math classes. Nice idea

>My impression from talking to high school teachers and parents of
>high school students is that some of the sense of decreased
>responsibility is fostered by high school (not teacher) policies. For
>example, teachers are considered responsible for a student's making
>up late work -- they are expected to meet with students who have been
>absent, for whatever reason, after school, during their conference
>period, or during their lunch hour to help them make up missed work.
>Teachers are also given a maximum failure rate. If they turn in final
>grades with more than the allowable number of failures, the principal
>changes some of the failing grades to passing ones.

I think those things are happening at every level, not just high school.
Haven't any of you gotten a little call from the Dean about failure rates
and/or complaints about a class being too hard?
From: mks@fireant.ma.UTEXAS.EDU

I an not aware of an extensive study of characteristics of students
at my school (University of Texas at Austin) such as Ted described at
his, but certain items on his list are things I have notices here as well. In particular:

Increased time employed outside
Increased money problems
Decrease in respect and decrease in being well mannered
Lowered expectations by students of work outside of classroom
Increased economic strains
Decreased individual responsibility

One that I didn't notice on Ted's list is decreased attendance. This
has come up on several occasions recently with colleagues.
Every year, we have an Experience Faculty Conference run by our
Center for Teaching Effectiveness. Recently, the topic of creating an
atmosphere of mutual respect in the classroom has been addressed.
Discussion indicates that this is a widespread phenomenon. I tried
some of the suggestions given there this semester in my calculus
class, with noticeable success. In particular, I passed out a sheet
of "Student responsibilities" (attached below, in case you're
interested.). My impression is that many students need and are
receptive to guidance.

My impression from talking to high school teachers and parents of
high school students is that some of the sense of decreased
responsibility is fostered by high school (not teacher) policies. For
example, teachers are considered responsible for a student's making
up late work -- they are expected to meet with students who have been
absent, for whatever reason, after school, during their conference
period, or during their lunch hour to help them make up missed work.
Teachers are also given a maximum failure rate. If they turn in final
grades with more than the allowable number of failures, the principal
changes some of the failing grades to passing ones.


1. To read all class handouts thoroughly and refer to them whenever needed.

2. To be an active learner, focusing on thinking, understanding, organizing information, figuring things out, and integrating
information and different perspectives.

3. To attend all classes (both lecture and discussion) and participate by listening attentively, thinking, answering questions,
and asking questions, as appropriate. (If you must miss a class, your are responsible for obtaining class notes from another student and studying them on your own.)

4. To spend from eight to ten hours outside of class on this course.

5. To form and participate in your study group in a responsible manner (see handout on Study Groups for more information).

6. To write up homework in accordance with the Guidelines for Writing Homework.

7. To ask for help when needed (in office hours, study group, discussion sections, or from the Learning Skills Center).

8. To prepare your questions when you ask for help. (e.g., asking, "Can you help me with this problem?" doesn't show preparation. Saying, "I am having difficulty with this problem at this particular point. I have tried x and y, but they don't work. Can you help me?" does show preparation.)

9. To conduct yourself in class in a manner which is courteous and respectful of other students and their right to learn. This includes: a. Raising your hand to be called on rather than interrupting class. b. Keeping classroom conversations on task and at a low volume level. c. Refraining from distracting activities in class (sleeping,  reading the paper, etc.) d. Making every effort to be on time to class, and entering  quietly when lateness is unavoidable. e. Leaving seats near the door available for students who  must be late.
From: Bob Raasch 608 789 4738 <RAASCH@A1.WESTERN.TEC.WI.US>

I was fascinated by the list...not really depressed, but in affirming that
our students are not unlike yours. I work in a "technical college" in the
midwest, and see similar traits. I do however wonder what "head injury
students are"? I too am seeing an increase in students affected by drugs
(acting out behavior), and don't have a good handle on how to deal with it.
Seems to me some strategy has to be developed outside of the classroom arena
to at least help these individuals understand that their inappropriate
behavior is not acceptable. Respect for each other? Apparently not!
Now really anxious for the second list :-)

From: AESDeets@aol.com

Personally, at the high school level, I see more and more LESS Motivated
students. Therefore, the higher levels should be reflecting the same!!!!!!!
Most are too busy to do school! They see no revelance to their lives........
So they are just doing TIME!

What are you going to do about it? If you are one of those educators that
motivates your students, ..........What are we going to do about the rest of
the educators boring our students?
From: lmaitlan@nylink.org tips

I would imagine that my observations play into the situation that you
describe with respect to your own students. Students of mine who years ago
could not have gotten into four year colleges with their high school
records, are gaining admission. To say that their skills are weak in a
misuse of the English language. A small group of my better students are
opting to stay at home for two years and go to Nassau Community College
before transferring to a prestigious university for their B.A. Their
objective is to save money that they can then spend on a more expensive
college rathan than compromising or going deeply into debt.

In either case, these youngsters are familiar with cooperative learning and
use of technology. Although as a group they seem to read less and by
self-report have a lower "need for cognition" and more of an external "locus
of control," they do seem like nice people who want to succeed in life.
From: chm5299@madison.tec.wi.us (Cathie Marty) altlearn

Hi Ted - This is really bizarre! Just prior to reading your first message
on this topic, I was discussing this very topic with a co-worker. I work at
Madison Area Technical College in Madison, WI in Student Life. I also have
two daughters, one is a Freshman at Rice University in Houston, TX and the
other is a Sophomore in high school.

Later this week, Sue, my co-worker, and I are going to a conference with
one student from one of the student organizations at MATC. Sue & I were
discussing how our students are different than those at some of the schools
(4 year) that will be attending the conference and how difficult it is to
keep students that are functional active in organizations that we work with
such as the programming boad and the student government. Your list hit the
nail on the head as far as I'm concerned.

I would be very interested in receiving any other postings that you receive
on this subject. I know in the past there has been some "flaming" about
long postings to the ALTLEARN list, so I am sending to your address rather
than the list. If you receive other replies, please forward a copy of them
to me.

Our greatest concern is how to keep students interested and involved. So
many of the ones that are involved have other life difficulties that
prohibit their continued, active participation for the whole time that they
attend our school.

I also expressed my concern that I would be extremely disappointed if
either of my children were like most of the students that we work with (ie.
say they're going to do something and then don't and don't bother to let
anyone know that they couldn't follow through and hope that someone picks
up the ball for them, are late or don't show up at all when they say
they're going to, don't go to class and fall behind in studies, need
someone to tell them what to do and when all the time.) I read one other
reply to you on this and think it really is true that there are people
attending college now that wouldn't have attempted it 20 years ago. 20
years ago, the high school diploma was the entry level education required
for most jobs. Now, a bachelors degree is the minimum that many jobs
require (if not also volunteer experience in a related area.) This is
forcing people to attempt school. Also, our "shrinking" economy is forcing
people that would have worked in "blue collar" jobs 20 years ago to now go
to school beyond high school to get enough education to get a job that pays
a living wage.

chm@madison.tec.wi.us)  Cathie Marty

MAIL> reply from Ted
Hi Marty,
Thanks for you reply to my post. I enjoyed reading it and no it was
not too long. I think this subject is pretty universal. I am getting
responses from all levels, even K-12, with the same observations. It
seems as though the administrative response is to blame teachers and the
current system and thus try to impose ed reform measures.You have captured
the essence of the problem when you stated that you would be disappointed
if your children behaved that way. The problem is starting in the home and
we are faced with correcting years of lack of parental involvement and/or
responsibility. I suppose since parents are not doing their job, it will
fall to us. I am ready to take that on with the understanding that we will
only be able to reach a certain number of students and the rest will have to
come to the realization that education is important after they experience
life for a while and get tired of flipping burgers or washing floors.
From: Liz Miller <l-miller@tamu.edu>

Last semester I taught one of the remedial classes which deals with trying
to teach students habits/ways of succeeding in college. The students in
these classes are students who are generally on probation, had SATs lower
than 1000, or possess some other scholastically problematic trait.
I found that these students, as a whole, lack organization in their
scholastic life and either don't care to or don't know how to get organized
for scholastic pursuits. They are often late to class, often cut class,
tune out in class, do other course work in class, (and in the case of 8:00
a.m. classes, sleep in class) and have few, if any, skills in time
management. They are often charming and many have used that charm
previously to cut corners in doing their work. A large percentage of the
students are tardy in turning in assignments and then wheedle to be excused
for the tardiness or moan that the teacher just expects too much. They have
excuses (often quite innovative and creative) for not doing an assignment.
They are "sick" more often than students not in the remedial classes.
Obviously, since they are in remedial classes to begin with they have
trouble reading for meaning and in writing lean, clean, well-written prose.
They are lacking in test-taking and test-preparation skills. Please note
that these students are not lacking in intelligence or the ability to do the
work, but a fair percentage have told me that before they came to college,
if they got into trouble scholastically at school, either Mom or Dad went up
and straightened everything out--thus becoming enables to help the child
goof off. I found these students undependable and guilty of sloppy or
poorly glossed over class preparation. A large percentage of my class was
very messy when preparing assignments and did not go back to clean up
papers. They rarely edit or proof-read their papers unless I stood over
them with a stick and required these two things be done. These students did
not like group work because they said it was "too hard." They wanted me to
lecture all the time. When assignments were made the students wanted the
directions to be copious, gone over at least twice, and easily understood.
They rarely wrote down directions and ended up calling or coming by my
office to review the directions. They lacked creativity and
innovation--they never deviated from what I term "high school format."
This semester I am teaching a methods course and I have a class of very
bright students who are well-prepared for class, on-time to class, rarely
cut class, are quite well organized, do more than is expected or asked of
them when working on assignments. They are creative and innovative and
require few directions to do their assignments. Most of them use Daytimers
or other organizational diaries. They were efficient users of class time.
Few fail to meet assignment deadlines and when that happens they usually
call or come by ahead of time and explain what the problem is. They look
forward to group work and are quite sophisticated in working to open-ended
deadlines. They don't put off work and they rarely procrastinate. I do
have two students in this class who are older than average, but the thirty
others are all the usual college-age students. This group while not
superlative about editing and proofing their work are much advanced over the
remedial class. I find that proofreading and editing are two abilities
which most college students need to cultivate.
I hope this is helpful.
From: newportme@bluffton.edu (Newport, Mary Ellen)

Ted, In response to your query: "What is the profile of
>the 4C's student and how has it changed over the past 5 years?"....
> In order that we not come out of this discussion too DEPRESSED, I would
>like to follow this with one about helpful ideas and will send along a
>compilation of our deliberations from the second workshop at a later date.


>More older students 30-35+


>Fewer bright recent high school graduates

>More Bi-modal students YES

> Older students perform better

> Older students more anxious

>Decrease in verbal skills and participation HARD TO KNOW, I'VE ONLY BEEN


>Motivation is "economical" rather than intrinsic MENNONITE STUDENTS ARE




>Increased time employed outside YES

>Increased money problems YES

>Increase in "recovery" students (addiction) NO; OUR STUDENTS ARE


>Increase in numbers actively involved with drugs

> (leading to acting out behaviors) ALCOHOL, SOME DRUG USE

>Increase in Consumer orientation (in regards to education) NO; A GOOD


>Increase in learning disabilities (family related) NO SUPPORT OR SCREENING


>Decrease in respect and decrease in being well mannered NOPE. INCREASE OVER



>Increase in identified learning disabilities (new)NO DATA

>Increase in head injury students NO DATA

>Students learning styles are more action oriented I WISH!!

>Increased animosity between bi-modal groups (good students resent



>Increase in non-english speaking students WE'VE ALWAYS HAD A NUMBER OF



>Increase in attitude that attendance = pass (entitlement mindset) SOMEWHAT

>Increased psychological problems (more willing to talk about it) NOT OPENLY

>Increased personal crises and family problems NO DATA


>Increased destruction of library materials INC. THEFT, YES



>more single parents (both male and female) MORE PARENTS, FOR SURE.

Hope this helps, Ted. Writing this makes me realize how (perhaps thankfully?
in some areas?) behind the times we are out here in The Great Corn Desert.

From: "Packer, Liz" <Liz.Packer@regency.tafe.sa.edu.au> stlhe-l

I'm from the other side of the globe in Adelaide, South Australia. I do
some teaching and some curriculum work for Regency Institute of Technical
and Further Education in the Hotel School and for an attached private
institution, the International College of Hotel Management. The Institute,
and the TAFE system is more or less equivalent to US Community Colleges - we
have a focus on engineering, electronics and hospitality. I have showed
your e-mail to several of my colleagues who were quite surprised that your
list matches very closely with our own remarks and observations about
students, with the exception of an increase in brain injured students and
single parents.

What is this phenomenon ? Is it related to the age/maturity of the
observers ? Is there a significant shift in the middle class western
student attitude ? What ever do you suppose that we can do about it ?

From: IN%"williamsd@HAL.HAHNEMANN.EDU"

I love your postings on HEPROC. Keep them up. I am at a 4 year school,
specializing in allied health careers and find that our student body is
very much like yours. The average age of our student body is in the mid
to upper 20's. Most are looking for a second or third career with
families and other responsibilities. For many, the problem with college
is not the academic work, but the personal responsibilities. On the
other hand, some of the students are weak academically and when coupled
with personal problems, can easily become completely overwhelmed. We
have very few "traditional" (good students just out of high school).

Williams, Diana

For the first time ever I have had to actually ask students to quit talking,
playing tic tac toe (I took the first game away from them and they simply got
out another piece of paper and began again) etc in class. At first I thought
it was because I run a fairly informal class with many cooperative learning
acitvities, etc...but my colleagues are having similar incidents. I am amazed
because most of my students are future teachers and would think they would be
somewhat interested in learning...and of course our program is one with an
economic outcome and future...I am glad that my years of hs teaching has given
me some handle on classroom management!
From: Bia Bernum <biab@cc1.uca.edu>

When I read your list, I felt like I was reading a summary of my
students . . . especially the "less personal responsibility." I had
a student miss class because, "I worked late and my girlfriend was
suppose to wake me up." I am typically a very forgiving person, but
I looked at him and said, "You may want to buy an alarm clock."
I'd like to know how many students leave college do to issues
surrounding their children. We do not have a daycare center on
campus and I have many students (women) who end up bringing their children to
class or can't make it becuase their babysitter cancelled. I talked
to my dept. chair about this. His excuse: the school can't afford
it and "there are plenty of daycare centers in town." A vast
majority of the campus is male. I don't think they get it.
From: "Charles E. Elliott, Ph.D." <cee1@psu.edu>
Subject: Re: Bi-modal students (from Heidi Koring)

Ted, you have raised some very intriguing questions. I there any way that
I can get you to write a summary of your college's process that you went
through for the ACADV Electronic Journal (Heidi Koring forwarded you inquiry
to our discussion network and I am the Executive Editor for the ACADV-EJ).
Maybe even consider co-authoring with a few coworkers at your college (like
Heidi) or do come collaborative work with a few NACADA colleagues on the
process or results of your inquiry.

I have responded to your query based on our school. Penn State Altoona
enrolls about 3,000 lower division students aspiring to attain a Penn State
degree in some area. We attract a large pool from the midAtlantic region
and are moving to attract more international students, scholary high school
graduates from other parts of the US as well as our own central PA region.

The bimodal you refer to is not connected in any with the 4C's LSI? You are
seeing students who are either prepared or not for college. Is that the
gist of your conclusion? If so, allow me to comment. Many time our
perception of our students are drawn from a subjective, self-selected pool
of students that have made an impression on us for some reason -- Bad grades
or Dean's list every time, never on time or always on time, etc... We
seldom examine the middle of the two extremes with any sense of objectivity,
because they are getting by. We are generally caught by those struggling
and those cruising. Is it possible to examine the college data over the
past 5 to 10 year period based on some consistent, stable, objective
criteria to determine shifts in student characteristics. Compare your
results with national trends reported by Astin, ETS, or ACT (Wes Habley is a
good NACADA resource for national trends) Is the student population at your
college shifting any more than in other parts of the country. I know we
have seen an increase in adult students, because we have been recruiting
this group and have data to track the increases. Keep proportional shifts
in mind too. A national trend of increasing numbers of returning adults may
be misinterpreted for schools that already cater to adult students. It is
no surprise to see increases in those numbers when 60 to 70% of your
students are already adult students. How do your schools demographics
compare with the national stats.

I use a Kolb LSI to assess the types of students we have. Last year I was
fortunate enough to conduct a modified random sampling using such
instruments, measuring learning styles, career awareness, and undecidedness.
Much of what we do in the students first year is of little consequence to
what we want to accomplish, rather the students' agenda. Do we really know
what are the first year students concerns and expectations? In reviewing
the results of the LSI, I can usually expect to find more Assimilative types
in my class than the other three style preferences. The assmilators are
reflective and abstract thinkers. This is to be expected because the
college environment is designed for reflective abstract thinkers. It is the
other types that will have a hard time adjusting. How do we meet the needs
of these learners, or do we expect them to fit in?

Many times we expect student to fit in to the college mold, when they are
truly better off in a different type of post secondary setting. Do we give
students these options and if so do we then count these are lost students
through attrition, because they end up somewhere else.

A good idea, as the examination process begins to lead us to ask are we
making a difference. Is it positive or negative. Realistically, is it in
our power to control these characteristics or is it the demographics or our

We are seeing some shifts in student characteristics and demographics, some
of which we are trying to control. We want more scholars, so we are
recruiting them. We want more athletes, so we are recruiting them. We want
more international students, so we are recruiting them. At the same time,
we have relaxed our entrance controls for the weaker students. Our less
prepared student numbers are increasing too. We have to address the needs
of our community and we have many that are not ready for a full blown
college program. Community colleges are like that...you know.

>More older students 30-35+
Yes, but only by design. We are pretty isolated in our populations.

>Fewer bright recent high school graduates
Yes, but again by design. We are recruiting them.

>More Bi-modal students

> Older students perform better

> Older students more anxious
Motivation!!!! The answer and reason is motivation and commitment to a goal.

>Decrease in verbal skills and participation

>Motivation is "economical" rather than intrinsic
Has always been there. Maybe when you compare generational differences, you
will see noticiable differences. Students are noticably more pragmatic.
Good consumers are more economical are they not?
YES. This has been demonstrated as a national trend. And not always
positive. With the increase in work, stduents increase the amount of short
time, extrinsic rewards, creating conflicts with the long term, intrinsic
rewards of college. Stop outs may be increasing. Costs are rising and
students must place these increases in perspective with college goals. It
is the more mature student that can do this successfully without some
outside assistance.

>Increased money problems
As above.

>Increase in "recovery" students (addiction)
Gov't is paying for rehabilitation. This is one form of that cost.

>Decreased writing abilities
Previous educational training and expectations has a direct impact on this.

>Increase in numbers actively involved with drugs

> (leading to acting out behaviors)
I have no feel for this.

>Increase in Consumer orientation (in regards to education)
see above comment, "economical"

>Increase in learning disabilities (family related)
More LD are being identified in the schools for various reasons are more are
coming with the documentation. National trend, I believe.

>Decrease in respect and decrease in being well mannered
No. I have not seen this.

>Increase in identified learning disabilities (new)
Screening techniques are better than ever.

>Increase in head injury students
Medical rehabilitation.

>Students learning styles are more action oriented
This is interesting. I'd be interested in how this is documented.

>Increased animosity between bi-modal groups (good students resent
I have seen this many of our subgroups of students. Not a general student
characteristic however.

>Decreased knowledge base (less reading)
May be.

>Increased demand for more help
Our tutoring has increased, but it may be better communication and advertising.

>Lowered expectations by students of work outside of classroom
Most students want to know how manage the out of class work, not necessarily
avoid it.

>more bright students with special needs
Gifted and talented stduents have their own unique issues.

>increase in lower functioning students
This group is demanding, but needs to know they can get help.

>Increase in non-english speaking students
Depends on recruitment and regional demographics.

>Increase in attitude that attendance = pass (entitlement mindset)
I have not seen this attitude increase.

>Increased psychological problems (more willing to talk about it)
A talk show side effect?

>Limited vocabularies
So is mine!!

>Increased personal crises and family problems
Yes, take a look at the society and regional demographics of your students'

>Increased economic strains
Yes, increased cost -- limited increase in benefits.
Conduct a cost -- benefits analysis for your college.

>Decreased problem solving skills
Limited decision making experience as well. I think this may be generational.

>Increased destruction of library materials

>College is not a priority

>Lack of pride in assignments

>decreased individual responsibility

>more single parents (both male and female)
Students that are single parents!!! Yes.
From: Patricia Ann McGee <pamcgee@tenet.edu>

I have taught at the high school and university/college level for about a
total of 12 years. I have taught at a state university for the last 4
years in the Division of Education... here are my thoughts.

> More older students 30-35+
Definitely. In the division of educaiton we tend to think of our
students as 'non'traditional' although virtually nothing has been done to
meet the needs of the non-traditional student.

We have: women who have raised children and are returning to complete a
degree; retired military; people who have decided to change careers.
This does not seem to be limited to education.

> Fewer bright recent high school graduates
Definitely. There does not seem to bee a base of cultural or cognitive
knowledge that we can assume our students have.
Don't get me started on critical thinking skills.

> More Bi-modal students
I think this is habot more than inherent.

> Older students perform better
Yes, they tend to raise the level of discussion and challenge their peers.

> Older students more anxious
I see different kinds of anxiety. Young and older are concerned aobut
grades but older students seem to be more concerend with 'getting it'.

> Decrease in verbal skills and participation
I agree... oral and written skills have declined and the student do not
seem to be concerned aobu this. I have seniors and have to get them to
re-write before I will grade....

I wonder how much this is related to the passivity of our world. TV,
drive-throughs, automatic banking.... even voting electronically.

> Motivation is "economical" rather than intrinsic
Yes! And we are supposed to be able to count on adults having this!

> Increased time employed outside
Definitely, a non-tradtional aspect of most learners that is not
addressed in scheduling classes, provide support resoources or out of
class demands. Not that these should be doen away with but perhaps
longer sessions could be held to allow for the demands upon their time
outside of school.

> Increased money problems
Endemic throughout our society.

> Increase in "recovery" students (addiction)
Amazing, isn't it? Yes and there also seems to be an increase in abusive
childhoods. One of my peers has students write aobut their childhoods
and he insists that the majority have some co-depdendent expereince in
their past or present.

> Decreased writing abilities
And a lack of willingness to improve these skills, pretty scary for
future teachers.

> Increase in numbers actively involved with drugs

> (leading to acting out behaviors)
Less obvious in his field.

> Increase in Consumer orientation (in regards to education)

> Increase in learning disabilities (family related)
There seems to be here and also a need to be accomodated to.. different

> Decrease in respect and decrease in being well mannered
Amen! Respect for each other and opinions for each other. I carry on
several online discussion grousp with my classes and every semester we
have at least one incidence of intolerance over a seemingly inocuous

> Increase in identified learning disabilities (new)

> Increase in head injury students
Not aware of this.

> Students learning styles are more action oriented
I am not sure I believe in these... *preferences* yes, but style...

> Increased animosity between bi-modal groups (good students resent
> disruptions
Agreed, very intolerant and often to the point of confrontations.

> Decreased knowledge base (less reading)
My students rarely read anything outside of textbooks(I used to poll them
at the beginning of the semester) My classes are very intensive in
reading and I have come to use assignments or quizzes to force them to

> Increased demand for more help
Yes, everything needs to be reveiwed, at least that is what the student feels.

> Lowered expectations by students of work outside of classroom
Definitely. One common complaint that runs through many courses.

> more bright students with special needs

> increase in lower functioning students

> Increase in non-english speaking students

> Increase in attitude that attendance = pass (entitlement mindset)
Less aware of these..

> Increased psychological problems (more willing to talk about it)
Yes, lots of informal counseling. Also seemt hat students bring things
up in public class sessions more.

> Limited vocabularies

> Increased personal crises and family problems

> Decreased problem solving skills

> Increased destruction of library materials
Unaware of this.

> College is not a priority
Yes, I canot udnerstadn why they are investing the time and money and yet
not concerned aobut what they are learning.

> Lack of pride in assignments
Yes and generally not willing to use technology.

> decreased individual responsibility
It's always someone elses fault!

> more single parents (both male and female)
From: PSACCHETTI@mecn.mass.edu

Subject: student profile
Ted, Are you sure you're not talking about Berkshire Community
College? Apparently that profile can fit any college today.
I have a Mental Health/Mental Retardation Technicians Training
program here at BCC. The is a grant funded program designed
to train the unemployed or underemployed to gain new skills and
enter the Mental Health field. In the pat cycles our students
have been mainly 30-35 years old single moms on welfare. They
had a tough time with the academic piece of the program (12
college credits) but they were all inerested in what we were
attempting to teach them and there was no problem with attitude
or behavior. Lately, however, the students coming into the
program, while about the same age group, are whiners, complainers
and I've never experienced the terrible attitudes that we now
see. The respect that use to given us just because of the
positions we held (whether justified or not), has now all but
disappeared. They is no respect any longer for anyone. The
students feel that they deserve what we are giving them, in our
case this includes, free tuition, fees, books, chilcare allowance,
and transportation costs (not bad, huh?) All of this is their
right to receive.

I am now at the final stages of completely my master's thesis.
I research the retention rate decline here at BCC. The major
piece of this project was a survey sent to 1,000 students with
9 or credits during this presetn semester. The survey was very
qualitiative asking them exactly what they liked or did not
like about the college and what things would they like to see
changed or improveds on campus. This included programs,
support services, and campus policies, and anything else they
wanted to talk about. This was the first survey of this type
sent out in a long time (if ever) and the students have
responded with enough information to do ten theses. I will
be presenting this paper May 7 as the final step in earning
my masters in ed. adm. I will also be presenting the findings
to BCC's admintrators sometime soon (this was done with the
approval and support of the President, Dean of Academic Affairs
and pretty much everyone else on campus. I could never have
done it without all of their help. Anyways, I would gladly
share any global findings, if you are interested. From
what you wrote it looks like we are as you said "in the same
From: Annette Gourgey <FMCBH@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>

Your profile of students fits very much with my experience. Both Upsala (now closed) and Bloomfield College in NJ became, in effect, open admissions because of declining

enrollment of traditional students. There were indeed two subgroups: older, often evening, students who were strongly motivated and younger, less skilled students fresh out of high school, often less motivated. I suspect that much of that was a

bravado masking fear and discouragement. I also suspected that these students (the most difficult of whom were athletes) drove some of the better students away. The poorest ones dropped out after freshman year.

The students often had social problems. Many came from poor, single-parent families, and some unknown number were young parents themselves or involved with drugs. At Upsala we had two strong (demanding, tough love) male teachers who worked with developmental students and to some extent became needed father figures for them.

At Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC), where I now teach statistics, I have an evening class of mature students who are a pleasure to work with. But I have heard that the developmental classes reflect the same bimodal distribution.

I have been mulling over your other query about high expectations. I seem to get the best results with assignments that push students but are not beyond their reach, with lots of help and encouragement that I know they can do it. E.g., in statistics I

assign three papers: two mock reports interpreting data from the newspaper and one designing a short questionnaire and collecting and analyzing their own data. The computer lab technician at BMCC thinks the assignments are too hard for our students; but although the students have been somewhat anxious, their work so far has been

very good, and I think they are learning more about statistics in the real world.


Hi Ted, and Greetings from Laramie, WY, home of the Wyoming Cowboys!! I
read your post w/ interest for two reasons - 1) I'm the Coordinator of the
Adult Student Center/Women's Center at UW (which is the only 4 year institution
in the state of Wyoming) 2) I used to live (a long time ago) in Provincetown.
Exactly where is 4C's located?

But - to answer your post...you were mostly right on the mark w/ your
descriptions of beginning students. Question: do you have admittance
standards at 4C and if so, how stringent are they? UW used to have an Open
Door policy for any resident of the state, and it has only been a year or two
since they have been implemented admittance standards (basic # yrs of
math/science/english, etc.). As a result, there has been a new category of
students - "admitted w/ conditions", and even non-trads fall into this category.

My experience (both in my job and as nontrad student) has been that the
non-trads tend more towards the overachiever side (they call them "curve
busters" here), with an increase in demand for services (tutoring, computer
classes, etc.) They bring with them a wealth of real-life experiences, and
have often given up that "real-life" to return to school (whether for the first
time or a changing career track), ie it's a major priority.

So far as "trad" students go it will be a year or two before they lose
the large number of top notch students they currently have (the '96 high school
class here in Laramie is so competitive that even as a junior you had to have a
4.0 to join the Honor Society). The biggest problem Wyoming has is that they
are simply losing their population base, due to the fallout of the oil industry
(read lack of jobs!).

Another factor to keep in mind, especially in this part of the country
is how big of a factor financial cost, and available aid really is.
Oh - for the record, NonTrads (which UW defines as 25 or older)
constitute 31% of the UW population (ie this does not count the nontrads at the
seven community colleges we have around the state! The % was 25% in 1989, so
the non trads are gaining in numbers.

We even have a Regional nontrad organization (ANSR - Assoc. of
Nontraditional Students of the Rockies) and are trying to get a national
organization off and running (NNTSA - national nontrad student assoc.). Both
are open to students, as well as professionals who work in the field.
Hope this helps - if you want more info just give me a shout! Just
remember that you're shouting from Sea Level...and we're at 7200 ft. above!
From: Michael Censlive <MICHAEL56@mdx.ac.uk>

total agreement with your findings,except you have more than one brite interested student per class,i now liken my tutorials to seances,what they make of my lectures i dare not imagine. i told my colleagues the concept of "magic chairs",they agreed that
more than half their classes behave as if by just attending they will change state from ignorance to knowing,the idea of study as in 3 hours work per night, every night ,reading etc is alien to the current generation of UK students,with one or two odd exceptions,who read round the subject ask enjoyable questions,respond to dialogue.

there is a singular apathy in our students only one /two in a class of 15 will have attempted tutorial questions, i have put a question up on the OHP,and sat for one hour refusing to do it for them,and even then only the two good guys beavered away to
try the problem. i have communicated with you before on stimulation of students,and have taken your advice, it is interesting that this problem seems endemic,and its not just me feeling inadequate. is it just us old guys who sense /feel this ,do the young dynamic staff have a better interaction with the students ??