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                   What are your students like responses

1. What are your new students like and how have they changed over the past five years?
2. What are you doing to deal with the changes your see in new students?
3.   Why do you think the changes cited above are occurring?
   If you wish to view my extended list of student characteristics please visit the following web site. I would say that virtually all of the characteristics on this list have deteriorated over the past five years. This despite the actions we have taken which are presented at the second web site below.

What are your New students like?
What is your institution doing to encourage student retention?
"Tischio, Victoria" <>

You pose interesting, yet, I think, troubling questions.I just had a

meeting yesterday with faculty representing the various programs in the

School of Business and Public Affairs at my university about revising the

general education writing requirement.One faculty member (Criminal

Justice) was complaining that her students writing abilities have been

decreasing every year, and was concerned about what to do.Another faculty

(Accounting) responded, saying that he has heard that complaint repeatedly

over the last twenty years.The fact that concerns about the

ever-decreasing preparation of students for college is so perennial is

problematic because it may say more about us (our age, our increasingly

specialized knowledge, our socioeconomic status, etc.) than it actually does

about the students' actual abilities.

Another reason I find it troubling is because the reflex reaction, often, is

to locate the "problem" in the students.I can see, for instance, that

increasing resistance to doing work outside of class can be correlated to an

increasing number of hours spent at work (earning tuition dollars).

Students who work, understandably, want to spend their homework time wisely.

I can also see that resistance to wanting to think critically about certain

issues can be a similarly motivated energy-saving reflex on the part of

students' who are over-worked and stressed for a variety of reasons.

So, I'm sure that you are seeing the characteristics that you describe in

your classroom, but I'm not sure that they always result from lack of

preparedness.Instead, it is possible that other material conditions are

impinging on the students lives in ways that encourage them to make

educational decisions that differ from the ones that we would have them



Biobabe217@AOL.COMDiane Holben

I work in a public high school and I can safely say that the characteristics you describe are exactly what we are seeing at the college level.It is ironic that, as we move toward more accountability and higher standards, we are finding that the students are completely unwilling to put forth the effort required to meet the standards.I teach an AP class with 19 students and currently two of them are failing because they completely refuse to make any attempt to complete work or study for tests.Even my high-achieving students have adopted the approach that homework infringes upon "their time" and then try to quickly copy assignments from the few who actually do the work or (an increasing problem) from the notebooks of friends who took the course previously.The students seem to have lost any sense of the importance of learning anything; they merely want the grade.

What are we trying to do about it?We are trying to hold onto our standards and to remediate students who are having difficulties.However, it is difficult to suddenly take a tenth grader and try to teach that student reading and math skills that the student should have learned years ago.Honestly, we have more students dropping out as well.It seems to me that the parental support for holding the students to standards is not there.Many parents want the school to take the responsibility for disciplining their students so they do not have to be bothered at home.I had a parent recently say that she wanted an IEP for her son to state that he didn't have to do homework because she couldn't motivate him to do it; she considered homework unimportant because "who does homework as part of their job anyway?"If this is the attitude of the parent, then is it any wonder that the students do not follow through in completing assignments?

Sorry to sound so dismal, but until some responsibility is placed back upon students and parents for pulling their weight at home, this situation is not going to improve and the move toward higher standards will be doomed to failure.


ProfSci@AOL.COMAlan D. Sills


I'm seeing a very similar scenario in my district here in north jersey. Its a

public high school in an affluent, 99% Caucasian area. I believe that many of

my students are suffering from "affluenza" (a term coined last year on 60

minutes if I recall). Cheating is rampant, the teacher is deemed always wrong

when there is a parental complaint and as you stated, the kids just don’t want

to work.

Out of curiosity, what kind of community are you teaching in? I'm trying to

figure out whether this is everywhere (depressing if it is) or if its worst

in the "best" schools.


Biobabe217@AOL.COMDiane Holben

I teach in a community that is probably also about 99% Caucasian.Most of the students are middle to upper middle class, but there is a significant portion (10% or so) that are low income by state standards.I think that "affluenza" is coupled with parents who do not want their children to ever suffer any consequences for anything. As a result, these kids are so coddled that they think they deserve everything and need to give nothing.

What I find interesting is that the cheating is much more rampant among the college-bound students.They cite "pressure to get into a good college" but somehow do not make the connection that they will not last (hopefully) at a "good college" without really knowing what they are doing in a class.What I find most disturbing is that the students do not have any remorse whatsoever when caught.The only spot of humor that I find in the situation is that they are even too lazy to cheat well, as evidenced by the take-home test I just gave where students obviously copied from other students who had different versions of the test (which I TOLD them I was going to do...).Pretty sad when you're too lazy to even read the question before you copy the answer...


Susan McClory <>

Boy, are your questions timely.Just last week, our Student Success

Committee (an operating committee of our Academic Senate) that I chair

had a very interesting conversation about this exact topic.

One observation that certainly does not tell the whole story is that

more high school graduates are expected to go to college than ever

before.That means that we (especially here at a State University) are

dipping deeper and deeper into the pool.I have noticed the same

characteristics you mention and more.Students are not interested in

learning.They think a degree is something we GIVE them, not something

they EARN.The also seem to have highly over inflated opinions of the

knowledge they acquired in high school.

I often tell my new instructors that they will spend much of their time

during the first semester convincing their students that the really

don't know the material - at least at the level that we demand.We have

all experienced the grade inflation in the high schools and I really

feel sorry for the students who have been led to believe that they are

proficient when they really are not.

What are we doing to address this issue (besides complaining amongst

ourselves)?We are currently in the planning stages of a new program

called the Metropolitan University Scholars' Experience (MUSE).Just

another fancy name for freshman seminars with a twist.Students will

enroll in any of a variety of classes under this umbrella that will

consist of 15 students and a professor who will teach something he or

she is "passionate about".These are topics not usually found in the

curriculum but can provide an interesting learning experience.And, by

the way, with a 15-1 ratio, the faculty member will become a mentor for

these students.Along the way they will learn the skills and attitudes

necessaryto become a true student.

I'm sure this will not be a cure-all.But, if it makes a small dent, we

and the students will be better off.


Senneville <psennev@ILI.NET>

Thus my questions are.

> 1. What are your new students like and how have they changed over the

> past five years?

In a word?Lazier.Also, whinier.I asked them the other day to look up

the answers to a few question, one per person in the class.Since there are

only 9 in this particular class, I offered extra points to find the answer

to the 10th.No one rose to the challenge.These are supposedly the best

students in the Junior class.No one wanted to get the extra points offered

for answering the simple question:What was detente and which president

advocated it?

> 2. What are you doing to deal with the changes your see in new

> students?

My immediate reaction to the situation above was to tell them how lazy they

were.But I have since decided that if they don't do the work, they don't

get the credit.I am hoping that a little "tough love" will move them to do


> 3.Why do you think the changes cited above are occurring?

I think they are too used to having people hand things to them.I think

they have been told so often how wonderful they are that they don't think

they have to do anything to get a good grade.

Recently I returned term papers.There was only 1 "A" in the whole batch

and his was an "A" because he turned it in a day early because he is a

member of crew and would be out the day it was due and I would not extend

the deadline for crew members.They had nearly two months to do their

papersand I was not about to extend the deadline since one person would be

missing from class on the day it was due.

Maybe I am venting as we approach the end of the school year, but I have

noticed this lazy streak coming on for awhile.This year, however, has been

the worst.


Helmut Lang <>

My current new students are as motivated as those in the past.

Indeed, in some ways they may be better informed and perhaps more

mature.This may be due to exposure to tv and particularly the


I can't help but wonder if some of the complainers are just loath to

take students from where they are in their development and varying

backgrounds. Instead they may have a preconceived notion of what they

should know or be able to do to succeed in their courses.Perhaps it

is just easier to blame the students.In short, perhaps some

instructors are infected by the "good old days" syndrome.


smithba <smithba@ULV.EDU>

Thank you for your posting regarding "How are your new students different?"I

found the responses very interesting.I'm new to the world of higher

education, having spent the last 8 years working with at-risk young adults in

job training programs (the young people I worked with were mainly high school

dropouts, teen parents, on probation, former or current gang members, etc.).

It seems the skills I learned working with that population offer some

valuable lessons for me here at a small, private college.I don't know if you

want to add this to the web site or not, but I've shared this with other

post-secondary instructors and they said it was useful:

a) In teaching the group I worked with, I learned to shift my teaching style

to include various learning styles.I would never lecture for an hour, or

discuss for an hour--I may start with a lecture, move to a discussion, and

then have a quiz or in-class writing assignment.And that's not because we're

teaching the "MTV generation", it's just because it's more interesting to

teach and to learn that way, and it always has been.

b) You cannot lower your expectations.I would adapt lessons for my classes

but never lower expectations.I've had many groups of "remedial students" do

college-level work, with the appropriate coaching and additional preparation.

c) Even if they don't follow through, you must.If you have said, "You must

turn in all assignments to receive credit," then you accept no excuses and you

fail people who did not turn in assignments.

d) For students who simply fail or drop out, it is better to consider the idea

that they are not ready for college yet, rather than thinking that they're

"just losers."That "loser" may come back in five years, to your school or

another one, motivated for whatever reason to complete a degree or


The main thing that I learned was that (mainly traditional-age) students may

complain about it, but that they appreciate and respect structure.


awilloby@ENTERNET.CO.NZAlan Willoughby

In response to Ted's posting, I would certainly agree with his

observations from my teaching in outdoor education.Students

want to know 'the correct answer' rather than evaluate a range of

possible solutions for a given problem.This seems to be

associated with a goal fixation - let's get there as fast as possible

with the least amount of digression from the straight line.

Outdoor education requires experiential learning.Basic skills are

taught, usually to ensure safety, then they are practiced on a trip in

the outdoors, and other skills are 'absorbed' when they are

observed and practiced.Assessment takes place against

established criteria (unit standards) which are subsets of the skills,

attitudes and knowledge learned.

The downside of having these unit standards is that students

become very focused on these.From their perspective, the

program becomes assessment driven, and activities which are

not perceived to directly lead to assessable outcomes are seen as


The other factor that comes in here is the lack of understanding of

the term 'competent'.Students frequently consider that if they

have done a task once, they are therefore competent.Some even

consider that they can carry out a task competently simply by

being told how to do it, without even doing it once.

These problems are accentuated by the training providers or

schools who have contracted to teach these students and get them

to a specified level in a set time.They put on a great deal of

pressure to minimize time, and therefore experience, so that they

can compete successfully against other organizations offering the

same courses.A real example - a normal Certificate in Outdoor

Recreation (Assistant Leadership) costs about $6000 and takes

about 32 weeks of teaching and practice.A local polytechnic

offered the same course as a summer school for $900 for 9 weeks.

I also think that much of the problem is caused by

teachers'/assessors' attitudes towards assessment.Do we ask

open questions which require thinking, or do we simply ask

questions which have definite, structured answers?Are we

prepared to spend the time to carefully evaluate a student's

argument or would we prefer to place a mask over a sheet of

multi choiceanswers?If we expect students to be able to reason

and think, then we must make it worth their while to do this and not

trivialize their learning by asking recall type questions.

Another aspect of society during the past few years has been goal

setting.Many courses now include this aspect - find out what you

want to do and go for it.Ignore everything that you pass through,

stay focused on the goal.This ignores the incidental learning

available from slowly digesting information, investigating side

branches, smelling the roses.It's taking the highway, not the

scenic route.As the PanAm advert used to say, "PanAm makes

the going great."Are we really in such a hurry to reach the end of

our lives that we don't take time to enjoy the trip?Many great

discoveries would have remained undiscovered if researchers had

focused only on their goals.

One other aspect is the supposed focus of education.Education, I

believe, should be non-goal specific, and should encourage

students to investigate, hypothesize, relate aspects of learning,

etc.Training, on the other hand, can be focused on a goal -

gaining the skills to do something.A great deal of training is sold

as education.The focus in senior high school is often what job this

learning will lead to.Educational agencies focus on skill

development, despite evidence that student attitudes and generic

abilities are of far greater importance to employers than specific

skills for a job.It is ironic that, at a time when the amount of

knowledge available has mushroomed to the extent that learning

how to learn has become more important than learning information,

educational organizations have closed down the focus so that

learning has become more specific, relating to the knowledge

needed to pass and exam or gain a job.

Students are very perceptive (at least before they have spent too

long in the education system).They will produce what they see it

is necessary to produce to achieve at the level that we expect.If

we expect monkeys, we will get monkeys.If we expect people

who can reason, think, apply, learn and use information, we will get

those.We must make sure our message and expectations are



The difference between now and 5 years ago is that cellular phones,

beepers,and pagers take precedence over class!


Let me get on my soap box for this answer to #3. Bear in mind that I have 32 years experience and this is only my observations based on those years.I could write a book about my personal experiences trying to get thru school (Boston Public) and how I finally managed.I have no disabilities and a fairly high IQ, I just hated the system.

Anyway... for what it is worth.

I taught Primary grades for 20 years.The average K-2 teacher manages 263 basic skills per year that determine a child's future academic success.The average college student will have to master 6-10 skills that s/he will use for their career.

The root problem as I see it lies with the early teachers and then the high school teachers.Everything in between is socialization and practice.What we have had over the last 15 years and are now reaping what was sowed, is poor quality teachers."Water seeks it's own level."The average teacher functions at the 39%ile.How can s/he help my child achieve at the 95%ile? So you basically have the blind leading the blind and when there are no leaders you have chaos, which is what we are experiencing.Couple that with parents who hate the educational system because "if we were really smart people we would be doing something else and making money"I wish I had a dollar for every parent who told me "You are so bright, what are you doing teaching?" So these 13-ers (13th American generation) are the first generation that will be worse off than their parents, education-wise and financially.A tough row to hoe.


"Tom Marino" <>

I was intrigued by the question about what students are like.In large part

my interest centers on my own hypothesis that we will see a significant

change in learning at the undergraduate level during the next year or two.

I teach first medical students and quite frankly don't expect to see much of

a change for another 4 - 5 years.

1. What are your new students like and how have they changed over the past

five years?

My students have not changed much over the last 5 years.Their attitudes

toward learning are summed up in the following response I received from a

student recently.The student said, "The educational system in America has

allowed students to succeed with sporadic bursts of pressure-driven

motivation to complete a task immediately before them and simply move on to

the next. Self-motivated learning is not fostered in American schools and

neither is self-discipline to study the material in hopes of understanding

and retention of the knowledge so it can be applied in the distant future.

Students are not taught these fundamental skills and few are fortunate

enough to have the insight or instruction to develop them on their own. So

often motivation for learning is a means to an end, viewing learning

opportunities merely as the task at hand and another step to climb and leave

behind rather than a piece of the complex puzzle of knowledge required at

the end of the path to be successful in the next."

So I am very interested in learning whether students are changing and

whether I have something exciting to look forward to in the next few years.


Margo husbyscheelm@HOME.COMM. Husby Scheelar

1. What are your new students like and how have they changed over the past five years?

Perhaps my perceptions are distorted because I work more with adult

students than with traditional ones, but my sense is that the level of

preparation of traditional students is lower, writing ability is definitely lower,

stress is higher, the level of fear, hostility and distrust is higher, the amount of

plagiarism is higher, the desire to get a degree rather than an education

is higher. Some have an awareness of global concerns and want to do

something about the environmental and social problems of the world.

Most--and I use that term carefully--are abysmally ignorant of the history

of feminism and of struggles for civil rights for non-white, non-WASP

peoples. Most don't know the difference between WWI and WWII and get the

latter confused with Vietnam on a regular basis. In some ways, despite the

fear and stress, a disturbing social complacency exists, one that is very

difficult to challenge. BUT, at the same time, when

challenged/encouraged/exhorted to expand their horizons and given a safe

space in which to do it, the traditional students rise to the occasion as

well as any adult student I've had in the past 5 years. Those who do rise

to the challenge are some of the most incredible young adults one could

ever meet; they give me hope for the future.

>2. What are you doing to deal with the changes your see in new students?

The University of Calgary instituted U of C 101, a week long orientation

program for frosh, something many universities have done for years but we

just began a few years ago. The Faculty in which I teach has begun holding

first year seminar courses in which interdisciplinary research methods,

public speaking and analytical writing are taught. Since first year

students tend to end up in lecture halls of 300 or more students, these

seminars provide a far greater opportunity for students/instructor contact and

encouragement in the scholarly processes.

My personal approach is to encourage students to see themselves as more

than fodder for the industrial machine, to give themselves permission to

dream beyond the concept of ultimate reality as "graduating and getting a

job" and to think beyond their own North American social complacency.

Students also need to learn that they can trust themselves. Parker Palmer

is right when he says that our educational institutions are institutions

that instill fear (cf Courage to Teach); students will plagiarize sometimes

because they are lazy, sometimes because they think instructors are stupid

and sometimes out of fear that their own ideas are simply not good enough,

that they aren't smart enough to say anything about Plato or Aquinas

or Hegel or Camus. They are afraid; they are in competition with every other

student for scholarships, places in grad school and for jobs. They are

defensive because they have been taught that they live in a "dog eat dog"

world and they will bite if they feel cornered, whether that biting is

evidenced as anger or as plagiarism.

Frankly, though, many of the changes need to be made in the K-12 area; we

get students at the age of 18 who have already been corrupted by a system

that denies their personhood, denies their uniqueness, denies the good of collegial

working and promotes competition and fear. We are swimming upstream against

a rather powerful tide and that tide is not ebbing at all.

3.Why do you think the changes cited above are occurring?

Part of the reason for the increased stress and the desire to "just get the

damn degree" is the fact that more of our traditional students are working

longer hours. The student who takes a full load of courses and works less

than 10 hours a week is an anomaly; most are working 10-30 hours a week,

and those are not the adult students with careers--those are the 18-23 year olds

holding down McJobs just to pay increased tuition, books and living costs. Ours is largely a

commuter campus, so perhaps this problem is more evident than it would be

on a residential campus.

Part of the reason is societal pressure to get a 'real' job--learn the facts,

get out and apply them. Critical thinking may be applauded by some

business people, but students see more potential in memorizing facts

than in developing critical, analytical abilities and the skills to coherently

communicate ideas.

I don't know what the situation is like elsewhere but my sense--and it is

*only* anecdotal, not researched--is that our culture is infantalizing our

young people while, at the same time, presenting them with adult situations

they lack the maturity to cope with. While advertising to 10 year olds

plays on sex, the 20 year old is still a student, a dependent, a "not quite

adult", old enough to vote in Canada, old enough to go to war (should the

need arise), old enough to drink alcohol, but not considered a 'real' member

of society. A BA today is what Grade 12 was a few years ago and an

MA is increasingly demanded, not for the sake of learning but for the

sake of getting or keeping jobs. As the demand for more education

increases, the age of the graduate will also increase and

the sense of still having only 'teenage' responsibilities may well delay

maturity in our students. I know that I'm generalizing here, but the

subject does concern me.

At the same time that we are teaching students the need to compete with

everyone else for every advantage, we are not educating them as to how to

take a stand, a real stand, to call something "right" and something else

"wrong"; everything seems to be relative and every idea is as good as the

next one and God forbid we ever say that one idea is absolutely wrong.

Students have a great difficulty writing to a thesis or even creating a

thesis statement. The idea of actually discovering and arguing a point and

proving that point, filling in holes along the way, is a frightening

prospect. Back in the days of the dinosaurs when I was in high school, we

were taught to do this. If it's being taught anywhere today, I'm not seeing

it. Philosophical relativism makes scholarship rather difficult.

And, at the risk of alienating every IT person on the list, I'd also say

that part of the difficulty is the way in which consciousness is affected

by the Internet. Yes, I know, the Internet doesn't kill brain cells;

individuals kill brain cells. It is not my intent to demonize a tool

which can certainly be put to good use. But the hypertext

flipping from one screen to another, the flat surface transitory nature of

material on the Net does not encourage sitting with one thought and

analyzing that thought for long periods of time. Minds impacted by the

jolts of the net have difficulty settling into approaching material that

doesn't jolt them in the same way. Again, I have not researched this. I

have only the anecdotal evidence of students themselves who talk about

their struggle to actually sit down and read and re-read and re-read in the

way that one must do in order to understand some material.



Certainly there’s something to what Margo says here:

Ø3.Why do you think the changes cited above are occurring?

ØPart of the reason for the increased stress and the desire to

Ø“just get the damn degree” is the fact that more of our traditional

Østudents are working longer hours.

But I think there’s also a more practical and immediate reason we

tend to forget: because of government policies, the students are

paying for the education – or at any rate paying a startlingly

higher proportion of the cost than they did a couple of decades ago.

This does do things: it makes them evaluate the education in terms of

cost-benefit analysis, and it puts them in a position where not

getting a pretty good job soon after graduating plummets them into

bankruptcy.Students here at a solely “liberal arts” school spend

their four years terrified that they’ll graduate with a McJob and

$40,000 in debts.


Margo <husbyscheelm@HOME.COM>

Definitely! And I should have said so.

An interesting dynamic takes place in our Weekend U classes in which the

traditional and non-traditional students mix in smaller classes and have

a great deal of opportunity to interact, get to know one another and

form inter-generational study groups. The adult students are very

understanding of the "graduate and get a job" mentality, but, in

general, they also point out the dangers of that attitude. They will say

that their focus on work has cost them in very personal terms and that

the expansion of one's mind, being open to lifelong learning, is

essential, not only for employment purposes but also for quality of life


One of our Weekend U graduates was an international HR exec for a

well-known oil company. His liberal arts degree has translated into a

greater understanding of the cultures he worked with and an awareness of

bits and pieces of culture that he thought had long ago disappeared.

While on a business trip, he managed to write a fascinating paper about

the international work of the Benedictines, interviewing Benedictines in

different countries, finding out that what St. Benedict began lo those

many years ago is still alive around the world. He came home with a

deeper feeling for the cultures and people he had met and he doesn't

hesitate to say so to anyone who will ask. This kind of encouragement

from the adult student means a great deal to the younger students,

especially since he is a successful executive. One of our classes had an

engineer come into one of the liberal arts communications courses and

talk about the importance of what they were learning. When someone who

is as concrete as an engineer encourages liberal arts thinking, good

stuff happens with the students and they can see the advantage of those

degrees that may seem "wishy washy" or "Mickey Mouse". If we could

connect more with the business people around us and have them

encouraging our students, they may breathe a little more easily and see

that they are, indeed, developing skills and abilities that will make

them valuable employees.


"N. Gee" <norman.gee@UALBERTA.CA>

>everyone else for every advantage, we are not educating them as to how to

>take a stand, a real stand, to call something "right" and something else

>"wrong"; everything seems to be relative and every idea is as good as the

>next one and God forbid we ever say that one idea is absolutely wrong.

Just scanning Canadian newspapers one might think that the only "sin"

in today's Canada is to be intolerant.I suggest that students don't

trust us enough to express any view that might draw criticism of

wrong-mindedness (is this a word?) .


Margo <husbyscheelm@HOME.COM>

That's why we have a responsibility to create safe environments in our

classrooms, environments in which ideas can be expressed and challenged at a

higher level than mere emotion and opinion. In class we've often debated the

word "tolerant", a word that one uses in relation to putting up with

something that is unpleasant, as opposed to 'understanding', which requires a

far greater hermeneutic than does mere tolerance.


My new students fall into two fairly distinct categories: adults

returning to education and younger students. Within the lattercategory I

seetwo sub groups - those with a strong goal in mind and those without one.

My community college has a strong vocational program that includes Health

Careers (up to R.N. level) and many programs that deal with jobs needed by

the various businesses in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Among these are a

machinist program, an aerospace program, a water resource program, court

reporting, ... In addition, we have our college transfer program which is

somewhat smaller than that program at other community colleges in the

district.For those who have a strong goal in mind, I see a willingness to

work though they often want to know why they need a particular topic. My

standard answer to them is that I'm raising their general level of knowledge

becausethey will always function at a slightly lower level and if I want to

raise that lower level, they need to raise the higher level of understanding.

When they know why rather than just what it helps them use the processes in

new and different applications. Then they are better able to problem solve

and be an asset to their employer.With my adult learners I rarely have to

make that comment. Many are just so glad to find out why they're doing

something that they comment about it.Of course, then there are the

unmotivated ones and I have seen a higher percentage of those students during

this past year especially.They seem to think that knowledge should be

gained by osmosis and if they miss class I should spend all of my time

helping them catch up. My philosophy has been that I am more than willing to

help as long as they are willing to practice and do the work I assign.My

feeling is that if you care for someone, you teach them the meaning of the

word NO before they are really devastated by life giving them that answer.

Therefore, I encourage them as much as I can, talk to them, and let them make

their own decisions. My own feeling, and I'll admit that it is purely my own,

is that these students have never learned that lesson.They have learned

that they can get whatever they want by whining, etc. It's time they were

taught otherwise.I am well known at Gate Way for bending over backwards to

help someone but will not push that help on anyone. I may speak to them

privately if I think they are too shy to ask in class, but refuse to push.

I don't know how much this answers your original question but it does

describe my students.


Catherine Sinclair <C.Sinclair@UWS.EDU.AU>

My students are exactly like yours and there is a marked decline in their

engagement in and responsibility for their own learning. Indeed ours only

turn up to class and then if there is an assignment due, they don't even do


Q2 We are in the middle of a restructure so with a rewrite of all courses

and all subjects we haven't had much chance to address the changes in any

coherent way- only through individual discussions with students about the

need to read, think and work outside of class- the need to be active in the

construction of their own knowledge and professional practice.

Q3 I think the changes are the result of a multitude of interweaving

factors: a new generation who is more demanding, self-centered and expects a

total individualization of their education to the point where they want you

to be available 24hours a day, 7 days a week (rather like the

supermarkets); students who need to work increasing number of part-time /

full-time hours to sustain themselves through longer study programs (4 -5

years); increasing numbers of mature-aged students juggling family, work,

study and other demands; university administrators who are reluctant to let

students change their study patterns from full- to part-time because of the

damaging impact that has on the government funding levels in this country;

the plethora of websites attached to subjects which give lecture notes or

overheads (so the students don't think that they need to come to lectures);

shorter semesters which give students less time to develop deep

understandings before final assignment/ exams and so come us for the

'answers'; reductions in class contact hours due to reductions in

government funding; and even timetabling classes so that students have only

one lecture or tutorial on a day (a problem for those traveling 1-2 hours

each way to come to university). Students tell me it isn't because the lectures

are boring or uninformative.


Deb Lukens <lukens@WCIC.CIOE.COM>

I teach an assessment course to undergraduate pre-service teachers, and

would have to agree with the comments made to this point about students.

During the past fall semester, the directions for one assignment in my class

specifically said that students were to do their own work and write up their

own work.I also said (in capital letters) that I did not want identically

worded papers.Three students turned in papers with the same typographical

errors and same scratched out words--they had simply copied one paper.To

make things worse, when they were unhappy with the grades they had earned,

two sets of parents came to campus to complain, saying the students had not

cheated, they had just ignored the directions.

I have also experienced numerous students who wait until the last minute to

begin working on an assignment (which is nothing new), but then email me (or

my course assistant) late the night before the assignment is due to ask

where to find something--something that can be found in 30 seconds in the

index of their text!They then complain on their course evaluation forms

that they were required to buy a text and course packet that were never


I would also agree with the hypotheses about the cause of this condition,

and maybe expand a bit.I think that our society as a whole has come to

expect information to come in rapid sound bites and to get answers so

quickly that a requirement to take the time to think and expend effort have

become somewhat foreign.I also think that grade inflation has played a

part in many disciplines, while not in others.

I know that I have become more determined to maintain high expectations of

my students and let the chips fall where they may in terms of grades.At

the same time, it's very hard not to get discouraged by the students'

apparent feelings of entitlement when coupled with their lack of investment

in their education.


Robert Blomeyer <Robert.Blomeyer@NCREL.ORG>

I've read Ted's posting and all the replies thus far.I really feel

unqualified to comment because I'm not (strictly speaking) teaching

undergrad or grad education classes any more.:-)

However... my seventeen years in "harness" left me with some vivid

impressions that may spice up the conversation just a wee bit.

First...I will assume that Ted's question and subsequent responses pertain

to undergrad students of the traditional variety; i.e. excluding

"non-traditional" adults learns who go back for teacher

preparation/certification by choice after experiencing life from other

perspectives.Given the question and responses... it's the only scenario

that makes sense. Please correct my interpretation of particulars if I'm way

off base.

Frankly... I haven't taught classes to undergrads since I left Ball State

for National-Louis University (Chicago) over five years ago. When I WAS

teaching undergraduate "Foundations of Education" and "Technology in

Education" classes to BSU undergraduate students... all the same

observations shared here were appropriate THEN that the respondents

seemingly attribute to "today's lackluster students."

Point 1:

It is easy to attribute differences in interpretation to atypical personal

experiences. Maybe my differing views are related to BSU's "unique"

cultural ambiance (an endowment from David Letterman to solely support

"Average Students" in the Communications Department, high standing among

Playboy nominated "Party Schools," etc.), BUT... I really don't think that

the undergrad students respondents are describing have changed all that


Apparently... neither have the standard complaints, stereotypes and "over

generalizations" that teacher ed faculty members are known to toss out as

periodic critiques of "this year's crop."As I recall, similar critical

monologues frequently accompanied one's wishing that they were teaching more

graduate level, advanced classes; as opposed to high enrollment, undergrad

teacher ed service courses...

Point 2:

I spent the last five years as an Associate Professor teaching masters level

courses in a very demanding, advanced Technology in Education degree program

at National-Louis University in Chicago. The students I worked with during

that period were some of the most dedicated, hard working, creative, and

generally literate adults that I've had the pleasure to interact with during

my teaching career!

But... there were also "some individuals" who were enrolled in our classes

(all adults, virtually all certified, WORKING classroom teacher

practitioners...) that resemble all the stereotypes and attributes used to

describe the reportedly typical, under prepared, procrastinating, and

lackluster undergraduate (?) students portrayed in the responses to Ted's

original posting. What's more, I was known to complain about them with and

to my colleagues... just as some of you are doing now. Life is a tossed

salad and there are occasionally some vegetables that may be past their

prime (or unripe).

So... what's different? Can someone give me some reliable or verifiable

evidence to substantiate the generalization that: "Today's students are going

to hell in a hand basket??"Or... is it that we have short collective

memories for details about what our students are REALLY LIKE from year to

year to year to year...Sometimes cognitive dissonance can be a stronger

force than long-term memory.


John Gallagher <gallagher@SNIP.NET>

I call it the WalMart approach to education: "I paid my tuition so gimme

my A!"

Colleagues: I have had similar experiences - different details but

essentially the same outcomes. We can blame parents, TV, the "me"

generation, elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers,

drugs, lawyers, pampering parents, absent parents, lack of values, etc.

I find that some students come to my classes with no/little

enculturation on academic ethics, work ethic, writing skills, research

skills, responsibility for one's own learning, etc. IF we are teacher

educators and teachers, what is our responsibility? Is it to blame the

other gal/guy? Perhaps too many of us have done this to these students

in the past - to pass the buck and blame rather than to make first

approaches to change attitudes and behavior. True, at the college level

it may be a little late but, so? Rather than brief students on

requirements or to hand them out and tell them to read them, maybe we

need to TEACH the requirements to include feedback and assessment of

student understanding of their responsibilities. Then, we need to be

consistent in following the requirements and assess accordingly with

appropriate grades. As department chairperson, I must tell you that I

worry about sending out some students for field experiences/internships

and student teaching when they haven't learned to be responsible in

behavior, meeting requirements, attitude, and professionalism. Most of

our students meet high expectations and we watch each carefully during

our program. We weed out those who do not meet our expectations, try to

reeducate and, if not able to succeed, direct them to other programs. If

we want to work on solving this problem, then our teacher candidates and

graduates better perform to our expectations. Otherwise, we contribute

to the continuation of the problem.


"Peter W. Stevens" <CAMBRIDGES@AOL.COM>

Regarding your question "What is your institution doing about retention?"

here are a few some overlook:

Students on Probation

We assist a number of institutions with our 10 Hour Academic Success Seminar

curriculum, Ten Tips for Academic Success.See web site:

Deans realize a high percentage of attrition comes from this targeted group.

By requiring attendance as part of their letter of probation, most find the

10 Hour Seminar will impact a 33% increase in retention.All that is

required is a contract on the first day of class that specifies:

1) a requirement to attend each class,

2) a mid term deficiency status report from professors,

3) an exemption from all further student support services (i.e. tutoring, etc.) if mid term grades improve.

The success is unparalleled and can easily be proven by obtaining the roster

of the three previous years probation students from the registrar and using that as a

bench mark against the success with the 10 Hour Seminar.If used with FRESHMAN it

proves to be an early alert seminar that can head off probationary status.

Training Tutors

Untrained tutors can often do a disservice to students.Thousands of

institutions have found training tutors is one of the quickest ways to impact

retention.The Master Tutor: A Guidebook for More Effective Tutoring is a

structured, self-directed tutor training book peer tutors use to train themselves.

A pre/post assessment tool, The TESAT (Tutor Evaluation and Self-Assessment Tool)

is an intelligent way to keep them on task and measure results.

A tutor can impact many students and some admit they do not really know what

goes on when tutors tutor.The answer is to let tutors discover an easier and more effective way to tutor, the 12 STEP TUTOR CYCLE.Once they try it, they'll

wonder what they had been doing tutoring in the past.

Freshman/Adult Student Adjustment to College

Front load the first 5 weeks by giving students a navigational guide to

discover their own solutions to transition problems when and where they occur.Today's

students don't want to listen to lectures about gpa, drop and add, etc.Yet, they do

need to know about them when the time is right.It's different for each student.

Therefore, hundreds of institutions require, give at orientation, or provide

extra-credit for students who purchase and read 100 Things Every College

Freshman Ought to Know and/or 100 Things Every Adult College Student Ought to

Know.They are consumer-friendly, pocket sized paperback books that are easy

to carry around to find out WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHO, and WHAT about

customs, practices, procedures, and vocabulary common to college but unfamiliar to incoming

students. Deans nationally say, 100 Things is one of the best used freshman books (i.e.

pizza and coke stains).Why so? Students don't want to listen but they are used to

having access to information.Therefore, why not give it to them and let them do

their own self-orientation to college.

Some easy ways:

1. Summer Orientation Directors align themselves with campus bookstores and

encourage students/parents/adults to buy copies during orientation

2. Freshman Seminar faculty require purchase as part of a course (Note: 10 Hour

Academic Success Seminar text, Ten Tips, is also used here).

3. Faculty provide extra-credit for those wishing to complete out-of-class

reading of 100 Things and who submit a College Protocol Journal or participate in a

Problem Solving Situations Exercise (available on request).

4. Fund Raising Organizations sell copies at Orientation, Registration, Open

Houses.Some include Tour Guides, Tutors, Orientation Volunteers, Adult

Clubs, Residence Staff and others.A Fund Raising Kit is available free.

Faculty In service

Faculty tutor almost daily.Many do not know how and become frustrated.

Some institutions have taken a self-directed in service approach by using The

TESAT (Tutor Evaluation and Self Assessment Tool) and sending it to all faculty to

help them learn the latest research on how to help students discover their

own solutions to course problems.Most admit it isn't how they do it but those that try it

find out quickly that it is the easier, less frustrating, and more student-helpful way of

assisting students.Best results found when administering as a pre test in fall

and post in spring.With funding, an On-Site Faculty In service can prove quite

successful especially for freshman faculty.

No special training is required for use of the above as all textbook

curricula has well-structured and scripted teaching aids to reduce set up

time and maintain consistency if multiple instructors are used.


"Reaves, Celia (Psychology)" <creaves@MONROECC.EDU>

The question of how the student population has changed is complicated by

several factors, some of which have already been raised by others. I'd like

to raise the factor of diversification. More and more people who would never

have considered going to college in previous decades are now deciding to

attend. These include people who are patently not prepared along many

dimensions; academic, social, motivational, etc. I teach at a community

college, and a substantial proportion of our students are not only the first

person in their family ever to go to college, but are the first person they

every really knew personally (outside of their teachers and some of their

religious leaders) to go to college. As teachers, we can decide how to

respond to this trend. Do we say, "Sorry, you're not the kind of student

we're used to," and just lead them to failure? Or do we get creative and

involved in how we adapt our teaching and our institutions to meet their

needs? Not an easy question. On one hand I truly believe everyone should

have equal access and opportunities to succeed, and these opportunities need

to reflect the realities of their needs and situation. On the other hand, I

have worked with students who, no matter how hard they and I try, simply

can't do the required work, but the institution continues to take their

money and lead them to believe that anyone can succeed if they just work

hard. This is a good topic for debate; I hope to see lots of replies.


Pat Stoll <patstoll@MEGSINET.NET>

I've been teaching college English for nearly 30 years(!). My take on this

question: The "quality" of students is pretty much the same (IQ) but they do

have different attitudes.

1) More students working full time; schoolwork isn't a priority.

2) Students are damaged goods. The emphasis on high-stakes testing in grade

school and high school skews the way they think of English. Reading becomes an

unpleasant task; literature becomes something to "solve" to answer a multiple

choice exam; students are drilled on the "5-paragraph theme" and we have to make

them unlearn it; they have to do "research papers" as early as sixth grade and

form very bad habits including plagiarism; everyone takes the AP classes which,

I suspect, are just test prep drills. And so on.

3) Grade inflation. This semester I gave lower (and more realistic!) grades than

I usually give (lots of B and C grades) and almost every student who did not

receive an A sent me an email demanding an explanation.

4) Emphasis on college as vocational school. Students aren't interested in

classes that aren't directly related to their majors, which more and more are

"business" related. It becomes more and more difficult to demand serious work

from them for liberal arts classes.

5) My "diverse" "first-generation" students often don't have any support from

their parents, and I don't mean financial. The families may give lip service to

supporting the student wanting to go to college, but in fact they often put

unreasonable demands on the student's time and psyche. Psychological

explanations for such behavior can be explored.


Pat McQueeney <pmcqueen@JCCC.NET>

You're right on target, Pat S.

To this I would add the overextension of themselves--students taking dual

credit; high school students enrolling in college classes and then not

understanding why it's not OK to leave college class 15 minutes early each

day to participate in (pick one) high school tennis, baseball, swimming;

students trying to take a 50-minute class on a lunch hour with work 15

minutes away and the school parking lot jammed.I guess this behavior only

mirrors that of their parents on the highway, "driving" while talking on the

phone, reading business notes, and so on.

The troublesome element, here, is that they are often merely reflecting the

behavior of their parents and, thus, our governing boards.We hear words

like "productivity," which translates as student contact rather than student

learning, etc.


Diana Kelly <>

Ted - I know that students have changed since 1980 when I started teaching

in higher education, particularly in terms of preparation. And usually

these conversations among faculty happen at this time of year, when we're

tired.Several years ago, when I was feeling frustrated, I looked back to

see what others had said about how students had changed.You may find

these quotes interesting:

"Colleges complain that very few of their pupils come to them well taught.

During my connection with one of our most respectable colleges, not one

youth in ten entered it thoroughly prepared."1825, Philip Lindsley,

former senior tutor at Princeton University, and President of the

University of Nashville.

"American college students are an unselected and untrained body of

attractive boys and girls, who have for the most part not yet received even

a strenuous secondary school training."1930, Abraham Flexner, director of

the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

"More and more young people emerge from high school ready neither for

college for work."1983, A Nation at Risk.


Helen and Tom Sitler <hsitler@WESTOL.COM>

Thus far I've read this discussion with great interest. The fragmented

lives our students live is apparent and I agree that fragmentation has

costs. In addition, Pat Stoll mentioned students coming to us as damaged

goods due to extensive high stakes testing. Vicki Tischio noted material

conditions impinging on students' lives, causing them to make certain

choices. I'm wondering what any of you think about other ways in which

students come to us damaged and other conditions--emotional/psychological—that

underlie some of the behaviors we see and/or object to in our classrooms.

Sometimes I wonder how some of my students even summon the energy to get

out of bed in the morning. That they're in school at all is remarkable,

but, of course, they're not "doing school" the way I prefer they would.

They're not able to concentrate, not able to work at a steady pace through

an entire semester, can't be depended on in small groups to do their fair

share, etc.

How, for instance, does C. concentrate on her classes when she's being

stalked by a former abusive boyfriend? What kind of consistency in group

work can I expect from R. when she says "my mother taught me to trust no

one but myself"? What about students whose pasts (or very recent presents)

include such things as sexual molestation by step-fathers and uncles,

holding one's dying best friend in one's arms after he's shot himself in

the head, attending the funeral of one's mother 3 weeks before starting a

new semester, becoming responsible at age 11 for raising a 7-year-old

brother because Mom's too high all the time to feed him or get him off to

school? These are some of the students who sit in my classrooms at a rural

university. I suspect they're in most other classrooms, too. What impacts

do life experiences like these have on the way students approach school?

I'm not suggesting students use these experiences as excuses. I think

instead that life experiences like these have real effects on students'


I haven't taught at the university level long enough to answer the "how are

students different" question. Just offering some observations about what I

see in my classroom today.


Joan Hawthorne <joan_hawthorne@UND.NODAK.EDU>

Hi Vicki -

Your comments remind me of a presentation I heard last year about a study

of teachers and students, now and 30 years ago.They didn't address the

question of how faculty have changed as people, but instead examined how

faculty teach and what they expect -- and they found very few changes from

then to now in terms of faculty teaching behaviors and methods, faculty

attitudes about students and their learning, etc.But they did find

tremendous changes in students in terms of study expectations and methods

and behaviors, attitudes about learning, etc.Those changes in students

were not necessarily negative; the presenters' point was that faculty may

be stuck in a rut.It's too easy to do things because they were done to

us, rather than think specifically about who our students are and how we

can use their strengths to improve learning.


"Tischio, Victoria" <VTISCHIO@WCUPA.EDU>

Helen (and list members):

You raise some interesting questions about how the students'

emotional/psychological lives impinge on how the "do school."Clearly, it

would be a mistake for any of us to assume that any of our students are able

to shut off their lives (tragic or otherwise) when they enter our

classrooms.Even such mundane matters as how much sleep the got the not

before, or what the chose to eat for breakfast (or not) effects students'

classroom performance, just as it does ours.

So, just to make matters a little more complex, I think another part of this

equation is not just what social/personal/material influences are "changing"

students, but what social/personal/material influences are changing us.As

we become older and more set in our ways, as we become increasingly invested

in the discourses of our disciplines and scholarly communities, as we take

on greater debt, responsibilities, etc., how do these changes influence our

perceptions of students?I guess what I am saying is that the students

aren't the only people who are "changing" in our classrooms.


Rafael Forteza Fernández<forteza@ENFER.HLG.SLD.CU>

Your are entirely right. When you teach a lesson today, ina couple of

hours the students forget everything you said. When you review what you did

in class, you say, well this is correct, what happened.

There is practically no interest for school anymore. Not all, but many want

to depend on their parents forever. This is not my case.

I have a 21 year old daughter studying economics. She is bright and may even

stay at the university as a teacher when she finishes. She loves research

and teaching. My son on, he contrary, at sixteen doesn't know what his

future will be. He hasn'tdecided yet. He is quite, somehow introverted,

quite intelligent, hates Maths but knows he has to passMaths in the entry

test if he wants to get into university. I sometimes don't know what to do.

This was a father.

As a teacher: Luckily school is free in Cuba. Young people think it is an

obligation of their state to educate them. Some parents do too, so they don't

work hard. This isnot a general situation, but happens very often. At the

same time, there are thousands of young people who are really like my

daughter. I beli3ve it's the same everywhere. Do you think it is the impact

of the new social and economic conditions? or Has it been the influence of

their parents?


Robert Blomeyer <>

I do not believe public griping about how rotten today's students

are has any place in a serious public discussion about educational research.

Public negativity only breeds and solicits additional negativity.

What does this look like to education students who also read

AERA-K?? Stereotypes paint with a broad brush?Are ALL of your

undergraduate students typical of the abuse you and others seem to enjoy

sharing publicly in AERA-K? How do you think it makes them feel to be

criticized in this manner by persons they hopefully respect and look up to

as a role models??

These students are the responsibility of our "shared community of practice."

Personally, I believe continuing this odious stereotyping and verbal abuse

is irresponsible. It's your privilege as alist member. I would never argue

against free and uncensored speech. I will express my own opinions (publicly

and privately) about professionally irresponsible actions... virtual or



Debora Adler <adlerdeb@SHU.EDU>

We often think of affluent children as growing up with all of the

advantages. We may feel that they have no reason or excuse for the

less-than-perfect people that they may grow up to become. But consider the

influences on the new group of college students.

These are the children of the Reagan Era. Many of them were probably

explicitly taught to do whatever they needed to do and to step on whomever

they needed to step to get ahead.

These are the children who were pushed way beyond their developmental

levels as their parents talked to them in utero through toilet paper tubes,

taught them to read at three, and so on.

These are the children raised in daycare. Recently, we learned of a study

that correlated hours in daycare with bullying. Several years ago, an

extensive study of daycare situations in CA, showed that most daycare

situations in that state were not even adequate, let alone good or

excellent. Even if the problem with daycare is merely lack of contact with

parents, these young adults are likely to show the results of those


These are the children of the Christian Right and the convenient belief in

salvation by grace that goes along with that. Having seen videos of

murderers in prison saying smugly, "I know where I'm going," I, personally,

don't believe that this belief system does much for the moral development

of children.

Furthermore, affluent children are subject to the same abuse and neglect

that other children can experience.

These students are exactly the product I would expect from the environments

in which they have grown up.


"Dick Buck" <>

Ted Panitz asked the members of a number of lists to respond to his

questions about differences between students five years ago and now.

All of the students I have this semester are the greatest I have ever had.

There is one reason for that:I have none.For the first time in 45 years

I do not have to meet someone else's schedule.It feels wonderful.It is

not that I have retired, I did that 16 years ago.I have been basically

forced out (selectively) when the CC at which I was working decided that

they would begin to enforce the 19 credit hour rule for adjunct faculty.

That is (in case you don't have it) anyone who works more that the

equivalent of 19 credit hours in a calendar year must receive benefits.The

place that previously employed me won't pay anyone benefits.They are

working toward a faculty that consists of one tenured member in each

division (department) with all the rest adjuncts.Normally I would teach 24

credit hours, manage the Math/Science Learning Center and tutor there about

20 hours each week.In terms of clock hours that was the equivalent of 2500

hours each year, whereas the 19 credit hour rule transforms to 750 clock

hours per year.

So my students this semester don't whine, they don't beg for grade

inflation, they don't play the victim role.In short, they are wonderful.

The sad part is that my immediate (former) boss in the LC and my (former)

assistant dean both take the side of the whiners, grade inflators and

victims.The ass. dean has a EdD in adult Ed., while the LC boss has no

degree at all.They are both very anti-intellectual, so being away from

them is another good thing about this semester.

I was informed yesterday by a tutor from the LC that all of the math texts

(about 7500) I had assembled for use in the LC had been destroyed by that

former boss.Many were from the 50s, 60s and 70s and were much used by the

students.When the surplus of new books got too great we would send boxes

of them to schools around the world (Pakistan, various places in Africa and

local churches which run tutoring centers for after school students) who

could not afford texts for their students.All gone.Perhaps they were too

intellectual.Shades of Fahrenheit 451.

So maybe it is not all the fault of the students.Perhaps they are having

their attitudes reinforced by those who work in the schools.

        Rocky Wallbaum <>

I just finished my dossier which is to be reviewed Monday afternoon. so I
have a moment with which to write you and finally make a contribution,
albeit small, to the current (installment of this ongoing) discussion.  (As
I recall, you have been asking similar questions for a while, and the
answers are always interesting.)

I have a Master's degree in Adult Education from St Francis Xavier
University (Nova Scotia, Canada), and have been working at a small college
in Alberta, Canada for eleven years.  I have been interested in the
characteristics of adult learners since I started my studies in adult
education back in 1996.

Last week, I conducted a seminar for faculty on the characteristics of
traditional (right out of high school) and adult learners.  We began by
discussing how some adult educators feel that the term 'adult learner'
excludes anyone registered in a formal program.  We agreed that there is
some basis to the belief that the term "adult" signifies more of a
maturation stage than a chronological age.  I also cautioned that we were
using very broad strokes with which to illustrate the differences between
these two learners, and asked participants to avoid falling into the trap of
characterizing learners as being totally in one or the other category.  Our
group saw the growth from 'traditional' to 'adult' learner being a series of
continua (continuums?).

As we listed the characteristics on flip charts sheets posted side by side,
faculty members asked a bigger question:  "How can faculty members help
students develop the skills they need to make the transition?"  Some of our
faculty who are particularly interested in increasing student retention
suggested that the exercise be conducted for all faculty, to help them
realize the differences, the changes that students have to make, and what
faculty members could do to help.

The discussion was rich and intense at times, and we did not agree on
everything.  I tried to capture the main points in a chart, but as I drafted
it, I was struck by the inadequacy of typewritten words to capture the
significance of our discussion.  I'll attach the chart for your review.  If
you think that this warrants inclusion in the discussion (that I have not
yet had time to review), feel free to edit, return to me for editing, or
include in its entirety.

The major topics where we found major differences between "traditional" and
"adult" learners were:
*       who is responsible for learning?
*       What is the goal of education?
*       Is knowledge absolute or relative?
*       What are students seeking?
*       At what time range are students setting goals?
*       What are the strongest influences on the student?
*       How experienced are students with formal education?
*       Are students primarily competitive or cooperative?
*       How much structure do students expect?
*       To what extent have students developed a 'voice'?
*       To what extent do unseen cultural norms govern student conduct?
Thomas Theda <>

In your discussion forum, you say the following and most of the people
seemed to agree with you:

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.

I am from South Africa and we have an interesting situation with students
coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and advantaged backgrounds now coming
together in tertiary institutions.  Often those from advantaged backgrounds
are well-prepared for tertiary education but are unmotivated.  Those from
the disadvantaged backgrounds are usually ill-prepared.  They come from
schools with inadequate equipment, sometimes even no electricity, poor
teaching and an authoritarian system where they are taught not to question.
These students are however usually highly motivated and really want to

A feel that one needs to have a rectangular block with motivated;
ill-prepared / motivated well-prepared; unmotivated ill-prepared and
motivated well-prepared.  Sorry I cannot draw in our e-mail package.
Biobabe217@AOL.COM    A. Sills

I absolutely agree with you.  I think I am considered an odd parent by some because I am actually still married to my child's father, spend time with my child as often as I can instead of ditching him off on other people when I get home from work, and do not schedule him for an organized activity every night of the week.  Many children in my district do not suffer from physical abuse; they suffer from the emotional abuse of having parents whose motivation for having children appears to be merely providing for offspring to inherit their money and to show off for the neighbors.  The work ethic of students will not improve until parents resume placing their children as the top priority, not something to sandwich in between work and the country club.  It is simply too much like work for most of these parents to give up a few of their own activities to actually do some parenting.

Wow! You *actually* stay at home for your kids and have tried raising them?? Who do you think you are???

Seriously, I think you've hit on a MAJOR issue with suburban kids who suffer from "affluenza".

As an educator who is about to move a few steps down the economic ladder when I go to a new school to teach, I'm hoping that there is *some* hope for the "middle - to - blue" collar kids. I've about given up on the "upper middle" - "new money" kids and their workethic/apathy.

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