Students don’t seem to read texts anymore; the treat them as pure substitutes rather than complements to the class meetings. When they do read they don’t seem to read carefully, missing stuff which is clearly stated in the text.
Last year I asked a senior focus group of about a dozen students how many of them read the texts for their courses. One student indicated that he read them all, but qualified his statement by noting that he was not a native English speaker and so he felt he needed to do the readings to make sure he understood the material. A couple of the better students said they read the texts when they needed a better grasp of the material than they got from their class notes. Another student piped up that he only bought the books when he determined that he needed them. I asked how he made that determination and he said it was based on how he did on the mid term exam. At this point, most of the rest of the group nodded in agreement.
I am sympathetic to the argument that the high price of textbooks may force students to make hard choices about what they can afford. But my sense is that for the majority of my students, that is not the primary motivation. For example, they don’t seem to use on-line resources which are free to them any more frequently.
How do students hope to learn if they don’t study what’s on the reading list and merely count on the point of view of the instructor?
This may be related to another impression that more students seem to be trying to game the system instead of taking advantage of their opportunity to obtain the best education they can.