Raising Our Expectations for Students

I had an advising appointment with a student recently. He is not average by any sense of the term. I found myself seeing him as a model for students in University 2.0. It was quite an atypical advising session. I said very little. He came in and laid out his plans for the next 1-2 years. He spoke about his plans for a senior thesis and the problems he was anticipating. He asked me how his plans would mesh with his intention of going on to graduate school. There was very little for me to say, other than to affirm his plans and raise a couple of questions of clarification.

I don’t think the session went as it did merely because the student was bright; rather it was because he has a plan or a vision for his education. I want to know how can we make all students as self-directed and in-charge of one’s education as he is. Any ideas?

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4 Responses to Raising Our Expectations for Students

  1. Isaac says:

    I think this comes down to the personal motivations of the student. I’m not up on signaling theory, but I think I recall reading an article that just after WWII, it was considered a signal to an employer of your hard work and comittment that you had completed high school. Now, the same signal is carried by one’s completion of college. This might be pessimistic but it seems to me that most students go to a liberal arts college mainly for this reason. A student has to want to learn for the sake of learning in order to fit the characterization I think you have in mind.

    I know for myself that I also have a “plan or a vision” for my education because I have a desire to learn for learning’s sake; or at least, my primary motivation isn’t to be attractive to employers. I think my attractiveness to employers or grad schools will follow necessarily from my commitment to learning as demonstrated through the record of my coursework and my letters of recommendation.

    For students who don’t have this perspective, a colleger education is analogous to knowing how to take a derivative of an equation without knowing the underlying logic and proof.

    I dobut this helps, though; I’m not certain how you would make that perspective on one’s education a rule rather than an exception.

  2. Jerry Slezak says:

    Could we not guide the students to this place by expecting a bit more from them each time they come in for advising? There could be a set of questions and/or topics of discussion that are based on earned credits.

  3. Gardner says:

    Basic questions go unanswered in our line of work, or perhaps they have too many answers. What is education? What does it mean to be educated? What is education for?

    If every theory of education is a theory of what it means to be human, education is inevitably an ethical enterprise, and those questions are ethical questions. The very question of *meaning* needs to be gotten after as well. I really do think that answering a few big questions will get us closer to University 2.0, and that if we don’t, we won’t get any closer than we are now.

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