This is one for the bulletin board in the teacher’s lounge — what college students want their high school teachers to know. I think folks may be surprised that the main suggestion is “hold us more responsible for our learning.”
Drew Appleby was the director of undergraduate Studies in the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Psychology Department. Now retired and living in Sandy Springs, he sent me this fascinating essay on what college students would like to tell their high school teachers.
By Drew Appleby
I read Epstein School head Stan Beiner’s guest column on what kids really need to know for college with great interest because one of the main goals of my 40-years as a college professor was to help my students make a successful transition from high school to college.
I taught thousands of freshmen in Introductory Psychology classes and Freshman Learning Communities, and I was constantly amazed by how many of them suffered from a severe case of “culture shock” when they moved from high school to college.
I used one of my assignments to identify these cultural differences by asking my students to create suggestions they would like to give their former high school teachers to help them better prepare their students for college. A content analysis of the results produced the following six suggestion summaries.
The underlying theme in all these suggestions is that my students firmly believed they would have been better prepared for college if their high school teachers had provided them with more opportunities to behave in the responsible ways that are required for success in higher education
1. Give us a syllabus on the first day of class that has the schedule for the class planned out for the whole semester (e.g., tests dates, deadlines for papers, and grading scales), and then stick to that syllabus the way college professors do.
2. Don’t tell us at the end of each class what we will be during the next class period. That allows us to be irresponsible because we don’t have to read the syllabus to know what we are expected to do. Please help us to become as responsible as possible when we leave high school and go to college.
3. Don’t accept lame or undocumented excuses about why we don’t have assignments done, and don’t allow us to sweet talk you into letting us make up tests that we are unprepared to take. College professors seldom accept these types of excuses because they try to be fair by making sure all their students have the same amount of time to study for tests.
4. Be sure to teach us how to be academically honest by requiring that we cite all the sources we use to support what we write in our papers. Most importantly, don’t ignore situations in which you suspect we may be plagiarizing. We need to know exactly what plagiarism is so we can avoid it when we get to college. College students who are caught plagiarizing flunk classes and are sometimes kicked out of school or are not allowed to graduate.
5. Don’t let us pass classes just because we earned a lot of homework points or extra credit. In college, we will be graded on our ability to demonstrate that we have actually learned the material we have been assigned by passing tests. In college we are graded on our performance, not our effort.
6. Don’t teach us the answers to all the questions on your tests. Be sure to ask us some questions that come from the reading assignments you haven’t covered in class. In college, we must learn to be independent learners by reading and comprehending the information in our textbooks without having to rely on our professors to explain everything to us. Our professors are more than willing to help us with difficult-to-understand information in our textbooks when we ask them questions in class, but they are unwilling to “spoon-feed” us all the information we are supposed to learn from our reading assignments.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog