Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Interesting and thought provoking. What changes if all faculty is aware of those truths? At least some of them are, I think, more related to learning style than to cultural change, unless culture has actually changed the dominant learning styles. And perhaps it has.

  2. I definitely think pop culture has totally changed learning styles, and the expectations of students. But we are only beginning to change the way we teach.

  3. Ah yes, that’s a great video! I used it in a recent discussion on “Ancient Chalk Beds” It’s amazing how many professors are still using century-old teaching styles. Sure, we’re not there to “entertain” the students, but we to need to engage them. I think every prof should take a course in college teaching.

    And I agree with you, pop culture has changed the way that students are used to acquiring and processing information. That’s not a bad thing per se, it’s just different.

    Colleges are also more open to students who don’t all learn best by listening to the lecturer drone on for an hour. Again, that’s not a bad thing, but inclusivity is also different and requires different approaches, and there’s often a gap between the lip-service that some profs give and how their attitudes to exceptional students are demonstrated in their actions.


  4. I’m a high school English teacher, and my colleagues sometimes justify their methods by saying students need to learn what they CAN’T do, and using technology, watching and making movies, creating blogs, listening to ipods (or making and listening to podcasts) are all things they CAN do. What they can’t do is read or write well. I see their point, but I wonder if it’s a rationalization. If I don’t interest them somehow I’m not sure I’ll ever get to introduce them to the pleasures of reading and thoughtful writing (in contrast to writing e-mails or text messages). I think I can reach reading and writing through movies, blogs, podcasts, etc., but only if my students do the reading (50% doing it won’t work) and can take the technology seriously as educational tools instead of toys. I don’t know where to go from here, but it’s hard to have hope for my students…or for my colleagues. Thanks for sharing this. I’ll show it to my class in the fall.

  5. One thing that is clear to me, after my corporate instructional design experiences, is that they have a totally different approach to learning.
    It’s only about the must-know stuff and basic skills; and the key part is that the test much match the desired real-world skill. That’s the only way you know that the student has real practice, and real mastery of what’s needed.

    Unfortunately, in science, the desired skills cannot be measured and reported via scantrons.

    Some time ago the IBS came out with the slogan of “cover less, uncover more” for the teaching of biology. It still hasn’t been implemented, though.

  6. Wow, it’s rare when one gets a null result on a Google search!

    I take it you’re not referring to Irritable Bowel Syndrome or the International Bible Society … do you have a link for which IBS and their statement about “cover less, uncover more”?

    I sure would like to “cover less” in biology — they cram WAY too many details into the intro biology texts!


  7. well, crappity. ABS, maybe? I have the full set of papers they put out somewhere.

    While hunting, I did find this:

    tons of inquiry learning!

  8. I guess I’m having a hard time believing that an 18-22 year old can accurately determine what they need in ‘real’ life so they can project which subjects will have value for them in the future and which will not. If by ‘real life’ they mean the life they have always known from parents and immediate family, then perhaps (insert class here) will not be relevant. My sense is that we are not always the best metric for what I need in this world to succeed. That realization often arrived when one has been around folks who think faster, harder, and better than we do. Perhaps the larger revelation is that, with all the socializing that is represented by the student’s signs, any learning takes place at all. I can’t imagine that the depth of our nation’s scholarship will remain if we expect professors to compete with Facebook or cell phone usage. If the students expect that material for a class and talking to friends on the cell are equal priorities, then the problem is priorities, not pedagogy.

  9. I think you are missing the point, Matt. We need to make sure we are teaching them a skill that is valued by employers, or at least a life skill useful in some context.

    It is our job as teachers to know what that is, as best we can.

    We know they will need to think critically, and to evaluate source validity for new information. But how often do we have them actually *practice* that in our classes?
    In a highly-social, knowledge creation economy–are we really preparing them?

    I think it’s a given that the traditional PhD programs are not preparing students for either academia or industry.

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