Monday, October 26, 2015

Teaching Millennials

            Teaching mostly college juniors and seniors provides me with the opportunity to observe cutting edge early adopters of new technology.  I am mostly invisible; they regularly walk into me, not looking up from their smartphones as they walk.  I don’t even try this maneuver.

            Sadly, having to teach/entertain Millennials has a much worst aspect that probably will bring an end to my full time academic career.  It has reached a point where I am not certain even a 20% core of capable and conscientious students exist.  Only on a good day can I achieve direct eye contact with this 20% as they at least temporarily look up from their smartphones.
            But what likely will send me packing is a new deterioration in student-teacher relations regarding grades.  My Gen X and earlier students accepted a C minus knowing they really did not even deserve this grade, but were grateful to receive it..  On students’ transcripts a C minus translates into a C and eliminates the need for re-enrollment.

            Millennials largely believe they should receive something higher despite failing to take notes, participating in the discussion, or generating test performances above the already generous C minus.
            This semester, I experienced a remarkably animated and lawyerly bunch when I reviewed the first test of the semester.  The normally passive and distracted group became quite agitated when their answers did not conform to mine.  Surely their answers were as good, or better than mine.  How could I know better?  What does my 50,000 hours of experience mean in the first place?

            I cannot express to you the frustration I felt, despite regularly consuming heaping portions of humble pie as a Professor these days. On student when out of his or her way to lodge a caustic, unfair and untrue set of allegations on that special place on the web called Rate My Professor.com.  Remarkably that rating appears on the first page of a Google search using my name.  I found that out when I looked to see whether there was any press coverage of my Plenary Panel participation at a major global conference in Budapest hosted by the International Telecommunication Union. No ITU World Telecom Forum coverage, but Rate My Professor. Com has a new insight of how mean, loud, rude and unfair I am.
            For the record I cannot yell thanks to vocal cord surgery.  Of course I do have a lawyer tone which to some may come across as yelling.  The test mean was 72 and I goose scores a few points with a generous curve.  It may tell you something that the test range ran from a high of 94 to a low of 30.

            If you think college teaching and an academic career is a cake walk, think again.

1 comment:

larry f martinez said...

Sorry to hear about your surgery. Due to a bad cycling crash, I've been on sick leave since late September. Completely concur with the gist of your post; I prohibit all electronic devices in my classes and I'm not alone. But the ability to take notes is seemingly lost; a course comes down to the study guide and then an exam that accredits rather than evaluates a student's mastery of the concepts and material. But the scariest is the inability of students even to recognize analytical thinking. Teaching in an information society is no picnic!