A few years ago, I taught our first and only Honors section of the Introductory Programming course. There were ten or so students in the class. For the most part, they all came to class each day. They asked great questions. They were clearly interested in the course content. They were not without their warts, but as a whole, they got the material. Class days were fun, and I left each lecture with more energy than when I entered. CS150 Honors in Fall 2002 represents the Holy Grail of Teaching for me. It’s the experience I long to replicate.
Fast forward to Fall 2005. Habitual tardiness and absence. Failure to hand in assignments at a level unseen in previous semesters. The list goes on. My Fall 2002 CS150 class is a distant memory.
Sad to say, my new gig as Faculty Fellow for Significant Student Learning resulted in very little (student learning, that is). It could be my fault, but I don’t think I can take all the blame. The motivation and preparedness of students has taken a palpable turn for the worse. And it’s not just in my classes. I’ve heard similar observations from other professors on campus.
It’s something I need to reflect on during the break. I need to make sense of it all from a student learning perspective if I’m to be effective as an educator and as Faculty Fellow. I suspect the answer (not that I’ll have the answer) will be very complicated.
I’m curious to know from my colleagues at other schools. Have you noticed a downturn in student motivation and preparedness? I’d also be interested in readers’ reactions to all this.