Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Article excerpt

Technology has altered the attitude and learning style of the millennial student.

Changing technology and its ubiquity has had the greatest impact on younger generations of students. The reality is that the more connected, less attentive, and, perhaps, more entitled students of today are a reflection of the rapidly changing society around them. For some students, they have never known a world without the Internet.

"I do notice a difference, having taught for 38 years," says James D. Mcjunkins, an assistant professor in Clark Atlanta University's Department of Mass Media Arts. "Now there's more to distract the students, and it seems to be more of a challenge."

Mcjunkins is not alone in his assessment.

Dr. Renae D. Mayes, an assistant professor and director of the school counseling program at Ball State University, says that while students' creativity and intelligence has not been hindered, work ethic is suffering and students require more "hand-holding" than past students have demanded.

Dr. Craig Cameron, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University, agrees.

"I think we've entered into an era now where just for showing up you get a reward, and so ... instead of cultivating an individual's strengths, we are rewarding mediocrity" says Cameron.

Dr. Nicholas Hartlep, an assistant professor of educational foundations at Illinois State University, says the challenges of social promotion and grade inflation have added a new layer of challenges.

"Students, ironically, get really uncomfortable if they don't get a high grade," he says.

Hartlep says he believes the changes in attitudes are as much a shift in the culture of higher education as they are reflective of a generational cultural shift.

'As education has become more corporatized and become treated as a commodity, rather than a process, then ... the customer, or the college student who is paying tuition, it becomes almost a sense of entitlement that the customer is always right," he says.

The 'microwave generation'

With the consumer attitude of entitlement comes an expectation for instant gratification and a lack of appreciation for "paying dues," says Allissa Richardson, a professor in the Department of Communications at Bowie State University, adding that this trend is unique to younger generations of students.

"These kids, they're like, 'I want to be managers tomorrow, and I want the most visible person's job.'... I have to constantly tell them [that] there's an internship process you'll have to go through; you have to do the grunt work. And they kind of frown and look at me like, 'Well, how long is that going to take?"' she says. "They want to be rich really fast."

Referencing a colleague's phrase that current students are part of a "microwave generation," Mcjunkins says, "They like things to happen just like that, they expect to have everything right away, and they expect to be able to complete everything right away without much effort."

Mayes agrees, saying the nature of social media and an online culture promote expectations of instant access and immediate satisfaction.

"I think this generation, they all want these really incredible and great things, but sometimes I find that what is lacking with that is [that] they don't realize that you can't just automatically start off at the top; you have to work," she says. 'And it may not be instant gratification and it may not be satisfying, but you've got to work at the ground level, in order to get at the top and stay at the top."

Shortened attention spans and acclimation to condensed delivery of information, thanks to the nature of social media news delivery, means students are also reading less in general. This is having a profound impact on not only their ability to complete assigned readings, but their writing ability, says Hartlep.

'A lot of times, students can't really read, or aren't really comfortable reading prolonged readings, because I think Internet reading has kind of altered their reading patterns," Hartlep says. …

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