Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups
By Chandra Alford
In Chapter 4, the authors begin to highlight the academic and social
climates, the investment in learning, the fields of study, and the
financing of an higher education that are being experienced by many
The expectations placed on students by faculty members vary depending on
the teaching philosophy of each faculty member. Often, faculty members
are expected to create a learning environment that requires, or even
demands, students to think in a critical manner, to use complex
reasoning, and to express all of this through their writing skills. One
of the key areas the authors focused on in this chapter was the time
students are investing with their learning. The authors argue that
academic demands have to compete with many other appealing alternatives.
Based on the reading, what’s one specific way that the authors swayed or
solidified your understanding of the tough choices that students make
(or do not make) concerning serious investments in formal learning
activities, especially when other interests compete for their time and
I've always liked to study and learn material by myself. So I was further convinced that collaborative learning does not play much of a role in facilitating student learning. For the same reasons that the reading mentions, meeting up with fellow classmates can quickly turn in to a social experience and it's difficult to create the necessary environment to enhance student learning.
One specific example from Chapter 4 that solidified my understanding of the tough choices students make or don't make concerning serious investments in formal learning activities has to do with the amount of time students spend on the internet or involved with their on their phones. On page 96-97, authors stated many observations I have seen around campus. When walking through the Quad, most students are straight faced or in their phones and when I get to class, those same students pull out their computer and get on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. There was a recent study students participated in that stated "on average 125 hours (white students) and 131 hours (African-American students) are spent on various activites including technology Monday-Friday when there are only 120 hours in the work week." I think this is horrible, especially for my brothers and sisters of my African American community. If we are here to learn in college we need to take it seriously and not use the time we paid for a teacher to teach us, to be on our phones checking what spot everyone is going to be at tonight.
Based on the reading, I was swayed to believe that collaborative learning is not the key to learning and attaining information. I was shocked because I always felt that studying with others was the best way for me to learn. However, I never took into account that every time I study with my peers focus is lost due to off topic conversations and laughs. I also never took into account that I get a lot less studying accomplished when studying with peers than I do when I study alone. When we as students make the choice to participate in collaborative learning we risk allowing interesting off topic conversations to compete with our study time.
I study better on my own. It has never helped me to study with others because often times other peers are confused about the material and then they confuse me. So it is much easier for me to get an understanding of the material on my own so the collaborative learning information was not surprising to me. Also, it is easier to get distracted when there are other people around.
It is easy to get distracted by technology, especially because so much of school work require the use of the Internet or a computer.
The tone of this chapter was a bit harsh to me. I got the feel that the college experience was being ripped to shreds and that the idea of para-military, closed-environment college institutions with strict curfew and dedicated study time was being pushed. That's just me!
For instance, the part most of you all mentioned about group studying sticks out. The same as some of you, I to found long ago that I get the best studying accomplished in a lone setting. However, when I went into the workforce the first time and now back to school, I quickly had to adjust to the idea of meetings and collaborative work projects. Because I had chosen most of the time to work autonomously, it was a challenge for me. It is a fact that when we enter the workforce we absolutely have to be prepared to work with others. There is no way around that and to me that is what group studies and projects in college are encouraging.
I agree that it can be fairly easy to get off topic, and use this time socially, but the fact is this will be useful in the long run. So the idea of decreasing group study or collaborative projects to satisfy some standardized testing is bogus in my book. There just has to be a little more self-discipline and balance. Things I've seen instructors do to enforce the seriousness of this are: shorter deadlines, individual papers (group project, but individual turn-in) and class presentations. Therefore, there are all of these other factors that play into your group work; you then absolutely have to take the time you all are together seriously.
Another part that stuck out was the part about working or participating in on-campus activities and employment, versus off campus. The bottom line is we should all be well-rounded! The entire work force is not built of college-educated peers like on campus. You have to work with people older, younger, people who have only high-school education maybe, etc. You need to be prepared for it all. I think we should be exposed to both environments. Again, we just have to have that discipline to keep us in check.
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