Monday, October 26, 2015

Taking Notes

Are they lazy?  Have they been ill-trained, thinking we'll hand-feed them?  Do they overestimate their ability to remember details?

Today in a few of my classes I discussed the requirements for a major project that we'll start next week.  We'll gather data, analyze it, and write a report on it.

Why was no one taking notes on what I was saying?  Have we made note-taking such a chore (a la Cornell notes) that they'll only do it when they're told to?  I was giving them some subtle points to consider, and not considering those points in their write-ups will have serious effects on the grade received.  Yet they stared at me, listening intently, and wrote nothing until I suggested they should.  They are college-bound seniors, every one of them.

What the heck?


Auntie Ann said...

They are probably assuming you will hand out a rubric sheet which will give them clear, step-by-step instructions of the project, with all the requirements clearly listed, including what A, B, C, etc work should entail.

I hate rubric grading! At our house, it usually means the kids follow the rubric to the letter and won't bother to do a better job than the rubric requires.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they're expecting you to provide handouts with fill-in-the-blank type of activities. That seems to be the current rage among my colleagues at the CC - *college level*, mind you. I refuse to go there, and some of my students B & M about it, saying that there's "too much information" for them to keep up with taking notes by hand. I contend that certainly by the time they're in college, they should already have the skills to synthesize and prioritize information - if not, they'd better learn pretty damn quick if they want to survive college. Instead, they seem to think that every word is golden, and their chances in the class are doomed if they fail to capture every utterance.

Hopefully you can have an influence on these college-bound seniors, and help them realize that in the real world, they have to take responsibility for their own learning. No prof, no boss is going to take them by the hand and spoon feed (force feed?) what they need to know, or highlight in boldface THIS WILL BE ON THE TEST SO YOU'D BETTER KNOW IT. (I've had students complain about test questions that weren't "covered" in class - never mind it's covered in the book - which they're supposed to read - and that there are homework problems that are similar - not identical - to said question.)

I think that in general, decent note-taking is becoming a lost art, as is listening to debates and lectures and being able to follow a logical argument. Too much work, ya know, and nowhere near as fun as being entertained in class. If they're bored, you know it's *your* fault....

Anonymous said...

"Have they been ill-trained, thinking we'll hand-feel them?"

BTW, I hope you meant "hand-feed"... ;)

CyberChalky said...

We experience the same problem in the Antipodes; it seems more likely (at least in our educational context), the cost of failure is minimal - or at least has been, in their lived experience.

Given that they haven't had to experience a significant negative consequence for this behaviour (lack of "intent to succeed" in their educational career), it is not difficult to understand why they need to be prodded into proactive learning.

I recall a concept from my own qualification, "The hidden curriculum", which referred to the implicit communication of values and expectations through the learning experience. I think that this explains what you, I and many other teachers observe regarding student motivation.

I think the more interesting issue is how do we communicate explicitly and implicitly that this will not work within our educational demesnes?

Teacher gardener said...

They might have been waiting for a handout with all the information. But they've had you now for a quarter and should know how you work. They are in for a rough ride.

Darren said...

Anonymous: EEK! Thanks for pointing that embarrassing little error out!

Darren said...

I understand the concept of a "hidden curriculum". I understand it less so in my particular case, given that I'm talking about classes that are 100% college-bound seniors.

Teacher gardener--I hope it's not a rough ride for anyone. And if it is, better now than when they hit higher ed.