Teaching vs. Learning

wrigley building chicagoI am attending the meetings of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in Chicago. This is the regional accrediting body for Nebraska, so getting up to speed on their processes. I attended a very engaging session about teaching to the NeXt Generation of students. The presenter was provocative and insightful, although somewhat out-of-date (NeXt Generation?), but he had many things to say about new trends in teaching that match the challenges of colleges seeking to educate the Millennial Generation. At Nebraska Christian College, we are focusing on the Millennial Generation, and seeking ways to prepare them to be church leaders, so this was of interest and value to me. Here are a couple of insights:

1. Many of the students coming to college out of high school now are “pampered, protected, and privileged.” The presenter noted that the phenomenon of the “helicopter parent” has become the “bulldozer” or “snowplow parent.” In other words, the parents don’t let go when their sons and daughters go to college. They are still fighting their fights and making their decisions.

2. Students in high school are studying less and less. (I know you can think of exceptions to this.) National statistics show that high school students up until the early 1990s studied 6+ hours a week outside of class. That number today is almost zero. The point is that colleges are now intaking students who were academically successful in high school, but have never studied  outside the classroom.

3. The shift must come from what this presenter called “teaching” to “learning.” We must have strategies that push the students to be responsible for their own learning and allow them to do this. This is the strategy in the “flipped classroom” where the content is taken in by the student before class, and the classroom engages the student to apply and use that content. This is far from the lecture method, which is still the predominate method on college campus, despite having its death announced a quarter of a century ago.

Food for thought as we continue to improve the effectiveness of our educational models.

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College


4 thoughts on “Teaching vs. Learning

  1. Very helpful thoughts, Mark. This is definitely the case with parents today. Many times parents will actually help their students register for college classes (!). That seems crazy to me.

  2. Mark,

    I think the idea of the ‘flipped campus’ is a good one BUT doesn’t this assume that the students are studying/ researching, preparing, etc. outside the classroom. I think the main issue one might run into is getting them to the point where one can talk through points of application, etc. during class time. I would love to come into class assuming the content is present and then launch with an assumption of knowledge known – the danger of course is the work needing to be done is never done. I think the question I am asking myself at this point is: what would happen if we completely abandon a lecture model and assumed a knowledge coming in – would there be an intrinsic and positive peer pressure motivation to be ready OR would the conversation be less than shallow? AND maybe this is not even a fair dichotomy – if not, what would the other options be? Hope this does not go to spam ; )

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