I 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 The presenter was provocative and insightful, although somewhat out-of-date (NeXt Generation?), but he had many things to say about new trends in teaching that match the challenges of colleges seeking to educate the Millennial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.
Nebraska Christian College