Over time, I’ve had the opportunity to teach over 50 sections of student orientation courses. Most schools offer this class, with titles ranging from College 101 to Student Development to College Success Skills. While the perception of the course is that the instructors run the scale from exceptional to horrendous, a nearly uniform belief asserted by students is that the curriculum needs improvement. For most of these courses, the curriculum centers on topics such as study skills (note taking and test taking), campus navigation (tours and key resources), and career exploration. The concern is that many of our students are not in the frame of mind to receive these lessons and the resulting lack of engagement often leads to both student and teacher being disenfranchised with the experience. The issue may well be that we’ve lost sight of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Abraham Maslow was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research and Columbia University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a bag of symptoms.
At times we should stop and consider the students needs. This class is taught in the freshman year of college. These students are in their first few weeks of college, many of them are focused on their efforts to get socially acclimated to being in college. It’s understandable they may not be paying attention to a lecture on test taking anxiety when they are distracted by their efforts to get the cutie across the room to talk to them. If our intent is truly to get higher percentages of students fully integrated into our college environments and successfully to graduation, we must make a commitment to aiding in the social acclimation efforts of our students into college students first.
The voice of the student is important. The student is constantly being told what to do and rarely asked “What do you think?”. This needs to change.