Learning growth stunted in college

By SpencerRoush

Last winter I thought it was ridiculous when my dad became upset after finding out I don’t write in cursive anymore. I told him it was because teachers haven’t asked me to write in cursive since I was practicing it in third grade on the big brown paper with red and blue lines. He scoffed at my response and questioned what students are learning nowadays, showing his age, but using more reason and logic than I was willing to accept at the time.

A year has passed and I’m beginning to agree, especially after recent findings.

A new book titled “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” released on Jan. 18, is about a study conducted by two college professors. The findings show receiving a undergraduate degree isn’t advancing all young minds as intended.

Their research started in fall 2005 observed standardized test scores from more than 2,000 students across 24 four-year colleges with results showing higher education failed to advance some students’ writing and reasoning skills.

More than a third of college seniors showed no progress in those areas since freshman year, making their education and time spent in classrooms questionable.

The authors said educational institutions need to challenge students more with writing and reading-intensive classes to change this downward spiral. The turn away from basic teachings may be because of technology’s expansion in our lives and how students learn.

Yes, students will complain about the extra work to change this negative educational course, but that’s better than wasting money for a signed piece of paper claiming they’ve learned something.

Of course there are critics of this study who say the results may have changed if more questions would have been asked. It’s also possible that distributing an essay test three times during a student’s college career won’t accurately measure one’s ability.

Either way, I’m sure this new information thrills professors and financially-strapped parents to bits.

While this revelation is quite disheartening, the combination of technology and institutions’ lack of challenging young minds can and should be changed.

It’s interesting to see how technology shapes students’ learning process and how educators manipulated old methods to fit their needs. It may take time to figure out the right formula to teach young generations immersed in a world where encyclopedia volumes are superfluous and writing complete sentences outside of an essay paper are improbable.

Education has changed and I suppose all isn’t lost if young people prefer to search for topics online or print letters rather than script them in cursive, but it’s more than that. Students are not progressing as they should or forget lessons altogether.

The truth is I forgot how to form some cursive letters and my writing has transformed into a cursive-print hybrid. I’ll chalk that up to limited time and a muddled mind, but it’s actually because teachers didn’t demand it from me and that’s what young people need, along with their own ambitions.