Editorial: The college educational system needs an update

The current ways that students learn their college-level material needs a change of scenery that can increase engagement and motivation.
Editorial: The college educational system needs an update

Most college students have only known one way of getting their assignments done. The daunting Sunday night deadline many students dread, whether it’s an essay, regular assignment, exam, or even a discussion post.

The key issue with how assignments are handed out today is that certain assignments make students feel like there is never enough time to get them finished.

Most college students have very busy lives, especially community college students. Some students have multiple jobs, children to take care of, and families to feed. At times, assignments can be overwhelming due to these factors playing a part.

When these problems get in the way, some professors do not allow you to turn in late work under any circumstance. This is not fair to those students who, despite their multiple outside responsibilities, are still pursuing an education.

A study by Inside Higher Ed showed that 34% of community college students struggled with classes due to work, and 30% struggled with classes due to spending time with family and friends.

In some cases, students have trouble with all their coursework, asking for multiple extensions at several points during the semester. Anytime an extension is asked for, it should be granted and not shunned upon by professors.

Digital Promise research indicates that three to five options on how students can complete course materials may produce the most motivation for students to pass the class.

Here is a pitch on how students can be more engaged in their classes whether it be online or in person; Allow students to choose how to complete their assignments to learn the material.

For example, allow students to choose from three different tiers on how they can complete assignments and pass the class successfully.

One tier can be exams worth 80% of a students grade while discussion posts are worth 20% of their grade. This allows students to have plenty of time to study the material over a period of time and be able to be successful on their exams while the discussion posts allow a lesser stress on the student.

The second tier is a bit more condensed; this tier is about quizzes, assignments, and discussion posts. Quizzes can be worth 50% of the students’ grades, while assignments are worth 45%, and discussion posts are just worth 5% of the grade.

The third tier is a simple one; it can be project-based because there are certain students who do like completing projects. Projects can be 85% of the grade while letting students select what kind of project they want to complete, but still having discussion posts involved so that can be 15% of the grades students.

These tiers give students the ability to control what they can control, while having the understanding that their exams and quizzes are still very much important to their grades. But, also keeping the engagement up without the stress of having all five together.

A course at Georgia State University allowed students to “choose their own adventure” in their findings. Students had the most important thing and that was the ability to have flexibility. GSU students were also allowed to choose their own due dates which can be a huge factor for students who have busy schedules.

The thing that comes with every pitch, is obviously the downside. Professors are human as well and the workload they receive off these tiers can be tiresome.

Another side effect is a student’s true motivation. Yes, it can be nice having your own route to success through the class, but ultimately it is up to the student to complete their part and that can lead to a lowered level of satisfaction.

Students should be the top priority for Fullerton College and the NOCCCD. It is not something that should be implemented right away, but it is something that should be heavily considered as giving students a choice is always a great option.

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