A study released Sept. 12 by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA showed that a majority of professors nationwide feel that students come to class unprepared.
Marianne Noble, chair of the literature department at AU, said there are various ways in which students can be unprepared beyond not completing the necessary readings and assignments. She said that the problem is not that students are unprepared; it is that they are under prepared, in that they have completed their work but do not have a complete understanding of what they are learning.
“I’d love to see more mastery, a deeper engagement,” Noble said.
She said she would prefer that students put more effort into their work, such as looking up unfamiliar terms and concepts. She has formatted her class to include quizzes and homework assignments to make sure students do their coursework, which has made her students more engaged in the reading material, Noble said.
Students also said they feel some classmates come to class under prepared. Matt Harris, a senior in the School of International Service said a lack of preparation negatively affects the classroom because it “sets up a quiet dead zone…no one has any input.”
Some American University professors agree with the findings of the institute that students can be under prepared, but overall most believe students come to class prepared.
“We’re pretty happy with the level of engagement and responsibility we see in our students,” said John Hyman, director of the College Writing Program and Writing Center.
Rae Laser, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, usually completes homework if there’s a “reason for it to get done.”
“If I have to read for a grade I will read it,” Laser said. “Also, with the amount of reading I get assigned in each class I would have to dedicate all my time to homework and I am not willing to do that…I live in the dorms and I like having a social life.”
The study surveyed over 40,000 professors from various two-year and four-year colleges and universities about their general happiness with their jobs. The study showed that most professors were very happy with their jobs, and 83 percent of professors said if given the chance to pick their careers again, they would still choose to be professors.
The report also highlighted a negative trend, showing 56 percent of the professors who responded said that under prepared students were a major source of stress in their professional lives.