We all see them, the quintessential call for Facebook attention, ok maybe I am being a little harsh, but how many times during a good social media scroll do your eyes glance over the status “how many of my friends will” or “ok lets see who will read this”. Just today during an act of extreme procrastination from the usual daily hustle, I chuckled at a friends post which was a meme of Robert Downey Jr., eyes rolled back, arms crossed with the words:
“lets see who will read this” at the beginning of your post virtually guarantees I won’t read it. Ever.
During a Skype meeting early in the PIDP, my professor threw a statistic at me that something ridiculous like only 15% of students read their feedback (after he thanked me for reading his feedback). For a person on a course of which, one of the main outcomes is ‘become a reflective practitioner’, this is positively baffling! Maryellen Weimer in her The Teaching Professor blog for Faculty Focus discusses, students reading textbooks (or rather not as the case may be). In a study of “nine different introductory psychology and human development courses and the percentage of the text they said they read ranged from 32% to 69% with most of the percentages around 50. That means half the text not read” HALF of the text! …Astounding. Weimer goes on to make a very valid point that “if students discover they can do well on exams without reading the text — if most of what they need to know is presented in class — then it’s highly unlikely that they will read the text”.
Effort for many is an expensive commodity these days, the attitude “why do I need to” is one to which the younger generations are very accustomed. I remember a student of mine asking if I would be handing out a copy of the slides, when I responded with a yes, they visibly disengaged, the pen was dropped. This was a game changer for me. From here on in, my slides became either prompts, prominent pieces of information or visual aids.
José Bowens book, Teaching Naked Chap 5 discusses in depth the ways in which teachers can utilize “Technology for Engagement” and at the beginning of the chapter how “it may be effective to know the competition” (p131). By that he means get ahead of the game or, know your enemy. If students are not going to read the text, what will they do? Bowen says “Do what your students will do – Google the book or search the topic on Wikipedia. Look at the summary sites and see what your students will see” He suggests having students critique what they find. By doing this, at least you can focus the their minimal efforts onto what you really want them to think about. Bowen proposed in this TEDx talk, that learning is becoming more about “fact checking” or “how quickly you can access information, how well you sort, how well you think about that information, whats relevant, whats not” (5.10 – 5.35). This is scary stuff, Bowen also suggests that employers questions would have to change from:
do you have all the knowledge you need” to “can you sort through all that stuff on the internet, and give me what I actually need, today
Back to Maryellen Weimers point,
if students discover they can do well on exams without reading the text…then it’s highly unlikely that they will read the text”
We have to use technology to our advantage. We have to find ways to ensure learning is achieved, otherwise the workforce will be slowly diluted with a generation of ‘supergooglers’ with no real depth of understanding. If the students are finding more ‘efficient’ ways to learn, then we as educators owe it to them to find more efficient ways to teach.
…One last point… its not just the students who don’t read. Bowen also writes that “If the Dean sends out a long report, most faculty will first look at the title and executive summary and decide if the really need to read the rest”…
Guilty as charged. We’re all busy, we all have different priorities; if we want anyone to read and digest what we write or assign, the reader needs to understand its relevance or validity.
Hmm….I wonder how many of my followers will actually read this post?