Prize giveaway sponsored by Atwood Publishing!

Dear EDC Resource Review Readers,

To mark the launch of the Winter 2011 issue, our friends at Atwood Publishing are generously sponsoring a prize giveaway! One lucky reader will receive a copy of Teaching Today's College Students: Widening the Circle of Success by Angela Provitera McGlynn, which was reviewed in the Fall 2010 EDC Resource Review.

All you need to do to have your name entered in the prize draw is to answer the following question:

How are today's college students different from when you were a student or new instructor? (Or, if you are currently a student, how do you think your cohort is different from cohorts of years past?)

Submit your responses in the comments and you will be entered to win! One entry per person will be accepted and the deadline for entries will be February 15, 2011 at midnight PST.


  1. The principal difference I see in students today is around the access to information and evaluating that information as potential or possible knowledge. Pre-Internet information was more filtered; there were fewer broadcasters or sources of information. By no means did this guarantee that all was valid, but in many cases the information was being produced by professionals or experts in a field. The need for triage (when studying at a basic level) was perhaps less.
    Also, in order to access that information, the students had to expend a certain amount of work - going to the library, selecting books and journals, making their own search of what could be relevant.
    Today, information comes from a wider variety of sources, requiring students to perform a greater amount of filtering, of judging what is apt and valid, but I am not convinced that the students have the expertise to do this. Also because the information is so easily acquired, it does not encourage the higher-ordered thinking that is part of one of the first steps in researching - selecting the sources of information upon which one will build knowledge. It is so simple to retrieve a mountain of information on a given topic that perhaps one could believe that knowledge is not as necessary as it once was.
    My response to this challenge is to integrate critical thinking in all courses, all subjects. This should include
    -identifying that question that sends us into action,
    -evaluating sources (including course content)
    -analysis of findings
    - building and then communicating a response or point of view.

    All the best,
    Bob Parson

  2. Speaking from the UK, I would say that there are two principle differences between my own generation of students and those of my daughters. The first is that more people are able to access Higher Education, which is a good thing. However those same students are faced with far larger overdrafts at the end of their studies than we had as we did not have to pay tuition fees and there was a basic maintenance grant for all. Now our young people feel compelled to go to university or risk damaging their employment prospects in a culture where half of their peers also have degrees (the UK aims to achieve 50% of 18 to 24 year olds in higher education)in an increasingly competitive jobs market. Thank goodness they still have youth and enthusiasm on their side!

  3. One of the good differences I see is that there is more emphasis on good teaching. Many of my professors did not seem invested in the education of undergraduates, nor in the development of their teaching skills.
    One of the bad differences I see, and it does not apply to all students, is the unwillingness to take responsibility for their education. Some students are quite willing to blame their professor for their poor performance instead of reflecting on why they performed poorly and how they could improve.

  4. I see today's students as typically better informed and less naive than my generation was when entering post secondary school. This is likely a reult of the difference in media availability, but also a difference in the role of parenting. My generation was discouraged from questioning authority, accepted what we were told, and felt overwhelmed when we made it out of high school and the protective home environment. This still occurs, but is the minority. Most young people today seem to hve a very good grasp of reality.
    Having said that, though, I also feel that today's youth expect me, as their instructor, to give them everything. Just as finding information on the internet has made it easy, they expect the same ease of getting information in the classroom. They often aren't willing to work for it.

  5. Should we assume that today's college students are different at all? From one perspective, I'm of the position that students that students are NOT different.

    I agree with Bob P that information (or 'content') is available in a wider variety of readily-accessible sources these days. Further, the skill-level of an ICT-immersed generation – or is that an assumption? – of simply locating information should not be confused with the taught-and-learned critical thinking skills of application and evaluation. However, whether we label them 'today's students', 'digital natives,' or 'millenials,' I argue that we are reproducing rhetoric of generational differences based on assumptions NOT supported by empirical research or theoretical foundations (Bennett, Maton and Kervin, 2008). I'm reminded of the expression, 'data is not the plural of anecdotes.'

    I'll acknowledge that without having the opportunity to preview McGlynn’s text I may be steering this conversation in a different direction than the focus of the text. I caution that we don't let technological determinism undermine critical dialogue and debate about who our students are.

    Tim Loblaw
    SAIT Polytechnic

    Bennett, S., Maton, K, & Kervin, L., 2008. The 'digital natives' debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), pp.775-786.

  6. Eric Kristensen, Capilano UniversityFebruary 11, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    In the 35-plus years since I was an undergraduate, students today are networked in ways that would have been inconceivable in the early 1970s. Cell phones and mobile smart phones would have been what I call "Dick Tracy" technology -- only described in science fiction. The fact that today's students are so plugged in, and that they are surrounded by ubiquitous connectivity, has added an additional layer of reality to their lives. Not only are they located in and reacting to the physical world they inhabit, they are also profoundly affected by the virtual world with which they are networked. What the long term impact of this new reality will be, I do not know. But one thing is incontrovertible: students today inhabit a world that could only have been described in science fiction when I was in school.

  7. I believe students today are more representative of our society in their socio-demographic characteristics. We see greater participation by women, students of colour, students from low-SES backgrounds and older students. Alongside this increased diversity, I think there is a convergence in students' reasons for attending university. Today, nearly everyone goes to university because they believe it's required for career and economic success.

  8. When I was an undergraduate student, I liked to think that I was informed about what was going on in the world around me, and that I took action where I could to make positive change, locally or more broadly.

    But, when i think about the students I have had the pleasure of teaching, guiding, facilitating in the past 15 years, I feel that I don't 'hold a candle' to them in terms of how informed and active so many of them are. And on so many levels. They know about current events and issues,, care about people less fortunate than them and the state of the environment and they get involved through volunteerism, associations, organizations and public fora.

    And they have dived in whole-heartedly to the kinds of real-life assignments and other authentic opportunities I have been able to offer them, such as community service-learning in credit courses, chances to write about 'when learning is best' for a campus-wide teaching and learning newsletter, and an invitation to help design and facilitate a multi-day sustainability education program.

    If I made a list of all the things I have learned from my students over the years, it would be very long indeed, and I am sure that I would find that many of the items on the list are things I continue to do or make use of today. Students teaching teachers and inspiring them through their knowledge, care and active involvement in the world around them - for me, that is the biggest difference between when I was a student and the students I value today.

  9. As a computer instructor, I find that today's students are not as amazed by technology as I was as a student. Today's students have grown up with all kinds of technology in their daily life & it is hard for them to imagine life without it. They just expect technology to be there & to do amazing things and they are very willing to try it!


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