By Chase Troxell
When it comes to hands-on learning, The University of Findlay gets it right—compelling each student in every major to do some kind of an internship, whether that is as direct as student teaching for an entire semester or working on one of its literary journals. At the same time, UF is pushing a digital curriculum, encouraging faculty to take advantage of blackboard and students to do the same.
While UF is trending in the right direction to a new age of learning, many issues still exist across the plethora of colleges and universities in the United States. Textbook and tuition prices are up, and student loans are at an all-time high. With the risk of going to school leaving students with unease and panic over debt, asking more from schools is not only good practice, it is necessary.
In last week’s issue of Pulse, I asked faculty and students to enjoy the real reason for school, the love of learning. In that column, I had an aside to a counterargument, stating it is hard to enjoy school with fiscal concerns burning in the back of students’ minds. By utilizing hands on learning and the affordable aspects of the digital age, which all work places are starting to do, higher learning has the ability to prepare students for engaging careers without stripping away the fun in learning.
The key in achieving this is shifting away from the classic lecture-hall style of teaching, where instructors create a one-way line of communication, and shifting into a soccer-ball style of teaching, where students and the instructor engage and bounce ideas off of one another. Ways of making this a reality include hands-on activities and technology that force students to interact.
In one of my literature courses, we got together in groups, attempting to plan a city that met the needs of a rising population. The purpose of the project was to get us thinking about the modern era of literature, which was largely concerned with the rise of the metropolitan areas.
In another class, we met in person half of the time, the other half of the time, we met online in collaborate chat. This allowed for students to engage in online rhetoric in a setting that they were not familiar with.
Both projects enhanced our ability to work on a team, while increasing the depth of our understanding in the content area. The chat example is especially important because more work places are operating at a distance, using online training and long-distance conferencing to keep employees informed. The more schools utilize industry standard methods, the more prepared and able students will be to obtain higher paying jobs, allowing them to stay ahead of their debt, increasing the value of their education.
Changing the classroom, however, is only one part of this step. Field experience, for all majors, ought to be the goal for all universities. Professional degrees have always led the way in internships, as many states require an internship to obtain a proper license in the field. However, degrees that do not require licensure ought to go the route of professional degrees and require students to obtain field experience. The fact of the matter is: art, history and psychology majors need careers just as much as business or pharmacy majors. If a student’s passion is not in professional study, then they ought to have the same valuable education that a professional student does, especially considering they pay the same price.
Luckily for students at UF, this is slowly becoming less of a problem with an administration focus on career oriented education and a faculty focus on effective learning. This doesn’t mean that a student will not encounter an instructor that only uploads a syllabus to blackboard and lectures the whole time. It only means that unlike many universities, UF is moving in the right direction.