University professors feel their first-year students are less mature, rely too much on Wikipedia and “expect success without the requisite effort,” says an Ontario-wide survey to be released today.
More than 55 per cent of Ontario’s faculty and librarians surveyed believe students are less prepared for university than even three years ago. In fact, many post-secondary institutions have had to create catch-up courses to help those who are struggling.
“It wasn’t a shock for me — I’m aware of what’s happening out there,” said Brian Brown, a University of Windsor visual arts professor. He also heads the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, which oversaw the online survey of about 2,000 professors and university librarians out of the province’s 15,000.
“What the questionnaire reveals is a serious challenge that we are facing in the system. We are teaching students from what is basically an under-resourced secondary school system.”
James Côté, a sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario, says the survey confirms a lot of recent research, and that the decline in student preparedness began years ago but has more recently accelerated.
“It’s a wider societal issue, where leisure is very much valued and work habits are not necessarily reinforced in the way that they were in the past. The work ethic is not what it used to be ... no pain, no gain doesn’t seem to be prevalent any more.”
Côté co-authored a book, Ivory Tower Blues: A University System in Crisis, that in part chronicled the issues professors have with today’s students and maintains a blog where he hears from professors all the time.
With the current focus on stemming high-school dropouts, discipline and punctuality are no longer reinforced, and students come to university expecting to continue that, he added.
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