Monday, January 15, 2007

Should First Year Experience Address Gender Gap?

Insidehigher.ed has been reporting on the latest survey of student attitudes. Today, they emphasize the gender gap in the ways students perceive education. Women come to college as more serious students who are more interested in reading and learning.

The article suggests that this may partly account for the increasing percentage and success of women in college. That is an interesting conclusion in itself. It also raises the question of whether we need to work on providing different kinds of orientation based on gender. Men apparently need more handholding. Should we take heed?


lammers said...

If only they would remember Galatians 6:7 from Sunday School ("for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"), it would go a long way. If only every student truly down deep understood that actions have consequences, they all would be much happier in the end. One cannot cut corners and expect to do well. A "minimalist" approach to education is bound to be unsatisfying.

I had a student complain about earning a D. Turned out, EVERY Friday lecture had been skipped to go home for the weekend. If one misses out on one-third of the course material, is a grade of 67% really surprising?

And yes, I understand that many of our students have conflicting demands from work and family obligations. Compromises are an unfortunate necessity for many. Only the individual can look in his heart and know whether he is making a full-bore effort in college, or doing no more than necessary to get by, or less.

No amount of advice and orientation is going to help a single parent or one who must work to pay tuition. But a good sharp talking-to *might* knock some sense into those who seemingly have come to college largely to party and hook-up. And if it doesn't, well ... one reaps what one sows.

Dana Vaughan said...

I think the real issue about first year students is "functional brain age", not gender. Recent brain imaging has suggested how undeveloped the brain is in the areas of impulse control, prioritization, and decision-making, to the age of 25 of many people. Look at how much better our "non-trads" apply themselves to their studies, often despite work and kids. I taught in Utah for several years, a state where a number of young men (and some women) came for freshman year and messed up just as often as other states' students did. Then they went on a church mission for 2 years. The "RMs" (Returned Missionaries) were almost uniformly ideal college students. If we could postpone college just to the age of 20, we'd all be in much better shape. But that is not the tradition.