College Students Don't Have the Skills Needed for Today's Economy
There is certainly no doubt that we as a population have encountered an era that requires complex and advanced skills of college students that they do not possess. At the core of this issue are the United States' standards of education, lacking a strong foundation of basic writing, math, and research components. As high school graduates, entering college students have no idea of the hurdles that await their educational career.
Due to the number of applications, many higher education institutions are lowering their standards of ideal applicants. This includes but is not limited to lower grades, lower acceptable SAT scores, and lower academic performance. Yet with the higher acceptances of lower scores across a variety of academic measures, the standards of academic college performance has not been adjusted. Professors continue to hold the same graded writing rubrics, assumptions of what the student should already know before entering their classroom and the same grading standards across a variety of tests, with some professors only providing open ended questions on tests requiring critical thinking. Do students have these skills entering their collegiate careers?
Often, college students enter their freshman year without having the necessary skills to learn, study, or apply critical thinking. Supplemental instruction (SI) is the ideal environment that these skills can be introduced to students. During these sessions processes such as tutoring in specific subjects, skill development for studying, time management, goal setting and attainment are targets of intervention. Supplemental instruction sessions provide the student with opportunities to manipulate, paraphrase, engage in conversations and brainstorm ideas related to course materials. Of students who participate in SI programs, most move from memorization learning to conceptual understanding, and also report that the leaders of the groups, who are students themselves, motivate them to excel. Furthermore, these peer mentors not only address skill deficits but also gives the participant students a sense of belonging. Collings, Swanson, and Watkins found that four times as many non-peer mentored students had seriously considered leaving university compared to their peer mentored students. Many positive benefits of SI have been reported in the literature including earning up to a letter grade higher than classmates not involved in SI. Supplemental Instruction has also been successful at increasing surveyed measures of self-esteem, locus of control, and self-efficacy. These measures along with the other positive benefits of SI, such as earning higher letter grades and higher academic performance, support its use as an academic retention model.
Supplemental Instructional programs have become an integral part of many higher educational institutions, their idea of bridging the gap between student's skills and professorial standards, but what happens when students exit these programs? Are there any kinds of these supports in the "real world" after the student graduates? The hopes of supplemental instruction programs are that the student can build up basic academic skills so that they can be independently successful, yet there has been no research to suggest that such a program can yield these results. More often, students are leaving such programs behind because there is a lot more to learn than they are prepared to. What do they do instead? Hire freelance writers of course! We write their work, and they stay in good academic standing. In the long run, good freelance writers will always have job opportunities and employment because if an individual never learns the foundational skills for them to succeed and experience to build their writing skills, they will continue to pay for their writing works to be completed. If basic foundation skills are taught at an early age and continue to be shaped throughout a student's academic career, then they are more likely to develop the skills necessary to survive in our current economy.
Collings, R., Swanson, V., & Watkins, R. The impact of peer mentoring on levels of student wellbeing, integration, and retention: A controlled comparative evaluation of residential students in UK higher education. The Journal of Higher Education, 68, 927-942.
Jacobs, G., Stone, M. E., & Stout, M. L. The new vision for SI: Where are we heading? New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 106, 95-100.
McGuire, S. Y. Chapter 1: The impact of supplemental instruction on teaching students how to learn. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 106, 3-10.
Ogden, P., Thompson, D., Russell, A., & Simons, C. Supplemental instruction: Short- and long-term impact. Journal of Developmental Education, 26(3), 3-8.
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