Thursday, March 03, 2016

Student Expectations of Faculty #304 #sorry

There's a not very funny joke in Colleges that they would be great places to work if there were no students. I don't subscribe to this - students are the life-blood of Colleges, not Faculty (or non-Faculty staff). The place would be nothing without them. Nevertheless, many students have expectations of what third-level education is and of the people who deliver that education. 

Donna Lanclos, writing about Stop being ruled by ‘student expectations’!” in Medium, posts that "students’ ideas of what higher education should be now weigh much more heavily in the institutions’ educational planning". As Lanclos says - there are "low bars" being set if "students coming into higher education don’t know much about what higher education can be". The "low bar" is set if this is the standard that's set. I know when I went to College in 1978 I had no idea what to expect - I'm not sure that I even had any expectations. I didn't know what I didn't know. I certainly would never approach Faculty to ask a question, never mind criticise or challenge. This is getting more common in Colleges today - we get feedback from students that can sometimes be difficult, as well as gratifying to read. Students knock on my door at all times and I never turn them away. I do recall seeing a sign on the door of a Lecturer's office saying "No Student Visits to this Office". I couldn't believe it when I first saw it, nor the fact that the Lecturer was not forced to take it down.

I have had six extremely hectic weeks this semester so far - 60 hours per week has been the norm (thankfully things are settling back down again). One day last week a student approached me during a break in class and asked if she could see me the next day to talk about her project (that is not due for another six months). I was exhausted and knew that I had no time the following day to spare. I told her that I "hadn't time" and to come the following (this) week. Reflecting on this the next day I knew that it was the first time in 13.5 years working for the College that I had done this - and it left a bad taste. (I have since met the student and discussed her project with her). Though the student in question will almost certainly never read this - I apologise for my actions.

Despite what some folks think - we work in College to serve students. As Lanclos concludes: "part of our job is to provide a space for our students to stretch and explore things and if all we do is meet their expectations they’re not going to do that".

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