Class time should be used more efficiently

Stephanie Gonyou

Many students believe that traditional classroom learning is neither the most influential nor the most effective way to learn. Hours of note-taking at a time can get tedious and repetitive, causing students to lose focus and interest well before they should. While educators recognize this and allow time for variety in their schedules, the free time granted in class is not in students’ educations’ best interest.

In my experience, to alleviate the stresses of constant note-taking, many teachers call for a day in which nothing gets done – we review student projects or open up an internet browser and aimlessly Google keywords relevant to class. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would never willingly pay to do these things that are not vital to my success in the class, which, ironically, is exactly what we are doing.

For a resident NMU student, standard tuition is $3,900 a semester. For argument’s sake, let’s say the average full-time student takes four four-credit classes. Divide tuition by the number of classes, again by the number of weeks in a semester and one last time by how many class sessions there are in a week, and we get to each meeting of a four-credit class that meets twice a week costing a resident student almost $33. For a non-resident, that number is just under $51.

I have taken many classes that require lab or field work outside of the scheduled class times both at Northern and the community college I graduated from before I transferred.

While this extra time commitment is reasonable, I fail to see the reason why lazy days can’t be used for more productive purposes. Internet-surfing wasted time could be used to eliminate the need to schedule outside lab time – they could be used for the purpose intended, to further our education.

In the book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” authors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa conclude that 45 percent of the 2,300 undergraduate students surveyed at two dozen universities “demonstrated no significant gains in critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and written communications during the first two years of college.” Arum and Roksa say that students aren’t being challenged, a trend I see around campus too often.

I don’t understand the appeal in spending my free time doing something I could have done when I was prepared to be mentally invested in it – during class time. I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who doesn’t appreciate having to give up my Saturday night to work on a project that could have been done in class Monday morning had we been given the day to work on it instead of being forced to observe and compliment each other’s mediocre presentations from the week before.

Students and teachers alike have gotten too accustomed to canceled classes, delayed due dates and the complete elimination of things that won’t fit into the intended curriculum to understand the detriment those actions are having on today’s college youth. Not only are we throwing our money away, but we aren’t being proactive in our educations.

A webpage titled “Managing Class Time Effectively” on www.developfaculty.com says “managing class time effectively is a clear indicator that the professor is a true seasoned professional, dedicated to the success of each student.”

Clearly, some of the professors I’ve had do not live up to that standard. I can’t help but feel a little slighted when my time gets deemed less than important.

I have always made an effort to be a courteous student. But when I see that my day is about to be wasted doing something that I know will not help me out in my future, it is not uncommon for me to find myself on Facebook. I’d much rather pay $33 to read my friends’ status updates.