I believe the best education comes when you get a chance to sit down on a log and have a conversation with someone who has interesting stuff to say. It is in those moments of exchange that ideas come to life, assumptions are challenged, experiences shared and people transformed. Without this sort of dialogue, learning is ephemeral, only superficial memorization of facts and theories: let’s call that a PowerPoint education.
So, it is with great concern that I reviewed our most recent results from the National Survey on Student Engagement. Relative to seniors at our benchmark institutions, UCF College of Business Administration seniors reported high levels of academic challenge and a supportive campus environment. But far too few students have meaningful interactions with faculty or engage in co-curricular experiences: Less than half of our students discussed a grade or assignment with an instructor; less than a quarter talked about ideas from the readings or class with a faculty member outside the classroom; less than fifteen percent say they experienced a culminating project, exam or thesis; less than five percent say they worked with a faculty member on a research project. I could go on, but you get the point.
If you are a student, I will not let you hide in the back of the classroom. If you are a faculty member, I will not let you hide behind lecture capture. If you are a department chair, I won’t let you hide behind budget cuts. If our value proposition rests on the high returns to face-to-face learning, we need to make sure it happens…all the time and everywhere. If we don’t figure it out, online formats are going to eat our lunch.
So, I’m looking for ways to create more opportunities for students to sit on logs and talk to faculty without breaking the bank: digital, styrofoam or wood logs; during breakfast, lunch, dinner and after-hours. If you are like me and want education to be transformative, not transactional, I want your ideas. How can we get more faculty and students talking to each other, working more together, and creating a culture of engagement? I know incentives are important here too…so suggestions for carrots and sticks are also welcome.
Warning: If you don’t help me generate good ideas, I will just have to implement the ones I come up with on my own. Accepting the status quo simply won’t do.
Paul Jarley, Ph.D., is the dean of the UCF College of Business Administration. He blogs every week at http://www.bus.ucf.edu/dean. This post appeared on May 22, 2013. Follow him on Twitter @pauljarley