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The topic on this week's Behind the classroom door from northern Illinois University's College of Education is why do some college students fail prevention and correction. Here's the moderator Robert after top. Well I think your knowledge today is a serious problem for higher education ideas. We run into some interesting statistics of the failure of college students particularly know what heavy pressures are going to on them. And he did just do a little bit disturbing. Well this is an important problem because a recent studies show that about 25 percent of all high school graduates begin in college. And there seems to be more social and economic pressure to attend college than ever before. There's a larger percentage of my school graduates are going to colleagues are they any year they will be more of these. That's right. And at the same time there are more academic standards. There are higher academic standards for admission and retention than ever before and
they seem to be creeping higher all the time. On the average we might say that about half of all students admitted to college will probably not earn a four year college degree. To break a dom further we might say that one of every two freshmen who enter a four year college program will not complete that program. Of course we have to recognize that this is not entirely due to academic failure that many times they change the Wayans they lose their steam. They run out of money or get married or for some other reason leave. But all of these are serious reasons and many capable student who suddenly. Yeah it's true that when studies are made up of college dropouts the time is spent. And this research of analyzing academic reasons for failure probably because a test results and grade point averages are easy to identify and to classify By think of one
would reach further you'd find. Various reasons for college dropouts. You would find that these low grade point averages are probably due to some other basic reason that is affecting this college student. Leo mentioned that many students couldn't go to school go to college because of their low grade point averages at the high school level I think we should. And should remember that many of the students do get into the community colleges and the junior colleges and after proving themselves there they're able to transfer to the right to the four year college this is one of their real fine reasons I think for having a two year community college first of all the competition isn't quite as great. There are there's a wider range of individual differences and so those two things are going to terminate. They're going in at the close of the junior college program and they're going to go into some kind of occupation. Others who are more capable can go on to senior college and finish should four year degree.
In fairness to the students who go to the junior colleges I think we should. State that many very excellent students can't unite colleges and could succeed right from the very beginning. In the other colleges no question about it but it's more convenient also much less expensive I think to go to a junior college to which you can commute. I think that is one of the responsibilities of a college or university that it should do fine at schools and although the role of the junior college in the state of Illinois at least has as been stated and students accept it for what it is. Well I think all universities should do the same if it so main purpose is to train only the intellectually elite I think they should make that known so that students who do not have the second academic abilities will attend that college while if they intend to plan a college program for all students which will benefit all students I think that should be made known to.
A Leo are near statistics there of some 50 percent of entering freshman do not make it. And I was far as a junior going to a junior college isn't Wouldn't this be an advantage. Oh definitely I think that be a great advantage because we find there is the largest failure rate occurs on the freshman level. In other words is the rate so high with transfers into universities. Well I have no figures on that but I would I would doubt very much if it would be anywhere near that high. I'm sure it's not in our institution as a case in point where the transfer student comes from a junior college or community college does it well is our so-called native school students who have survived the first two years. Don't you think that one reason why freshmen and so many freshmen feel it's because of the poor adjustment to college life. The freedom that they have experienced at this time and they're not organized to make
the best use of their time. Yes I think in analyzing the reasons why students fail. Of course lack of basic intellectual ability could be a cause but I doubt that this is the main cause. I think sometimes it's lack of some study habits for example. What you're touching upon because even at the high school level where they have study halls and do have homework still the teachers are looking after the students more closely and reminding them to get assignments finished. All of the sudden they go to college or university and they're carrying they have 15 class hours scattered throughout the week. They may have entire days when they don't go to class. Well this forces them to regulate their own schedules so they can study and get ready. And this is difficult when they have that kind of freedom. Well I agree that the entering freshman student is not as responsible and saw sufficient as it will be in later years in college
and he does need somebody probably to lead him around by the hand until he becomes familiar with the situation. We need to show the student. What Student personnel services on the college level can do it do for him. I think he should be made aware of of is difficulties if he's having difficulties early so that he can seek help from the Student personnel service division. I think this is particularly true in a large university. This is where a student would need help more I believe. Now you've kind of lost. Yes because he's among large numbers of students and there's a tremendous amount of competition. And well this is one reason why the junior college should appear as a good possibility for a lot of children because classes are generally smaller.
Well I think in a large university he has to take the initiative. To find out what's bothering him he's causing the trouble he has to go make the appointment with the professor or go see Student personnel services the dean of man or dean of women. And it just takes a lot of doing for a freshman in a big university. And it's particularly difficult when he has large classes and we have to admit that across the country and the larger universities and I suspect even the medium sized schools large classes are developing classes of from 100 to 700 students and they may be taught by one master instructor and they may break up into smaller sections for discussion purposes but still they can't ask questions quite readily at the time it occurs and they don't have the personal contact that is desirable for a freshman. There's also the problem of competition for his time outside of class as well as competition that he faced in the classroom. For example I can think in many cases
where students. Need to work to make money to sane stay in school. And some of them take on jobs where they spend 20 30 40 hours a week working outside of their. Own school. And this is in some cases this disaster disastrous especially if the student is not a strong student but in general statistics indicate that the student who works does as well is a student who's having his way paid completely. I suppose there's an element of motivation here. And you know this was one of the interesting psychological findings. It's been proven that the highest IQ do not necessarily earn the highest grades in college and that the element that is most significant is a seriousness of purpose. Buckling down and getting to work appreciating a college of education education and seeing a vocational future growing out of his college work. As a result many an average student succeeds quite well in college and as long as I've
mentioned IQ I don't mention the fact that with one hundred ten or a hundred five IQ many students putting forth extra effort it sure. And succeeded in earning a baccalaureate degree regardless in some cases. The fact that some teachers believe that there should be all of those a certain number of them. Doesn't this doom some students in spite of their ability or work habits. I think there's no question about it someone made the statement that if a teacher had 20 Einsteins in his class some teachers had 20 Einsteins in the in the in their class if they would want to fail at least 5 or 10 percent and give D's to another percentage to balance off the BS in the 80s the so-called normal curve idea. And then there's unfortunate this is come about partly by public pressure I want to say though people who say we aren't working students hard enough or
trial in judging them sufficiently. And still the young particularly young college professor who is just getting started is likely to say well I measure my quality of instruction in my demands by the number of failures that I give. And it's just not true particularly when there's been an initial selective process. Right. I don't think this is fair. I think that education should be used to educate human beings and not find out who is going to be deprived of an education. Exactly. Now this is a little bit difficult to control however because unconsciously when you are teaching. I've had this happen to me and I'm sure you have too. You have 30 let's say you have 30 college students before you. You compare them with each other. And so you do tend to give about the same number of grades at each level. Now I
don't believe that I've ever fallen into the mistaken habit of giving as many D's and F's as I give beads in an age particularly when you get at the junior level. I think this is definitely wrong. As a student goes through his college program there should be more A's more be fewer CS and practically no Ds and whether those first few years on the other hand you do compare students with them classes. Well you've been pointing out that the college or university has some real responsibility towards the student and that these institutions of higher learning may be. At fault and may be the causes of ston students failing. I'd like to point out that admission officers should make the potential academic dropout aware of his chances of staying in school at the time of admission. Now these
admissions officers keep records they have test results and grade point averages and they can predict with a fairly accurate. To a fairly accurate degree who the potential drop outs are. And I think these students and drink should be made aware that they are risks and I think it is very serious if an admissions office does not inform a student who was a risk. That his chances of staying in school are very very slight unless he puts forth a great deal of effort. Well that's the point you're trying to make isn't it Leo that the student ought to know all that he's going to have to study perhaps two hours went on when a fellow student is studying or preparing one hour because of the fact that he has a risk if you supported a lying student I think we do have to be realistic with him.
Each year I have many opportunities to speak to a future teacher groups from high schools and the northern part of the state. And that's the one thing that I stress and that is that is a freshman come in and work hard to get off to a good start because if you don't take your freshman year seriously and get off to a good start you can step so far behind that it will take you a long time to catch up. You know being a new freshman is really a traumatic experience. The students are in an unknown situation. Naturally there is the usual fear of the unknown and the student just does not know how much effort he has to put forth to succeed in these classes. That first semester and that year are really. A time when they're there feeling that way and getting acquainted with the university campus classes professors and all that goes with it. And of course they're just downright lonesome. Sometimes it's like going to a big city and not having anybody there that you know. Many of our freshman come in a freshman
at every institution come in from small high schools where they knew everybody they knew all the teachers and they were on speaking terms with all the all the students. And then they move into a large institution and nothing is more devastating to peace of mind until he acquires some friendships and can share some of his problems. And I know here at Northern knob and the dean of man Dean abandon the dean of women I have collected ideas from faculty members and from department heads all over the university and put the list together to hand out to students. These are ideas on how the students can get help if they're if they're doing poorly in their schoolwork. Because sometimes students are doing poorly and they don't know exactly what to do about it. They don't know to whom they should go and they are hesitant to bother their professor when he is the one who teaches a class of let's say 200 freshman.
I think that brings up one of the difficulties that a freshman student is faced with. How does he know he's doing poorly in many classes he's not given an exam till mid semester and then it's quite late to do much about it. Seems all the whole grading system especially among freshman needs to be overhauled and reorganized so that these students will know earlier whether they are succeeding or failing. Leo if our withdrawal policy here northern and large numbers tremendously large numbers of students that. Withdraw from class all the way from September all the way through apparently they do know when they're doing poorly. I don't know why literally as there's literally hundreds. And that's true Ali but I do believe the withdrawal takes place after the midterm examination. Actually right now in most institutions. A freshman wouldn't
know whether it was doing very well as you pointed out Leo and neither would the professor unless it happens to be a small class where there's been an exchange of ideas. His idea is a good one. We ought to be administering tests to freshman on the course on the core subject matter content. Perhaps within the first month of study. And then the freshmen would have an idea of the direction that he's going and what has to be done. At least it would prompt him to see the see the teacher about this. I know while he's very close to these people who are withdrawing because he serves it as an advisor for so many of them. But I notice you notice that many of the students are realized early in the semester that their work is at is too much for them in other words if they end up with three or four courses that they refer to as reading courses because there is so much reading connected with each one they soon find that they can't possibly. Read their
assignments no matter how many hours a day they study. Then they do withdraw. But I know that Wiley is very close to this withdrawal problem. Now I am going to have my statistics wrong with it seems to me here I read recently that there were actually three thousand classrooms withdrawn from September up to this point and these women were withdrawals from an individual car as more right rather than right and then the students from their entire program and I imagine that in the courses where there is some good discussion. And where there is a chance for a student to speak up very soon they recognise that the other students know more about it are responding better. Now of course there are other reasons for withdrawal maybe they want to lighten their load as you've implied Lloyd in the course when you mention reading. You've touched on one of the major causes of failure at the college level. Reading itself. They failed to have a
sufficiently rapid reading rate in their comprehension is not good and we are not now by the way I want to hurry on to say we're not blaming the lower schools for this because it's just not the case many times reading habits are just that their habits are almost ingrained personality traits and the student is moving along reading individual words when he should be skimming along reading for thoughts. Now something can be done for this student who needs this kind of help to increase his reading but in many cases nothing can be done. They go into a speed reading course and six months later they're back at their own rate of breeding their ole slow careful painstaking rate of reading. I think all you have to do then is tell a student. Put some more time on it you're going to have to take that two hours for the one hour that the other student uses. Sometimes a student find that he did a course that he doesn't like. It may be of course that he like it as an elective and after a week or two or three he finds
that this isn't for him and then he withdraws and then again we have the student that wants to make up a few extra hours. Maybe they register for six courses six three our courses or a lot of 18 hours. And then after a few weeks of. This schedule and I again they find it is too much by them and they withdraw from the lead drop. One of the questions you know I have an idea this withdrawal policy that is new here written are that relatively new that a person can really withdraw from a class. Right up to the last minute of the semester. I wonder what this is doing as far as numbers students that fail. I have an idea that there's going to be a higher rate tension. Well I don't mean as a result of this because it and I are years here at Northern For example there was only a few weeks the first few weeks I was in the semester the person could withdraw. I think it's becoming quite common with most institutions would give a more generous period of withdrawal for the reasons we've been speaking of and actually
desirable and for this reason the student who comes to a university large or small usually hasn't really made up his mind with regard to the major Carse program that he wants to follow. I don't know again what the statistics are but somebody said that the average number of changes of major is about 4. This means that many students come to college not really knowing what what they want to prepare themselves for and they change and they should be permitted to change because the first two years of college are largely general education which is kind of the same for all students. Gives them a chance to think through these things and some of the courses give them an idea of their area of interest. I don't think these decisions as to whether a student should re withdraw from one program and enroll in another or whether a student should drop out of a class and what she appears to be having some difficulty should be the
student's own decision. It seems to me that there ought to be someone to whom a student could go someone who is always available for the student or he could go to get this help he needs in this very important decision of what she must make. Well that's true in most institutions isn't it Leo They have to get the student who wishes to withdraw from harsh ass to get his advisors signature I believe. Well that's the point I'd like to make that one of the most important parts of any institution of higher learning is it's advice or a system. I know this is a very. Terrific financial burden for a college or university but it it means so much to these students there should be somebody available at all time in whom the student has confidence to whom he can go for help whenever he feels he needs it. I think that many institutions are failing in this respect.
I know I have talked many students out of withdrawing from the class. Occasionally these students are juniors and seniors that will come to me as a department head and I have talked them out of it because many times they are withdrawing only to have extra time to to carry on some social function that they want to. Be and involved in that particular years and Esther. You know the parents of college students have more impact than they realize and the success quite often the interest in the close concern of the parent for the child tapers off at about the close of the elementary school year. She stops going to PTA stops asking questions stopped stopped keeping an eye on. Youngster as he goes into high school this is even more true at the college level and that's unfortunate. They need their parents at least they need their concern and the interest of their parents and a longish lane of course selection again the parents ought to be spending a lot of time talking with their
prospect of college students what should be their careers without I may add imposing a parent's own ambitions. I've known some parents who would say I want my child to be an M.D. when he didn't have the abilities for that. I've known some other parents who said I want them to be a dentist so that I can have good dental care the rest of my life. But really the parents impact at the college level is very significant. I'm afraid that many parents feel that as long as they're contributing to the financial support of their son or daughter at college that they are fulfilling their obligations. But I agree with what you said Dean that parents in addition to the financial support should give their children a moral and psychological support as well. There's another group us doing that we didn't mention and I don't look at the students that come to college for a good time and don't care whether they succeed or not. Now let's face it we
do have a few of those. Yes and some of them are bright enough to get through. Some of them get serious along the way. Others just drop out. Again I can't help but harp on the idea that somewhere along the line colleagues success is dependent upon the internal discipline of the student. And when and where do you start to develop these habits. The discipline of studying hard of doing the job well except early in the youngsters school career I think the elementary school is a basic point where parents and teachers working together need somehow to establish this. Sense of responsibility in the thrill of learning and exploration and of course most children are ready for this they're reaching out for it. And there's no question of what study habits good study habits should be developed at the elementary school level. And there's also no question what many college
students do not possess good study habits when they come to college and if it is a handicap right from the very beginning. One of the problems we haven't touched upon. Is the physical and mental health of the individual young adult who comes to college. I'm convinced that many college students are tired and rundown physically. And in talking to my dentist an M.D. they say that they have a large number of college students that run into both tooth and physical trouble. By the time they enter college all of the sudden there's a upsurge in the problems that the this student encounters that he didn't encounter before. Even more cavities the dentist tells me and this is partly because of the irregular eating habits perhaps irregular hygiene and so on and of course the nervous tension which can develop during
these stressful years. I think too often we have blamed We have blamed. Our college students were being frivolous and bearded beatniks when the truth of the matter is a vast majority of them are very serious working hard needing the help of adults who perhaps don't give them the understanding they should have during this period of time. Seems to me that the responsibility for failure needs to be shared equally. Equally between the parents and the colleges and universities. And of course the student himself. But we can't shrug off our responsibility to students as they as they enter college and appear to be adults. I may also add that the moral and ethical standards of behavior patterns. Students should be of concern to parents and we discover parents completely amazed to discover
that something disastrous has happened when actually they stop being interested in their own students. So all of us have to get together I think to prevent failure of college students because it's worse to try something like this and then to fail than never to try it at all. And our failure rate is far too high in the classroom door produced by W.S. in cooperation with the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Each week focuses its attention on one of the many challenging aspects of public school education. The program is moderated by Dr. Robert F. top dean of the College of Education at Northern Illinois University. Today's guest were Dr. Leo Laughlin head of the Department of Administration services. Dr. Lloyd Leonard head of the department of elementary education and Dr. Wallace Wheeler professor of education. Next week's topic will be foreign languages in the
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Behind the Classroom Door
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Behind the Classroom Door is a radio series from WNIU-FM about education in the United States. In each episode, faculty from the Northern Illinois University College of Education address specific issues related to public school education and operation. The program is produced in cooperation with Northern Illinois University and distributed by the National Educational Radio Network.
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