I am finishing my semester with my college students and one of their last assignments is to create a video on an assigned topic; they work in groups of five or six. Today, as they prepared to premiere the videos in class, one student said, "You know, none of us knew how to use iMovie so most of what we did we just kind of figured out by horsing around with it."I'm sure this teacher means well, but she's putting her students in an impossible position. The students are looking for the quickest, most efficient way to complete the assignment and get a good grade. "Horsing around" with the problem of how to get started is not a reasonable use of their time.
Over the years, I endured bad teaching evaluations (done at the end of the semester by all students in every class) because students write that I am too "vague" and don't give good directions on assignments. I give good directions. What I don't do is tell them how to do assignments. So, for example, the instructions or prompt for the videos are complete; they are thought-provoking; they offer guidance. What they do NOT do is explain how to begin a project on iMovie; which buttons to select for each aspect of editing; and how to export the movie to Youtube. I do implore them to begin early and allot ample time for editing.
When the student made that comment in class, I said that I believe that we in education have taken away all sense of learning by exploration and an intended by-product of this assignment is to challenge (force?) the students to embrace some of that curiosity again, even if it is for the sake of a grade.
Usually, in a class of 25 students, three or four get it.
an intended by-product of this assignment is to challenge (force?) the students to embrace some of that curiosity again, even if it is for the sake of a grade.You can't "challenge" or "force" someone to embrace curiosity; it just doesn't work that way. The teacher is correct to sense that there is a basic contradiction between telling students to embrace their curiosity and grading them.
Approaches like this beg the question, "What is a teacher for?" If she isn't there to share her knowledge, why is she there at all? You might as well save her salary and just put the students in a room and tell them to figure it out.
I would add that the topics the teacher wants her students to figure out for themselves, e.g. "how to begin a project on iMovie", are not even the creative aspect of the job. Why not show the students how to start the project and which buttons create which editing effect, and then let them use their creative impulses in the actual making of the movie?
Usually, in a class of 25 students, three or four get it.It's time to change your teaching methods. These are terrible results.