Perhaps I’ve been in the Ivory Tower of graduate life and funding grants for too long, but I’ve had a crashing realization in the last few weeks: undergrads really don’t know how to read.
This insight came to me after the first exams I gave this semester, where I basically gave the answers to the exam in the exam itself. All my students quickly finished their exams without realizing that if they had actually read it as a whole, they would have gotten much better grades. To me, this was a gimme. However, it became apparent as I graded that I couldn’t even use it as a “teachable moment” — students were just too stressed at their abysmal grades.
While this semester is basically shot and my students expect our interaction to remain unchanged over the last five weeks, next semester I plan on teaching differently. My job needs to be teaching students how to read.
Up till now, it has been about content, next semester it will be about methodology. Hopefully, my students will learn both along the way, but I will consider it a success if they only learn the latter.