Sep 242009
 
Authors: Scherer Robyn

I’m sitting in a classroom, blankly staring at the projection of the PowerPoint slides on the screen. I think there is someone talking, but I can’t be sure, and I’m fighting the urge to close my eyelids.

Now, it’s the same night, and I’m feverishly memorizing facts for my test the next day. I cram for hours up until the test, and I think I’ll do well. However, 10 minutes after the test, I’ve managed to forget almost everything I “learned.” Have you ever found yourself in either of these scenarios?

I’m sure most people are nodding their heads. So why does this happen? I feel like the majority of teachers don’t really teach anymore. They use technology to get them through. They “test” us on our memorization skills, instead of on what we really learned.

According to a survey done at the University of Central Lancashire, 59 percent of 211 students surveyed said they were bored at least some of the time in their classes, and that the overuse of PowerPoint was a contributing factor to this.

It seems that teachers everywhere are now using PowerPoint as a crutch. PowerPoint was created as an aid for presenters, and now I feel like it is just a big book that professors read from.

Not to be rude, but here is a fun fact: We can read. I know, novel thought. Who would think college students could read?

Do you remember when you were little and your parents read you to sleep? Same concept applies here. When you start reading, we check out.

PowerPoint can be used as a very strong aid if done right. One of the biggest problems is teachers cram as much information on a slide as possible, and if they don’t give you the slides, that means you have to write it all down. So what’s the problem?

When you are trying to write down every last word, you never really hear what the teacher is saying. Therefore, you are missing what may be important facts.

However, just giving the students the slides beforehand doesn’t work either. See, a lot of students believe if they can get the information without going to class, then what’s the point of going? There are better places such as the Ramskeller where we could be instead.

So, how should PowerPoint be used? I’ve had a couple of professors who have done a great job. One of my professors provided us with the notes before class, but all of the information was not filled in. You had to come to class to get the info, but could pay attention at the same time and learn from what he was saying as well.

Another good way to use PowerPoint is to put major bullet points and visuals on the slides, then discuss the points in detail and use the visuals to show what you are trying to convey.

The second problem with current teaching is that students are not always taught the material, but told they need to memorize it to pass a test. Are they really learning the material? I’m betting not.

So how do you avoid this? Sorry students, but essay questions can help. And I’m not talking essay tests. I think that if professors asked students to write an essay every week on what they learned the previous week, students would gain two valuable skills.

They would be more apt to learn the material. If they are rewriting it in their own words, they have to think about it. Secondly, they are learning valuable communication skills in writing. Now, I realize there are some classes like math and chemistry that this won’t work for.

However, it is quite evident that education needs an overhaul. Presenters of all types need to step up their games and engage their audiences. Please don’t continue to read to us, or teach us to memorize. Students want to be here, even if they don’t always show it. Remember, we do pay a lot in tuition. Give us our money’s worth.

Robyn Scherer is a senior animal sciences major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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