Modern life has brought countless forms of distractions and entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, most of them are really positive and have become parts of our daily lives. But there is no denying that a human being is nowadays face more distractions than even in history.
The average person is exposed to something like 1000 commercial messages (ads) per day. The options for entertainment are varied and many of them of great quality and affordable. There is not denying our students don’t have time for the coursework.
My Stats students will always complain that they don’t have enough time, that the assignments are too long, and then you may see them trying to find homework help for their Stats coursework in internet forums or with classmates who will unlikely be able to help.
And all that because they are distracted, because they are thinking about the release of the new season of their favorite series in Netflix or Hulu. Priorities are not always put in the right place.
The Magic of Office Hours
Only few students show up for the office hours. There is this kind of reluctance to ask the instructor about legitimate doubts the students have, but they may feel a bit ashamed to ask, because they deem them to be too basic.
Indeed, the magic is in the basics, in the core, in the understanding of the basic descriptive statistics, in the why we do things. And also, the magic is in the office hours. If students attended to their office hours regularly, a different story would be told. But they are distracted.
Your best sources of Stats help are your instructor and your T.A., and your weaponry are the Math Center and the office hours. Pure magic there. But students require commitment, dedication and tenacity, but that requires concentration, an asset that is a bit scarce nowadays.
Less Orthodox Resources that Can Still Work
I take for granted that majority of students don’t feel comfortable asking too many questions to their instructors, and they will try to find other sources of homework help for statistics, such as private tutors or specialized internet sites. Those options could be valid. In all truth, my ego does not feel hurt if students look for other ways of getting help, that does not include me. Instructors are the villains in this movie. Personally my final goal is for students to learn, so more power to them.
Ultimately, I wish that the educational structures were more flexible so that the T.A. would take a more active role at assisting students with the needs, especially with hard homework questions where students will likely be lost and it would be critical to guide them appropriately.
But again, they will likely not use the traditional sources of help (instructor, T.A., etc) because they do not feel totally comfortable. We need to work hard to get our students comfortable with the resources they have around. Let’s make technology a crucial that yields some other great educational platforms, beyond Netflix and Hulu.