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Eugene Frier

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How can we best engage college students in the idea of learning instead of just getting a degree?

I work at a 4 year, public university and I see a great deal of students who come to school to get their degree (which they equate to money/success) and do not care about learning. What are your thoughts on the best way to engage them in the actual process of learning. I have my thoughts, but would love to hear my fellow TEDsters thoughts.

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  • Mar 21 2013: Take away the incentives for achieving high grades. A test score of 97% is not an indication of learning or proficiency. It is an indication of memorization. (in general)

    Better yet - Take away grades. Learning is not a competition. And in my opinion, grades reflect poorly on talent. How can a person learn when there is the higher priority of a passing grade?

    Reward based on accomplishment. In the academic world, success seems to be measured by 3 hours exams (or similar). In the rest of the world - the "Real World" - success is measured by achievement of objectives. The time frame of these is weeks, months, or years.

    Do not give lectures and do not require students to read textbooks. Provide students with a challenge, provide them with access to a list of resources, and expect delivery. Who is motivated to read a textbook because they were ordered to? But would you be motivated to seek out and read a textbook on Thermodynamics if it was your mission to design and build a heatsink? Or a textbook on Computer Programming if you had to write a program?

    You cannot force someone to learn. The current model of university tries to. It fails.

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