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Master Student in Innovation,

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The gap between knowledge and practice. - A students thoughts on how universities don't implement what they know.

Why is it that the place where most knowledge on structure, organizations and learning is allocated, is also the place where the least of this knowledge gets put to use?

As an university student I (sadly) often ask my self why I'm at a specific lecture. Too often I get the feeling that I might as well have stayed home in stead of having attended today, since reading the curriculum apparently is more beneficial then joining the lecture. Too often the lecturers just repeat what I've already read and, might I ad, in a way that requires a lot of motivation and self discipline just to stay awake.

Why isn't the lecture on communication the best communicated one? Or the lecture on pedagogy the one which involves the most?

Though we do have lectures that really get me going and lecturers who really get me on the edge of my seat, my point is this:

Shouldn't universities be the place where private companies enviously look, amazed at how effective they are at communicating complexities? How well structured they are? How smooth everything seams to flow?

I would say yes, but that's not the experience I get when attending.

Recently when only given one 15 minute break during a three hour lecture, I asked the professor if we couldn't get at least one more, since it gets hard to concentrate for that period of time. He replied by saying, that we should actually take a short break every 20 minutes, because of that very argument. So why doesn't he give us that? Is it a matter of habit? Lack of reflection? Or maybe something else?

I don't know. But I sure would like to, since I suspect that being armed with that knowledge might be the first step in bringing change to this situation.

What are your thoughts?

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  • Nov 19 2011: Hi Casper,
    As a fellow college student I find myself in roughly the same situation as you. Even though in university we have supposedly chosen our domain of specialization to study the subjects we're interested in, some of the ones I'm having this semester and not only are vaguely correlated to my area of interest, which makes for lower attendance in lectures and lack of motivation in seminaries.
    From what I understood, your post refers to the professors' lack of practising what they know, to facilitate the learning process and intrigue us into their subject. I too have been experiencing this type of teaching (for example,my teacher who lectures on Pedagogy - the science of Teaching - is not at all engaging and seems to not care a lot about teaching us this practice), and from my point of view, the reasons may vary: from having multiple generations of uninterested students -which can lower your passion for teaching-, to having a too small salary that is not worth the struggle of enticing students into being interested and so on. From what I've seen, the first argument is more applicable to my university, due to the majority (~80%) of students who show such little interest in the subject, regardless their relevance to their future careers, which determines professors to have low expectations and, consequently, low commitment. You seem to be part of the other group, who would like to be drawn to the subjects he's studying but the teachers are not interested enough.
    What I would do in your situation is try to be more active in seminaries (if you have such things), where things are more personal in groups of 20 than scores of 80-100, and answer, ask questions, show interest, research something to challenge your teacher and maybe he'll find a new way to connect and better put into practice what he knows.

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