BCM212 Opinion Piece: Most university students are often half-prepared for tutorials

(Note: All of my works related to this project have been uploaded online. You can easily navigate these posts here for more details on progress and my portfolio.)

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Image: Public Domain Dedication, rebeccadevitt0.

 In a research study conducted at a regional university of New South Wales, majority students participated in the research stated that they usually prepare for tutorial. The students who participated in the research are enrolling in a bachelor degree of communication and media, in which subjects often (BCM) do not test students knowledge in class in terms of their preparation. This finding contradicts to what most people think about students’ preparation – that the corridors of academia often abound with university lamenting the lack of preparation by many students. 40% of the students filling out the survey are found to frequently prepare and only 10% said never. However, many educators believe that it is not just frequency of preparation or the amount of time students spend studying, but how they actually spend this time.

 

Indeed, in the survey, 60% of the respondents admitted that they often feel that they are only half-prepared. A reason for this is time constraint. In fact, many students claimed that they could have only a little amount of time to study many subjects, and they could only have about half an hour to one hour for the preparation of a certain subject. 50% of the students asked agreed that the time for preparation should be less than an hour, and another 35% said that they could prepare for about 1 to 2 hours.

 

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Students today are often found unable to balance between their work and studies, leading to poor academic results. While it is true that students have various commitments and priorities, time spent at part-time/ casual jobs is not the biggest factor that impacts their studies. In the focus group session of the research process, most participants pointed out that they found it difficult to distribute equal amounts of time for all subjects they are taking. Also, they chose video and text as their preferred materials, as students could either be multitasking while listening or get some time to read on their phone while traveling and being in the public. Thus, they must prioritize and accept that there are some subjects they might not prepare well, but it is acceptable enough to come to a tutorial confidently speaking in class.

“Probably because there are other subjects, I don’t know about you guys, but, like, for me, there are other subjects that need more preparation for than BCM” – said a second-year BCM student.

These subjects are regarded as “chilling ones”, in which teachers are laid-back and the classroom environment is more of “conversation” for anyone to gain information rather than to be prepared to talk what they already know. In this type of class, students are not under the pressure to prove that they have prepared before coming, and they could be comfortable sitting in the class to benefit from the tutor and class discussion.

“Because it doesn’t really- we’re not marked on what we say in class, like, I don’t know if you guys have had a class with class participation, like, where we’re marked on what we say and how much we say in class,….” – added another student.

Another reason for the half-preparedness for tutorial amongst students is the lack of motivation. In the survey, “no motivation” is ranked the third biggest factor that deters students from preparing for class properly – only after “other commitments” and “distractions”. Some students elaborated that they feel less motivated if the subject and class is less challenging. Regarding the content of given materials, subjects requiring little effort to prepare appear to be “easy”, which students find less interesting or unworthy of preparation. Furthermore, the lack of motivation is recognized through the class environment. While students quite enjoy their tutors being easy-going, they claimed that the tutors’ attitudes decide how they would treat the subjects, with serious or negligent manners. Also, it seems that students tend to prepare before attending class only if they are required to do so and if their preparation is rewarded.

“….it depends on the situation, if you know she’s like (the tutor), asking- testing your knowledge then you’ll come more prepared, but – we are only asked if we have gone through the green doors (online tasks)” – the student continued.

Despite these, it is evident that students are still trying to prepare for tutorial. The university website for current students (Moodle) should help students to overcome the aforementioned challeng by making clear what materials – text, video or image are most used for preparation in a particular subject. Also, the time students need to spend preparing for a particular subject is untold, which creates apprehension as students are unsure of how much time they should havefor preparation. Thus, a beneficial feature should be added to the Moodle site (in next maintenance) which displays estimated time required for completing tasks to improve the quality of tutorial preparation.

 

 


 

Note: All of my works related to this project have been uploaded online. You can easily navigate these posts by clicking “BCM212” and then “BCM212 Research Project” for more details on progress and my portfolio.

Published by

Trang Bùi

BCM-BINTs | Class of 2021 | UOW

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