The New Classroom – Appealing to the Masses

What’s a faculty member to do?  With class size growing in community colleges due to increasing enrollments, the challenge to keep up with numbers is coupled with addressing a cross section of students.  From the traditional student, to the working adult, to senior citizens, instructors are finding it increasingly difficult to make the subject matter relevant, the delivery user-friendly, and the layout comfortable for all learners. 

One community college administrator says, “I am the chief academic officer of a community college. With the influx of laid-off workers who received a grant through he “No Worker Left Behind” initiative; the senior citizens who can attend college for free and the recent high school graduates who have stipends to attend a community college; the classroom size has nearly doubled. A few of the faculty members have experienced burn-out as a result of the multi-generational presence of family members in their classrooms and his or her lack of ability to differentiate instruction to accommodate all learners. The grandparents request that the instructor slow down in their teaching and speak louder, the parents want the instructor to make the lesson relevant to what he or she is doing at his or her place of employment and the children (newly out of high school) are disinterested altogether in the subject matter.”

Faculty members are having to invest more time and effort in keeping up with the student and his/her own personal needs.  Having to change the way you do business can result in frustration, disenchantment, and loss of motivation to reach students.  What responsibility do students have for their own understanding of the content and how it applies to their environment?  Perhaps in the future instructors will have to generate assignments that require the students to come up with their own idea of relevancy.  Helping students learn information at their own pace, with their own perspective can broaden the experiences of all students.  Besides, wouldn’t we all agree that we can learn much from each other…especially when multiple generations are represented?