In about one week college campuses across the nation will be inundated by thousands of freshmen. According to the American College Testing program about 30 percent of freshmen students drop out of the college by the first year, and only 50 percent will graduate in five years.
These results are discouraging and shatter the dreams of many students, college administrators and parents.
It is a well-established fact that intelligent organisms learn from their past experiences and modify their actions to achieve the desired outcomes. Considering this, students and teachers must adopt a preemptive approach for the upcoming semester and fine tune the strategies to reduce the drop-out rate. The issue of the college drop-out rate has been studied extensively, and the phenomenon has been attributed to several factors that include, but are not limited to, the lack of readiness for the college, poor integration into the college’s academic and social systems, low student-faculty interactions, wrong college choice, inadequate advising and financial difficulties. When designing strategies to improve the graduation rates, all these factors must be taken into account.
Another factor that might help in improving the college-graduation levels is the focus on brain-based learning strategies. Recent studies in the area of cognitive neuroscience have revealed that the education policy of “one size fits all” is faulty. Humans differ greatly in their learning styles. Some students are visual learners, while others are better auditory learners.
Students may differ in their learning styles, but there is at least one characteristic that they share: They learn better through active engagement. In traditional teaching, the arrow of knowledge points from the teacher to the student without any major feedback from the students.
The time has come to abandon this style and make a paradigm shift toward a new teaching style in which the learning process transitions to a dialogue between teachers and students. Such a shift is necessary to empower students to make the most of optimum learning opportunities and to improve the college graduation rates.
Khalique Ahmed, chair, Division of Natural & Applied Sciences, Lynn University, Boca Raton