“I think we learned how much they crave structure,” says Gretchen McKay, an art history professor.
“If you just said, ‘Do a 20-page paper and turn it in at the end of the semester,’ they’d be out to sea.”
In response, McKay and her students added checkpoints throughout the semester. Students had to propose ideas for their final papers before spring break. Last week, they had to deliver presentations on their research. They will next turn in drafts several weeks before the finished papers are due.
“I had dropped research papers from some of my classes altogether,” McKay says. “But now, I realize that I just wasn’t doing it in a structured enough way.”
Worried about students who are “academically adrift,” professors are trying to engage students in their own learning.