There’s one part of the university experience that most of us find difficult — doing our readings. The idea of sitting down to read textbook chapters or journal articles is not something that most students enjoy, even though professors obviously encourage them to do so. It is important to note that there is a gap between what is expected and what is accomplished. A study done by New York University professor Richard Arum showed that students spend 50 per cent less time studying compared to students from a few decades ago. Students attend lectures but often fail to complete the other major portion of their course.
“The biggest thing is to just sit down and do the reading, which nobody wants to do, it seems,” says Maija Saari, Assistant Professor for the Journalism program.
Although some students simply avoid doing their readings, Alexandra Capatina, a second year Journalism student says she manages to do her readings until other commitments get in the way.
“I do, do my readings. I fall behind because I have other projects to do,” says Capatina.
If you do decide to go to class unprepared don’t expect that your professors won’t notice. Kris Gerhardt, Assistant Professor for the Leadership department says he can tell if you bothered to do the readings.
“Once you get into second, third and fourth year it’s very apparent,” says Gerhardt. “Especially when you’re talking about a specific topic and you’re looking for people to answer questions, and people just automatically look away.”
Some students simply can’t resist the many distractions our generation now has, including Facebook and cell phones.
“I know some people who are on Facebook the entire day,“ says Capatina.
Professors know that there are more ways to get distracted now, but not doing your readings isn’t a new phenomenon.
“Every generation of professors just get older, so we forget what it’s like when we were younger, “ says Saari.
Sometimes even just being a student again can open your eyes to why doing your work outside of the classroom matters. Gerhardt went back to school after finishing an undergraduate degree at Brock University. He says that going back into the classroom made him realize what he’d done wrong the first time around.
“When I went back to school… I knew exactly why I hadn’t done well, or as well as I had wanted to at Brock,” says Gerhardt. Saari who also went back to school, noticed how important class is in undergraduate degrees.
“I went back to school in 2000 and that’s when I really realized when you’re an undergrad you often build your life around your classroom hours,” says Saari.
The bottom line, says Gerhardt, is when your professors assign you readings; they’re doing it for a reason.
“I don’t know why anybody would think that a professor would say, ‘Read this’ without a good reason. I mean there’s a good reason, I’m not trying to waste your time…I literally just want you to learn. ”