Through reviewing these resources, I gained many new insights into the roles that adult educators play in student entitlement.
I reviewed 2 sources on our roles as adult educators on responding the students’ entitlement. I initially chose the Lippman, Bulanda & Wagennaar (2009) article features in Faculty Focus, but realized that Caley and I chose the same resource. I will reflect upon both the Lippman et al., (2009) and Holdcroft (2014) articles on the new insights I gained on the roles we play in student entitlement.
Holdcroft (2014) notes a potential factor encouraging student entitlement is that in recent years, faculty and student relations have become more informal. She provides examples to support this: that faculty are addressed by their first name and that they dress and appear more casual. She states that this perhaps is hinting to a loss of quality in education. I have noticed a trend in a more casual approach and look of instructors, specifically in my teaching environment. I never really thought about this link fostering a culture of student entitlement. What surprised me was that in her article, she places a lot of responsibility on the faculty for issues with student entitlement. This is an approach that I can see the link, but honestly never thought of this way. It makes sense though, if I expect professionalism, respect from my students, I should act and dress professionally and treat them with respect and dignity to demonstrate this expectation.
Some of the responses that Holdcroft (2014) stated to respond to ‘student incivility’ and entitlement in academia were for faculty to uphold their expectations and requirements and to not deviate from their syllabus. Her second response is to demonstrate respect among colleagues and address each other formally. Lastly, she recommends that every incident of student misconduct needs to be reported. I was surprised by her approach as I find her last response to be responsive with punitive tones rather than preventative. I also think that there is a lot more behind student entitlement and incivility that we need to discuss and attend to rather than acting professional, stern and report infractions. I agree that we need to be fair and consistent with all students (unless accommodations are necessary) as it is important for adult learners to know the expectations and outcomes. I do not really agree with her approach or see the logic that these 3 responses alone with decrease issues with student and foster respect. How does reporting academic misconduct encourage respect and responsibility?
I found the 6 suggestions to respond to student entitlement by Lippman et al., (2009) to be more constructive and meaningful. The strategies that Lippman et al., (2009) suggests that I feel resonate with my teaching style and approach are to: make expectations with students explicit; provide examples of ‘excellent’ work; ask students to appeal their grades first in writing; re-socialize students to take responsibility for their learning; and create institutional responses that foster student responsibility and expectations.
I am really taking away that we need to support students’ success in overcoming attitudes and behaviours of entitlements. We cannot just sit back and complain and expect them to fix it on their own. Our job as educators is to create accurate expectations and ‘teach’ them how to take responsibility of their education. From these resources it is apparent that both the faculty and students’ need to work together to breakdown the entitlement culture. I believe it is important for faculty and students to engage in collaborative dialogue about these issues and create a learning environment that counters entitlement. An environment built on respect, responsibility, clear expectations, collaboration and working together from my perspective does not leave much room for entitlement to breed. I think that by setting clear expectations, positive role modelling, encouraging students to take responsibility for learning (and explaining the benefit for them) that we can reduce the problems that arise from entitlement.
Trends of Student Entitlement…
In this response I will discuss the trends in student entitlement as well as how I will respond to these trends.
It is evident in the articles that I reviewed that student entitlement is an issue in post –secondary education and that it is a growing concern. According to findings stated by Ciani, Summers & Easter (2008, p. 332-333), student entitlement behaviours such as:
- feeling entitled to receive an ”A”;
- Arguing about a grade;
- belief that minimal effort is required for success;
- surprise with a lower grade than expected;
- entitled to post-secondary education;
- schools are obligated to ensure their success toward graduation;
- expectation they deserve special treatments from professors (Fullerton, 2013, p.13)
Fullerton (2013, p.31) states that the root of the entitlement is that “students are coming to campus with perspectives and egos that have been shaped by overindulgent parents, technology, social media, the Internet, and disposable income” (Rhee, Sanders, and Simpson 2010 in Fullerton, p.31). Other researchers report our students’ today are “more selfish, superficial and narcissistic.” Ciani, Summers & Easter (2008, p. 332). If these really are some of the reasons as to why we are seeing more student entitlement, how are we to control for these factors and deliver quality education? The only solution and preparation I can think of is to find ways to engage these factors in positive ways that foster our educational goals. For example, If students are comfortable and apt with technology then we need to engage them at this level. However, I am unsure on how to assist with the personality dimensions of narcissism and selfishness besides to engage them in the benefits of collaborative and group learning.
Fullerton’s (2013, p.32) research reported that all the 67 students in his sample felt as though they were “customers” or “consumers” and that they were paying for their education and expected maximum return. The notion of education being a good or service that you “purchase” is concerning. I hope that my students do not think that they are customers. This was especially frightening as I hear my colleagues talking about the “business” of education and decisions being made in management from a business model mindset rather than an education model. As we trend towards a business model of education, can we expect the entitlement to worsen? I think as we move forward, and if it is a business model that we are creating, that we look at the impacts of this specifically in the classroom and on students’ learning. What happens when students feel they are consumers? One example is stated by Fullerton. When asked what the students needed to support learning and quality education, the students stated they wanted personal things such as: only paying fees for services they use; better food; direct tv, health care; and parking to name a few. I started thinking that as we have moved into this education as business model if we have already created this consumer mentality where we are in a position to meet these high and unrealistic expectations.
Other statistics presented by Fullerton (2013, p.32) that surprised me were that: 78% of students said that the professor needed to respond within 24 hours to an email; 97% said they should be allowed to text in class; 100% felt that professors should be required to take late assignments; none of the students could define “respectful” or “participation.” This data and the potential that this is a possible upward trend is concerning.
In Ciani et al.,’s (2008) research they reported that male students report more entitlement than female students. This surprised me as I do not seem to get this feeling from my students. I seem to find that I have more experiences with entitlement with female students. This could be because I am a female faculty and therefore the dynamics are different? With our numbers of male students declining, especially in the disciplines that I teach, I wonder if I can expect a decline in student entitlement?
Also I was surprised to learn that in their second study, Ciani et al., (2008) reported greater entitlement in senior students than freshman students. I do not have any recent experience with this as I teach first and second year students. However, this was not what I expected, as educators seem to blame the parents and secondary schools for creating the culture of entitlement. The findings in Ciani et al.’s (2008) research suggest that perhaps we are fuelling the problem of entitlement in our post-secondary environments. Perhaps Fullerton’s (2013) findings that the students’ reported that they feel like consumers and customers is a result of them engaged in our post-secondary education systems and that their entitlement responses are a response to how we are treating them. Ciani et al.’s (2008) also state that “our results may suggest that perceived entitlement to negotiate with an instructor may be an adaptive strategy to navigate the college environment.” (p.341) I think that if the trend is that perhaps “entitlement” is getting worse as their academic career progresses we really need to carefully examine our institutions, classrooms and pedagogical approaches.
How I would Approach these trends?
I would approach these trends by encouraging a positive and respectful learning environment. I remind my students that we are all adults and that we choose to be here. If you are choosing to be here, we need to be committed to working together and creating a community where we respect and support each other. I model the behaviour that is acceptable and expected. I ask my students to put their phones away (out of sight) and I explain why (that it distracts everyone). I also do not bring my phone to class, and if I need to, I clearly explain why. To me this is being respectful of my students times and expectations and being a positive role model. Our adult learners are not children and I think problems arise when we do not involve them in their learning and encourage them to choices about their learning environment. In my experiences, I find that the classroom management techniques of “because I said so and do as I say, not what I do” create much greater problems. This year I had no problems with cellphone use, or misuse of technology during class time (as I did in previous years). When I asked my students about why they respected this, they said it was hard to disconnect but they in the end could see the benefit to their learning and that they understood that them using their phone was disrespectful to all of us.
I also begin all of my first classes (online and face to face) with asking the students what they need to create a respectful and safe learning environment. I put them in charge of what they need and I facilitate the dialogue. I find it successful for students to hear from their peers how they should act. I think this potentially mitigates the “selfish” learner mentality that it is all about “me” which we are seeing in literature is feeding into entitlement issues.
In all my course syllabus’ I clearly provide my students with the procedure for discussing issues, challenges, grade appeals and provide them with the college wide policies that apply to them. I think that providing them with these guidelines and steps on how we will discuss grade appeals to be really helpful and prevent unclear expectations from arising.
Another technique I learned recently is to clearly state not only what I expect of my students but what they can expect from me. I find that the recent introduction of explaining what they can expect from me and that I am only human has really helped put things into perspective and seems to have mitigates unrealistic expectations. I think many of the issues of student entitlement comes from a lack of realistic expectations.
When approached by students who state that “I pay your salary” and “I pay for my education” instead of getting upset, I present them with the information from our Dean and Vice President of Financial Services here that have a precise breakdown of the “value” of their tuition dollars. Students are shocked to learn that their education is funded 85% by the government and their tuition makes up 15% of our operating revenues. I find that many of the instances of ‘ignorance’ or ‘entitlement’ are because students do not have accurate facts or information to make an informed judgement on. If we provide them with the information that they want or need and use these examples of entitlement as teachable moments I think we can make some progress.
Sharing best practices and approaches with colleagues is I think another great way to respond to entitlement and other challenges and successes we encounter in the classroom. So often, our challenges someone else has overcome or we can get together to discuss possible solutions. I have learned a lot from my peers and colleagues and think that this would be really helpful in better understanding and responding to student entitlement.
Final Reflections on conference process…
Caley and I met in person to discuss this project. I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn from and with one of my colleagues. Most of our conversations are personal or work related, but it was really different when we were conversing as fellow students. I learned a lot from Caley. I was reluctant and nervous about this blog exercise as I never engaged in a blogging assignment. Caley is a seasoned blogger so she did an excellent job of teaching me how to build my blog. I learn best this way, hands on and in an interactive and engaging way. I Think I would have struggled more if I had to learn this on my own. I valued this learning experience and it really satisfied my learning needs.
Through the discussion on our sources of information and perspectives on our articles, it was interesting to see how our personal experiences and perceptions shaped our attitude and responses towards student entitlement. We shared various strategies and the information that we learned on the trends in student entitlement. We both agree on the trends, that is a growing concern, but recognize some of the proposed responses were not compatible for both of us. It was refreshing to learn from each other and appreciate that there is not one solution that will work for all educators and students.
Thank you for this great learning opportunity. This assignment moved me out of my comfort zone and with the support of my partner, I learned not only how to blog but more about student entitlement and my roles.