The Learning Paradox: The Digital Generation Seeks A Personal, Human Voice
This study examines undergraduate students’ perceptions of academic teaching and factors that affect these perceptions, whether social background, secondary education, academic background, or learning habits. The study is based on the findings of a previous study conducted by the authors, which indicated two patterns of learning habits among undergraduate students: those oriented toward the use of digital and technological devices, and those oriented toward the use of traditional technology-resistant means. These learning habits were incorporated as explanatory variables in the current study, which included 772 undergraduate students in 14 disciplines from 37 academic institutions. A complex picture emerges from the research findings. On one hand, students’ attitudes toward teaching indicate a preference for teaching that stresses personal rather technological aspects. While students’ learning patterns also reflect traditional learning patterns, students do not resist technology: they are exposed to and actively use technologies, both within and outside of the learning context. Moreover, it emerges that traditional learning habits have a formative effect on perceptions of technology-oriented teaching. That is to say, despite a conventional mode of learning and a preference for personal frontal teaching, students appear to subscribe to the notion that academic institutions should be at the cutting edge of teaching technologies. Thus, a gap is identified between students’ personal preferences and their perceptions of ideal academic teaching. This gap may stem from issues related to learning and/or from the social and academic climate. Investigation of the gap and of related issues is a recommended subject for future research.