Estudiantes y las tribus disciplinarias
Octubre 13, 2019
October 11th, 2019 – Alex Usher
A steady travel itinerary has limited Alex’s writing time, so we present this “Best of,” from 2012, drawing on HESA’s CanEd Student Research Panel. While some findings might be different today (and the enduring popularity of the hackie-sack is quite questionable), it remains an interesting snapshot of differences in student attitudes across disciplines.
We all know about stereotypes when it comes to students: computer science students resemble characters from The Big Bang Theory, arts students are inordinately fond of hackie-sack, etc. But is there any truth to this?
Well, there is some, as it turns out. About a year ago [ed. in 2011] we asked our CanEd Student Research Panel a series of questions about their attitudes toward academic challenges. The answers we got were interesting because of the way they broke down by field of study. Below are the answers to four questions about academic challenges for the six fields of study for which we had more than 100 observations.
Figure 1: Strongly Agree that “Being Challenged in School is Important to Me”
Slightly fewer business students say they think being challenged in school is very important to them, but not a huge difference across fields of study.
Figure 2 Strongly Agree that Classes that Require Application of New Concepts and Techniques are Enjoyable
Engineers like trying new things, business and humanities students less so.
Figure 3 Agree and Strongly Agree that Courses that Require Long Hours of Work are Enjoyable
Are you getting the picture yet? This last one’s my favourite.
Figure 4 Strongly Agree that “I Prefer to Take Courses where the Instructor is an Easy Marker”
In sum, there are moderate but significant differences in academic outlook among students in different disciplines. It’s possible that these traits were acquired while in school, but I would tend towards the view that different academic disciplines simply attract different kinds of students (recall this little beauty from February?). Which in turn makes you wonder if some of the cross-disciplinary differences in learning outcomes that Arum and Roksa found in Academically Adrift  were less of a reflection on the kind of education students receive in different disciplines than and more a reflection of systemic differences in learners’ personalities.


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