Professors dating their students

Students have reacted to claims from university professors that they struggle to read books from cover to cover by admitting it is true - but insisting it's because universities don't give them enough time to finish them.University academics caused a furore this week by claiming many students found the thought of reading books all the way to the end “daunting”, due to shorter attention spans and an inability to focus on complex philosophies.Jenny Pickerill, a professor in environmental geography at the University of Sheffield, told Times Higher Education magazine: “Students struggle with set texts, saying the language or concepts are too hard”."I recently had a student suggest an alternative book for a module I am teaching which they found easier to engage with.It was a good book, but it was not really academic enough and I am still unsure if that matters or whether I should be recommending more readable books.There is currently a disjuncture between the types of reading we want students to engage with and the types students feel able or willing to do.” Jo Brewis, professor of organisation and consumption at Leicester University, weighed in saying "graduates and postgraduate students seem mainly not to be avid readers”.Recommending whole books would overwhelm them, she added, and she tended not to do so.

The reason some students don’t read whole books isn’t because they struggle to, but because of problems with how we’re assessed, and the over-emphasis universities place on assessment.” “This over-emphasis on assessment—as opposed to genuine learning—means that when writing an essay or preparing for exams it makes more sense to read a journal article or a chapter of a book because we’re not given the time or thinking space.” Mr Parekh pointed out that the way in which undergraduates are assessed is according to methods set by the very same professors who criticise their abilities.Chantelle Francis, Academic and Inclusions Officer for the Sheffield University English Society, said: “I would argue that it is the time constraints that students struggle with as opposed to the actual material in most cases.I’m sure that if students had longer to read a text, they’d likely understand it better, because they’ve had more time to engage with it and appreciate it.But to suggest that students’ attention spans are low or that we are of insufficient ability is unfair.” Professor Brewis said that she would like her students to read more because “it would enable them to make more considered arguments in their coursework or examinations, and to demonstrate to us as assessors tha they have considered the debates and controversies the literature and arrived at reasoned conclusion on that basis.” An undergraduate course such as English Literature – arguably a subject which requires intensive reading – has a typical reading list of between 20 and 30 books per term according to the University of Sheffield English Department.