When you see wire-rimmed glasses, do you think of John Lennon or Harry Potter? Or maybe John Denver? It might depend on your age.
The Mindset List is an intriguing way to think about the diversity of our student body. Each year Beloit College puts out a list of facts about the incoming freshman class. For 2018, it included:
- During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.
- In their lifetime, a dozen different actors have portrayed Nelson Mandela on the big and small screen.
- FOX News and MSNBC have always been duking it out for the hearts and minds of American viewers.
- Female referees have always officiated NBA games.
- Bill Gates has always been the richest man in the U.S.
- One route to pregnancy has always been through frozen eggs.
- Their collection of U.S. quarters has always celebrated the individual states.
- When they see wire-rimmed glasses, they think of Harry Potter.
As interesting as it is, the list makes some assumptions about our freshman students that may nor may not be the case. For example, that they have always lived in the U.S., or that they have always had access to mainstream U.S. media.
As our higher education workforce ages, it can be harder to understand the mindset of the students we are serving. Activities that worked well may not work anymore, or new options might exist. For example, Beloit suggested that students who are used to binge-watching TV programs might also want to binge-watch video portions of their coursework. Whether or not that’s desirable, what might it mean for course development?
What can you do to include a reality check in your planning?
Dee Anne Bonebright