I recently attended a two-day conference for Administration of Justice instructors. Some of the presenters discussed teaching theory while others covered techniques they’ve used in the classroom to help assist students’ learning.
Numerous topics were covered, but there were two discussions in particular which really got my attention.
One of the discussions involved lowering the current standard for the Police Report Writing course. This is a topic near and dear to me (it is one of the courses I teach) so I was very interested in this conversation.
The presenter opined that spelling and sentence construction was not that important since most word processing programs have robust spelling and grammar checking capabilities.
The presenter did make a valid point about the quality and writing abilities of many students coming into a community college. Many of these college freshmen have no idea how to write a well-constructed sentence or paragraph, let alone a complete report.
This presenter then made the suggestion that we (Police Report Writing instructors) should lower our expectations and grading standards so that the students can be more successful in the course and receive a better grade. He even suggested we should accept “text-talk” and incorrectly spelled words as long as they are phonetically correct.
I almost fell out of my chair.
The last time I checked, the American legal system still uses proper English, including correct spelling and grammar. Report writing remains one of the most-failed learning domains at the academy, but I believe if we relax our standards (making it easier for our students to pass) that we are ultimately setting those students up for a much harder fall later on. '
In another session, the presenter noted that the new generation is very tech savvy and very connected through social media.
He suggested that instructors should encourage the students to “friend” them on Facebook.
I always believed as an instructor that I could be friendly to the students but that I was not their friend.
The idea of “friending” a current student seems to me to be counterproductive and may, in fact, create conflicts.
During my attendance at this conference, I noted a distinct separation between the “practitioners” and the “pure academics” in the group. Of course, everyone in the room was, by definition, somewhat of an academic — they were (are) all Administration of Justice instructors.
The distinction I’m trying to point out is between those in the room that have worked in the Criminal Justice Field for more than just a few years (as a police officer/deputy, parole/probation officer, etc.) versus those who teach only from “book knowledge.”
I would like PoliceOne readers (our “practitioners”) to chime in and help me out. Please sound off in the comments area below with your thoughts on these two questions (simple yes or no answers will do, but further feedback is welcomed).
1.) Should instructors “friend” current students on Facebook?
2.) Should programs lower expectations and requirements for report writing courses?