Ellen Wexler

Ellen Wexler is a senior at the College of William and Mary, and she plans to pursue a career in journalism. She has written for USA Today College, Education Ellen WexlerWeek, and WETA. On campus, Ellen is the executive editor of The Flat Hat, William and Mary's student newspaper.

When Employers Demand Skills Professors Cannot Define

Dan Melzer’s students are used to following instructions — so he doesn’t give them any.

Melzer, a writing professor at California State University at Sacramento, wants to teach his students to think critically. All too often, he sees students who are prepared to absorb and regurgitate information in a structured and predictable format — like a short-answer exam — but when an assignment requires them to think for themselves, they struggle.

“Students are often used to being told exactly what to write and how to write it, and it’s almost like they’re just parroting what the instructor wants,” Melzer said. “Students are kind of used to being parrots.”

Instead of drafting detailed instructions, Melzer asks students to decide what kind of writing is meaningful to them. They analyze examples of the writing style they picked, and then try it out for themselves. Most of the time, these assignments leave Melzer’s students feeling lost.

Read the rest of Ellen's article here.