As the new semester begins, I often struggle with selecting content that I want my undergraduate criminology/criminal justice students to read.
In addition to a core textbook, and a handful of articles and book chapters, I share five blog posts with them.
The first one, “What do gym memberships and higher education have in common?” attempts to clarify how college and university education is a unique economic transactions, especially compared to other ones most people participate in.
Second, I believe it’s important that students, and undergrads in particular, know who is providing instruction in their classes. That is why I usually share my blog post, “Who’s teaching this college course anyways and why does it matter. ”
Third, more specific to the field of criminology/criminal justice, I think that it’s helpful for undergrads to understand that not all expertise is the same. That is why I will usually share, “Who is the real criminologist and other uncomfortable questions about expertise.”
Fourth, I strongly believe that many people have challenges with their reasoning ability and undergraduates are no different. That is why they need to know the difference between fact and opinions. For this reason I share with them “Undergrads need to know the difference between expressing facts versus opinions.”
Finally, to round things out, in order to motivate them to draw the connection between what they do in the classroom and their chosen profession, I assign “Why writing well is important for criminal justice practitioners.”
Although many of the lessons I try to impart have been built upon my experience conducting research and teaching mostly in the criminology/criminal justice field, the information contained in these blogs is applicable to a wide variety of academic disciplines. Some of the points may also help graduate students as well.
Reading blogs is often less intimidating for students than having to face a big thick textbook, or a scholarly article, and because of the conversational tone, undergrads often understand the points that are made much quicker.
In the end, I hope that my students become critical about their role in the post-secondary education infrastructure, the people and institutions that are employed to deliver instruction, and do their best in this setting and beyond.
Photo Credit: The Focal Project
Concept photo of undergraduate.