Student work ethic

A look into the generation gap and work ethic standards

Joseph Potts, Reporter

Over the last decade, there has been discussions about the work ethic of high school students. The work ethic of students varies, with some showing effort and going beyond what is expected, while others just do the bare minimum.

“Some students have a superb work ethic, but certainly not all do,” English teacher Pat Sheehey said. “It is difficult for some to maintain focus and work over an extended time. Some do a superficial job and think it is okay.”

The rise of technology, like cell phones, could be a factor in students having low work ability. Technology can cause distractions in class and can cause students lose focus.

Ninety-four percent of students want to use their cellphones in class. Fifty-eight percent use them to take pictures of lectures slides. Forty-one percent use them to google in-class questions and 39 percent use them to access a digital textbook. But 54 to 52 percent use cell phones to either text friends or use social media during class, according to a 2017 student pulse survey done by Top Hat, a classroom engagement platform, and Survata, a research firm.

“There are too many distractions today,” Sheehey said.”Students need to have the distraction of a cell phone taken away during classes to help them maintain focus.”

The working ability of students sometimes depends on their grade level. Earth and Space Science teacher Laura Chester reports that upperclass students like seniors tend to have a stronger work ethic mainly because of approaching graduation and an urge to succeed.

“My college-bound students have a much better work ethic than students in average classes,” Sheehey said. “They know they have to work hard to attain the grade they wish.”

But that isn’t always the case. English teacher and yearbook adviser Katie Choate said that even though upper class students do better because they look to the future, they can still develop bad habits throughout high school and are sometimes stubborn in their way of thinking.

“Freshmen typically follow the rules until they see the upperclassmen not following the rules and getting away with it…then they start mimicking that behavior,” Choate said.

Another factor that could impact a student’s working ability is peer pressure. NPR’s (National Public Radio) Youth Radio reports that students were less likely to choose higher-credit earning classes when they were around their peers, but more likely to choose higher-credit earning classes when they were out of the classroom. Researchers went into four low-income schools in Los Angeles and offered juniors with access to SAP (Satisfactory Academic Progress) prep courses that were free. The research showed that in private, honors students did not sign up for these prep courses, but non-honors students did sign up for SAP. When they were offered the SAP classes in the classroom, the results were opposite. It was suggested that popularity played a role in the decision making process.

West students can improve their work ethic by putting phones aside and focusing on work. Students can also take initiative and come to teachers if they need help in certain areas.

“Sometimes I believe students give up trying because a subject is difficult. However, if a student is struggling, there are many resources at West to provide assistance. Teachers are willing to make time before/after school, [there’s] after school tutoring, and redoing classwork and other assessments until you get ‘get it’. All students have a chance to succeed,” Chester said.