- Alina Selby ’14
- Hometown: Finleyville, PA
- Major: Mechanical engineering
I’ve always been interested in how things work and how I can make things more efficient.
U.S. education is shaped by various values that influence the classroom, professors' expectations and styles, and students' styles and interactions. A few of these values and their influences are as follows:
Time is not wasted, time pressures are high and emphasis is placed on time management.
Work and Achievement Orientation
Americans place a high value on hard work and their accomplishments from that work. They take personal responsibility for their actions and results and they judge others by these standards. This orientation promotes self-reliance and independent thinking in the classroom and with course work. High achievement also promotes competition as a norm and creates the expectation for active participation in and outside the classroom environment.
This value supports both freedom and responsibility to manage one's own life, to make decisions, and to accomplish goals. In the U.S. people are held individually accountable for things they promise to do. This is most exemplified in one's assignments for courses.
In the higher education environment factual communication is emphasized, rather than a focusing on feelings or opinions. Directness and a linear method of communication are valued as a way to establish relationships with others and are seen as effective and understandable communication. This is best exemplified in articulate presentation of ideas in the classroom.
Critical thinking/problem solving style
U.S. higher education emphasizes the utilization of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking has been influenced by direct communication, linear explanation, and the scientific method. Critical thinking goes beyond being critical to include the reasoning of one's viewpoints and the consideration of other perspectives and viewpoints. It also incorporates individualism in that it is more than synthesizing a viewpoint or information, but rather it emphasizes formulating and articulating one's own positions, knowledge, and reasoning. Most course material and homework is based on implementing this value.
This value is the attraction to practical and useful things and ideas. It emphasizes the connection of theory and practice. In the academic setting, this value combines critical thinking and the scientific method to show not only the theoretical components of your studies, but also how theory interacts and can be proven by practical examples and application.