Making the transition from 2nd level to 3rd level

To succeed in 2nd level, students must master the process of memorisation and regurgitation. Which does I guess result in a type of education and certainly prepares them adequately for the Leaving Certificate exams. Of course a subject like mathematics does not fit easily with the memorisation/regurgitation approach, but even it can be represented and examined by a kind of memorised pattern matching. Questions come in an expected format and a memorised sequence of steps gets you to the right answer (you hope).

In 3rd level the tradition is quite different. Its no longer memorisation/regurgitation, its challenge/response. Many new undergraduates find it very hard to adapt to this new way of doing things. It can be quite amusing to issue a challenge to a 1st year class and observe their bemused reaction. They want to know exactly what type of response they are expected to give. They would like model responses given to them to memorise and choose from. The want to know "is this on the exam?". If all else fails they expect to be able to Google for an answer. The idea of creatively coming up with their own response doesn't seem to occur, and they have no idea of how to go about it as nothing they have done since kindergarden has prepared them for it.

So what can we do about it at third level? Very little I would suggest. The move from 2nd to 3rd level comes at the same time when a young person moves from being a child to being an adult. As we all recall that involves all kind of challenges. Ultimately its the responsibility of the individual to successfully chart that transition. As it says in Corinthians 13:11

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. "