Interaction in classrooms breaks traditional age gap

Traditional students versus non-traditional students – it is not a battle but a unique mixture at Missouri Southern.

Between 1997 and 2004, Southern has maintained a large number of non-traditional students, 32 percent of students, to be exact.

As of 2004 that number has risen to 38 percent.

“The trend has been going downward until last year when the percentage increased,” said Delores Honey, assistant vice president for assessment and institutional research.

Honey said having non-traditional students in the classroom is a great thing in that they bring a wealth of life experiences with them.

“Non-traditional students are generally good students, and they are willing to speak up,” she said.

“They also make for good discussions in the class.”

Honey said faculty members enjoy having non-traditional students in the class too.

Non-traditional students themselves enjoy interacting with the traditional students.

Amy Hames, senior secondary social science education major, said she was terrified before she came to Southern, but once she started there was not a problem at all.

“I feel that non-traditional students add flavor to the classroom as well as their experience,” she said.

Another non-traditional student agreed.

“It was intimidating at first, but a lot of students didn’t even know I was a non-traditional student,” said Kerri Clark, senior biology major.

Clark said before beginning college she was happy she was able to get some work experience.

One traditional student spoke out as well.

Justin Cartwright, sophomore biology major, said having non-traditional students in his class is a good mixture.

“I enjoy having them in my classes because they are funny, and a lot of the times they can break the ice,” he said.

Cartwright said non-traditional students and the professors are closer in age and sometimes it makes it easier for them to relate to each other.

“It seems to me that they get along great with traditional students and the professors as well,” he said.

Cartwright said he likes the fact non-traditional students are usually more knowledgeable about a particular topic, making it easier to ask them for help.

Jack Spurlin, vice president for life long learning, said non-traditional students bring work experience to the classroom because not only do they know the textbook, they have first-hand experience as well.

Spurlin said overall it is a real advantage having both traditional students and non-traditional students in the same classroom.