The August 2016 issue of Journal of Management Education is now available online and can be accessed free for the next 30 days. The August issue features a provocative article from authors J. Michael Cavanaugh, Catherine C. Giapponi, and Timothy D. Golden, entitled “Digital Technology and Student Cognitive Development: The Neuroscience of the University Classroom,” which delves into how digital technology is changing the way students learn on a neurological level, and how management educators should reevaluate their approach to teaching as a result. In particular, the article highlights the negative impact digital technology has on students “deep thinking” capabilities. The authors argue that management education should help students develop multiple literacies across contexts, teaching students reading, comprehension, and complex thinking that may be lost if teachers focus wholly on technology and digital media. The abstract for the article:
Digital technology has proven a beguiling, some even venture addictive, presence in the lives of our 21st century (millennial) students. And while screen technology may offer select cognitive benefits, there is mounting evidence in the cognitive neuroscience literature that digital technology is restructuring the way our students read and think, and not necessarily for the better. Rather, emerging research regarding intensive use of digital devices suggests something more closely resembling a Faustian quandary: Certain cognitive skills are gained while other “deep thinking” capabilities atrophy as a result of alterations in the neural circuitry of millennial brains. This has potentially profound implications for management teaching and practice. In response, some advocate that we “meet students where we find them.” We too acknowledge the need to address student needs, but with the proviso that the academy’s trademark commitment to penetrating, analytical thinking not be compromised given the unprecedented array of existential challenges awaiting this generation of students. These and rising faculty suspicions of a new “digital divide” cropping up in the management classroom represents a timely opportunity for management educators to reflect not only on how today’s students read and learn, but equally, on what and how we teach.
The issue also features a rejoinder from author Caroline Williams-Pierce, who offers an interesting counterargument to Cavanaugh, Giapponi, and Golden’s article, arguing that given their autonomy, students can engage in deep interest-driven learning through digital media.
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