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I teach masters level engineering students. I have observed that computer usage skills are slowly and constantly degrading among my students from year to year. Has anybody else observed this kind of effect?

What could I realistically do to combat this problem? I do understand that even if its not my job to do so I need to address the problems somehow. Unfortunately I am getting a bit frustrated to teach students how to graph a function, or numerically find the local minima etc. when i should be talking about formulating multibody dynamics for example.

How do I check that this isn't just a bias that I have somehow accumulated during the years of teaching? I am aware of the it was better in my youth bias. Frankly i dont believe i was much better in most aspects. But I sure knew how to use my computer.

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    This is completely anecdotal, but a strong majority of teachers I know at any level have complained to me that the skill and/or maturity level of their students has degraded over time. This could be a sign of our education system slipping as a whole, or a natural tendency for teachers to remember the past with rose-colored glasses, or a combination of the two.
    – user37208
    Sep 30 '15 at 19:50
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    Degrading from where to where? This seems likely to be closed for being too opinion based, but if you mean from year to year, I think so. We created an entire sequence of what turned out to be very popular courses because new graduate student users of our supercomputers couldn't use them (couldn't code, couldn't script, couldn't debug, didn't understand basic algorithms, etc.). Those of us who manage the systems and had graduate degrees were generally self-taught in the necessary skills.
    – Bill Barth
    Sep 30 '15 at 19:50
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    @joojaa, oh, we didn't get paid to teach these courses, we did it, basically, pro bono.
    – Bill Barth
    Sep 30 '15 at 19:57
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    I could imagine that there is truth to the observation, but I wouldn't know whether there really is evidence to back it up. Of course, @BillBarth and I are from a golden generation that, when we were young, had access to computers but of the kind that had no graphical user interface, not a lot of games, etc, and so had to spend our time figuring stuff out and learn programming. The number of truly skilled programmers from our generation is really outstanding. Whether there is really a decline in skill between people growing up around 2005 or 2010 may be debatable. Sep 30 '15 at 21:33

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