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D. S. Koelling

A Perfect Storm in Undergraduate Education, Part I - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher E... - 40 views

  • at least 45 percent of undergraduates demonstrated "no improvement in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills in the first two years of college, and 36 percent showed no progress in four years."
  • What good does it do to increase the number of students in college if the ones who are already there are not learning much? Would it not make more sense to improve the quality of education before we increase the quantity of students?
  • students in math, science, humanities, and social sciences—rather than those in more directly career-oriented fields—tend to show the most growth in the areas measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment, the primary tool used in their study. Also, students learn more from professors with high expectations who interact with them outside of the classroom. If you do more reading, writing, and thinking, you tend to get better at those things, particularly if you have a lot of support from your teachers.
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  • Increasingly, undergraduates are not prepared adequately in any academic area but often arrive with strong convictions about their abilities.
  • It has become difficult to give students honest feedback.
  • As the college-age population declines, many tuition-driven institutions struggle to find enough paying customers to balance their budgets. That makes it necessary to recruit even more unprepared students, who then must be retained, shifting the burden for academic success away from the student and on to the teacher.
  • Although a lot of emphasis is placed on research on the tenure track, most faculty members are not on that track and are retained on the basis of what students think of them.
  • Students gravitate to lenient professors and to courses that are reputedly easy, particularly in general education.
  • It is impossible to maintain high expectations for long unless everyone holds the line in all comparable courses—and we face strong incentives not to do that.
  • Formerly, full-time, tenured faculty members with terminal degrees and long-term ties to the institution did most of the teaching. Such faculty members not only were free to grade honestly and teach with conviction but also had a deep understanding of the curriculum, their colleagues, and the institutional mission. Now undergraduate teaching relies primarily on graduate students and transient, part-time instructors on short-term contracts who teach at multiple institutions and whose performance is judged almost entirely by student-satisfaction surveys.
  • Contingent faculty members, who are paid so little, routinely teach course loads that are impossible to sustain without cutting a lot of corners.
  • Many colleges are now so packed with transient teachers, and multitasking faculty-administrators, that it is impossible to maintain some kind of logical development in the sequencing of courses.
  • Students may be enjoying high self-esteem, but college teachers seem to be suffering from a lack of self-confidence.
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    So many issues here to deal with. Good read.
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