The EU

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Slip in Higher Education?

Over at the Chronicle of Higher Education we have an interesting book review.  The book is Academically Adrift:  Limited Learning on College Campuses, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa.&; The review doesn't leave me in an optimistic mood.  There is also a hint for or own School Committee.
Lack of student preparation.  Increasingly, undergraduates are not prepared adequately in any academic area but often arrive with strong convictions about their abilities.  So college professors routinely encounter students who have never written anything more than short answers on exams, who do not read much at all, who lack foundational skills in math and science, yet are completely convinced of their abilities and resist any criticism of their work, to the point of tears and tantrums:  "But I earned nothing but A's in high school," and "Your demands are unreasonable."  Such a combination makes some students nearly unteachable.
Is this us here in Lowell?

On a personal note, I now have to wonder if my current fairly good grades are actually no better than my lousy grades in the early 1960s (2.76 or so, as I recall).  It is all just grade inflation.

Hat tip to the Instapundit.

Regards  —  Cliff


JoeS said...

There was a piece on television last night about the women's tennis team at Baylor University, where 8 of the 9 members of the team were not from the US.

In the interview of one of the Eastern European women, she said she preferred the US college team because if she went to college in her own country she would not have time for tennis.

Anonymous said...

My response is affected by currently listening to Vivaldi's "Et In Terra Pax".....good I'm not listening to Steppenwolf or Led Zeppelin.

In my experience as a college-level instructor in the disciplines of leadership/management and marketing, I can attest to the validity of the posit that grade inflation is rampant, beginning in secondary and most likely, primary school. Consider the ill advised Dept of Education campaigns of recent years that speak primarily to not letting any child "fail." The objective has for decades not been to teach students to learn. That they are able to do so is only a happy coincidence given that teacher performance is not based on that outcome. If their students are able to memorize information and regurgitate it with reasonable accuracy on demand, the teacher is deemed competent to excellent...based on the quality of the summative regurgitation of their students. If those same "high performing" students are asked to analyze and synthesize, they are profoundly lost and tragically ill-suited to the task.

I required my Intro. and Princ. of Management students to compare and contrast different styles of management. They also needed to provide me a critical review of current writings in management..their choice of articles. In all but a few instances...they stumbled horribly, providing me with parodies of what the author had written. Worse still, they failed to even employ spell and grammar check. I graded accordingly and was chastised on several occasions by the Dean of Students for grading unrealistically.

The conclusion that today, a BS has become the modern day HS diploma is sadly true, on several levels. And more discouraging is the fact that graduate education is deteriorating serially as incompetence requires further "adjustments to expectations" at higher levels.

It used to be that for a Master's one had to write and in some cases, defend a thesis. That is rarely if ever the practice today. And one can easily acquire a version of the doctorate by paying the fees, taking online courses, and doing "competency projects."

In any of these examples of "progressive thinking in higher education" can one find a shred of requirement to think critically and independently.


C R Krieger said...

For Joe, a sad commentary on our system.  For Neal, I am not sure what to say.  Sounds like more confirmation.  You guys are depressing.  Fortunately, snow is coming and it will make the world hushed and beautiful, until the plows come through.

Regards  —  Cliff