Saturday, January 22, 2011

Knowledge is good...

... when you can find it.

From USA Today:

Nearly half of the nation's undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don't make academics a priority, a new report shows.
Instructors tend to be more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives, according to the report, based on a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. Findings are based on transcripts and surveys of more than 3,000 full-time traditional-age students on 29 campuses nationwide, along with their results on the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test that gauges students' critical thinking, analytic reasoning and writing skills.

After two years in college, 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years, 36% showed little change.

Students also spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades ago, the research shows.

The article goes on to explain that students have little problem navigating their way through Slacker U. as students in the study averaged a 3.2 GPA.

How to improve the situation? Thankfully, any sort of federal intervention appears to be ruled out.
The Department of Education and Congress in recent years have looked for ways to hold colleges and universities accountable for student learning, but researchers say that federal intervention would be counterproductive.

"We can hope that the (new research) encourages rather than discourages college faculty to learn more about what works in terms of fostering higher levels of student learning," said George Kuh of the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University.

Would it be too much to expect the parents footing the bill for their children's tuition to step up and demand that these schools teach some life/career skills? And whatever happened to voting with your pocketbook?

And instead of broaching the question of federal intervention, why not go to the nation's employers to see how they feel about these developments and how they are coping with apparently clueless new hires.

Via KT:

The parody above may be recognizeable to some but it is a different planet to us as we were expected to complete our B.S. studies in three years as the Seminary we attended required six months in our sophomore and junior years each to be spent in the field doing mission work.

We would love to hear from parents out there whose children are of age and who will be or have already dealt with the circumstances described above.


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

I love the part of the study that says that they did find a common thread in those who improved-- they were in the classes where you actually have to learn something to pass, like science and "classic liberal arts." (I'm taking that to mean that "(group-X) studies" didn't help you think so much as indoctrinate. Shocker!)

Shane Atwell said...

This ad goes nicely with WCVarones piece today on the money the gov't is wasting on student loans.

Road Dawg said...


steve said...

My son is a senior in high school, but is taking college courses. The material is certainly there if the kids want to learn, at least at his school.


Ohioan@Heart said...

My story...

My oldest is EE w/ MS. Got through the whole thing in 5 years. Pretty sure had shown "significant gains in learning" in a lot less than two years.

Number two has a BS in Bio and an MS in teaching (5.5 years) and is now teaching High school. I know he learned a lot, and is currently doing his damnedest to make sure his students do, too.

Number three is still in the process of avoiding life in community college, but hey, he's not unemployed - we're paying tuition! ;-)

SarahB said...

O...M...G...are you sure that video wasn't MY university? 27 year old undergrads still living at home with mommy and daddy in the O.C. And don't get me started on the grad students. Data doesn't surprise me one bit. Couldn't get my ass out there fast enough.

That was better than watching Bad Santa after a day of working around stupid people.

SarahB said...

And if you attended a CSU, THIS commercial (by the same site) is 100% accurate...and I mean it...every freakin' detail...eerie... (well, except they left out the part about horny professors praying on students 1/4 their age)...

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