Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More on that U. Chicago study finding college students learn nothing.

We reported late last week on a new study from the U. of Chicago titled "Academically Adrift" that found undergrads don't learn much during their time in school.  Among other findings, the study noted that "half of the students surveyed did not take any classes requiring 20 pages of writing in their prior semester, and one-third did not take any courses requiring 40 pages of reading a week."  Yikes.

Monday's New York Times ran the story along with an editorial by C. Kent McGuire, the former dean of Temple's College of Education, and a forum for reader comments.  From Dean McGuire:

We should be careful about reaching definitive conclusions on the quality of undergraduate education from a study that uses a single outcome measure, the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Our diverse higher education marketplace claims to produce a wide range of outcomes which in fairness, require multiple forms of assessment.

. . . .

[U]nless or until we warm up to the possibility that curriculum and instruction in higher education need to adapt to a changing world, to new frontiers of content and especially to what we now know about how people learn, I doubt we will see big changes in engagement or learning. I am expecting the higher education community to take these findings and run with them, recognizing that public and private support for a system that has been the envy of the world depends on taking student learning more seriously.

And here's an interesting reader comment (#14, he calls himself "eyestrain") from a current grad student:

By the time I was a college senior in 2008 and now as a grad student in 2011 I have several courses that all have accompanying online resource pages, blogs, google groups, you name it. If I could make a plea to professors and college instructors everywhere- just because we're young and adept at technology doesn't mean we want to spend all our time using it and PLEASE be more organized and focused as to what we're actually using these things for in the long run. If the outcome is to create a digital portfolio to be used in a professional context, great, if its just to make us blog once a week and to bore your grad TAs to death with reading responses, please re-consider what you're intention is with an online component to a class.

Read more of Dean McGuire's response to "Academically Adrift" and the many interesting reader comments that follow, here.



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