Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Decline and Fall of Higher Education in the U.S.

The Trib wrote about a topic that has been bothering me for a long time - the fact that higher education has become less and less effective every year.  Standards are lowering and Google has replaced thinking.

Here is the news:

"The research of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years."

The article goes on to interview a college student that claims to have learned very little her freshman year.  It was all material she covered in high school.  The way I remember it, high school was a recurring refrain of, "If you don't learn this now, you will never make it through college."  So I guess I believe her.

And what is not news:

"Lindsay McCluskey, president of the United States Student Association, said the findings speak to a larger problem in U.S. higher education: universities being run more like corporations than educational institutions, with students viewed as consumers who come for a degree and move on."

Having gone through the online education experience, I am happy to say that schools are continually looking for ways to reach students and provide different programs to meet different needs.  However.  That should not be at the expense of teaching.  Of holding students accountable for understanding the material and applying it properly. Grades should not be bought.  Or begged, cajoled or bullied.  I don't care how much "good money" was paid for a course, it doesn't buy an A, or even a passing grade.

Someone, please.  Put our standards back where they belong.

1 comment:

Karen Funk Blocher said...

I saw a story about this on the news tonight, and it got me thinking about my college experience, both at Syracuse in the 1970s and at the University of Phoenix in the early 2000s. Critical thinking was specifically addressed in a UoP course, and I applaud them for that, as well as for the amount of work required. But yes, I'm sure there's been grade inflation since the 1970s, and apparently not all schools are that concerned with teaching students to think, or to organize a paper, etc. Shame.