Friday, March 16, 2012

Student Learning (not-learning) in Colleges

The Washington Post had a front page article yesterday, Colleges have their Own text anxiety, which focused on the fact that there is some data now that suggests that some students learn very little in four years of college, although I am not sure why anyone would be surprised by that.  This has been kicking around in discussions since the appearance of the 2011 book, Academically Adrift.

What struck me in the article was the call for more critical writing in college courses, which is something that we try to do, despite indirect pressure from college admin to make the course easier (though no one will admit to saying that) so that we have better student success and retention.  We should probably require even more writing than we do now!

The article also mentions another supposedly new grading technique called "minimal marking," which is also something that we have been doing for years now--it is amazing that as soon as a big university starts doing something that has been academically innovative for years now, then it is the big university that garners all the attention and kudos (very weird).

In any case, after reading the article, I am convinced that we are moving in the direction of pre and post testing of students.  We probably wouldn't have to do that if more instructors would just stop giving every student who shows up in class a passing grade simply for being there.