Sunday, December 30, 2018

Teaching The Students We Have, Not the Students We Wish We Had

This is interesting. And I tell ya, there's a lot to that "students we wish we had" line, sheesh.

At the Tax Prof (via Instapundit):
Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed: Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:  Teaching the Students We Have, Not the Students We Wish We Had, by Sara Goldrick-Rab (Temple University) & Jesse Stommel (University of Mary Washington):
Today’s college students are radically different from the students occupying college classrooms even a decade ago. The expansion of education that propelled widespread positive change through American communities in the 20th century has reached beyond high school, and more people than ever before understand the importance of postsecondary education in all its forms.

For broader participation to lead to positive outcomes — for example, the completion of degrees without huge debt burdens — students must have good experiences in the classroom. This is especially important yet incredibly difficult as the new economics of college are compromising the time, energy, and money that students and many of their professors have to spend on quality learning.

These are the core challenges of college today — and yet they are too often ignored. Instead, symptoms of those problems dominate air time, as the stereotype persists of "academically adrift" "snowflakes" "coddled" by their universities. Consider the recent essay by Nancy Bunge, "Students Evaluating Teachers Doesn’t Just Hurt Teachers. It Hurts Students," which takes on student evaluations. Bunge contends the "unearned arrogance encouraged by the heavy reliance on student evaluations helps produce passive, even contemptuous students who undermine the spirit of the class and lower its quality for everyone."

Her enemy appears to be sites like the often-lamented Rate My Professors, but her piece also attacks the students themselves, and reinforces a set of assertions largely drawn from one influential yet extremely narrow study, Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The limited learning lamented by the authors is said to be linked to insufficiently challenging instructors, and according to Bunge those instructors are not demanding more of their students because they want to get good grades. She cites a Chronicle survey in which faculty members claim that students are "harder to teach" these days. The overall narrative suggests we should feel sorry for the faculty. If only they could have more-engaged students to teach...
Still more.