"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Is College Becoming Like Kindergarten?

The following is a lecture given by a 4-year old to her father who teaches college chemistry:



"Your class just sits and listens to you. In my class there's playing, and reading books, and listening to teachers, and "circle time", and nap. And your class just listens. Why?"

Good thing, my daughter has not heard that I also give exams in class.

I posted the above video and received the following comments:
  • "Uh-oh! She's challenging you and maybe you need to think about how you conduct your classes Angel. You had better come up with a good answer to that why."
  • "I'll bet she gets pretty high evaluation scores from her students."
  • "I wanna be her student! Then maybe, I'd start liking Chemistry a bit more! I'd like the nap time idea too. Nothing personal, Prof."
My daughter is not in kindergarten yet. She maybe disappointed at what kindergarten in the United States is shaping into:
Published in: American Educational Research JournalDecember 2013vol. 50 no. 6
Additionally, the title alone of the following blog article written in response to the above study may bring some discomfort:

Above copied from Edweek
On one hand, education reformers are pushing for greater academic rigor in the early years. On the other hand, college may need reexamination. My daughter may be surprised to see the following:


There is in fact a book released by the University of Chicago Press that raised doubts regarding the quality of higher education in the United States:

Academically Adrift
InsideHigherEd has kindly provided a summary of the findings reported in the above book:
  • 45 percent of students "did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning" during the first two years of college.
  • 36 percent of students "did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning" over four years of college....
...The main culprit for lack of academic progress of students,... that students spend, on average, only about 12-14 hours a week studying, and that much of this time is studying in groups. 
The research then goes on to find a direct relationship between rigor and gains in learning: 
  • Students who study by themselves for more hours each week gain more knowledge -- while those who spend more time studying in peer groups see diminishing gains.
  • Students whose classes reflect high expectations (more than 40 pages of reading a week and more than 20 pages of writing a semester) gained more than other students.
  • Students who spend more time in fraternities and sororities show smaller gains than other students.
  • Students who engage in off-campus or extracurricular activities (including clubs and volunteer opportunities) have no notable gains or losses in learning.
  • Students majoring in liberal arts fields see "significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills over time than students in other fields of study." Students majoring in business, education, social work and communications showed the smallest gains. (The authors note that this could be more a reflection of more-demanding reading and writing assignments, on average, in the liberal arts courses than of the substance of the material.)
Apparently, there is already too much "circle time" in college. I guess at this point, I will end the same way my daughter did.

Why?






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