University of Colorado at Boulder has lately lost its leading
position as a ‘party school’. The matters appear to be so
serious that some older professors even suggest a revival of the
authentic academic values.
old professor-student relationship was built on a compact that the
professor would challenge the students and the students would work
hard to meet the challenge. Now both students and professors are
held hostage to students’ self-esteem, Faculty Course
Questionnaires that measure popularity and not teaching skill, and
an era of low sweat but high expectations by students. Against this
backdrop, two ‘old school’ faculty members say students and
faculty need to take back the classroom experience and rebuild it
upon a foundation of high standards and accurate evaluations of both
teaching and learning.
Hilliard: Restoring the pact, Colorado Daily, Sunday, Sep.4,
when patients evaluate a surgeon, they typically consider how
quickly and how fully they’ve recovered from surgery. By analogy,
when students evaluate a teacher, they might be expected to consider
what they’ve learned. And yet many of the same students who rave
about their professors have learned preciously little. [...] As
patients, these students are virtually dead. To be sure, few if any
of them complain that they’re the victims of malpractice. But why
would they? They’ve been placated with soothing words, easy
assignments, and high grades. As a result, they fail to care, or
even to notice, that they’re suffering from metastatic ineptitude.
[...] Fact: on international tests, American students rank first for
self-confidence, and mediocre for accomplishment.
Levitt: Judge teaching on its true outcomes, Colorado Daily,
Sunday, Sep.4, 2005.
heresy, of course, was violating the student-faculty covenant that
one former college president in the recent National Student
Engagement Survey describes as a ‘mutual non-aggression pact’.
In this pact "professors see teaching as a requirement they
have to fulfill to do the research they prefer ... so the professor
... doesn’t ask much of the students, who in turn don’t ask much
of the professor. The professor gives out reasonably high grades ...
his evaluations will be satisfactory, and students don’t complain
about grades or about whether they’ve learned much". [...]
The ‘non-aggression’ pact results, of course, in universal grade
M. Guralnick: Students must stop the debasement of academic
standards, Colorado Daily, Sunday, Sep.4, 2005.