Are college students learning? In the Washington Post, Jay Mathews writes about the National Survey of Student Engagement, known as Nessie, which is trying to answer the question.
Only 11 percent of undergraduates surveyed said they are doing the 25 hours of class preparation each week that their professors recommend. About 44 percent of freshmen and 25 percent of seniors said they don’t discuss ideas or reading from their courses with faculty outside of class.
But in its latest annual report released this week, the national survey group revealed some good news. The percentage of seniors who think their campus administrations are helpful, considerate and flexible has increased from 48 percent in 2000 to 63 percent this year. And 55 percent of students report having serious talks with students of different social, political and religious views, up from 45 percent four years ago.
Cranky Professor and his art history colleagues are consuming wine, cheese, nuts and olives while discussing “what we think our students are getting out of our classes. We’ve tossed all of our syllabuses into a box and have looked at them. We’re approaching the big question — do we as a group (of 5) have any common idea of what an art history graduate of this department should know or be able to do?”
Read the comment by Dr. Cookie, who’s completing an education doctorate. Professors have no idea what other professors are teaching, she writes, because they don’t share syllabi.
At one meeting, the profs began to complain about the teaching workload, and if they had to share ideas and articulate the core courses, then it would be hard and blah, blah, blah.
So I asked, “Do you think it would be better to first decide what you think students should know? Like when I leave here, and go out on the job market and say I have a PhD from this university, what should people think I know? What do academics assume you have taught me?”
They were silent. They had never really thought about it that way before.
It was particularly sad that professors had not thought about student knowledge, when we’re in an education department.
In a column, Mathews links to D.C. area colleges that post their Nessie results.