Fixing higher ed

The Washington Post’s Daniel de Vise looks at eight ways to improve our higher education system

1. Measure student learning
2. End merit aid
3. Three-year degrees
4. Core curriculum
5.More homework
6. Encourage completion
7. Cap athletic subsidies
8.Rethink remediation

Here’s the online discussion and go to College, Inc. for more ideas from education leaders and entrepreneurs.

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Comments

  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    1. Measure student learning

    Eh… not really an improvement strategy, is it? I’m also highly skeptical of how any sort of standardized assessment could possibly work without breaking colleges up into ever-more-specialized institutions. Of course, that might be a way to improve them….

    2. End merit aid

    Right. Because naturally the first thing you want to do when attempting to improve a school system is get rid of your merit-based incentives and turn your system into a wealth-redistribution scheme. That always makes for better academics. But Mr. DeVise and his contributors aren’t really interested in making the higher education system better at doing what it is universities do, but in changing their role to fit some other model of what a social institution (as opposed to an institution of higher learning) should be up to.

    3. Three-year degrees

    Interesting idea. But there’s a lot more to learn now than there was in 1652. Indeed, you might think that the expanding base of knowledge has something to do why things went from 3 to 4 years back in the 17th century. And now with all the new things we know, all the great literature that’s been written since, now you think we should cut down the degree? I say make it 5 years, but realize that not everyone needs to go to college, and instead open up a bunch of excellent trade schools.

    4. Core curriculum

    A core curriculum is a good idea for a school to have. It’s probably not a good idea for a school system to have. Allah loves wondrous variety, and all that.

    5.More homework

    This I can get behind. It means more work and more grading by the professoriate, but whatever. The fact is that most professors probably could use a little more focus on their teaching. Of course, it’s likely to fall to the TA’s in large research institutions….

    6. Encourage completion

    That’s not what #6 says. It says Tie public funds to finishing college, which is a horrible idea.

    7. Cap athletic subsidies

    I agree with the sentiment: university athletics should be about students playing sports, not watching them. But the solution — laws governing internal expenditures — is just dumb. All it would guarantee is that every other sports team other than football and basketball gets dropped like a non-revenue producing potato.

    8.Rethink remediation

    This idea has some merit.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I officially retract what I said about Mr. DeVise in my comment to #2 on the basis that he explicitly said in the comments to the article that he’s not advocating these positions, but reporting arguments.

  3. Actually, getting colleges to stop admitting students who need extensive remediation would be a good first step. Also, what STEM major can actually complete a 4 year degree within three years (possible if the student did nothing but eat, bath, sleep, study, and go to class for 3 years, including summer sessions).

    A basic of core knowledge should be the fundamental for any college degree (or high school diploma, while we’re at it). An examination at the end of 2 years and 4 years to assure that students have this knowledge wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.

    As long as Athletes are treated with more respect than top notch students, I don’t expect the last item to succeed…

  4. Yeah, his version of “rethinking remediation” is “get rid of it and just push the kids through anyway”.