Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ACA: College Cultures and Student Learning

Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups

By Chandra Alford

In the beginning pages (1 - 19) of Academically Adrift, the authors are attempting to define why so many undergraduates attend college with the ambition to achieve their lofty dreams without seriously considering what is truly expected of them. Institutional changes based on financial gain accompanied with jaded faculty members seems to be in part the blame for this problem.

Arum and Roksa argue, “While some of these additional noninstructional obligations are mandated by the institutions that employ faculty--as in the university and department committee meetings that professors often complain about--many of these additional activities likely advance faculty careers, but are largely unrelated or only indirectly related to undergraduate instruction (8).” The authors argue further that the devaluing of undergraduate education is caused by the lack of time devoted by faculty to their instructional duties. It is important to note that the authors stated this type of behavior usually occurs more at research institutions rather than at public and state universities.

Based on what you read in Academically Adrift so far, what do you think deserves more of our attention--low academic standards set by faculty, institutions putting financial interests before learning interests and intellectual development, or the aimless pursuits of students who choose to be consumers rather than contributors? Why?


Nicholas M. said...

I think the low academic standards set by faculty deserves more of our attention because if students are able to receive high marks and make progress towards their college degrees with limited academic effort, the faculty must bear some responsibilty for these low standards, as Arum and Roska argued.
Allowing college students to work towards their degrees with little academic effort, affects college students chances of developing a career (or getting a job) because they aren't prepared for real-life applications that are thrown at them.

Maame Antwi said...

I believe that institutions putting financial interests before learning interests and intellectual development deserves a lot of our attention as we see it an almost any institution. Many universities accept students with poor GPA standings, low ACT/SAT scores, and no extracurricular activities. These same institutions that allow these students also are full aware that the student may not be ready for the intensity of college; therefore many of those students are placed in courses that do not counted for credit, but are required for the student to advance to the next level and cost just as much as the class that is needed. These development classes are meant to get the student ready for the next level, but if it doesn't count towards graduating, why does it cost as much as a class that would?

Katrina S said...

I think the low academic standards set by the faculty because while unmotivated students are problematic, if faculty engaged students better, they would learn more. I feel like the low standards established by faculty fosters students expecting to be successful with little work.
I think the overall approach to teaching is to blame also. It is not enough to present information but professors also need to facilitate application of the information and/or critical thinking.

Ralicia Goble said...

I believe that it has a lot to do with a bitter cycle that is going on. It would be a foolish notion to believe that our generation is the first to experience this academic decline. In reality, this has been a gradual breakdown over the years. I believe that most of it stems from the teachers. While it may not be their fault, they are the ones in the end who decide what is expected of students. In today's world, the more education one has, the more valued they are. So when you have a professor that has a PhD in their field, they are a valued member of that teaching force. However, their focus is more on doing research rather than teaching and preparing students for the real world. "Throughout the higher education system, faculty are increasingly expected to focus on producing scholarship rather than simply concentrating on teaching and instructional service". The students, the material and the effort put into instruction is not the main focus. I was utterly shocked when I read this, but now it makes sense. If professors aren't there to teach, why should they exert themselves when they could be devoting that time and extra effort into obtaining more research and publishing more articles to better themselves. Likewise, if professors don't have certain expectations of you, why waste your time putting extra energy in an assignment that will be irrelevant to how well you do in the class? Most individuals will not exert extra energy in anything academic if they know they can do it "correctly" and "well" with less work and energy put into it. "Work smarter, not harder"

Kamrey McNutt said...

I believe that “the aimless pursuits of students who choose to be consumers rather than contributors” deserves more of our attention. A student’s success is not at all determined by the faculty. Of course, it is faculty who submit our final grades, but our grades likely reflect our effort. Low academic standards may be set by faculty, but that does not mean students can’t set higher academic standards for themselves. The faculty has done their jobs. They went to college and attained their degrees in order to receive the positions they hold. It is on us students to do the same. Students need to focus more on contributing to their own success. Different organizations or clubs that focus on motivating students to make contributions that will lead to successful futures are greatly needed.