Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Academically Adrift: Chapter 5 (121 - 135)

Haley Scholars Spring 2013 Reading Groups

By Chandra Alford

In Chapter 5 of Academically Adrift, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa present their claims about the type of reform that needs to occur at the collegiate level in this country. The authors address several key issues, such as limited learning, student preparation, higher education leadership, and curriculum and instruction. The lack of reform with these issues, the authors claim, is impacting the competitive edge our education system has had over other countries for many decades.

Arum and Roksa make very strong claims in this chapter, but one in particular seems to embody their entire argument about the need to have mandatory reform in higher education: “While higher education is expected to accomplish many tasks -- and contemporary colleges and universities have indeed contributed to society in ways as diverse as producing pharmaceutical patent as well as primetime athletic bowls -- existing organizational cultures and practices too often do not prioritize undergraduate learning” (122).

Based on the material covered so far in this chapter, which of the issues highlighted by the authors--limited learning, student preparation, higher education leadership, and curriculum and instruction, do you believe should be addressed first in order to start the process of reformation in higher education in this country? Why? 


Brenda W said...

The issue highlighted by the authors that I believe should be addressed first is curriculum and instruction. I personally feel the coursework no longer challenges students. Professors are making it so easy for students to pass by. It is true that we do not want students to fail, but we should not let them pass if they are not getting the material. When they get out to the real world, their lack of proper education shows.
We are failing in comparison to other countries who value the level of intelligence in their university students. Professors claim they have to make curriculum easier for students because their feeder schools have not prepared them but, in actuality, professors are not giving the students the opportunity to be challenged. If we continue to allow students to take the easy way out, they will.
Student preparation is also key to reforming higher education in this country but I feel the first step should be curriculum and instruction at all education levels.

Abagail Thompson said...

First and foremost, I think that curriculum and instruction is the key to opening the door to reformation in higher education. Instruction and the pedagogy behind it can either allow a student to sink or swim academically. The way a professor decides to present material, engage students, carry out classroom management, and access and evaluate students makes a big difference in the fate of the student. Professors hold a lot of power; they hold more than they realize to influence a student. If the instruction is poorly valued, or conducted in a apathetic fashion, or ridiculous fashion, then every student, all students run the risk of failing. If instruction is more tailored for the students needs and enrichment (rather than dictation or control) the course will be a success.

To supplement instruction, you must have a sound curriculum to instruct. Offering a curriculum that is challenging, edifying, insightful, and engaging will allow any student to grow with flying colors. It has to be an even balance: enough challenge to promote growth and interest, yet not too challenging to students will have hope to succeed. Adjustments to these components can aid in reform.

Tia S said...

As the authors addressed, there are multiple issues that need to be dealt with, but the one I think should be addressed first is student preparation. Preparation starts before the collegiate level and I say the earlier the better. Unfortunately, there is a huge focus on getting high standardized test scores at the high school level and the earlier levels. I remember at my high school, they went so far as to give certain rewards (money, free stuff, etc.) depending on how high you scored. However, I ask how much you can really judge the knowledge of a student through those scores. I don't think just because you get a certain number you're better prepared for college than someone with a lower score. It doesn't mean they have the skills, enthusiasm, and know the steps to achieve their goals.

As the authors said, instead of test scores they should focus on kids developing "a love of learning". Early on kids need to develop a self-motivation to apply themselves to their studies. Then when they reach high school they need teachers or advisers that will give them a real idea of what it takes to reach their career and goals, instead of going to college ”blind” or because it’s expected.

Jennifer Johnson said...

Curriculum and instruction id definitely most important in better education. Personally, I feel that alot of my classes are way to easy and I shouldn't be able to get an A doing the minimum. I can go through a whole semester in a class not understanding anything, then cram the night before tests and be one of the top students in the class. In the end, i forget what i crammed for and the class has become pointless in terms of my education. Teachers also offer so much extra credit that some students are able to pass based strictly on that factor

Sean Pettiford said...

Curriculum and instruction should definitely be addressed first is the reformation of higher education. The bare minimum has become the norm for many students pursuing higher education. Many students leave colleges and universities still as unprepared for the work force as when they first arrived on campus. This is because students have found ways to pass classes without fully retaining or understanding the material presented in labs and lectures. "Cram Sessions" and "All Nighters" have become essential parts of succesfully passing courses and receiveing that glorious degree. In reality, neither of these are worth the time or money if after graduating the facts, theories, and/or concepts cannot be salvaged or remembered and used to succesfully complete required tasks associated with specific careers.


TaNeal W. said...

The issue to be addressed first and foremost is student preparation. Every child in the country is mandated to attend school during their childhood years however by the time graduation approaches not all students are academically prepared to enter college. Many factors play into this disadvantage such as socioeconomic status, living environment, parental encouragement and motivation, and personal determination; to name a few. High school’s located in impoverished areas sometimes do not have the proper tools to provide a curriculum that will prepare students for higher learning at a college level. The children affected by these issues have no control over it. They can’t even begin to understand what is necessary to be successful in college. There needs to be improvements in this area for the betterment of the future and our nation.