Colleges Need To Measure Student Learning

February 21st, 2012

ARE COLLEGE STUDENTS LEARNING?
Jonathan Zimmerman of New York University writes in the L.A. Times: Here’s the big open secret in American higher education: Most institutions have no meaningful way to measure the quality of their instruction. And the president didn’t ask us to develop one, either. Instead, he suggested that the federal government tie student aid to colleges’ success in reducing tuition and in helping students move forward. In a follow-up speech at the University of Michigan on Friday, he called for a “college score card” that would rank institutions according to cost, graduation rates and future earnings.

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3 Responses

  1. One way colleges could demonstrate their impact is through work students, faculty and alumni do to apply what they learn in efforts to improve society and solve world problems. I have been trying to recruit business schools from top universities to help develop an idea I call the “Business School Connection” which is described in this wiki. http://tutormentorinstitute.wikidot.com/business-school-connection

    The concept is that teams at brand name business schools would aggregate information about poverty, education, and school to career mentoring in the community where the universe is located. Then those teams would lead year-round efforts to increase the number of people looking at the information, and who then use what they learn to be volunteers, donors, leaders, in one or more on-going efforts in the community aimed to help first graders be graduates of local high schools after 12 years of consistent support by the local business school and university. The work would also show that after 16-20 years of consistent support a number of these young people would also be alumni of the university and working in businesses led by other alumni.

    Annual competitions would collect information from each team and give recognition to those who do the best work, measured by number of volunteers, amount of dollars raises for local partners, etc.

    Those that do the best would demonstrate that what they have learned is being applied better than others who claim to be offering a better learning value at their own university.

    Until one or two b-schools take this on as a project it is just an idea waiting to happen. But isn’t this what great schools are teaching? How to make great ideas a reality?

  2. I also think that national and international students competitions may offer a way to measure student learning. There are programming competitions (organized by ACM) and also math and physics international olympiads.

  3. Josh says:

    It’s great to actually start some kind of competitive measurements of student learning. The more competitive the environment, students will put more effort into trying to win and learn at the same time.

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