Tuesday, March 19, 2013
major or course of study made possible in this model that the credit hour system stifles, or would a college basically have to reverse engineer from the old model? And if it does just work backwards, where’s the gain?
So there’s plenty of work to be done. But I say “Bravo!” to the department of ed for giving a green light, and yet another in a series of “bravos!” to SNHU for stepping up. The transition to the new system could be hairy, but if it’s done right, it could be a real breakthrough. As Westerberg put it so many years ago, color me impressed.
Or maybe I'm just clueless.
I'll freely admit: probably both.
In the end, it might have been simpler to just say that institutions can talk about "credit hour" or "credit."
They do not offer sensible reasons for the opposition but, I suspect that they prefer to do things as they have done their whole life.
Modular teachinmg can possibly work in Math-- the present system of integrated curriculum allows to people to move on who fail in certain aspects of arithmetic and it must be agonizing to attempt to relearn math evry time you join a new class.
Arithmetic and basic algebra should be like swimming, you can't forget.
My concern is also the impact on the workload of a teaching faculty. Whenever some new thing is introduced we are asked to to that in addition to what we already do.
Historically, this is how graduate degrees were conferred. What mattered was what you wrote in your dissertation and whether you could defend it, not how long you were in your seat working on it. The modern university wants a minimum fee for the degree, of course, but I don't know if there were rules like that in the past.
How can true assessment not be labor intensive? In General Chemistry, I could give a multiple choice test, relatively quick to grade (scantron). If they get it wrong, I don't really understand why, I have to investigate to determine why (look at what answer they did select assuming the test was designed & validated appropriately, a non-trivial task, or perform another diagnostic), or I have a test that isn't multiple choice (slower to grade). I can determine relatively quickly while grading if the student understands the chemistry, algebra and or how to use their calculator (scary how troubles tend to be the latter). Rubrics help but still takes times.
While this might seem unfair for the student who spent the equivalent of 5 credit hours on what becomes a 3-credit course, the likelihood is that they would have failed if limited to those 3 hours, and had to take the class again (with possible repercussions to financial aide and GPA).
How it works from the faculty end, is a bit more murky. My assumption is that "teaching" becomes more a case of single-topic lectures (acknowledging some lectures will actually span multiple days), that are typically more in-depth then they are currently.
That sounds a lot like "No Child Left Behind" to me. I've heard college profs complaining about how my students lack the skills they need in college — which is true, because all my classroom time goes into teaching them to pass those standardized tests. Same thing in my AP classes: they master passing multiple choice tests and solving some problems, without taking the time to really understand physics — because solving a problem based on deep understanding is slower than practicing a rote solution.
So my question is: why would you want to extend a failing system to college, when you don't like the results it produces in K-12?
Exams can replace grades only if teachers base their grades only on exams.
Divorcing exams from teaching means turning colleges into high schools. Subject matter, class schedules, etc. will be necessarily centralized for purposes of transferability across the nation.
What I'm always wondering at is how all these things are presented as if new. But we have had for many years CLEP, AP, Wintermester, Maymester, summer schedule, flextime classes etc.
In other words grading is already divorced from teaching, credit hours are already divorced from any specific time frame.
So the argument must be yes but we need to do more of what CLEP, AP, Flextime etc. do. There is already a body of evidence that those approaches are superior to traditional semesters. Evidence ignored by students and faculty and administrators.
Maybe Baumol’s cost disease is the great evil you say it is, but there are evils associated with those other approaches you seem unconcerned with. Are you really unaware of them? Or do you think them not worth discussing?
It is not clear to me which is the greater evil.