My two posts subsequent to the end of spring semester are still very much on my mind. One extraordinary comment added today to my post, “Spring semester is history, except for Millennials upset about their grades,” added deep insight into the discussion from a Millennial student’s perspective. I am grateful for this comment.
I can’t let it go, so I have been poking around for some other thoughts on education, student capability and motivation, grading, etc., anything that will help me help my mostly Millennial students.
Then I found an article in The Atlantic.com titled, “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200806/college.
The author calls himself Professor X. The article says “the idea that a university education is for everyone is a destructive myth.” Professor X, a self-styled “Instructor at a college of last resort,” explains why he thinks this is true. Along the way, he makes a compelling case for what constitutes achievement — or lack of it — in colleges and universities today.
Following are two illustrative excerpts. The first could just as easily be said of PR course assignments, like those in my PR Writing and Strategic Communication Planning and Management courses. While I do use multiple-choice exam instruments in these classes to assess knowledge of things like definitions, steps, characteristics, techniques, etc., of PR basics, I also assign 19 varied writing assignments in PR Writing and the writing of a strategic communication/PR plan in the planning and management course. Much of the assessment of these assignments is highly subjective.
“The biology teacher also enjoys the psychic ease of grading multiple-choice tests. Answers are right or wrong. The grades cannot be questioned. Quantifying the value of a piece of writing, however, is intensely subjective, and English teachers are burdened with discretion. (My students seem to believe that my discretion is limitless. Some of them come to me at the conclusion of a course and matter-of-factly ask that I change a failing grade because they need to graduate this semester or because they worked really hard in the class or because they need to pass in order to receive tuition reimbursement from their employer.” http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200806/college
“We think of college professors as being profoundly indifferent to the grades they hand out. My own professors were fairly haughty and aloof, showing little concern for the petty worries, grades in particular, of their students. There was an enormous distance between students and professors. The full-time, tenured professors at the colleges where I teach may likewise feel comfortably separated from those whom they instruct. Their students, the ones who attend class during daylight hours, tend to be younger than mine. Many of them are in school on their parents’ dime. Professors can fail these young people with emotional impunity because many such failures are the students’ own fault: too much time spent texting, too little time with the textbooks. ” (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200806/college)