Home > Educational Leadership, Teaching & Learning > Creating a Meaningful College Experience in an Era of Streamlining

Creating a Meaningful College Experience in an Era of Streamlining

By William G. Tierney

A change is afoot at many of our traditional four-year colleges and universities, and it’s a change for the worse: More and more courses are taking on the feel of online learning, even if they take place on campus and are taught in person by a professor. Reduced state budgets, along with a consequent inability by faculty to develop and effect drastic changes in teaching and learning, have resulted in stale curricular paradigms that remain much the same as those offered a generation ago—but with bigger classes.

A young friend of mine has been experiencing this decline in classroom teaching firsthand during his freshman and sophomore years of college. Now nearing the end of his second year at a large public university, he has earned a respectable 3.2 grade-point average and says he’s made many friends. Because he comes from a poor family, he hasn’t had to pay for his education. He has, however, gone into debt to cover his living expenses, so even if he graduates in four years—a big if—he’ll have about $25,000 in student loans to pay off. That’s a scary burden for a poor kid.

One day last summer, he startled me by saying, “I wonder if I’m learning anything.”

Continued at: http://chronicle.com/article/Creating-a-Meaningful-College/127893/

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  1. June 15, 2011 at 4:57 am

    I agree with the analysis of large vs small class sizes. I just finished teaching the same class to eighty and to twenty-five students and there is no question that students in the smaller class learned more thanks to discussion opportunities and a greater sense of bonding, relationship, and acknowledgment. But why compare the disfunctionality of the larger class to distance learning? DL can use interactive techniques, and so can faculty teaching larger groups of students in a lecture hall.

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