Recreating Academic Rigor: A Comment

Professor Paul Heller commented on a mostly-unrelated post. It was a long comment. However, I thought some of the ideas were worthwhile. So here’s what he had to say:

Very notable comments from an article I saw on Academic Rigor appeared in the Arizona Republic on August 20 entitled, “College Education Needs Refocusing,”

The average college student’s studying time has shrunk by 42% since 1961 from 24 to 14 hours per week, according to the American Enterprise Institute.
Today, students spend less than half of the time studying that colleges say is necessary to learn the material.
Perhaps administrators and faculty haven’t re-imposed the rigor hammer because they have a sweet thing going. They are continuously getting paid more to do less.
In economist Richard Vedder’s book, “Going Broke by Degree,” he comments that faculty members are teaching less and, except in the hard sciences, there is no evidence that it is being compensated with more or more useful research.

With shrinking studying time expended by students, the quality of undergraduate education being delivered today has been drastically reduced. Less time studying means less concept reinforcement, less intellectual advancement and potentially less real-world application that involves enhancing problem-solving skills.

I have a posting entitled “Motivating Students to Spend More Time on Weekly Homework” that supports that five to six hours of studying time per course per week is a reasonable expectation. If in 1961 students were studying 24 hours per week, and on average taking five classes, this computes to 4.8 hours of studying time per course per week which is very close to the five to six hours guideline I establish.

People look to today’s students as those to blame for less rigor being applied to their coursework. However, the students are not the culprits; it’s the faculty and administrators that are in charge. If an employee in the workplace isn’t applying themselves properly, isn’t it the responsibility of an effective supervisor to create the motivation, guidance and structure to at least give the employee an opportunity to succeed?

So when it was mentioned above that “students spend less than half of the time studying that colleges say is necessary to learn the material,” the college administrators and faculty need to step up to the plate and make it happen. There is a common management and leadership saying “Inspect What You Expect.” Getting students to expend a greater amount of quality time requires professors creating more student accountability and structure. Professors have great power and influence over students through grades and general motivational strategies. Motivating and forcing students to commit a greater amount of time in studying in their respective classes is easily accomplished through the following:

Use unannounced quizzes
Increase assignment frequency from a couple times a semester to weekly graded assignments
Use the crib sheet testing approach
Eliminate the vast majority of group work which often dilutes quality time effort of the weaker students in group.

For complete posting on this topic, “Recreating Academic Rigor: A Faculty Responsibility”

Professor Paul Heller
paulrheller.com: Propelling Undergraduate Business Schools Forward

2 thoughts on “Recreating Academic Rigor: A Comment”

  1. Dr.Davis:

    I appreciate you including on your recent posting my article/blog about “Recreating Academic Rigor”. How did you find my content.

    I’m a bit confused as I don’t believe I commented on one of your blogs, or did I ?

    Professor Paul Heller commented on a mostly-unrelated post. It was a long comment. However, I thought some of the ideas were worthwhile. So here’s what he had to say:

    I would be interested in discussing your journey of blogging. Feel free to call me at 770-289-1916.

    Professor Paul Heller

  2. Yes, you did comment, a long and involved comment on a mostly-unrelated post, as I said earlier. It doesn’t really work as a comment, since it wasn’t on the topic of the post. However, I thought it was worthwhile, so I posted it.

    So now you are commenting on your comment. :~)

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