Teaching, Learning, and Cost: Universities Today

Kevin Carey writes in his last Think Tank column for The Chronicle of Higher Ed:

The standard research-university model—autonomous professors rewarded for scholarship, untrained in teaching, and unaccountable for student learning—dominates every aspect of modern higher education, including the vast majority of colleges, which have no mandate for research.

professors waiting in line eutress public domain WCIt may dominate, but it is not the only model. While my university requires scholarship (research), teaching is of primary importance.

Measuring teaching ability is a problem when you are trying to support teaching, however. Student evaluations may not be the most efficacious way of determining teaching ability, but it is a common one. What else could we use or how else might we determine whether someone is or is not an effective teacher?

Colleges can’t forever continue raising prices, shortchanging their teaching responsibilities, and clinging to pre-technological models of organization.

iStock professor lecture small group white boardWhile I am unsure what pre-tech models he means (perhaps face-to-face classrooms?), I think that the rising prices and the teaching responsibilities are two different factors that will have distinct and separate impacts. The average consumer of higher education is aware of cost, but unaware of the differences that good teachers can make. Therefore the cost will hit the higher education model first and hardest, with the strong teaching universities perhaps being able to recover faster.

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