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(Boston Globe)   Rarely is the question asked: Is our college students learning?   ( boston.com) divider line
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15781 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Dec 2005 at 12:26 PM (12 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2005-12-18 01:03:28 PM  
That should say "they use," and "do." Whoops.
2005-12-18 01:05:01 PM  

That reminds me of my archaeology professor.

First day of class, he walks in slams the door shut, throws his bag on the table, and looks very aggrivated. After a few moments, he looked up at us, and said "They ran out of hot cocoa in the caf." We all breathed a sigh of relief, because this guy is huge, and some of us thought he would start throwing shiat. He then wrote his name on the board, and sat down on top of his desk in a cross legged style. He then asked everyone there name, and asked each one of us to ask him a question, any academic question. We did, and he didn't know the answers to all but a few. He then pointed out that no matter how much we may each know, he'll always know more and less then us, so when he teaches, we ought to listen. When we speak, he ought to listen. He pretty much put it down that he wasn't infallible, which made us all pretty comfortable.
2005-12-18 01:05:57 PM  
Statistics are confounding for ideologues.

1. Some spoiled, rich, overprivileged kids have a broad educational base, excellent critical thinking skills, various talents, and the drive to acquire more of the same. Some do not.

2. Some kids who have to pay their own way waste their own money, either through slacking or partying or studying something they have no intention of using. Some make very good use of their time, money, and effort.

3. Many, many kids and parents see college as a white-collar vocational training school, use it that way, and see nothing wrong with doing that.

4. Many student athletes see college (and athletic scholarships) as a way to get out of an impoverished lifestyle. Even if they end up at Wolfchase Honda selling CrVs, they're probably damn glad to be there rather than working at the bodega somewhere in the middle of urban decay-land.

2005-12-18 01:09:16 PM  
It depends on the subject.. I'll be a senior at NJIT in the spring and I can say that I've learned maybe more about my major than anything else. The first two years of college have the GUR's which are pretty much every course you took in high school so it's easy.. then you take classes that actually pertain in your major and you do or do not learn depends.. in my case I learned a decent amount..
My school sucks when it comes to ladies (about 75% men grrrr), so much drinking does occur!

All in all.. is that stupid piece of paper still worth 100k? Yes... unfortunately most jobs require that piece of paper :(
2005-12-18 01:11:16 PM  
I am a college biology professor and I like and care about my students but I can only help them as much as they are willing to be helped.
2005-12-18 01:25:14 PM  
As a college junior, I think I am learning. I get both real life experience, and, when I have good professors, a better understanding of concepts, at least as far as CS goes. I tend to forget everything else right after I take the final.

However, I don't have your normal college experience: I don't party, I romp around at midnight, I don't do roadtrips. So I have more time for college work (though that might not matter, as I procrastinate too much.)

Can someone do all that stuff and still learn/get good grades? Potentially. I haven't seen it happen, though.
2005-12-18 01:26:01 PM  
The headline repeats an old joke...

"the question is are children learning?" looks quite a bit different when punctuated "the question is, are children learing?"

/nobody speaks the commas anymore
//moans the loss of telegraphs
2005-12-18 01:27:28 PM  
If it is womens studies, african american studies, gay and lesbian studies or other silly studies then they aren't learning crap for the business world or even common sense.
Most all of the stupid, useless, indoctrination stuff comes from the left. Political correctness is the work of the left on college campuses and one of the worsts aspects of the US.

Universities give a good classical foundation to be well rounded but do very little at actual useful information in the business world.

I love the education I got because it opened all kinds of new areas I would not have been aware of but for actual business it is mostly useless.
2005-12-18 01:31:10 PM  
Geeks2themax: Here Here

It's Hear, Hear.

http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mhear.html (pops)
2005-12-18 01:31:32 PM  
I love the education I got because it opened all kinds of new areas I would not have been aware of but for actual business it is mostly useless.

Trade school, MBA, etc.
2005-12-18 01:33:53 PM  
yes our collej students is lerning, thank you very much.
2005-12-18 01:36:36 PM  
I can honestly say that my writing and artwork has improved 100%. I work hard not only to get an A but to actually benefit from every class I've paid for. That is all I can demand from being able to have the free time to better myself.
2005-12-18 01:40:35 PM  

Kinda explains all the support Dean got from the college Lefties.

Ahhh...nothin' like good ol' Weav comin' into a thread and trying to turn it into a left-right flamewar.

Weav: old and busted...
2005-12-18 01:40:39 PM  
My high school history teacher gave me the best college lessons ever:

1. The dumb, pretty people from CA who can't get into their own schools go to Arizona. There are lots of pretty people at AZ schools.
2. You only get out of college what you put into it.

Yeah, I go to Arizona, it's not top-notch but I worked and I learned enough in my field to be on par with people who actually paid $100k to go to MIT/Berkeley/etc. I just had to work to learn it all. Just like anywhere else.

Oh, and ed majors are teh retarded cause of the government. If teachers didn't actually NEED teaching certificates to teach secondary ed, and instead focused on honing their knowledge and skills instead of taking "how to make bulletin boards 101", then maybe, just... MAYBE, high schools would be a little better.

/oh and thinks people who said people who learn more from fark than anywhere else need to go outside
//it's nice outside
///at least in tucson
////go cats
2005-12-18 01:40:56 PM  
College did nothing for me. Waste of money. I'm not discrediting college in general, just my experience. The most it did for me is introduce me to some good friends and some good drug connections. Heehee.
2005-12-18 01:46:15 PM  

If it is womens studies, african american studies, gay and lesbian studies or other silly studies

Anything lends itself to analysis. The point is to learn to analyze. That leads to critical thinking skills. Very probably if we analyzed Christians instead of lesbians, the Christians would use their enormous political clout to try to shut us down.

then they aren't learning crap for the business world

See "White collar vocational school" above.

or even common sense.

One supposes that a combination of the schoolyard and parents teaches this. IMO, if you haven't got this by the time you are eighteen, you have a problem college cannot be expected to solve.

Most all of the stupid, useless, indoctrination stuff comes from the left.

Except for that which comes from the right.

Political correctness is the work of the left on college campuses and one of the worsts aspects of the US.

The dominant political ideology controls political correctness. We now have, and have had for some years, Conservative correctness. Witness Florida this year trying to pass a law that would allow students to sue teachers if the teacher said something with which the student disagreed. The intent: to allow Creationists to dissent during science courses.

Universities give a good classical foundation to be well rounded but do very little at actual useful information in the business world.

Unless you attend the college of business within the business school. Then you learn quite a bit about business, and if placement, income, and achievement statistics are correct, you stand a good chance of having a very nice career.

2005-12-18 01:48:35 PM  
Weaver95: well...based on the actions of our recent crop of MBA's that just got hired, they're very good at avoiding responsiblity for their actions, making decisions that only benefit themselves and basically acting like complete jerks to everyone who isn't an executive

So... they were in a fraternity?

/I keed! I keed!
2005-12-18 01:49:33 PM  

2005-12-18 01:52:45 PM  
"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education" -- Mark Twain

The school of hard knocks is the best school there is. College is the easy way out.

I love it when some overspecialized cock with a grad degree tries to flex nuts he doesn't even have in the presence of the kind of people I run with.

The best was watching a twentysomething make a fool out of a cop with two glass eyes and a county prosecutor in court. All the prosecutor could do was make fun of him for getting a law code reference number wrong (it changed three weeks beforehand).

/Knows many who never went beyond high school (if that) and can smart the living shat out of people with PhDs.
/Start a business and get college grads to work shat jobs for you. Pisses them right off knowing you have no degree.
2005-12-18 01:53:03 PM  
moogoob : No, you wasn't :)
2005-12-18 01:56:05 PM  

Yes. It happens. A few of my friends are the smartest, most educationally driven people I've ever met, and still party like champions. There's enough time in the day for both.
2005-12-18 01:56:21 PM  
Umm, I'm in college and I learn plenty. It isn't college that farks kids up, it's already farked up kids who give college a bad name

2005-12-18 01:56:47 PM  
Chief_Misses_Alot: Also if you are an Education Major you are probably hot and can drink like a fish.

We engineers are too......well, sans the "hot" part...
2005-12-18 01:57:08 PM  
Mabye at Yale.

2005-12-18 01:57:18 PM  

It's sad, but true. Unfortunately those in throw-away majors that actually want to learn and contribute are held back by those that don't (or haven't and are handicapped).

/B.S. in Engineering Physics & Psychology
//Working on M.A. in Psychology
///Distracted by being the department's math tutor/computer helper/technician/programmer
2005-12-18 01:58:09 PM  
It is true that most colleges are bastions of left wing recruiters. I see it almost every day at my school. Now I am not conservative, although I lean slightly to the right of middle and I love to piss off either extreme. It seems to me that it's easier to anger a lib than a neocon at my school so.. I chose to wear a michael savage shirt that on the back says "liberalism is a mental disorder".. oh man do i get attention from that.. whether there is a rally or some sort of idiotic hippy protest, I will wear that shirt. I do not get confrontational, I will simply say hello to people and act polite and when I turn around THEY start yelling because I am not one of them.
I'm sure the same would go for a neocon crowd in an alternate situation, but I'm just speaking from what I have personally experienced.
2005-12-18 01:58:25 PM  
"Knows many who never went beyond high school (if that) and can smart the living shat out of people with PhDs."

Smart and intelligent are two different things. A smart person would have done his work and gone through highschool/college. A solely intelligent person would have dropped out of highschool and made sure all of his friends knew he was "intelligent" despite dropping out of highschool.

I'll stick with the guy who took 8+ more years of college than the highschool dropout plz.
2005-12-18 02:00:56 PM  
I think this guy makes some good points. I always thought of college a place you go to finish growing up. You're not a kid anymore, but you still need some structure along with greater independence. It's expensive, but it broadens your career prospects. (Or as Vegetable Raygun put it more cynically, it's how you buy your way into the workforce.)

At the same time, how many people graduate from college without knowing how to balance a checkbook, choose an investment, or even change a flat tire? How many professors have these skills?

I think many people "go to college just to go to college". But that's not always a bad thing. First of all, society benefits from a highly educated workforce/citizenry. That's why colleges need to focus on critical thinking and civic issues.

Second, most 18-year-olds need some time to figure out what the hell they want to do with their lives. A broad-based liberal arts education can give you experiences that help you figure that out.

I went to college because it was expected of me. Now, a decade later, I'm in a grad school program that I love, (and that will seriously increase my income potential). I wouldn't have had that option if I hadn't gotten my BA.

Your choices become your life.
2005-12-18 02:01:15 PM  

well...based on the actions of our recent crop of MBA's that just got hired, they're very good at avoiding responsiblity for their actions, making decisions that only benefit themselves and basically acting like complete jerks to everyone who isn't an executive.

Hmm...do we know anyone else like that...???

[image from cnn.com too old to be available]

[image from vicepresidents.com too old to be available]

[image from merovingian.org too old to be available]

See? I can do it, too!
2005-12-18 02:01:46 PM  
The educational system needs a complete, top-to-bottom restructuring, to evolve from the medieval system of education that is now used, to a high-tech solution.

For the vast majority of subjects, not all, students of the future will need an intense interactive multimedia curriculum. To start with:

1) Students will have to have individually, not group, oriented curriculum. This radical notion will take advantage of individual dynamic variations of learning. If a student is learning a subject at par with his peers with little variation, then he learns at the "par rate". If he falls behind in a subject, extra attention is given to him to catch up. And if he suddenly advances ahead, then extra resources allow him to pursue that subject as far as he can go.

Obviously, this cannot be done in a classroom, it will have to be directed by computer, that will teach, interact, refresh and evaluate his learning simultaneously. His experience will be unique to him, no other student will be on an equal basis with his studies.

His multimedia curriculum will be produced as software, and will be transferrable to other schools when the student moves, so they will lose nothing in the transfer.

2) The essence to this programme is to conserve a students time--to not permit his time to be wasted, as much student time is today. Educational periods will have to be carefully structured to avoid overtaxing students with intense learning. Non-multimedia subjects will have to emphasize relaxation and enjoyment.

3) The actual curriculum will also have to change. Mnemonics will be taught at an early age to train the student to structure memorized information in a 2D or 3D matrix, rather than in a linear fashion as is done today. These techniques are known today, just little used. Since much of our education today is linear memorization, much time will be saved for higher applications of that information.

4) Subjects will also be combined, for example, when learning multimedia history, it will be taught in two languages, once say, in English, for the history, then again in Spanish. Students will need to interact with the lesson in both languages, which will give them a great deal of "hands on" language instruction. A sentence or two in English, followed by the same sentence or two in Spanish. Questions then asked in either language.
2005-12-18 02:01:59 PM  
I dropped out in second year University and own my own business. School didn't teach me much. I think people have this idea that if they just struggle through and get a degree, that someone will give them a job.
Some of the dumbest employees I have ever seen have degrees. Some of the wealthiest people I know, didn't even finish high school.
2005-12-18 02:03:42 PM  
A lot of people who say that college doesn't teach anything have never gone to college, or have never graduated from college. You can't say that college doesn't teach anything if you went but couldn't graduate. That is not allowed.

As far as whether college requires learning, it depends on the student and how vague the concept of 'learning' is. I know fellow students who only get by because they are friends with people who are in their classes and just routinely copy work from them, but they've 'learned' how to make that work for them. I know fellow students who don't do well in their classes and party all the time, but they've 'learned' to justify themselves by blaming others or having pride in their partying and failure. I know fellow students who simply attend classes, study, and do well academically, but they've 'learned' how to avoid maturing socially or making friends.

The problem is, all these people were manipulative or lazy or antisocial before they got to school, so its really just an extension of their pre-existing personality that dtermines how/what they 'learn.' The point that this article brings up is to tell students from all backgrounds and personalities, "Ok, we are going to teach you in a way that has been scientifically proven to result in more knowledge. In return, we are going to determine whether you've learned things in a way that does not allow you to cheat or memorize and regurgitate."

Personally, I think I'd prefer this, even if it means I'd have to work harder, because at least it would let me excel over students I know aren't learning as much as me.
2005-12-18 02:04:28 PM  
This is all college is:

[image from infodev.ca too old to be available]
[image from geminisecurity.com too old to be available]
2005-12-18 02:05:53 PM  
2005-12-18 01:31:10 PM whorehopper

Not that I would ever doubt the veracity of StraightDope.com ;), but I always thought it was "hear here", as in "hear what is being said here", using back-to-back homophones as opposed to the same word.

But I agree it certainly isn't "here, here".
2005-12-18 02:06:49 PM  
Anti-intellectualism got a good boost during the Reagan years, too.

2005-12-18 02:06:58 PM  
College is the new high school.
2005-12-18 02:07:45 PM  
The above comment is brought to you by a guy who did both, but popped out with 2 engineering degrees.

/Currently not working in either field.
2005-12-18 02:10:31 PM  
...primitive relativism, believing that there are no firm grounds for preferring one conclusion over another.

Ah, yes, the belief that thare is no right and wrong - only (everybody sigh in unison) diversity. FSM help us all.

/Only engineering majors learn critical thinking
//Engineering major, ASU class of '87
//Engineers use slashes best
2005-12-18 02:11:16 PM  
I just finished teaching my first semester at a big research university and I have to say that I was shocked at the view from the other side of the fence. I'm sure I was this way when I was 20 (although I hope not), but my students acted like the learning process was a one way street with me pouring knowledge in to their heads without any effort on their part.

As was noted earlier in the thread, you're going to get out of college what you put in to it. It is the only time of your life that you will have access to people who are hopefully on the cutting edge of whatever subject you are taking. If you take an interest in the subject, they will take an interest in teaching you. If you snooze through class or do crosswords, I'm not going to give two craps if you learn anything because you don't care enough to apply yourself.

Fundamentally, a college degree isn't about preparing you to do a specific job once you get out of school. It is about giving you a broad base of knowledge to apply in life situations. A creative mind can conceive of innovative solutions to problems, but only if it has been exposed to a broad base of knowledge that will inform on the problem and the possible solutions. Education isn't a goal, it's a process.

All that being said, probably the most valuable outcome from my undergrad was the ability to efficiently deal with a bureaucracy.

Helpful hint: If you don't come to class most of the semester and the professor can't put your name with your face, don't expect leniency on your final grade.
2005-12-18 02:13:32 PM  
Students who start college with average critical thinking skills only
tend to progress over the next four years from the 50th percentile of
their class to approximately the 69th percentile.

Huh? Why would they improve relative to their peers at all? Do the folks in
the 69th percentile drop to the 50th? And what were they hoping for anyway, the
2005-12-18 02:13:52 PM  
DontMakeMeComeBackThere: /Only engineering majors learn critical thinking
//Engineering major, ASU class of '87
//Engineers use slashes best

Rock on!

/Slashies are slashtastic.
//Don't hate me.
///Once used 8 slashies to make my point.
////Won't do that here.
2005-12-18 02:17:00 PM  
Handsome Jack Manitoba: Students are being taught with career in mind, NOT with education in mind.

Wrong. If that were true, people getting out of college would actually be prepared for thier field, not feeling helpless and dumbfounded. Universities exist only to pocket money from research grants, teaching students is something that 99% of the professors I've had (there have been a handful of good ones, though they weren't the tenured types) consider a necessary evil, an aside to the things they'd rather do. If that were true, we wouldn't have things like one professor that I had that didn't speak english aside from the exact words he needed to give the lectures. Seriously, if you tried to ask him something about the material, he would give you a blank look for a minute, and just repeat what he had just said. Experience counts for more in the real world, but the real money is in experience+diploma.
2005-12-18 02:18:02 PM  
Handsome Jack Manitoba [TotalFark]

Students are being taught with career in mind, NOT with education in mind.

Handsome, if you haven't noticed it's the science and engineering kids who are getting the high paying jobs, and that includes Wall Street. But it don't matter, you can always go back for your Masters.

For the sake of the arts and humanities, we need less BAs and MFAs.
2005-12-18 02:18:03 PM  
whammer that strikes me as a bad idea, at least the language part, and maybe the computer part too. what is the point of doubling the time spent on a history lesson? that would essentially increase a students language skills at the cost of other subjects. this method could not even be used to replace language classes altogether. because just repeating what you heard earlier in english would not teach grammar or many other things about a language.

also using computers instead of professors seems pretty dumb to me too. a large part of an education is interacting w/the prof and other students. this is not something which can be done through a computer screen. also computers are not at the point where they can answer every possible question asked by a student. they could work like search engines and give answers based on relevancy but would not work as well as an actual teacher.

also i think that there is enough mnenonics in school as it is. an education shouldnt be just rote memorisation it should consist of actual learning.
2005-12-18 02:20:51 PM  
RocketMac [TotalFark]

We engineers are too......well, sans the "hot" part...

Godiva was a lady who through Coventry did ride
To show the royal villagers her fine and pure white hide
The most observant man of all, an engineer of course,
Was the only one who noticed that Godiva rode a horse

We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers
We can, we can, we can, we can, demolish forty beers
Drink rum, drink rum, drink rum all day, and come along with us
'Cause we don't give a damn for any old man who don't give a damn for us!
2005-12-18 02:20:52 PM  
I'm an EE major at GA Tech, and I can only wish it was more like high school, which was a farking breeze. I work hard though, probably party more often than the partiers at the Liberal Arts schools and such, and still have a 3.5. I feel bad for the company that eventually will hire me. I like to drink and go to work. It beats drinking and driving.
2005-12-18 02:21:12 PM  
I had four good professors.

One taught the first half of American History. Loved that guy. Always interesting lectures. Learned a lot of cool stuff.

Another taught World Geography, she was wonderful. It was rather annoying having to make a world map with countries to scale at the end, but I learned a lot there.

The third one was my English professor, cool guy, pretty relaxed. I think he was a hippie at one point, and I refined a lot of my paper writing skills in this class.

The last I had twice, because he kicked so much ass - my Programming I / Programming II professor. Funny guy, made damn sure we learned stuff.

These classes, I did well in (all A grades), incidently. The *other* classes -- the ones that were boring as shiat, the ones with HORRIBLE professors -- I didn't quite do so well.

The guy I had teaching Visual Programming (Visual Basic), which was for some reason a level 2 course, didn't know what the hell he was doing. Even though I knew everything he was teaching already, I only pulled off a B in that course due to the professor.


2005-12-18 02:22:14 PM  
"I am a teacher! My learning days are over!" - Peggy Hill
2005-12-18 02:25:42 PM  
One of the problems is most people view all institutes of "higher education" as at the same level.

You want to be an engineer, architect, math major, scientist or other very technical person, go for it, but I don't expect you to discuss 18th century french lit.

Same with business, and accounting people. We need you, learn how to run businesses ethically and well.

You want to be a philospher or other humanities major, go do it. Contemplate the world great problems. We need you too.

Go to nursing school, paramedics classes, etc. all are valuable.

Education majors. Try harder, most as a group are usually the lowest performers. Wouldn't pay $50K a year for my son to be an education major.

Most schools should develop and expand an ability to think and reason out problems.

Just expect to be called elitest dorks who don't understand what it is like to be a "working man" by those who chose to get their girlfriend knocked up is high school and had to go to work at Wal Mart.
2005-12-18 02:32:00 PM  
I hope the folks that don't get the headline are from outside the US. If not, how could so many Americans not know Bush murders the English language with almost every sentence he says in almost every public forum? I can't wait for tonight.
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