Tag Archives: education

College Fail? (Who is to blame for low college graduation rates?)

In a recent article in The New York Times, David Leonhardt explores the premises of a new book called, Crossing the Finish Line, in which the book’s authors, economists William Bowen and Michael McPherson (both of whom are former university presidents), focus on what they see as U.S. colleges’ dismal graduation rates.

The percentage of Americans with a college degree continues to hover around thirty percent–close to one third of the population; it’s a percentage that, according to Bowen and Mcpherson, could and should be much higher. Leonhardt readily accepts this premise and makes it clear that it is high time that colleges be “held to account for their failures,” failures that are a product of an environment that, according to Leonhardt “[focuses] on enrollment rather than completion.” In other words, our colleges and universities spend more time wooing prospective students than they do ensuring the success of the students they’ve already coaxed onto their campuses. Continue reading

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Concerted Effort: Whose fault is it when kids just want to “get by”?

Because I am a writing instructor, I grade my students’ essays by assessing how well they fulfill their purpose in their paper; in other words, I grade the actual writing: Do they have enough content? Is the content relevant to their thesis? Is the paper organized so that a reader can understand how the points made relate to one another? Is the style indicative of a college-level writer? To grade on effort when there are problems at every one of these levels would, to my mind, be irresponsible. But over and over again, students ask, “Couldn’t I at least get a grade for trying so hard?” Continue reading

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Wearing my heart on my sleeve, but not in my clasroom

Stanley Fish’s recent editorial on the right of faculty to wear campaign buttons at work has me thinking. Having just finished a unit on political propaganda in my freshman composition course at the university where I teach, I am keenly … Continue reading

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