ERIC Number: ED383022
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Oct
Reference Count: N/A
Students as Customers: A Mangled Managerial Metaphor.
Greater reflexivity concerning the ways of discussing pedagogy could improve the way educators conceptualize their roles. Close attention to metaphors about education sounds a note of caution about the transfer of language from one discursive realm (business) to another (education). The transference of the "total quality management" (TQM) vocabulary, complete with the identification of students as customers, from business to education occurred when widespread problems with American education gained public attention. The pressures of competition among colleges and between the United States and foreign countries resounded in educational circles about 1990. Although the treatment of students as customers has advantages for streamlining some operations, education involves an ongoing process heavily dependent on the student's willingness to participate in learning. Cognitively rich metaphors do not arise from merely substituting one term for another, and the incompatibilities between the business realm and the educational realm render the application of consumer metaphors to education problematic. Meeting every "customer's" standard, moreover, requires negotiation and compromise because not everyone shares the definition of what constitutes a high quality education. Universal satisfaction presumes that standards and expectations of quality will be uniform for all constituencies and that none of these needs will conflict. Literature on TQM in educational settings equivocates when discussing a user-based definition of quality. TQM has already been implemented successfully at several universities, and money has been saved. Students still deserve more from educators, however, than immediate gratification. (Contains 39 references.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues
Note: Paper presented at the Carolinas Speech Communication Association Convention (Charlotte, NC, October 13-14, 1995).