NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ895380
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0190-2946
Spare the Rigor, Spoil the Learning
Gordon, Michael E.; Palmon, Oded
Academe, v96 n4 p25-27 Jul-Aug 2010
While American universities garner top honors for research, teaching appears to be in a terrible state. There is widespread agreement among business leaders that graduates of American universities are not prepared to assume jobs in their companies. American education has many critics, and studies indicate that the quality of postsecondary education in the United States has declined relative to that in a number of European and Asian countries. The trade-off between teaching and research is documented in the annual reports of the "National Survey of Student Engagement." The greater an institution's focus on research, the less often its students report having to work harder than they expected to meet instructors' standards. Ironically, undergraduate students at elite PhD-granting research universities devoted fewer hours to study and other academic pursuits than students attending colleges that grant only bachelor's degrees. For a variety of reasons, including fear of poor student evaluations of their teaching and unwillingness to budget time for instruction at the expense of research, many faculty members have relaxed their standards with respect to both course substance and the evaluation of student work. Although they apparently continue to expect students to work hard, their course requirements have allowed students to dedicate little time to meaningful interaction with course content. Whereas faculty members believe first-year students should devote an estimated twenty-four to thirty hours preparing for all their classes each week, students report spending an average of only fourteen hours on course preparation. Faculty estimates of the time students devote to class preparation are very similar to students' reports of the time they actually study. These numbers suggest that although professors recognize that student participation in consequential educational activities is substantially less than they believe to be appropriate, they are unwilling to increase the demands of their courses. The authors contend that it is time to embrace a more rigorous pedagogy that increases learning by requiring students to think more thoroughly and critically. This prescription for improving learning reflects the findings of substantial research available in the public domain, studies that reveal the beneficial effects of strict grading and classroom policies.
American Association of University Professors. 1012 Fourteenth Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 800-424-2973; Tel: 202-737-5900; Fax: 202-737-5526; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Survey of Student Engagement