Rethinking higher education means reconstituting institutional culture by rigorously identifying, evaluating and challenging the many damaging accommodations that colleges and universities, individually and collectively, have made and continue to make to consumer and competitive pressures over the last several decades. We mean the allocation of increasing proportions of institutional resources to facilities, personnel, programs and activities that do not directly and significantly contribute to the kind of holistic, developmental and transformative learning that defines higher learning.
We mean the progressive reduction in academic, intellectual, and behavioral expectations that has undermined the culture, learning conditions, and civility of so many campus communities. We mean the deplorable practice of building attractive new buildings while offering lackluster first- and second-year courses taught primarily by poorly paid and dispirited contingent faculty. We mean the assumption that retention is just keeping students in school longer, without serious regard for the quality of their learning or their cumulative learning outcomes at graduation.
We mean giving priority to intercollegiate sports programs while support for the success of the great majority of students who are not athletes suffers. As a society we allow -- in fact, condone -- institutional policies, practices, and systems in higher education that, taken together, make good teaching a heroic act performed by truly dedicated faculty members, rather than the universal expectation and norm across campuses. Similarly, we allow the most regressive features of undergraduate culture to undermine the motivation and desire for intellectual growth of many good students; in many ways, being a serious student is also a heroic act.
The primary problem is that the current culture of colleges and universities no longer puts learning first -- and in most institutions, that culture perpetuates a fear of doing so. Isolated examples to the contrary exist, but are only the exceptions that prove the rule. The leaders of many, if not most, colleges and universities might agree with this assessment of the problem, but would likely argue, with some justice, that no single institution can risk being the only one to change; that restoring attention to the fundamentals, rather than the frills, would put that one institution at serious risk.
Indeed, it is true that this is a collective problem, and that action by many schools, supported by a strong national impetus for change, is a necessary condition for success.
In calling for the kind of serious, systemic rethinking that directly and unflinchingly accepts the challenge of improving undergraduate higher education, we are asking for four things; taken together, they demand, and would catalyze, a profound, needed, and overdue cultural change in our colleges and universities. The widespread acceptance and application of a new and better touchstone for decision-making in higher education, linked to a strong framework of essential, core principles.
A touchstone is a standard, or criterion, that serves as the basis for judging something; in higher education, that touchstone must be the quality and quantity of learning. A touchstone and a clear conceptual framework link our advocacy for change to a powerful set of ideas, commitments, and principles against which to test current policies, practices, and proposals for reform.
A comprehensive re-evaluation of undergraduate education and experience guided by those core principles. This must occur both nationally, as an essential public conversation, and within the walls of institutions of all types, missions, and sizes. The leadership and actual implementation and renewal of undergraduate higher education needs to be led by the academy itself, supported by boards of trustees, higher education professional organizations, and regional accrediting bodies alike.
Such rethinking ought to be transparent, informed by public conversation, and enacted through decisions based on the new touchstone, improving the quality and quantity of learning. Learning assessment must become inextricably linked to institutional efficacy. The formative assessment of learning should become an integral part of instruction in courses and other learning experiences of all types, and the summative assessment of learning, at the individual student, course, program, and institution levels should be benchmarked against high, clear, public standards.
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Both the process and the results of a serious rethinking of higher education will be more likely to succeed and less likely to cause unwanted harm if that rethinking is generated by an authentic public discussion linked to and supporting cultural change in colleges and universities than if it is imposed by a disappointed, frustrated nation through its legislative and regulatory authority.
Levels of dissatisfaction with the priorities and outcomes of higher education among parents, alumni, employers, and elected officials are unlikely to decline absent significant reform. Cultural problems require cultural solutions, starting with a national conversation about what is wrong, and what is needed, in higher education.
The country should reasonably expect higher education to lead this conversation. For real change to occur, discussions about the quality and quantity of learning in higher education and the need for reform must occur at multiple levels, in many places, and over a significant period of time -- most importantly on campuses themselves. The national conversation provides context, direction, and motive -- but only many intimate and passionate conversations among colleagues in every institution of higher education can ground the discussion enough to give it sufficient power to bring change.
Progress will not be made in improving the quality and quantity of learning -- in restoring higher learning to higher education -- unless both the public discussion and the multilayered, multistep processes of change on our campuses occur. With these changes, students will be more prepared for the world of work, armed with the most important skills and knowledge, and having graduated with something of real value. Cultural change from within, across the entire spectrum and expanse of higher education, will be disruptive, and it needs to be. But such change has the unique promise of restoring higher learning in higher education while preserving its extraordinary diversity.
Without it, external interventions and demands that will be far more disruptive and far less tolerant of institutional diversity become increasingly likely. Richard P.
Keeling is principal, and Richard H. Be the first to know. Get our free daily newsletter. Advice to highly sensitive academics for avoiding burnout opinion.
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Advice for students so they don't sound silly in emails essay. New grant program at Pitt matches Pell Grants and targets students' unmet need. Advice for successfully finishing your dissertation. Mental health is low priority for community colleges. View the discussion thread. Google Tag Manager. Advertise About Contact Subscribe. Print This. Culture Change for Learning. Still, figuring out the best topic for your essay is not your only concern as a student.
The next step would be crafting a compelling thesis statement.
As a rule, essay writers present their thesis at the end of the introductory paragraph. Further on, you will base your paper on this statement, so choose wisely.
The number of body paragraphs will mostly depend on the length of your paper. Normally, having three major arguments to prove your point is enough for a convincing paper. This, in its turn, will give you three body paragraphs, each starting with its own point. Make sure to use logical transitions between the paragraphs, though - do not just skip from one issue to another.
The last and usually, the fifth paragraph of your paper is the conclusion. Here, it is very important to restate your thesis statement. But remember - you should not do it word for word. The main point of a quality conclusion is to summarise everything you have written and prove your thesis statement either right this is the most common approach or wrong it may sometimes happen in argumentative papers. All in all, you can see that writing a persuasive essay is no brain surgery.
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