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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Efficiencies Lowering Quality of Education?

Colleges and universities are facing increasing pressure to graduate more students quicker and for less money. Policymakers at some institutions have responded by reducing the number of required credits, cutting certain major fields of study, and giving credit for life experiences.

Now, some professors are asking if this push for efficiency is leading to lower-quality education.  A group of faculty members plan to meet later this month in New York to discuss the issue.

“There are a whole bunch of policies—like getting students through more quickly—most of which don’t pay attention to what they are learning,” Debra Humphreys, vice president, Association  of American Colleges and University, told The Atlantic. “It could be making a bad situation worse if we don’t look at the impact of not only how many students but what they learn.”

One area of concern is policies that include performance-based funding. While critics contend that a U.S. graduation rate of 56% is unacceptable, too little is known on how such policies affect the quality of what is being taught.

Humphreys added, “Getting students through more efficiently, more quickly, and with the learning they need, we need to pay attention to all three. Otherwise, at least one will suffer.”

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