As late as two or three generations ago, majorities of new Ph.
For example, one investigator studied samples of the examinations given at elite liberal arts colleges and research universities.
Although 99 percent of professors consider critical thinking an “essential” or “very important” goal of a college education, fewer than 20 percent of the exam questions actually tested for this skill.
Better feedback on student papers and exams will be even more important in order to give undergraduates a more accurate sense of how much progress they’ve made and what more they need to accomplish before they graduate.
More Substantial Reforms More fundamental changes will take longer to achieve but could eventually yield even greater gains in the quality of undergraduate education. Colleges and universities need to reconfigure graduate programs to better prepare aspiring professors for teaching.
In return, they would receive adequate salaries, benefits and facilities and would share in deliberations over educational policy, though not in matters involving research and the appointment and promotion of tenure-track professors.
These faculty members would be better trained in teaching and learning than the current research-oriented faculty, although tenured professors who wish to teach introductory or general education courses would, of course, be welcome to do so.Now that most faculties have defined the learning objectives of their college and its various departments and programs, it should be possible to review recent examinations to determine whether individual professors, programs and departments are actually designing their courses to achieve those goals.College administrators could also modify their student evaluation forms to ask students whether they believe the stated goals were emphasized in the courses they took.Enterprising donors might consider giving grants to graduate schools or departments willing to make the necessary reforms.If even a few leading universities responded to such an invitation, others would probably follow suit. The seeds of such a change already exist through the proliferation of instructors who are not on the tenure track but are hired on a year-to- year basis or a somewhat longer term to teach basic undergraduate courses.Universities have already begun to prepare graduate students to teach by giving them opportunities to assist professors in large lecture courses and by creating centers where they can get help to become better instructors.More departments are starting to provide or even require a limited amount of instruction in how to teach.Nevertheless, simply allowing grad students to serve as largely unsupervised teaching assistants, or creating centers where they can receive a brief orientation or a few voluntary sessions on teaching, will not adequately equip them for a career in the classroom.A more substantial preparation is required and will become ever more necessary as the body of relevant knowledge continues to grow.By concentrating so heavily on graduation rates and attainment levels, policy makers are ignoring danger signs that the amount that students learn in college may have declined over the past few decades and could well continue to do so in the years to come.The reasons for concern include: While some college leaders are making serious efforts to improve the quality of teaching, many others seem content with their existing programs.