Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A culture of rigor and higher education...in Saskatchewan

Two recent pieces from the Chronicle of Higher Education intersect in interesting ways with my own teaching context. The first is about the challenge of recruiting international students to Canadian Universities:
"Usher....notes that emerging demographic challenges are particularly great in Canada’s Atlantic provinces and Saskatchewan. 'Here, the choice is not between a cheap-to-recruit domestic student worth $12,000 vs. a hard-to-recruit international student worth $16,000 – it’s an international student or nothing. For schools off the beaten path, it’s often easier to recruit students from Thailand than from Toronto.'"
The second reviews a new book that "makes a damning indictment of the American higher-education system":
"In the statistical analysis that sums up their book, they identify two significant college-level variables. First, all else equal, students' CLA [Collegiate Learning Assessment] scores are more likely to improve if they report that faculty members at their college have high expectations. Second, students' scores are more likely to improve if they say they have taken at least one writing-intensive course and at least one reading-intensive course in the previous semester.

It might sound trite, Mr. Arum says, but those observations boil down to the lesson that colleges must find ways to build cultures of academic rigor. He says that task is something that each campus will need to do for itself."
This made me glad that Briercrest included "rigor" as part of our mission statement:
"Briercrest College and Seminary is a community of rigorous learning that calls students to seek the kingdom of God, to be shaped profoundly by the Scriptures, and to be formed spiritually and intellectually for lives of service."

Of course, articulating a mission and living the reality are two different things. To be sure, we are still in progress. But I'd like to think the kind of writing assignments we routinely require of our students goes some way toward addressing the concerns raised in Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

No comments: