Thursday, January 20, 2011

Does the Root Problem Lie with Colleges of Education?

by Jonathan Robe

Last April, Richard Vedder suggested (here and here) that there might, just might, be a connection between low-quality collegiate instruction at colleges of education (notorious across campuses for providing routinely easy A's) and the abysmal performance of those elementary and secondary students the graduates of such colleges teach. Some of the evidence unearthed in Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa earth-shattering new book, Academically Adrift, brought this back to mind. As Kevin Carey puts in his latest column for the Chronicle (emphasis mine), Arum and Roksa
found significant differences [in learning] by field of study. Students majoring in the humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, and math—again, controlling for their background—did relatively well. Students majoring in business, education, and social work did not. Our future teachers aren't learning much in college, apparently, which goes a long way toward explaining why students arrive in college unprepared in the first place.
This observation, of course, makes perfect sense. If we dumb down college curricula (particularly for future educators), we shouldn't be surprised to see students at elementary and secondary schools exhibit lower levels of academic achievement than should be expected of them.

1 comment:

RWW said...

In my humble opinion, there are three pillars (they're called pilings in construction parlance) that are the foundation of undergrad high ed. They are the schools of business, engineering, and sciences. The rest are electives.