Success in College? Still Open for Debate

Monday, May 21st, 2012

This Q and A from Nick Pandolfo has me scratching what hair I have left after a recent visit with a mirror and trimmers. The subject is a recent study on college success. Dan Chambliss says

The goal of this was to find how colleges or universities could have relatively resource-neutral, reliably effective interventions that really help students in a big way. In other words, how can you do stuff that you know you can do, that you know will make a positive difference, but you don’t have to turn the world upside down or have a big capital campaign and spend a lot of money.

A response to the question of solutions is:

It’s all about people, not programs. Colleges spend a huge amount of time and effort worrying will they have writing-intensive programs or a freshman seminar program or if a major is set up right or if their curriculum is done this way or that – all the kind of stuff about the content and information for kids and students. That’s not where it’s at.

This is where “it’s at” when you are constructing a program. The curricular points are somewhat important and don’t always go to the idea of “success.” The question may be: what’s the best way to teach heart transplants? How people feel about this may not be high on the list.

I agree, however, about the significance of human contact. But this is awfully random to generalize. I can remember those critical conversations I had in school. But these had nothing to do with the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of programs or the decisions people made about teaching methods and goals.


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