Gallup-Purdue Poll: “Support” and “Deep Learning” Means Everything in College

Here is the link to the survey Life in College Matters for Life After College.

There is also an article in the Wall Street Journal.  I added a comment, partially because I was concerned that the focus of the article was a little too much on “support”.  Here is my comment.

“From the perspective of someone who understands how “elite” colleges run, I worry that this reporting focuses a little too much on just one part (the emotional support aspect) of the following conclusion from the Gallup Report:

“…Feeling supported and having deep learning experiences means everything when it comes to long-term outcomes for college graduates…” (From page 6 of the report)

Where I taught, there was considerable focus on “…emotional support…”, yet some approaches to emotional support were diametrically opposed to “deep learning experiences”. For example, there was pressure, though usually subtle, to make sure the grades were high and the work not stressful; and, by not stressful, I really mean that. I was personally highly pressured to change a critical engineering math course from a “deep learning experience” to what my chair called a “cookbook” course. He told me that if he wanted to impart more mathematical understanding he wouldn’t start here. Heapparently wanted a course where students could feel good about making an A while hardly being able to work any of the MIT problems that my students were working regularly. (That is actuallly what a student who had taken the “usual” cookbook course boasted: that he got an A and could rarely do any of the MIT problems. Engineering had assigned him to “help” my students.) And all of this was at a highly selective school – Washington University in St. Louis.

I am writing this because I know how good universities can be at catering to student wants, while neglecting their needs. It will be easy for universities to offer the “support” part of “support” AND “deep learning”, while continuing to fool students and parents that they really are delivering a superior education.

I also have a blog www.inside-higher-ed.com where you can read about my experiences (in documented detail aobut the course I write about above) and more.I think it is important for the publicto understand how things really work in universiities. I thank the WSJ for their excellent regular coverage of higher education”

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