Much of the debate about educational quality tends to pull toward extremes: Either America’s colleges are the envy of the world, or they’re of questionable worth. A new study that used an unusual methodology to quantify rigor and teaching suggests a more moderate and nuanced view.
“Our findings are showing we’re in between,” said Corbin M. Campbell, an assistant professor of higher education at Teachers College at Columbia University. “There’s room to grow here.”
Ms. Campbell was the principal investigator for the College Educational Quality project, a study of two selective, midsize research institutions. One was public, the other private.
She and a team of 10 graduate students spent a week in the spring of 2013 observing 153 courses. They analyzed 149 syllabi.
The methodology allowed them to examine academic rigor and the quality of teaching in ways that conventional research tools, like student surveys, standardized tests, or faculty self-reports, often fail to adequately convey. <Read more.>