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US Community Colleges (Page 2)
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Ham Sandwich
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Oct 16, 2009, 01:27 PM
 
Some really insightful comments (aside from the Laminar derailment ).

I'm glad Finboy posted how things are where they are at. Their mentioning of "we're often encouraged to just pass everyone" just echoes what I hear from others that are faculty or tenured at universities and colleges. It's truly sad. How soon will it be where I can just write an $80,000 check to a school and have them just send me my degree in the mail?

It is my understanding that attending university was a privilege and reserved for the best and brightest as little as 30 years ago. I don't quite understand what changed to drive the market to push people, no matter their qualifications, into higher learning. Greed? Lack of skilled and blue collar jobs in the market?

Why do people invest all of that money and time in an education that is required by the work force and then cannot find employment in their field? Too many people wasting their time in school and not enough "regular" jobs that don't require a degree. Hell, most jobs don't require a degree but they are now being held as a requirement to even being considered for employment.

And, while I do a ton of bitching on this subject I am continuing the problem and not fighting against it. Guess I learned that in school.

I watched this interesting TED talk awhile back about schools killing creativity. Doesn't necessarily apply to the topic of this thread but I think it does have a place here.
Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com

And don't even get me started on the price of textbooks.
     
olePigeon
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Oct 16, 2009, 02:02 PM
 
Schools probably wouldn't kill creativity so much if funding for the arts wasn't always cut.
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you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
skipjack
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Oct 19, 2009, 03:56 PM
 
I work in a community college physics department. I can assure you that many students do not pass, except in the introductory classes.

The same is true in mathematics. There may be a high pass rate at the lower levels, but that is material that used to be covered in grammar school.
     
Ham Sandwich
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Oct 20, 2009, 11:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by skipjack View Post
I work in a community college physics department. I can assure you that many students do not pass, except in the introductory classes.

The same is true in mathematics. There may be a high pass rate at the lower levels, but that is material that used to be covered in grammar school.
But a person can receive a myriad of degrees by just taking introductory classes, correct? Would it be safe to assume that the vast amount of graduates never take above a 200 level class?
     
finboy
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Oct 20, 2009, 12:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by skipjack View Post
I work in a community college physics department. I can assure you that many students do not pass, except in the introductory classes.

The same is true in mathematics. There may be a high pass rate at the lower levels, but that is material that used to be covered in grammar school.
But it isn't covered in grammer school, and they have to learn it someplace. The "except" is the problem here -- they shouldn't be passed through in the intro class either. In fact, the intro classes should be tougher than the later classes in some sense (workload, maybe). That's how it was when I was in school. Senior courses were tough, but the ones before you got there, the prep classes, were nightmares.

Same way that high school GT English Lit & Comp was a b*tch compared to anything I ever took in college. That was on purpose.

I said that folks in higher ed were encouraged to pass everyone, but that doesn't mean that we do it (some do, of course). That encouragement's been true since I started teaching. Admins want bodies in chairs, and that's much easier without entrance or exit standards. Of course, it kills the rep of the institution, and those of us in the field areas spend more and more time to build that rep to keep things workable and to make sure the hard workers get a chance to shine when they graduate.

I'm idealistic.
     
ghporter
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Oct 20, 2009, 09:19 PM
 
The "intro" bar has to take into account lackluster high school preparation...so it's pretty darn low in a lot of places. And let's not forget that EVERY post secondary school has "bonehead English" for people who just couldn't be bothered to learn the language in 12 years of compulsory schooling...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Brien
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Oct 20, 2009, 10:03 PM
 
Having gone both the CC and University route, I can say that I think the education I got at the CC-level was, IMO, better than what I got at the University when it came to GE classes (my major has been great).

At the CC, class sizes were smaller and the professors had more time to actually talk to you and help you out. However, at uni the lecture classes have 100+ people in a room, and the T.A. does most of the teaching. Good luck if you ever even get back an email from the professor, let alone ask them a question.

However, I do have to agree about the "low" bar. I was lucky in that I was able to test high enough to skip half of the intro-level classes, but I still found myself taking classes I'd already taken in high school, or in the case of the intro to computers, a.k.a 'this is how a mouse works!' class, in middle school. I think it's retarded that I'm essentially paying to re-take HS courses, and then, on top of that, the professors still (this applies to CC an Uni, at least for me) take roll and treat us like high schoolers.

I guess that it makes sense, though. At every step of the way, as I went from High School to CC to a B.A., and soon an M.F.A, I keep having to stop and ask myself "how the f*ck are these people still here?". Meaning of course the idiots who don't show up to class, don't do their course work, whine about everything, and just "don't get it". I mean really, why are you paying $40k a year if you aren't going to try?
     
awaspaas
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Oct 21, 2009, 09:19 AM
 
I teach chemistry at a community college. While it's true that there are a good number of bottom feeders (I hear pretty scary stories from the astronomy and geology instructors), I've found that, in the last few years especially, the level of student effort has been pretty good. These are, for the most part, students that are paying their own way, whether they're right out of high school or adults, so many of them view a lack of effort as a waste of money. That evens out the score a little bit with the 4-year schools that have many students whose education is paid for by mommy and daddy and have no real investment of their own in it.

Another big thing community colleges (in my area at least) have going for them is pretty robust assessment measures. In order for schools in our system to be accredited, we need to have systems in place that objectively ensure that students passing the courses show competency in the course's predefined learner outcomes. It's a work in progress at our school, but it's already helped with some quality-control issues in some courses. I contrast that with the large university I taught at previously, where the letter grades for each lecture section were distributed the same, regardless of the quality of instruction or the quality of the students.

I don't have anything beyond anecdotal evidence on this, but from what I've heard from my students that are taking courses both at the university and community college is that the university courses, especially in year 1 and 2, tend to be large lectures with an instructor speaking at a blackboard or overhead projector or reading powerpoint slides, while the community college classes tend to be much smaller, with more active learning as opposed to straight lecturing.
     
ghporter
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Oct 21, 2009, 01:50 PM
 
College accreditation (the smallest community college or the largest university), whether in Minnesota or Mississippi, is handled by one of 5 organizations. In the South, it's "The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools." I have rather extensive experience with the Southern Association, having been on the faculty of the largest community college in the world (the Community college of the Air Force), and having been a student when my university was reaccredited. Accreditation is no laughing matter, and for all schools it requires a huge investment in time and effort to document how courses are developed and maintained, what mechanisms are used to ensure that the courses are presented appropriately, and how student performance is measured. Frankly, it's easier to just make a course really hard than to write up a course with an extremely low expectation level for passing.

I should note that any school that loses accreditation faces enormous financial losses, because financial aid, especially federal financial aid, is based on enrollment in an accredited school. No accreditation means NO federal money. That's a big problem, so schools work extra hard to maintain accreditation, and thus maintain minimum standards for course construction and measurement. What this means is that if a course is poorly presented or a walk in the park, it's almost always the instructor, not the school that's made it that way.
( Last edited by ghporter; Oct 21, 2009 at 02:40 PM. )

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
olePigeon
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Oct 21, 2009, 01:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
In the South, it's "The Southern Association of Schools and Schools."
Is that like the Federal Redundancy Department of Redundancy?
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
ghporter
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Oct 21, 2009, 02:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Is that like the Federal Redundancy Department of Redundancy?
No, it's my stupid proof reading. It should be "Southern Association of Colleges and Schools," but I mistyped it then "fixed" it wrong. I have CORRECTLY fixed it now.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
 
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