When a university degree just isn’t enough

This article points to a phenomenon with which anyone working in a university is well familiar.  The article argues that “The bachelor of arts was once a distinction that opened the gates to myriad options and rewarding jobs. But the BA’s sheen has worn away, to the point where even many of those who choose to complete one see it only as a stepping stone to the degree they really need.”  Between 1999 and 2009, undergraduate enrolment increased by 40%, versus 70% for graduate programs.  As universities struggle with increasing financial cutbacks and pressures to maintain high enrolment figures (at the possible expense of high-quality education), the question arises as to whether admissions standards are slipping for undergraduate programs. A growing trend that many of us are witnessing is the increasing focus on multiple-choice tests and exams as ways to assess learning, rather than course work and papers; given the increasing student-to-faculty ratios that are occurring in many programs, this trend is hardly surprising.  To those of us who teach in graduate programs, however, we often see the impact of this trend on the quality of student writing, their lack of  understanding of how to structure papers,  and formulate and defend arguments, as well as the rules concerning academic integrity and proper citation of sources consulted.  To quote from the article:” We may be ready for a big, big conversation in universities about how we deliver undergraduate education.”

When a university degree just isn’t enough – The Globe and Mail.

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