Who’s responsible?: NIU faculty, students respond to criticism of higher education

By Jacqueline Evans

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported on the findings of the book, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, which comments on college graduates, stating that “more than a third of college seniors are no better at crucial types of writing and reasoning tasks than they were their first semester of college.”

Some NIU faculty members felt that the problem may not be with the students but possibly with institutions.

“Not all professors teach critical thinking or require it. If the class is built around passing a multiple choice or true/false test then students study for the tests and don’t synthesize the information,” said Derrick Smith, Center for Black Studies academic advisor.

Smith said if students are not educated it may reflect poorly upon the university they attended

Some NIU students also disagree with the statement.

“If students are graduating at a freshman level than the problem started before they got to college and the high schools should be held accountable along with the colleges,” said Yahkirah Beard, senior, theatre and dance major.

Graduate students had a different view on the article.

“The article has some validity; some students skate by doing the minimum amount of work and studying so they will graduate at the same level of understanding of knowledge of their freshman year,” said Richard Washington, second year engineering graduate student.

Washington puts the responsibility on the student to grasp the full value of a college education.

“The structure of the education system may be a part of the problem but at the end of the day it is the student, who makes the decision to come to college and it’s up to them to get the full benefit.

The article quotes Dewayne Matthews, vice president for policy and strategy at the Lumina Foundation for Education, who agrees with the article and offers a solution to the problem.

“Colleges need to look much more carefully at how students learn, and how they can support that learning.” Matthews said.