What matters most, Benjamin added, are the skills students develop while in
college that transcend subject area. "Employers don't care that much about
what students major in, but they do care about the prospective employee's
higher-order skills."

June 21, 2007

Questioning College-Wide Assessments

The skills-based assessments recommended by the Secretary of Education's
Commission <>  on the Future
of Higher Education could be "misleading" to students and parents because it
would measure student performance on an institution-wide level rather than
more specifically by area of study, a new study of one of the nation's
largest public university systems suggests.

Using data collected in the 2006 University
<>  of California
Undergraduate Experience Survey, the study,
"Institutional Versus Academic Discipline Measures of Student Experience: A
Matter of Relative Validity," found that undergraduates studying the same
disciplines on different campuses have academic experiences more similar to
each other than do students studying different subjects on the same campus.

Among the 58,000 undergraduates on eight campuses who participated in the
survey, students who majored in the social sciences and humanities reported
higher levels of satisfaction with their undergraduate education over all as
well as better skills in critical thinking, communication, cultural
appreciation and social awareness.

Students majoring in engineering, business, mathematics and computer
science, meanwhile, reported more collaborative learning and demonstrated
better mathematical skills. Engineering majors, as well as biological and
physical science majors, also reported spending more time preparing for and
attending classes.

Source/continue article:



    Whether a professor is male or female has little to no effect

    on how a student performs in the class, study finds.


A study at the University of Toronto finds that a student's performance and
interest in a given subject are not affected much by the professor's gender.
The working paper, "A Professor Like
<>  Me: The Influence of Instructor
Gender on College Achievement," released through the National Bureau of
Economic Research (and available only with a password), explains that the
conclusion holds true when considering students of different ethnicities,
pre-college abilities and academic interests.

The report looks at data from more than 34,000 students in some of the
largest first-year courses at Toronto between 1996 and 2005. It considers
students' grades, whether they dropped a given course and how the course
might have influenced future class decisions - as in, did a student follow
up an introductory economics course by then taking several more?


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