Why go to college?
Our society has been asking that question for decades, and recent years have seen questions about whether it is worth the investment. At the same time, it is increasingly clear that a college degree is required for pretty much every job out there. And the cost of tuition is either out of reach, or leads to years of student loan debt. So, recognizing that a degree is the gateway to the middle class, there are increasing calls for free tuition plans throughout the country.
Because of the amount that the federal government spends on higher education, colleges and universities are increasingly called upon to show what students are learning.
Identifying and measuring what students learn in college has been a big part of my professional life in the last 10 years. But my longer background is as a research psychologist and from that I know that measuring and recording what people actually learn is hard to do. For example, as a college professor, I believe that opening students’ eyes to new perspectives is an important college outcome, but I don’t know how to measure that confidently. But I think it’s important to know two things:
- What do college professors want students to get out of college, especially things that are hard to measure, and
- What do people actually get out of college besides a credential that helps them get a job?
I’ve created a survey for college and university professors so that I can learn what professors hope for their students to gain from a college education. I’m also working on a survey for people who have gone to college which will appear here soon. Over time, I’ll update this site with results. In the meantime, if you are a college or university professor, please take the faculty survey; if you are not but you know a professor, ask them to take the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/D_of_Lrn!
Thanks for visiting and reading.
Raymond J. Shaw, Ph.D.