Problems with Academia, #347: Grades are prized over learning.

Approximate Reading Time: < 1 minute

An Academic Ghostwriter Comes Clean – Faculty – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Emphasis on grades and competition always increase the pressure on students to “win the prize” rather than learn. When most of the rest of the world rewards appearances over substance, people will cave.

As he wrote papers for students across a range of institutions, Mr. Tomar said in the interview, he saw vastly different levels of expectations. The lowest, he said, was at for-profit colleges, where he often saw the same assignment recycled. Sometimes he was hired to complete writing assignments for online discussions at for-profits, where the grades are based on whether the work is completed, not on its quality. Such work received little of his attention, he said, “because it was clear to me that nobody, nobody, nobody cares.”

The rating of schools based on profit, graduate employment, and student satisfaction can be misleading. Is an undergraduate education from an big-name university really better than one from a small school where the teachers know you?

He also aims his ire at more-traditional institutions, and none more so than Rutgers, which he decries as a “money farm” that sold him on an idealized version of Walden Pond but gave him Wal-Mart instead.

There’s an old joke that goes:

What do you call the person who graduated 499th out of 500 from medical school?

Dr.

What assurances do we have that this person actually knows anything? What assurances do we have that the person who graduated 3rd knows more?

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