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Writer: Steve Hunsaker
Facets of Quality
I recently enjoyed reading We're Losing Our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education by Richard P. Keeling and Richard H. Hersh (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). Due in large part to the frequency of our discussions of quality here at BYU-Idaho, I was especially interested in the authors' presentation of patterns and structures of quality in higher education. The issues that Keeling and Hersh raise prompted questions in my mind about what we might do to raise the quality of our work.
I present below, much as I did with "Disrupting Ourselves" and "From Teaching to Learning," a few of the more memorable passages from We're Losing Our Minds. I do so to invite discussions and conversations on the question of quality. I would like to hear what you think about these passages, or, if you've had the chance to read it, how you respond to the whole book.
"[A]t its root the idea of higher learning is one of positive change: the student who graduates will not be, and should not be, the same person as the one who started college." (6)
"[T]he whole is greater than the sum of its parts . . . higher learning is not simply incremental and additive, but is in fact synergistic and requires mindful, coherent, and integrated design." (21)
"Each and every discipline encompasses and imparts not only facts but the tools for understanding and integrating those facts - concepts, paradigms, principles, and language, for example, that help students relate new information to what came before it, as well as comprehend how to apply that information in new situations. But only if students are expected to practice such learning will it happen." (54)
"None of us would consider flying with a pilot who has not been fully trained and tested on takeoffs and landings - nor would we tolerate having an operation performed by a surgeon who had not been adequately certified by the training program and examining board, or having a root canal performed by an uncertified endodontist. No branch of the armed forces entrusts the deployment and leadership of troops to untested or poorly performing officers; in fact, testing is how leaders in any of the armed services know which officers perform well and therefore which ones to trust. In other words, when it really matters, we find ways to do timely, meaningful assessment of learning." (89)
"Our real concern about higher education should be value, not efficiency." (110)
"Imagine a college or university in which learning occurs through immersion in a powerful educational culture - a culture in which learning is an intentional preoccupation within and across courses, inside and outside the classroom." (119)
"The challenge is to construct . . . an institution-wide culture of serious teaching and learning that provides an integrated and purposeful educational experience in which students intentionally immerse themselves." (124)
"The core higher education outcomes are necessarily learned cumulatively and collectively, throughout the entire undergraduate program, and thus are the shared responsibility of the entire faculty and staff." (133)
"For real change to occur, the quality and quantity of learning must replace any . . . others as the key touchstone for decision making in higher education." (161)