The subtitle is also very telling (and relevant to untenured professors like myself):
Why do colleges tie academic careers to winning the approval of teenagers? Something is seriously amiss.
The title of this post and the above subtitle are from a recent (October 27, 2013) Wall Street Journal article. I agree that student feedback provides information to the professor. I also agree that academic careers should not be tied “to winning the approval” of students. Students in my class already know that I am not trying to win a popularity or approval contest. Approval from students is not the goal. Attainment of perfect understanding of the material is the goal.
Yesterday a couple students stopped by my office. One comment was that I teach as if I expect students to know the material already. That is untrue. I don’t expect students to know the new material presented in the course. I do have expectations. I expect students in a junior/senior level finance class to have already mastered algebra and basic accounting. Business calculus and accounting are prerequisites for the courses I teach. So, if expecting a mastery of algebra and basic accounting is “high expectations” then I am guilty. Actually, I don’t expect it, I require it. The course requires it. So if you are behind in either of those areas it is on you to catch up using the available resources.
I will end with another quote from the article:
One of these studies, “Academically Adrift” (2011) by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, suggests a couple of steps that could help remedy the problem: “high expectations for students and increased academic requirements in syllabi . . . coupled with rigorous grading standards that encourage students to spend more time studying.” [emphasis added]
In this regard I feel more a part of the solution than part of the problem. 🙂