LA Times article, Thurs. May 16, 2013, LA Extra page AA, Brown urges UC to speed graduations.
By Larry Gordon
The California governor wants a college education to take 4 not 6 years. There are some factors that are not readily apparent causing this problem. I will list a few. Please note that as I list each factor that factor in itself is a self sustaining problem that adds to the next factor. To solve this problem, each factor should be dealt with.
Universities cherish research over instruction. They thus hire some faculty that are deficient lecturers.
If a faculty member achieves tenure status, that person is protected from a culling process, if one exists, and I think the process is mixed from campus to campus in its effectiveness in getting rid of bad instructors.
Students compensate for bad instructors by trying to pick good or better ones by looking them up on evaluation web sites like http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/.
Universities fail the class enrollment process by listing “Staff” in course offerings. This is simply an awful device that leads, in itself, to a slow education. Departments hide who is teaching many classes.
Students counter the listing by “Staff” by enrolling in extra classes. They can thus find out who the instructor is when the first class begins and measure how competent that person is and how much work is required. Students that work, to help pay education costs, not only want good instruction but can not afford to spend extra unnecessary time doing busy work.
Students who enroll in extra classes anticipating dropping ones with deficient instruction thus diminish the total number of classroom seats. Students are signing up for classes that they know they will drop. They are just not sure which classes until they attend the first or second class meeting. This is a significant problem leading to making college a 6 year experience.
Education costs have risen. Many students are working their way through college. They only have time and money to take 4 or less classes a semester. If education costs were lower, we might see students take more classes each semester.
Student anxiety is much higher today due to society and economic factors than years past. These students, to minimize anxiety take fewer classes. This is a significant problem that is getting worse.
What is being done by university officials to solve any of these issues? Very little. Governor Brown is trying to solve one problem but does he know that many factors are hidden from normal view and cause what appears to him to be a bigger issue? Higher education has a lot of inherent problems and they all mainly seem to be concerned in raising money and not reforming to make their education business a better product.