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Cal State will no longer require placement exams and remedial classes for freshmen

Tomita

Member
Nov 5, 2014
815
0
0
So I teach at a university with a very strong STEM program (which has those 40-60 averages in many classes, due to a LOT of factors, including very inconsistent teaching, students not prepared, etc.) and I have some things to offer here:

First, while my institution is public, it attracts a relatively high caliber of student. I have seen very few freshmen completely unprepared and the ones who are usually take some classes at a local CC to help save money on repeating. I have seen, in six years, one student who must have been very good at something because he wrote at approximately a third-fourth grade level. This is not hyperbole. It was tragic. He should not have been there. But most are pretty well prepared.

I have friends, however, who teach at state schools around the country and they have horror stories about students who just do not have basic skills and who don't understand why they don't just pass, because that's what happened to them in high school. That is one of the biggest problems. Remedial courses can help... but for some it's just not going to work out regardless until they learn how to be a student, and that's hard to teach.

Now, regarding this directly. It's not surprising to see them cutting writing classes, with the humanities under fire for years, despite numerous studies that point to (certain) humanities courses/degrees being very helpful in the workforce. But the cuts on the horizon, the next rumored target? Math departments. So part of me wonders if this isn't in line with those rumblings coming down the pipeline. The idea is that these days students don't need math classes, since a) university is being treated increasingly like job training and little else and b) students don't "need" that for their jobs, despite - again - numerous studies that identify benefits from studying math.

The tl:dr is that the whole system is broken.

The number of STEM students I knew who didn't take English classes seriously but strongly needed them...it was embarrassing. Especially how my field requires strong communication skills. I would help people with their papers and experience second hand embarrassment over how poor their skills are at a university level (and I don't think I'm some writing genius either). Also, not being able to follow basic stuff like report format. The same format was used for all the classes in the program...yet it was such a struggle to follow a few basic rules, apparently.
 

Jeremy

Member
Nov 8, 2013
2,295
0
0
Mississippi
The fuck.

lol I grew up in bumfuck MS with a pretty garbage education system and trying to navigate through college was pretty difficult. I never made it and I can see why the need for remedial classes exists but I guess a lot of people would suggest a junior college.

Moving from Mississippi State to Purdue was the most embarrassed I've ever felt cause I was so behind.
 

Kieli

Member
Aug 11, 2013
8,730
0
455
It's mainly a product of asking the wrong level of questions during an exam and the 'need' to filter out students in the first and second years.

The way the courses are taught does little to help students succeed at this stupid, arbitrary metric called "exams". The questions are so artificial and are designed to obfuscate the concepts between 2 or 3 layers of abstraction.

If I were an instructor at a post-secondary institution, I'd write all the class notes using the Feynman learning technique and ask students to preview it before class. Then during class, I'd grind through a bunch of exam problems so that students know exactly what to expect on the exam and how to do very, very well if they put in the effort.

But nope. Not gonna happen. Not while university's hire teaching staff for peanuts and reward research disproportionately over teaching for tenure-track academic staff.
 
Dec 19, 2016
834
0
0
You've definitely never taught at the college level where everyone is premed and deserves an A regardless of study time *eyeroll* they won't take the time to study but they'll take the time to argue :/ this is going to be a huge headache for professors, especially in the sciences at the freshman level.

I'm not a university professor, why would I give a crap about staff politics?

All that shit is usually about monetary concerns anyway

So I teach at a university with a very strong STEM program (which has those 40-60 averages in many classes, due to a LOT of factors, including very inconsistent teaching, students not prepared, etc.) and I have some things to offer here:

First, while my institution is public, it attracts a relatively high caliber of student. I have seen very few freshmen completely unprepared and the ones who are usually take some classes at a local CC to help save money on repeating. I have seen, in six years, one student who must have been very good at something because he wrote at approximately a third-fourth grade level. This is not hyperbole. It was tragic. He should not have been there. But most are pretty well prepared.

I have friends, however, who teach at state schools around the country and they have horror stories about students who just do not have basic skills and who don't understand why they don't just pass, because that's what happened to them in high school. That is one of the biggest problems. Remedial courses can help... but for some it's just not going to work out regardless until they learn how to be a student, and that's hard to teach.

Now, regarding this directly. It's not surprising to see them cutting writing classes, with the humanities under fire for years, despite numerous studies that point to (certain) humanities courses/degrees being very helpful in the workforce. But the cuts on the horizon, the next rumored target? Math departments. So part of me wonders if this isn't in line with those rumblings coming down the pipeline. The idea is that these days students don't need math classes, since a) university is being treated increasingly like job training and little else and b) students don't "need" that for their jobs, despite - again - numerous studies that identify benefits from studying math.

The tl:dr is that the whole system is broken.

In an ideal world, universities would be places for learning instead of job training lol
 
Dec 19, 2016
834
0
0
This isn't even about failure, but a question of whether a student is ready for a class in the first place.

The better option is to make these classes count for credit, so that they actually count towards something when it comes to degrees and applications into different programs. Maybe even a common year where the curriculum is a retread of high-school senor-level courses, but at a slightly higher level?

The even better option is to provide the public school system with adequate funding such that students will graduate with a decent skill set and knowledge that prepares them for academia.



I'll be really disappointed (but not surprised) if they charge for this.

Funding for public schools has nothing to do with how well adjusted to learning a course when they're supposed to be learning a course a student is.

And counting remedial courses as credit is actually a bad idea considering how graduation is supposed to work. So explain your position at that.
 
May 27, 2013
21,330
1
0
Seems like a bad idea. If they're not ready for the college-level material, they aren't ready.

Although for transparency's sake, I should point out that I'm currently attending Cal State Fullerton and any effects to CSU system's credibility would also affect my job prospects.
 

ryan13ts

Member
Nov 29, 2006
2,231
279
1,400
Good. The idea of having a remedial class isn't a necessarily a bad thing, but the way they were being implemented is. Giving you no credit whatsoever and still requiring you to pay for them and slowing your overall path to your degree, is where the problem is.

If they were going to offer you some form of credit, I'd say keeping it would be the better option, but otherwise this is the better option.
 

KimiNewt

Scored 3/100 on an Exam
May 24, 2006
2,580
0
0
Israel
My university had remedial classes for maths and physics, if you did not do them at the highest level in highschool. However, those classes were done over the summer and there was no mandatory attendance or homework, so you could just study on your own and take the test. The lectures and exercises were all available online.

I took both, the maths one online and the physics one (I didn't do physics at all in highschool) in person. They both did a very good job to prepare me and I did a fair bit better in the eventual classes than peers who did not take these preparatory classes.

I think that done in this way these classes can be a good thing. If you shove someone into a class unprepared and they immediately flunk it, then there's no point. Allow flexibility in the time you have to take the classes, how to do so and allow taking an exam to bypass it and I think you can have good results.
 

Kayhan

Member
Dec 5, 2008
7,869
863
1,155
If 40% are not ready for the work why were they accepted to the university in the first place?

As a European this makes no sense to me.
 

Big-E

Member
Nov 16, 2006
19,377
0
1,295
The way college is taught needs to be retooled. Too many classes at the university level go against current pedagogical beliefs. It is a problem with high school reform as well as there are high school teachers who lecture and say they do it to prepare kids for university. Not going to change with the current mindset of publish first, teach second.
 

Kayhan

Member
Dec 5, 2008
7,869
863
1,155
Can we just try to stop fucking sending everyone to college?

Yes, we should. College is not for everyone.

For a lot of people learning a trade is a better and more profitable option. Better for society too.
 

tokkun

Member
Jan 29, 2007
16,092
0
0
Madison, WI
I've worked in higher ed for a few years now on the admissions side, and I've never heard of charging for tutoring at school. I'd hope that's not a norm.

I worked my way through undergrad as a public university-employed tutor. They charged students some small fraction of the cost, like $1 / hour. It may have been means-based.

It's a good solution, IMO. As long as you charge something, even if it is a small amount, people are much more likely to show up to their appointments and take it seriously than if it is completely free. Human psychology in action.
 

dbztrk

Member
Dec 16, 2009
3,044
15
890
Damn shame. I work at a college that largely caters to adult education and most are in no way shape or form ready for college. As a result, the academic standards are incredibly low and we don't academically dismiss our students. We basically leave it up to the financial aid office to get rid of the students by making them ineligible for financial aid. Of course politics enters the picture and in the past they haven't always been ethical with regards to the student's financial aid eligibility.

College is not for everyone. If the student is unwilling or incapable meeting the academic standards for college, they should not be there. However, I find this country is more interested in giving people degrees just so that they can say look at what we did! X person/X group of people have obtained a bachelors degree and/or X person/group of people have obtained a Masters degree. The devil is very much in the details. How much did the colleges drop the standards so that this person/group could obtain this degree?

If Americans only knew how much of our tax dollars are wasted in higher education.