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Business Leaders Give Higher Ed a Failing Grade
Business executives said they don’t see the justification for rising tuition prices and don’t believe higher prices are commensurate with improving quality. Most are convinced that institutions of higher education are wasteful and inefficient, suspecting that they are paying too much attention to aesthetics.
“If you’re a public four-year college and you see a private college is offering Olympic-size swimming pools and dorms with marble walls instead of stainless steel, you’re going to start doing the same thing to compete for those students,” Farkas said. “You’re going to focus on planting trees and having a nice shrubbery on your campus, but the money, especially taxpayers’ money, shouldn’t be going towards that. It should be going to some serious professors and engaging students.”
Meanwhile, the state of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the United States has seen unflattering appraisals in recent years. Despite its historical achievement record, the U.S. now lags behind other nations in STEM education at the elementary and secondary levels. International comparisons of students’ performance in science and mathematics consistently place the U.S. in the middle of the pack or lower.
“In order for more and more students to choose careers in STEM, they’re going to need to be engaged at an earlier point in their educational career,” said Greg Tobin, president of English, math and student success for Pearson Higher Education, an education services company.
While Tobin said he believes engaging college students in STEM might be too late, he has seen considerable results in Pearson’s partnership with the University of Memphis.
In 2008, the University of Memphis’ Department of Mathematical Sciences implemented a new teaching method in several sections of college algebra, foundations of mathematics and elementary calculus. The primary motivation of the new teaching method was to address low retention and success rates in these large-enrollment, lower-division general education courses.
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