Archive for December 5, 2011

Graduation rates are still abysmal: What’s the expectation for open learning?

I know that there are folks who believe that too many people go on to higher education, and we should be careful not to drop standards. When I look at stats like these, I see a failure of education as form of engineering.

When I was at Michigan in the School of Education in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, we talked about education as “psychology engineering”: that educators take findings from the science of psychology and use them to create a practical engineering for producing literate (in many senses) citizens. A graduation rate of less than 50% means that we are failing on more than 50% of our input — and our input are people, who want to be productive, who want to have good economic futures, who want to understand their world, society, and country. I was a first-generation college student, and I had no idea that the odds were so much against me. We need to find ways to improve these odds.

The Stanford on-line AI class had 200,000 sign up, but only 35,000 are finishing it. That’s a 82% drop-out rate. Is that a problem? Depends on your comparison set. 82% for a face-to-face class is horrible. How many people buy a book and never read it? How many people buy conference registration and never attend? How many people buy a ticket to a movie and don’t go? To which should we compare to open learning? In any case, if we really want to educate people with open learning approaches, we have to reach more than 18% of the those who said that they were interested in the first place.

Other findings in the report:

Only 32.9 percent of men earn a degree in four years, while the percentage for women is 43.8. The gap shrinks to 5.5 percentage points at the end of the sixth year.

First-generation college students earn a degree at the rate of 27.4 percent after four years, while students whose parents have college degrees have a graduation rate of 42.1 percent.

Asian American and white students had the highest four-year graduation rates, at 44.9 percent and 42.6 percent respectively.

Degree-attainment rates remain is the highest at private universities; the lowest numbers come from public four-year colleges.

via Report suggests approach to improving graduation rates | Inside Higher Ed.

December 5, 2011 at 9:46 am 12 comments


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