Interesting Reads This Week

I have good news, and I have bad news

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This week mostly brought good news. In higher education and in EdTech, we seem to be doing some things right, but there are plenty of half-empty glasses among the half-full ones. Sometimes our ability to think critically needs a big assist. What did I read or listen to that brought me to these conclusions?

Paying for experiences

Something much more established in the UK (and to an extent, Australia) than in the US is the concept of and focus on the student experience. You see this showing up in higher education job titles (which seem also to be catching on in the US, though I worry that it is more of a rebrand than a rethink), but it is also a strong feature of surveys of students. One particularly good example of the latter is the HEPI/Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey. It is a good and fascinating survey (and I am persnickety about surveys so that is high praise). Among the impressive things about the survey is its size. They surveyed just over 10,000 undergraduate students in the UK, a marked comparison with some of the tiny samples we sometimes see. While size isn’t everything, it is important.

The survey brings some good news. Students are reporting getting value for money in their degrees (note that in the UK they often describe what the US calls a program as a course), a shift from some rocky years around 2021 and 2022. Note however, that 35% of students report that the education they received was “neither good nor poor” and that indifference is troubling (p. 15).

Even more encouraging (at least to me) is the fact that most of the student unhappiness stems from cost – both of the degree as a whole and the cost of living - rather than issues related to teaching quality (p. 17).

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