The Academe Blog

The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.

What Helps Students Learn?

An “On the Issues” Post from the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education []


The push for doing education on the cheap has led to a number of “innovations” nearly always touted as ways to “do more with less.” But the data on these experiments increasingly present a more complicated picture of their efficacy.

For instance, more and more research suggests that MOOCs, which stormed the higher education scene a couple of years ago, just don’t work well for most students.

One recent study of MOOCs, which found that students learned in a very “passive” way, adds to this assessment.

The researchers looked at the experience of 400 students enrolled in a high-level course for health professional offered by the Harvard Medical School and came to these conclusions:

Students started off with high hopes that they would gain new skills to do their jobs better and boost their careers, explained Colin Milligan, a research fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University and co-investigator on the project.

But when they were questioned during their course, the students simply wanted to complete the program or get good marks, he said, rather than actually put their knowledge into action.

In contrast to the claims that MOOCs facilitate vigorous interaction and collaboration among students taking the course, this study found that even eager students wound up doing “as little [interaction] as possible.” [Read more in Inside Higher Ed

See a recent New York Times Opinion piece on why and how nurturing matters to college students.



About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University, where I have been a faculty member for almost 25 years. I serve as the president of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes two bargaining units, as the vice-president of the Ohio Conference of AAUP, and as a member of the executive committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized.

3 comments on “What Helps Students Learn?

  1. martinkich
    August 23, 2014

    Reblogged this on Ohio Higher Ed.

  2. Pingback: Undermining Affordability and Access to Higher Education | The Academe Blog

  3. Pingback: Markets, Technology, and the Purpose of Education | The Academe Blog

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This entry was posted on August 23, 2014 by in corporate influence, faculty, MOOCs, students.



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