Am I Getting My Moneys Worth?

What do six 6 packs of New Belgium and this class have in common?

Nothing…besides the cost.

Though it may come off like a bad joke, the reality is still there. Doing a quick calculation off of tuition expenses, technology fee, and books, I discovered it costs us an average of sixty dollars per class period during a semester. The question then becomes; “Am I getting my moneys worth?”

In many classes, no.

This may stem from the fact that professors at CSU are not required to have a teaching license or any teaching experience before they are hired. This does shed some light on why some classes are so much worse than others. You’re professor may not be qualified to be an instructor!

Why would this be the case? This is a place of high academia, where students pay for their knowledge in cash and cups of coffee. So why do they higher “non-teachers”? For starters, Colorado State University puts a lot of stress on research and other projects. Due to time constraints and interest, professors have little incentive to go out of their way to attend optional workshops, classes and seminars which delve into more effective teaching methods and strategies.

I think this is blindsiding CSU’s whole purpose: teaching students.  I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my money here, and I’m sure all of you agree with me there. Look at the Financial Accountability Report. It lays out CSU’s spending quite nicely. With close-reading of the data, one can see some alarming trends in the budget.

  1. At the start of the 2011 school year, CSU’s expenditures for instruction related purposes decreased by 5,348 dollars, compared to 2010.

  2. Research spending has increased by 6,416 dollars from last year. Looking at years past, research spending has increased every year for the past 3 years, while instructional spending has been inconsistent.

 This data shows CSU’s focus on research over instruction.When the university stresses this over education,  it negatively effects students.

I read an excerpt from a book by Professor Kline called “Why the Professor Can’t Teach”, universities assume “that researchers are ipso facto good teachers…Hence appointment, promotion, tenure, and salary are based entirely on status in research.” So our professors are devoting more of their time and effort to their research, viewing the classes they teach (the one’s we pay for) secondary in their employment. 

I can’t say I blame them either.

Why should a professor work hard to be a good educator, when the university provides no incentive to do so?

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2 thoughts on “Am I Getting My Moneys Worth?

  1. mattcleland says:

    Mike Rose talked about this in his book, and I found that interesting. Because you’re right – the university is a place of research and the accumulation of knowledge, not about teaching.

    Obviously that causes a problem, but I think you hit at a solution; giving more incentives to teaching well.

  2. My roommate and I were actually having a similar discussion the other night.

    He recently received funding to get his Ph.D in economics at CSU (holy crap, right!?), and was explaining some of the major differenced between his undergrad and graduate experience in higher education:

    1) Class sizes are smaller for him now
    I think no matter how great a teacher is, a class of 300 students is almost impossible to teach effectively. We struggle to differentiate for 30 kids…

    2) The students are more interested in the material
    Focus in on the “nerds” in each 300 person classroom, stick them in a room together, and you’ve got an economic machine! That being said, f course it’s much easier to teach students who actually WANT to be in class and aren’t just taking it to fill a core credit

    There were other things that we talked about, but those two things seemed to stand out.

    I’m going to stir the pot a bit and say that my experience in the English Ed program has been full of small classes, engaged students, and teachers who are passionate about their jobs. Even my core English credits are taught by professors who may not have had formal teaching training, but care enough about the content that their excitement bleeds through to those who are willing to soak it up.

    Have you really had such a bad experience with teachers in the same program?

    Finally I just want to add that college is both a PRIVILEGE and a CHOICE. I think universities assume that when a student is enrolled in a course, he/she wants to do well either because the class will impact further career opportunities, OR (most likely) because said student chose a major in a field of interest.

    Sorry that was a bit of a rant, but I figured if you cared enough to write the post, hopefully you care to read some feedback!

    -Megan

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