In his article, ”The Decline of the Knowledge Factory: Why our colleges must change”, the author, John Tagg, is explaining how colleges in today’s society are neglecting the undergraduate education. Tagg claims that people are sending their children to college to learn and prepare for their future careers; however, the amount of learning is astonishingly low. Tagg feels that American colleges are failing because they have become more interested in the number of credits students have than in what they learn. The mission of the colleges in current system is to offer more classes to more students. In any college in American society today, the essential meaning of “being a student” is accumulating the total credit hours. And I completely agree with Tagg’s arguments.
Tagg is right to say that “the ‘atom’ of the educational universe is the one-hour block of lecture and the ‘molecule’ is the three-unit course”, and that therefore “the essential meaning of ‘being a student’ is accumulating credit hours” (Tagg 624).
Today’s colleges have developed as a part of a nation wide system of higher education, and hence they have become nearly interchangeable. The essential mission of today’s colleges has come to be just to offer classes instead of learning. Nowadays, students are more interested in “finishing up the credit hours” instead of actually learning the course material. “What the student does in the class room, what the teacher does in the room, what they think after they leave the room – these things are irrelevant to the academic credit…” (Tagg 625).
... gained is the number of credit hours you have. Credit hours are helpful and necessary during a student’s college career. Credit hours serve many purposes. There are ... varying opinions on how many credits a student should take per semester. Credit hours are ...
The interest student has in the subject does not count towards his final grade. The only thing that counts at the end is if the student attended the class and the grades he scored on the tests.
Another reason why education is lacking at the college level is because of the fact that senior professors are becoming increasingly involved in various researches funded by the university. This involvement in research takes the senior professors away from the classrooms and replaces them with people less qualified to teach the undergraduate students. “Academic departments have achieved the ‘best’ of both worlds by hiring large number of graduate students or part time instructors, at low salaries and often with no benefits, to teach undergraduate courses, while freeing up senior faculty for research activities” (Tagg 626).
This is fairly common in most universities because the highest rewards are reserved not for those who teach undergraduates but for those who are recognized for their research contributions to their academic disciplines. A proof of this lack of learning is the fact that companies have to start training their employees in a particular field even after college due to lack of learning and acquiring the tools in college.
Tagg explains to us “the atomized curriculum has taken an increasingly conspicuous toll” (Tagg 626).
The problem is the inability of the students to think globally and to transfer methods of analysis from one subject or problem to another. The students fail to apply their knowledge of one subject to another class. What students learn in one course, they do not retain and transfer to their experience in another course. Also, there is not enough repetition of material learned in the class so that the student retains it until he graduates and can use it in his practical experience.
Tagg also argues that most colleges in today’s society are based on an instructional paradigm instead of a learning paradigm. The main difference between the two theories is that learning is the actual process of understanding the material being taught. To learn is to take information and to understand it and be able to apply it to other situations. Under this model, if the student does not learn, then the system fails. However, as stated earlier, most colleges are based on an instructional paradigm which is the concept that the more seats are filled in a class, the more students are being taught the course material. The problem with this is that the focus becomes to just present the information to the students with no care as to whether or not they have learned and retained the material taught. In today’s system, colleges do not lose any money if a student does not pass. The instructor presents the information and if the student did not learn, it is the student’s fault. The instructor does not even try to reinforce the material taught once. The colleges do not care if the students learn; the fact that matters to them is if they filled the seats and can say that they had X number of students.
... 1995). "Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional method that challenges students to 'learn to learn,' working cooperatively in groups ... unknown concepts along with the search for the materials listed in the referential bibliography should distribute effort ... A., (199 x). Case Preparation Guidelines: International Economics 21. Macalester College. Colbert, J. A., Trimble, K. , & Desert, P ...
Thus it is clear from the above claims that Tagg presents a good argument in the above article as it clearly convinces the readers that American colleges are failing to properly educate the undergraduates. Their focus is more on instruction rather than learning. Tagg feels that American colleges are failing because they have become more interested in the number of credits the student has that in what they learn. Tagg has a good argument also because he indirectly states that the purpose of education is not only factual knowledge, but also practical skills, critical thinking, responsibly, working hard and applying the basic skills of math, reading and writing to their education as well as their jobs. Education should be much more than “handful” of credits.
Tagg, John. “The Decline of the Knowledge factory: Why Our Colleges much change.” Aims of Argument. 3rd ed. Ed. Timothy Crusius and Carolyn Channell. California: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1999, 622-632.