Thursday, March 8, 2012

Maintaining a Stereotype

Question: Do students grow in writing during their college careers?

 Answer/Quote: “In 1975, Derek Bok, president of Harvard, asked Dean K. Whitla, director of the Office of Students, to verify the widespread belief that undergraduates were leaving Harvard-Radcliffe as writers no better than when they entered. Whitla ran a meticulous study of first-year and fourth-year students at five institutions and concluded that the ability of Harvard-Radcliffe students ‘to present an organized, logical, forceful argument, increased dramatically over the college years.’ Whitla’s unexpected finding was followed by what I will call the Bok maneuver. Forced to report to Harvard’s Board of Overseers the unpopular news that their undergraduates really were developing their writing skills, President Bok said the gains were not ’substantial’ enough, and ‘many students showed no improvement’. Bok’s maneuver has remained common in attacks on US education. The USS Academia is off course, the argument goes, and any evidence to the contrary is belittled, or just jettisoned.” Pp. 487-488.

Comment: When your “friends” tear you to shreds, who needs enemies? Reminds of the current NCLB stereotype that blames teachers for all student and school failures. Grrrrrr! RayS.

Title: “Methodologically Adrift.” RH Haswell. College Composition and Communication (February 2012), 487-491.

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