Do Different Teaching Methods Change Rigor?

Consider this:

Imagine I could create a ‘perfect’ assessment for whatever content knowledge you care about. Two students took the test and both achieved the same score under the same conditions. If the assessment is not flawed, is could one student be more ‘rigorous’ than the other?

When we talk about the increase in diversity in educational settings, we often jump to the conclusion that a lack of rigor is what opens the door for new populations to attain graduation, entrance, and prior success that differs from historical data.

I can tell you that here in NYC, some of the ways the numbers are changing is not from a decrease in rigor, but an improvement in instruction.  Teachers are using more active learning techniques, and as we understand the mechanisms of student learning and cognition better, they are using teaching strategies that take advantage of student strengths, as opposed to drilling them to correct for weakness.

I’ve heard college faculty discussing how they are afraid they will have to “water down” or reduce the rigor of courses to prepare for this flood of diverse students.

Mark Guzdial recently has been discussing the reform of teaching practices at the college level. Is a class with reformed teaching practices less rigorous?

Maybe, but maybe not for the rigor of the content we actually care about. If you are measuring whether students can learn on their own, or absorb material from a lecture – then yes, traditional college instructional practice is more rigorous. ┬áBut in terms of the CS content?

We need to be careful that our self reflection of our learning process does not conflate good (r bad) instructional practice with rigor.

Inspired by: “Professors Shouldn’t Teach to Younger Versions of Themselves

Leave a Reply