Do Professors Matter?

by Vadim Belogorodsky

When consumers buy large products such as houses, cars, and televisions, most likely some sort of “shopping around” and research is done before making the final transaction. Along with these large expenses, why should colleges be any different? And though, many people visit their college of choice before attending, do they really get a good understanding of what they are purchasing? One important criterion in any institution that goes un-tested is the professors.

This week, “Professors Matter, Too” by Matthew Chingos explained that professors are obviously integral to the teaching aspect, but not all professors are created equal. He discusses how vast the teachings are in the same courses at the same schools depending on the professors. A solution he found in one New York university and one community college in Glendale, California seems to be for all students to take the same final exam at the end of the class so that the department can analyze results. This will allow individuality between professors to teach in their own styles, but for all professors to have the same common goal. The teachers will all collectively design a final exam that they deem covers the important material from the course. Then each exam will be graded by a different professor than the one that taught the student. The professor who taught the student will have final say in the student’s final grade. This process seems to be working in both those schools where students are happy with the curriculum and exam grades have risen and hopefully more schools adopt this system.

In my time here at Widener, countless times I’ve heard “oh you have so-and-so, his tests are easy while another so-and-so gives hard exams” and therefore maybe a standardized final may be the key to organizing higher education from the bottom, up. It seems unfair to have multiple examinations when the goal of the university should be to teach the same material consistently to all students.

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