Friday, November 04, 2011

Keeping students in a tough field

Everyone, including the President, thinks we need to graduate more engineers. But the dropout rate is double that for most majors. The causes include some obvious ones - STEM fields are tough and students often under-prepared - and some I would not have thought of, such as that grade inflation has made humanities degrees an easier route to a high GPA. This article recommends more innovative approaches to the "death march" first and second years, including more project-based learning.
COMMENT: I went to USC totally unprepared, and left Aerospace Engineering after getting a 2 on a 100-point calculus test. There were freshman projects, but I didn't get that far. I have always thought there was more one-on-one guidance and interaction needed: accept fewer students, give them more help, and you'll end up graduating more. But no one asks me.

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