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    #246003 - 09/04/19 05:33 AM Which colleges have good teaching?
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    With my oldest child a high school senior and two other children in middle and high school, colleges are often discussed in our home. When a child asks "is X a good school?", I don't know how to answer that question other than to say how prestigious the school is, but prestige is largely a measure of selectivity (inputs) rather than value added.

    So how do you try to answer the question of which colleges have good teaching? We have been on some college tours. Student guides talk about the student-faculty ratio and average class size and about opportunities for research. A few have shared stories of professors who provided individual assistance when they reached out. I wonder how you get aggregate information about teaching quality, given that it will vary within a school and department.

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    #246004 - 09/04/19 06:15 AM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 665
    This was important to us as well. I am not sure about sources of “aggregate information” other than the usual; in other words, many of the ranking systems do have rankings for undergraduate teaching, though much of this is probably quite general and I would assume, based on student surveys.

    Some places do have strong reputations for undergrad teaching, either generally or in specific departments, but I guess some of that we just absorbed via osmosis during the long slog of researching places, kind of a “people say...”. However, one can ask about who specifically teaches, particularly the undergrad intro or required classes, how many classes/profs use TAs and in what capacity, etc. Also whether research and job opportunities are reserved for undergrads. Overall size, and specifically class sizes might help tease some of this out as well. DD was very lucky to have several classes with under 20 students her first year, which certainly fostered good teaching and strong relationships. (This was true even in an intro science class where she was accepted into a small (18 student) honors section that had more in-depth labwork, all taught directly by the prof).

    Teaching strength was certainly a factor in my DDs choices- she is at a school that focuses on undergrads and undergraduate teaching; TAs have minimal roles in teaching, being mainly used for grading help or running small sections of a class where more problem-solving help or lab help is required. All of her classes are taught by the professors (exceptions being TA help for labs, both in sciences and in language drill sessions, hands-on humanities things like music theory practicals, etc). There are grad students and several grad schools at her college, so students can take grad classes at these schools, but they don’t compete with grad students for research experiences- something else you can ask about, though finding hard data will probably not be possible.

    There are other informal measures of how undergrad teaching and the interaction between students and faculty is valued. DDs school has a program where a student (or group of students) can take one prof out to lunch each term, to a nice restaurant, paid for by the college, Some schools have musical groups that are comprised of mixed student/community members/faculty, so kids might play alongside their teacher(s). Housing systems can facilitate student/faculty engagement, with professors assigned to housing communities, living within or near the student housing, hosting dinners, lectures and outings for their assigned “house”.

    So, my advice is to ask lots of specifics, on the tour, in the information session, in departmental visits, ask students you see around campus. Other than general rankings, I don’t think this is something one can find online.


    Edited by cricket3 (09/04/19 06:36 AM)
    Edit Reason: Additional thought

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    #246007 - 09/04/19 06:48 AM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4224
    The Peregrine Inbound/Outbound assessments were said to be developed to measure "value added" by a college or university... but I do not know whether this has been broadly implemented.
    Originally Posted By: Peregrine Academic Services
    Academic officials benchmark student performance against specific aggregate pools and determine the value-added by the institution based upon the student’s academic experience using an Inbound/Outbound Exam assessment construct (programmatic pre/post-test) to determine initial knowledge levels and assess retained student knowledge, thus enabling academic institutions to establish the extent to which assurance of learning goals are being achieved.


    It could be that the concept is still in its infancy, and is currently onboarding smaller schools, or it could be that the assessment products will only used to measure basic level of skill in limited number of degree areas, for accreditation purposes, for smaller schools.
    Originally Posted By: Peregrine Academic Services
    Programmatic ASSESSMENT SERVICES are available for Business Administration, Accounting and Finance, Early Childhood Education, Healthcare Administration, General Education, Criminal Justice, and Public Administration academic degree programs.

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    #246009 - 09/04/19 11:51 AM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1528
    I was never taught by a TA. Only the professor. TAs ran tutorials and helped in the labs. Even the professor was in the lab, in my memory. But it was a long time ago. Maybe they were only in the labs sometimes.

    I remember that in my school, the profs had to publish in order to stay. Doesn't guarantee a good teacher. But was suppose to establish a certain level of knowledge, I think, if they were publishing.

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    #246010 - 09/04/19 11:52 AM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1528
    https://www.timeshighereducation.com/wor...es-for-teaching

    did you see this?

    Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, MIT, Cambridge top 5 according to the rankings

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    #246011 - 09/04/19 12:17 PM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Wren]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 665
    I guess I should choose words more carefully- I used TA rather loosely, though I know they do teach in some places, particularly labs; I meant to include grad students in the group of teachers that might be less-than-desirable (though certainly not all).

    That is an interesting list, but it is for world-ranked universities, so doesn’t include colleges or smaller universities- as Portia mentioned, often the focus in smaller places is on teaching.

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    #246012 - 09/04/19 12:57 PM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    Peony2 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 10/02/14
    Posts: 21
    Digressing from the specific question on good teaching to consider the wider topic of comparing how colleges and universities "add value" (rather than, as for most college rankings, focusing on the selectivity of their student inputs), I'll mention "The Alumni Factor", a website/set of college reports/book compilation of such reports.

    Because they're trying to make money off their alumni survey research, "The Alumni Factor" information is less transparent than I'd prefer. In particular, I can't evaluate how truly representative their alumni samples are (nor how up-to-date).

    But they seem to be asking interesting sorts of questions.

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    #246013 - 09/04/19 02:03 PM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1528
    This forum is so much about finding great education options for our kids as they progress through school. also, that they find like minded peers to challenge them, interact etc.

    Isn't that part of the college education experience? Not to just take a course and listen to some professor, but hear an exchange of ideas, have challenging discourse?

    And also have the labs and equipment? I don't think it is just about teaching the curriculum.

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    #246014 - 09/04/19 02:04 PM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Bostonian]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2031
    I keep thinking college is the same as our university. You go after high school and for the same reason. Then I read these threads and realise that they are not the same. No help really.

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    #246015 - 09/04/19 03:11 PM Re: Which colleges have good teaching? [Re: Wren]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 665
    Well, I think ‘good teaching’ can probably be defined somewhat differently by everyone. We certainly experienced that in discussions regarding high school teaching as well. Regardless, I don’t think anyone on this thread, at least, was defining good teaching as the delivery of curriculum. But again, the variability in how one defines it makes it pretty hard to measure or rank, IMHO.

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