Access to higher education continues to be an issue in Higher Education, but degree completion is a rising issue as well.
“…one-third of students from even privileged socioeconomic backgrounds—top half of the income distribution, at least one parent with a college degree—fail to graduate.Such students quit not because they lack funds, but because they lack motivation and interest.”
Why is motivation and interest a problem in the United States education system? In my opinion, it is because students are not being challenged. Yes, students have assignments, comprehensive exams, and deadlines which are supposed to prove that they have mastered course material which can be hard to balance However, all this proves is that students are able to regurgitate and memorize information. For some disciplines it is necessary and acceptable that students memorize course material such as the STEM fields. Although I do not believe that students are taught properly in how to engage in the K-12 system or within undergraduate curriculum.
One of the main issues is “teaching to the test” when educators are expected to cover specific material in a short amount of time in order to prepare students for standardized testing. Freire’s (2012) “banking” concept explores the idea that students do not have the ability to critically think in class because they are expected to memorize information, rather than question it (p. 72). The idea that faculty are doing students a favor by passing along their knowledge is done to maintain control and seen as a “false generosity” (Freire, 2012, p. 44). It is no wonder that students lack interest in their courses. Within my core curriculum for my undergraduate degree I had some opportunities to engage in class, but my elementary and secondary education was focused on standardized testing. For the first time I found that I was coming to my own conclusions and thinking for myself after I enrolled in graduate school.
Within my academic program I have been taught to challenge and question my instructors and peers. Course material is no longer seen as black and white and class discussions no longer incorporate the idea of right and wrong answers. More importance has been placed on providing evidence from course readings and experiences to support my answers. So my question is how can educators engage students at all levels of education when standardized testing is the motive for students to do well?