The main content of my response to this exam question involves the development and assessment of effective educational practices in higher education. Also, I work in a research shop where we help institutions across the country identify what “effective educational practice” means on their campuses.
And yet, as I sit here completing requirements “toward the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Education at Large Midwestern University” (LMU), I can strongly and authoritatively express the following assertion that lies well within my area of “expertise” that I’m developing in this degree program:
This qualifying exam experience is NOT an effective educational practice.
“Effective” would indicate certain educational outcomes like a gain in knowledge I can use in the future, a tangible useable product, a synthesis of what I have learned produced in a manner that is useful to me, or a sense of growth that can be applied to future educational situations.
Instead, this is intellectual regurgitation. I’m doing exactly what the literature says is an amotivational, poor educational experience of moderate to low academic worth. And the ironic thing is that by the end of the day today, I will have written about 40 pages on good educational practice and the importance of engaging students in the learning process, promoting active learning, student-faculty interaction, blah blah blah. I hope I can use some of what I have written as part of my dissertation, but with the way the cards fell on this second question, that connection is more remote than possible.
And that’s too damn bad.
I suppose I did gain a few things in this experience: probably 5 pounds to be exact. Oh yeah, my office is clean (did I mention I cleaned my office??), and my tendonitis in my shoulders has probably returned…a throw back to my college days as a classical pianist. Educational gains, however, these are not.
At least it will be over soon. This is one of these hoops that we must go through to get to where we want to be eventually, I guess. It’s no wonder why the proportion of people in this country with Ph.D.s is so low that any of us pursuing one is considered statistically “deviant.”