Posts tagged Rigor
I had a stimulating conversation with a professor earlier this week about the nature and locus of rigor in an academic program. I asked for his perspective on rigor in his program, because I have been disappointed with the “you get out of it what you put into it” attitude adopted by some schools of education. While, as the professor pointed out, it’s certainly true that you benefit in proportion to your effort, it does not, in my view, put enough responsibility on the program itself to be rigorous. Students must rise to the challenges presented by the program, but the program itself must provide and structure challenges in such a way as to promote growth in the student.
Rigor cannot simply consist of overwhelmingly long and poorly written reading assignments. Nor can it consist purely of difficult exams that many students fail. Rigor is not a matter of mere difficulty or bulk, but of the quality of thinking that occurs and the resulting products. We discussed several ways to promote and identify rigor:
- Quality teaching, dedicated to continuous improvement
- Reflective writing, with cycles of feedback and revision
- Inquiry and debate, focused on important and difficult questions
- Change and maturation of ideas and writing ability in response to feedback
- Approaching problems or questions from multiple perspectives
Reflecting on this conversation several days later, I would also add to the above list a clear statement of expectations and standards for quality.
How would you describe or identify rigor?