How do we achieve Academic Rigor?

The term “academic rigor” has been perambulating its way through educational circuits, but many teachers are not familiar with the concept or how to support rigor within their classrooms. Understanding rigor is essential for understanding how to approach and measure student learning. It questions the standards we demand from our students and reconsiders exactly what we consider as a true achievement.

“Rigor,” in the academic sense, is referring to that fine line between challenging and frustrating a student. It means that students are challenged to think, perform, and grow to a level that they were not at previously. It means that students must work, like an athlete at a team practice, to build their skills, understanding, and thinking power so that they can achieve at higher and higher levels. It means that the standards of the course are calibrated so that students are compelled to grow but are not frustrated and overwhelmed in the process.

2006 Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium Unicoi State Park and Conference Center April 14-15, 2006
TASK: In preparation for the Academic Affairs Faculty Symposium, the organizers invite you to share with fellow participants some brief reflections on the concept of academic rigor. We would appreciate receiving by Friday, April 7th, your perception of academic rigor, your personal experience with academic rigor as a teacher or student, and/or your thoughts on what faculty and the University should do to promote rigor in our academic programs

Essay ID:284912

I believe that academic rigor is achieved when students feel that their main goal is to learn something that will be useful in their future lives and instructors feel that their main goal in the classroom is to teach something that will stick with the students for years. This is in contrast to students wanting foremost good grades and to graduate with a diploma and instructors wanting good evaluations and to survive the semester.

How do we achieve academic rigor? I was once told that students don’t cheat in classes where they feel that their instructor is a real person who is interested in their success. They only cheat in classes that are impersonal. I think that this is the first step. Beyond this, the instructor must be passionate about the material, showing the students how it should matter to them, and challenging them to understand it.