Academic Rigor Begins in the classroom

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

Academic rigor begins in the classroom.

Students must be challenged with intellectual tasks that grow in complexity as they progress from first to the fourth year. The tasks must be appropriate to the discipline but should involve solving problems and writing to develop analytical skills and technical competence. Such active learning must be incorporated into all seminar, lecture, and lab classes.

The mode(s) of testing and grading have a dramatic influence on student achievement and learning. Unannounced pop quizzes (short time and low per cent) have a huge impact on student learning by promoting timely engagement with material rather than last-minute cramming.

Faculty development efforts are the central key to enhancing rigor in the curriculum. Faculty must be convinced that it is worth their time and energy to devise these exercises and to provide these challenges to the students. Faculty also must have appropriate support in the form of undergraduate interns or graduate assistants so that the tasks/challenges can be graded, and appropriate feedback provided.