University students learn skills, like programming, writing, and problem solving. Unfortunately, skills courses often don’t work very well. They have high failure rates. Even students who pass don’t learn what they should. Give them a task slightly different from the exercises in the textbook, and they’re stuck.
We can do better. Research tells us how to help students learn skills, but few universities use that knowledge.
Here’s what a good skills course looks like:
- Replace textbooks with higher quality online content. Content that’s about doing tasks, not memorizing.
- Embed exercises in the content. Writing, debugging, analyzing… no multiple choice. Every exercise is graded by a person. Students get feedback on what they did right and wrong.
- No lectures. Class time is for problem solving. Professors help students one-on-one.
- Fewer topics, in more depth. Spend time learning how to think, not memorizing more formulas.
How do we get there?
- Authors write high quality course content. They include exercises with grading rubrics. A rubric spells out what good performance means. For a writing exercise: good organization, on topic, good grammar…
- Authors sell course access, at a fraction of the cost of typical textbooks. Their courses are self-sustaining.
- Students work through courses, doing exercises, getting feedback, and going to class.
- Graders give feedback quickly and accurately, using “clickable rubrics” created by authors.
- Faculty help students when they’re stuck. They track student progress. They give exams.
- Students learn more skills.
The bottom line: students get more value for their money and time.
Like what you see? Take a look at what you can do.