Education, School of
Journal or Book Title
New Directions for Higher Education
What is “hard” about college? The concept of academic rigor has been remarkably narrowly defined in contemporary higher education. Rigor is often equated with hard work in terms of the number of hours students spend studying or the quantity of assignments—or “piling on” a lot of work for students (Arum & Roksa, 2011). Alternatively, as derived from the recent K–12 standards movement in the No Child Left Behind act, rigor may be seen as an advanced level of curriculum (achieving mastery of prespecified content; for example, less rigorous algebra versus more rigorous calculus) (Matusevich, O'Connor, & Hargett, 2009). Yet, if we ask students what was “hard” about college academics—many other understandings may emerge—perhaps what was “hard” was maintaining one's identity while learning material that does not align with one's cultural values. Perhaps what was “challenging” was shifting basic assumptions that have been a core part of an individual’s experiences. Or, perhaps, the “rigor” was learning scholarly writing in a second language. Perhaps what was “hard” was learning to move from memorizing facts to analyzing and evaluating them—becoming a producer and interpreter rather than a consumer of information. Perhaps what was “hard” was coming to see oneself as an academic. All of these can be seen as a challenge of the academic experience at college—and resolving each of these challenges has been associated with student learning (Braxton, 1993; Castillo‐Montoya, 2017; Castillo‐Montoya & Torres‐Guzmán, 2012; Fries‐Britt, Johnson, & Burt, 2013; Neumann, 2014).
Wiley Online Library
Campbell, Corbin M.; Dortch, Deniece; and Burt, Brian A., "Reframing Rigor: A Modern Look at Challenge and Support in Higher Education" (2018). Education Publications. 90.
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