PLTL and the Goals of Higher Education
Introductory science courses are frequently viewed as hurdles to be cleared on the way to the more important and more interesting courses. Faculty may see themselves as gatekeepers, identifying students who are capable and allowing them access to the advanced courses. Tobias & Raphael (1997) point out that a professor of introductory physics may view the course as covering important concepts in motion, optics, mechanics, and so on. But for students, the course consists of problem sets, lab reports, quizzes, and a final exam. They go on to say that this difference might not matter except for the fact that the two perspectives can be in conflict. When a student has to make decisions about how to spend time and energy, or where to put in extra work, the grade value involved will probably play a larger role than intrinsic interest in the material.
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