Friday, January 20, 2012

Stop Letting High-School Courses Count for College Credit

A friend sent this link to a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, "Stop Letting High School Courses Count for College Credit." For you A.P. Psychology teachers, I thought you might find Michael Mendillo's perspective interesting. I found it alarming. His basic premise is that high school courses cannot provide the richness of experience or expertise that is found at the college level. Here is a passage from the article:

"Lost to these nonscience students is an exposure to cutting-edge science and the methods of science taught by professors active on a daily basis in their exploration of nature. In how many AP classes in high school does the physics instructor say, "At the last American Physical Society meeting, one of my students presented a paper on this very topic"? Or, in an astronomy class, "My upcoming observations using the Hubble Space Telescope will address this dark-energy issue"? Identical scenarios exist, of course, for science and engineering students who miss out on university-level introductions to the humanities and social sciences taught by active scholars in those areas."

The problem I have is that he is assuming that all college faculty are "active scholars." I don't mean any disrespect to college faculty, but not everyone is teaching general education courses at a research institution or has the opportunity to look "through the Hubble telescope" as it were. It also seems that many general education classes are taught by adjunct professors or lecturers that may not be engaged in the type of scholarship that he is describing.


If you have time, you'll find the link to this article below. I'd be interested in your thoughts of Michael Mendillo's position of the value of Advanced Placement courses in high school.

http://chronicle.com/article/Stop-Letting-High-School/130183/















Kristin H. Whitlock

7 comments:

Mr. Klein said...

Interesting premise. Although, it definitely irritated me when I was in a class and a professor started talking about a book s/he was publishing, or some conference an assistant of her/his attended and received some award. Lastly, I took AP classes in high school that allowed me to move on to a higher, more specialized class quicker in my undergraduate. Instead of having to spend another semester in a Psychology class, I was able to take a specialized Sociology class about inequality in the US. Also, some of the AP classes (and the AP test that accompanied those classes) were more difficult than the credits I was paying 4x as much.

Emily (AP Teacher) said...

The premise seems to be that there are no advanced students in introductory classes. However, unless he wants to completely get rid of AP there are still going to be students who already know all the information and would be in his "honors" version classes.

This is the same argument that some teachers use about why we shouldn't offer more AP classes - if we do then all the "good" kids will be out of the regular track classes and they will suffer. But if you don't separate them out, won't they be held back?

I personally think (and of course as an AP teacher, I'm completely biased) that students get a richer experience in many high school AP classes than they do in a college intro course with scores of other students. The difference between manadatory 5x/week meetings for a long period of time (a year in my case) allow us to go way more in depth into content than you can do in a MWF lecture for 50 minutes for a semester with 200 students.

If he's so hung up on the credits, make students take a specific number of credits overall to graduate that AP can't count for so they actually take more in their major - but please don't make them retake a class that they already worked hard to get a "5" on...

Craig G said...

A response essay was published by the Chronicle on the 17th. You can find it here:
http://chronicle.com/article/AP-Courses-Are-the-Equals-of/130370/

Lark- AP Psychology Teacher said...

I am an AP Teacher, and have also been involved in the Presentation of papers at various conferences when I was a college student. I did not do that in an introductory course. I was a senior and ready to graduate. The knowledge that my professor had students engaged in research, or that he himself attended academic conferences, at an introductory level, did nothing for my experience at that level. The premise that an AP course should not count for college credit is absurd, as all AP courses do is introduce students to the richness of a topic at a collegiate level, in the same way a 1010 or similar course does on campus. It prepares students for more academic experiences that upper division courses offer, by giving them the basic knowledge to move forward. AP courses are not designed to be upper division, which is where advanced research, and enriched content are part of the experience.

Kelsey Seward said...

I couldn't agree with you more. I am currently a psychology grad student and I took a high school psychology course (we didn't have AP psyc) and then took psyc 101 in undergrad. I have to tell you, my high school course was much better! I can only imagine how much more thorough it would have been if we had had AP psychology. The entire (college level) psyc 101 course was a boring review for me. Also, I think you make a valid point that not all psyc professors are on the cutting edge of research. There are also high school psyc teachers who do stay up to date with research (even if they do not conduct the research themselves).

Melissa Hariwn said...

I like this response to this:

http://chronicle.com/article/AP-Courses-Are-the-Equals-of/130370/

Anonymous said...

While I don't disagree with some of the comments, I think it's worth some insight from the author. I happen to work with Mr. Mendillo's daughter (a science teacher), with whom I recently had a conversation about AP exams. Mr. Mendillo observed AP science courses while writing the article. And in his original article, he praised the teachers and discussed the rigor and content he saw being taught in those courses. However, the editors of the publication chose to cut out those parts of the article. While I do not want to denigrate AP courses, as I myself teach one, if colleges are finding that students are not prepared for higher level courses, then they should be able to create courses that match their students' needs. College schedules, styles of teaching, etc. can be a transition of high school--even from AP courses--and many students need a supportive, scaffolded process to make that leap. When I was a freshman in college, I chose to retake a course for which I had received AP credit because I was not sure I was ready to go to the next higher level. Many students may not have the self-cognition to make that judgement for themselves. In addition, I had many AP credits and was not afraid to lose a few. Other students may feel pressure to retain credits and not make such decisions that are better for their education.