A Response from a Commenter

“Walker” isn’t happy with my post questioning the fact that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave money to an online university to evaluate its own performance (note: I accidentally deleted the comment after pulling the text from it for this post, so I replaced it exactly as it appeared before):

If you are going to have posts like this, it is hard to see how you can make meaningful statements about higher education.

Formal pedagogical studies require a lot of time and manpower. You have to have entrance and exit interviews (just to make sure that your performance does not come from selectivity bias). You have quantitative as well as qualitative studies. No university is going to hire people to do this when the market does not demand it. Yes, they do assessment, as is required by the regional accrediting bodies, but that assessment is never enough to constitute a formal scientific study.

People get funded to do pedagogical research all the time. It allows teachers to buy off their time (e.g. the university can hire additional, temporary manpower) so that they have the time to do the research. The results of these studies will go to peer-reviewed journals on pedagogical methodology. The university cannot just put out a report saying “we are great” and have that fly.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.