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Retention shouldn't be top factor in teaching

Nov. 9, 2005


Every university wants its students to do well and graduate.

This information, often viewed in the form of retention statistics, is compiled for all colleges.

Whether it is intended or not, those figures are significant factors considered when potential students and faculty evaluate a school.

Baylor's retention rate for the 2004-2005 school year was 83 percent. Dr. Elizabeth Davis, vice provost for academic relations, said raising the retention rate is an initiative of Baylor 2012 and the university had set a goal for itself to reach a retention rate of 93 percent.

Ben Humeniuk | Lariat staff
To facilitate this improvement, a Retention Task Force has been implemented. It aims to address problems before students drop out of school.

While retention rates are important and this task force is a move in the right direction, faculty should not feel pressured by this new emphasis on retention to change the way they teach.

Davis said faculty were made aware of the retention issue because it was more than a student life issue.

But faculty should not be responsible for making sure every student passes every class.

The Retention Task Force's new tutoring program is in place to assist struggling students, so faculty shouldn't have to make many, if any, changes to their curriculum More than the task force's or faculty's responsibility, it is a student's responsibility to seek out help and devise a plan to work through tough classes.

Teachers shouldn't have to change their styles because of a high dropout rate or the results of end-of-course evaluations.

Things like the task force should help faculty improve, not make professors be easier.

Changing teaching standards is a backward way of improving retention.

Rather, the university should focus on recruiting students who can handle difficult classes.

Otherwise, it dilutes the school's academics.

Tutoring and preparation are the answer to difficult classes, not an course overhauls or a ceiling that blocks faculty from doing their jobs.