Monday, March 25, 2013

Dr. Karpanty's Pyramid Scheme

Last Wednesday, Dr. Karpanty provided direct insight into the practice of case based learning, based on her direct observation in the performance of her teaching pedagogy. While some may have gained understanding of the practice, I was left more confused than before the class began. One item of contention is the need for Teaching Assistants in the operation of the course. The claim was made that teaching cases is the wave of the future, where more professors will have to provide these learning opportunities to students. Do you see the problem?

Where are we going to get teaching assistants? The cost of education continues to increase while funding decreases. Is it safe to assume that Grad students will continue to multiply? 

My take is that this pedagogy is stacked pyramid scheme thinking. Sure, we can set up this type of learning environment, but it demands that we have access to skilled low cost labor, TA's. Then when these TA's become professors they too will have to have an increased crop of low skilled labor to enable competent practice. This is a system of exploitation, whereby the original professor is going to be a position to create more gain than the outer leveled professors or TA's. 

Lets go further. What happens when all of the good research gigs dry up and professors have to take on higher teaching loads, without TA support. If i'm teaching a 6x6, in what world will I be able to place 8 to 10 hours into every course hour? That means I may be spending 144 to 160 hours a week setting up my cases for class. In this scenario, I may get 24 hours to exist in all other areas of my life, that includes sleeping, eating, doing research, going to departmental meetings, and teaching classes. The time requirement does not make sense.

I'm sure students love this approach, but it is not feasible. This is a trap at best.

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