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Most people in higher education — widely assume prestigious colleges and universities provide the best quality education. That’s why employers often want to hire their graduates and why many parents want their children to attend them.

And the assumption partially explains the fascination from the media and others in recent years with massive open online courses from Harvard and Stanford and other elite universities: the courses were believed, to be of higher quality than all other online courses precisely because they came from name-brand institutions.

Researchers, Corbin M. Campbell and Marisol Jimenez of Teachers College and Christine Arlene N. Arrozal of Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, supported by a fellowship from the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation believe they are developing a legitimate way to compare the educational quality of courses across institutions. Their initial analysis, they say, “raises questions about the value of higher-prestige institutions in terms of their teaching quality.”

 How do the researchers go about trying to define and measure the quality of education?

By sending actual faculty observers into nearly 600 classrooms at nine colleges and universities with various levels of prestige and having them judge the teaching quality and academic rigor of the courses they offer, using a common rubric on which the observers have been trained for about 30 hours.

George S. Kuh, the Indiana University researcher  says “There is little to no evidence that what instructors do is a precursor to what students do or learn”


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