Reflecting on Rigor

I recently attended a webinar on rigor in academia led by Robin DeRosa. Robin is the director of the Open Teaching and Learning Collaborative, here at Plymouth State University, and she was joined for the webinar by me (a CoLab Student Affiliate), Matthew Cheney (Director of Interdisciplinary Studies), and Martha Burtis (CoLab Associate Director). I am extremely glad to have attended this event, as I find academic rigor to be quite fascinating.

picture of woman smiling
CoLab Student Affiliate Natalie Smith

The thing I found most interesting during this event was how my thoughts as a student were quite different than those of faculty. On one hand, this makes sense as we are in two very different positions, but on the other hand we are dealing with the same things just from different viewpoints. I would’ve liked to think that students and professors were on the same page when it comes to this topic. However, it seems we don’t subscribe to the same form of rigor. Professors tend to say their rigor lies in grading, and tests. Whereas, with the students I have talked to believe their rigor lies in their passion.

On the same note, are the two ideas really that different? At face value, the way professors view rigor is far from the way students view it, but after a lot of reflection on my own rigor, I have come to think that the differences are complementary. Without professors being rigorous with their coursework, students wouldn’t feel as though they are being pushed and our passion would die out. We would start to lose our rigor. However, if professors are too intense with their rigor of grading and tests, students would feel as though they are overworked and burnout which would also cause our passion to fizzle out. I think that balance is the key to academic rigor. That students need to be pushed, but only to the extent that keeps their passion alive. The only way for everybody to succeed is to find our healthy rigor.

To watch the webinar, visit our Resource Page for the event.

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