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How Can I Manage the Disconnect Between Faculty and Student Perceptions of Rigor to Increase Learning?

Presenters: Lolita Paff, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Business and Economics, Penn State Berks

This course is worth 1 hour (0.1 CEU) of professional development. A certificate of completion can be printed once the program has been completed.


About this Course

Students and teachers don’t always define rigor in the same way. If you asked your students to define rigor, what would they say? Would their answers match yours? Would it matter if they didn’t?

Students tend to view the quality of a class as a function of their own ability to meet reasonable faculty expectations rather than as a function of mastery of learning outcomes. This can ultimately lead to students who are disengaged with the course material and unmotivated to meet expectations.

That’s why there’s tremendous value in initiating conversations with students about learning and how that relates to definitions of “hard” courses. In doing so, you’re better able to align your definitions of rigor with students’ definitions of rigor, and develop students who are more willing to put in the work and take responsibility for their own learning.

You’ll compare students’ and teachers’ definitions of rigor, explore the learning implications of mismatched definitions, and identify instructional strategies for bringing the definitions closer together.

Learning goals

Upon completion of this program, you’ll be able to:

· Explore your personal beliefs about what makes a class or program

· Understand common faculty-based vs. student-based definitions of rigor

· Apply methods for aligning students’ and teachers’ definitions

· Leverage active learning strategies that go beyond students’ typical study and learning strategies

Topics covered

· Definitions of rigor

· Strategies for bringing student definitions of rigor and faculty definitions of rigor closer together to advance learning

· Emphasizing learning, not grades

· Dispelling learning misperceptions

· Partnering and sharing control with students


This program will benefit faculty, deans, and program directors.