Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rigor May Not Be The Right Word.....

Laura from OU Digital Tools responded to the previous post, and I responded to her, as well as adjusted my comment settings. (Thanks, Laura!)   In particular she noted the use of the term, rigor. Laura quoted the dictionary which had some interesting definitions and examples, such as severity of living conditions (the rigors of wartime), weather, or harshness, as well as scrupulous or inflexible adherence (the rigors of math.)

What I was trying to get at were the expectations of 'high standards' for students, as well as 'high standards' for faculty. All too often, I've seen courses in which little was expected from learners, less
from the instructor and not much connection fostered between them.

The Glossary of Education Reform has an interesting piece on the topic of academic rigor, including the notion that the term rigorous to describe 'learning environments that are not intended to be harsh, rigid, or overly prescriptive, but that are 'stimulating, engaging, and supportive.' Building and nurturing such environments takes effort, time and talent.  Where I work, we don't do a good job of training and developing the subject matter experts we hire to become the professional educators who create those environments.  One of my reasons to participate in Connected Courses and to blog about it is to foster those conversations among faculty, both full and part-time, academic and professional-technical, about tools and practices that enhance the teaching-learning experience.


  1. I like your reflection and the goal of advancing the professional development in your practice. I especially liked the quote. My kindergarten is run with an eye toward being "stimulating, engaging, and supportive" with all of the participants sharing in each of the roles.

  2. After my chat with Richard and Josipa I was also ruminating on this term "rigor." When I see young people who are passionately engaged in something they care about or that has real life relevance for them, I wouldn't necessarily use the term "rigorous." I think what is catching me up is that the term feels like its an externally imposed standard that is insisted on whether it is meaningful to the learner or not. I like your alternative definition though. I would like to take Josipa's call for more rigor not as an instructor raising the bar unilaterally, but as a call for us to do our part to foster a shared culture, values, and standards - not just hold up the yardstick!