To what extent do we give them what they NEED? what they WANT?
These questions permeate many other discussions of education.
Rather than discuss this profound issue I will discuss a fictional example.
- A dept offers one section of Operating Systems (henceforth OS) in the fall and one section in the spring.
- The same dept also offers one section of AI (henceforth AI) in the fall and one section in the spring.
- They notice after a few years that the OS tends to underfill and the AI course tends to overfill.
- Hence they switch to offering OS in the Spring only, and AI is offered two in the fall and one in the spring.
- Over time more students take AI and less take OS. Some of this is interest but some is that AI is easier to fit into a schedule since its always offered and has two sections in the spring.
- All of the teachers are excellent (remember this is fictional) so the quality of teaching is not the issue. The courses are of equal difficulty so this is not the issue. The courses have the same prerequisites so this is no the issue.
- The next hiring season they decide to hire someone in AI since they need the teaching help.
AI is more important than OS.NOR did they mean to send the message
We will let the students decide what is important.But the department ended up sending both messages. What should the dept have done? For one they should DECIDE if this is okay with them--- is AI more important than OS? Or more directly, is it okay that students graduate without having a course in OS as long as they've had a course in AI? They may decide YES- and that would be fine. If they decide NO they could restructure the requirements OR have the advisers give that advice OR just offer less sections of AI.
Does your department fall into this trap--- ending up giving student's opinions more sway then you intend?