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Mike2 comments on Two More Things to Unlearn from School - Less Wrong

55 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 July 2007 05:45PM

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Comment author: Mike2 12 July 2007 07:59:13PM 9 points [-]

Re: "Wait, do I really understand this? Maybe I'd better spend a few days looking up related papers, or consult another textbook," they'd fail all the courses they took that quarter. A month later they would understand the material far better and remember it much longer - but one month after finals is too late; it counts for nothing in the lunatic university utility function.

This line of thought reminded me of Robert Frank's The Economic Naturalist: "When students are given tests designed to probe their knowledge of basic economics six months after taking the course, they do not perform significantly better than others who never took an introductory course. This is scandalous."

I gather the goal of Frank's student assignments is to have them think, even if imperfectly, rather than to parrot well.

Comment author: pnrjulius 09 April 2012 06:00:17AM *  1 point [-]

I think we should do that testing on a random basis, and only the ones who pass actually get degrees. Retention is everything; fail to retain and you get no degree.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 09 April 2012 11:19:25AM 4 points [-]

You seem to be under the impression that modern college degrees are mostly certifications of knowledge rather than long, expensive, politically correct intilligence/conscientiouness tests. What gives you that idea?

Comment author: Swimmer963 09 April 2012 11:57:09AM 4 points [-]

Depends what your degree is in. I'm studying nursing, and it seems to me that the point of it is to finish with a licence, i.e. a piece of paper proving that you know how to perform a certain range of skills and can do so safely. (Actually, I guess that's the point of the provincial exam...the point of the degree itself is to prepare you for the provincial exam, but just graduating from a nursing program doesn't automatically give you a licence.)

I'm guessing this is true for engineering, too, and any other degree where you're going to end up doing a job that affects people's safety and survival. And I think it's true for a lot of community college programs. I don't know what percentage of all college and university degrees these kind of degrees represent, but it's non-zero.

To a degree, this is true of any technical/science degree. An industry lab would hire someone with a degree in chemistry, but probably not someone with a degree in English. So that does make the degree proof of knowledge, not just conscientiousness.