Unequal Classrooms: Online Higher Education and Non-Cognitive Skills

Jennifer M. Morton, Nov 08, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Jennifer Morton has won an APA prize for a series of articles along the same lines, though sadly this is the only one that is open access. This is ironic as much of her work revolves around the idea of teaching in conditions of scarcity, and it looks (for example) at the cultural transformations students from low-incomes need to undergo as a part of progression into a higher class. In the current paper she pursues similar themes, arguing "a bricks-and-mortar college education bestows not just cognitive skills and mathematical, historical, scientific knowledge, but also non-cognitive skills... for example, the social and emotional abilities required to connect and talk to people from different backgrounds, the confidence needed to have an intellectually rigorous conversation with an intimidating adult, or the resoluteness to overcome one’s shyness and be able to articulate a position in front of a group of peers." It's not that the students lack these skills, rather, the skills they have are appropriate for their previous (lower class) communities. Read more from Jennifer Morton on her web page (including, if you're wealthy, more of her articles)

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