Saturday, January 20, 2007

Treating students as customers: corrupt and corrupting

CoreEcon draws attention to this essay by the dean of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Ed Snyder. Quoting Snyder:

Redefining the relationships between business schools and their students as customers has become the norm over the last two decades. We probably got to this point because―somewhere during the last 28 years of above-inflation tuition increases―our predecessors felt better telling those to whom we charged increasingly large amounts that they were not mere graduate students, but customers.
. . .
One problem. The model is corrupt and corrupting.
. . .
If we get the right balance of stretch and support, then we move to a more productive equilibrium, in which students put more in (because they feel both challenged and supported) and they get more out of their experience.

No one should think that I advocate a return to Stalinism. Abandoning the customer model doesn’t reduce the pressure to innovate. It doesn’t prevent us from investing in global career support. However, getting rid of the customer model does mean that every time our students refer to themselves as customers, you can avoid the trap and instead move to surer, higher ground. It causes our jobs to shift toward setting expectations and asking more of your students.

I have expressed similar thoughts here and here. See, also, the additional insights provided by SCSUScholars, The EclectEcon, and The Economist En Su Laberinto.



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