The Seven Myths of Instructional Rigor

When searching through the #spnchat hashtag I came across the following article about instructional rigor. The article discusses the following seven myths of instructional rigor:

  1. Lots of homework is a sign of rigor.
  2. Rigor means doing more.
  3. Rigor is not for everyone.
  4. Providing support means lessening rigor.
  5. Resources equal rigor.
  6. Standards alone take care of rigor.
  7. Rigor is just one more thing to do.

Here are my comments regarding each of these myths:

  1. Lots of homework is more of a sign of busy work. If an instructor is assigning homework for every lesson they teach, depending on the difficulty of the homework, the students could either be drained from boredom or overwhelmed with work. Assigning several comprehensive assignments throughout the semester is more suitable.
  2. I could ask my students to solve a mathematical problem using a specific algorithm. They may find it challenging the first time, maybe even the second of third. But by assigning them large quantities of similar problems, the students eventually start to work through the problems on “autopilot” and begins not thinking and making careless mistakes.
  3. Without rigor, some students will not be motivated to learn. I could teach the least rigorous class ever. I could assign no assignments, students would not be required to participate in class, and there would be a final exam. Imagine how many students would be successful? Yes, some would…but most would not.
  4. If an instructor’s students are struggling, it does not mean they should lower their standards. Instead, they should be providing extra work, extended office hours, or additional workshops for their students.
  5. Bombarding students with books, journal articles, websites, blogs, and videos does not mean more rigor is occurring. If anything, the students are getting overwhelming with resources telling them the same messages over and over again.
  6. Well, as an instructor who is part of a union, I can say that if standards are put in place, instructors are not going to follow them. The holy term “academic freedom” overrides all standards put in place (at least that’s what many instructors believe). So, standards alone are not going to take care of rigor.
  7. Rigor is something that should be integrated into an instructor’s teaching. It is not something to introduce when a class is struggling. It is something that should always be done.



About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
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