Here is an excellent piece by Auburn professor Jack Rotfeld on the temptation for professors to coast along, with all the material prepared for them by textbook companies. Easy, watered-down courses are just what most students want, of course, so we get a happy dove-tailing of interests.
Especially revealing is a personal experience of Rotfeld’s: His department head rebuked him for giving essay exams instead of going with the canned multiple-choice tests. Giving essays might lower enrollments and thereby reduce sales of the textbook — authored by the department head, of course.
Rotfeld writes, “since it it important to enroll a large number of students in the classes, we take notice that many students (customers) appear to like easy tests and classes that can be passed without taking lecture notes.”
Does anyone doubt that college standards are falling? And does anyone really think that these customer-friendly courses do much to impart useful skills and knowledge to students?