Dutch Academia: how to kill work ethic?


One of the aims of vocational education is to foster the student’s work ethic: the dedication or devotion to one’s occupational tasks. The student is to develop a proper Arbeitsethos, as they call it in German. But Dutch universities rather tend to kill their students’ work ethic. That is the proposition I will elaborate here.
In the first section I will discuss the way Dutch universities treat part-time students, who want to combine study with a paid job. In the remaining four sections I will discuss the way the study tasks are being organized. Work ethic is about doing a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. Students hope to be assigned feasible study tasks. They hope to get a fair study load, given the time they are able to invest into their study. And they hope their invested study time will yield optimum learning gains. On that basis a proper work ethic can be maintained and promoted. I shall explore whether Dutch universities create that basis, or at least try to do so.
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2 reacties op “Dutch Academia: how to kill work ethic?”

  1. Post script IV: on quality assurance
    In my first post script, I mentioned the three tasks of Dutch faculty. Since 2003, the quality of teaching and assessment is supervised by a national accreditation agency (NVAO). Especially the quality assurance concerning student assessment is scru­tinized: can we be quite sure each graduate has met the minimium requirements set for the diploma? That is an additional factor giving rise to harsher decision rules concerning, exams, resits, invalidation of credit-points, and propaedeutic selection. Rather be draconic judges of student performance, squander student time, and demoralize students, than be accused of lenience and hazard the holy standards of the Dutch university diplomas. This line of thought will sanctify the policies described in the sections 3, 4 and 5 of my paper.

  2. In HanzeMag (10/10/2012 p.26) appeared another article on the study ethic of Dutch higher education students. Only 34% of Dutch students try to get grades as high as possible, whereas it is 55% in the rest of Europe. Three explaining factors stay out of sight: (a) a Dutch pass grade (6 on a 10-point scale) is considered to be satisfactory, whereas in some other countries one can pass with lower grades (a dubious D on a ABCDF scale); (b) eligibility to next modules or tracks does not depend on higher grades earned, but on modules passed; (c) in a Dutch study career it is more profitable to earn 6-grades in honours courses (or in difficult optionals) than to earn higher grades in regular courses (or in easier optionals).
    UPDATE ad (a): Sas Harrison (TUDelta 30/10/2012) points out that in English H.E. there is a big difference between ‘pass’ and ‘satisfactory’.