Fixing Dangerous Academic Intersections

The installation of a new stop sign at a campus crosswalk provided me the opportunity to reflect on what measures we should take to caution our learners as they traverse through our academic programs. Across any degree program, there can be several dangerous academic intersections that students have to move through as they matriculate. This may be a particularly difficult course or assignment that results in an inordinate number of failures, withdrawals, sick notes or counselling requests.

The challenge is how are we keeping track of these minor and major ‘academic accidents’ and how quickly can we react to mitigate the danger. While I would never advocate for simply removing academic challenges, it is important to reflect on whether we are requiring students to travel down a dark alley, where they are blind to the oncoming dangers, we have created, or should we install a stop sign that requires them to carefully look both ways and thoughtfully consider when and how to proceed.

Each time I approach these stops signs I now find myself reflecting on how can we determine where and when a stops sign may be needed.