“A lot of science faculty have seen themselves as gatekeepers,” said Marco Molinaro, an assistant vice provost here at Davis and director of its effort to overhaul science courses. The university has received grants from the Association of American Universities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.
Rather than try to help students who falter in introductory classes, he said, “they have seen it as their job to weed people out and limit access to upper-level courses.”Does anyone in science see themselves as "gatekeepers" or try to actually "weed people out" and/or "limit access to upper-level courses"?
I am sure there are TAs or professors on power trips who love to intimidate young students, but it seems to me that the majority of educators of undergraduates try to help students as much as possible. Maybe I am wrong, but I see gates as far more implied than explicit and far more inferred (and/or imagined?) than actual. I could be wrong, though.
So, prove me wrong. Readers, have you ever heard a professor or a dean (not a TA) explicitly say "We are trying to weed students out" or an equivalent statement?*
*This is of a piece with my assertion that "look to your left, look to your right" is essentially an urban legend and very few people have actually heard that sentiment expressed by a professor in a classroom.
UPDATE: As a professional in the field, Thoreau has an opinion on the matter. Worth a read, especially since I don't think about the logistics of upper-level undergraduate classes. I'd also like to know -- who is supplying this 'sweet, sweet pipeline money'? (Thoreau's answer: NSF.)
UPDATE 2: See Arr Oh talks about strict grading standards for teaching a freshman chemistry laboratory.