Some Differences Between US and Canadian Universities
o A mix of private and public institutions
“Ivy League” are all private
State universities are all public
Have lots of undergrad and graduate programs
Not very many liberal arts universities
A bunch of small, unknown colleges and
o A clear cut ranking system
People, parents, and students know what the top
o Unequal resources
Well funded from rich people donating stuff
(money or buildings), faculty who can find
lots of research funding, etc.
Don’t get very much money, and the faculty
don’t really get research grants
o Students recruited and distributed nationally
Draw in students from all over the US and
Companies everywhere REALLY want
students from these universities
o No private universities
None of any significance. Might be a few religious
based universities, but they are very small.
o Resources distributed more equally
No hierarchy of money.
Funding is based on the number of students.
o Students recruited and distributed more locally
Students tend to go to universities near where
Employers tend to go for students from
universities in the area
o Universities are not ranked in the same way
There is a ranking (and stratification), but it is
less obvious and more easily disputed.
“UofT (or McGill) is the first among equals” Is this changing? MacClean’s Magazine Ranking
If we do change, we will look more like the US.
MacClean’s has their own scale for ranking universities, which
has become a pretty big deal.
Put out a new edition every year.
Distinguish between undergraduate, comprehensive (both
undergraduate and graduate), and medical/doctoral
o Library size
o Undergraduate marks
o Research funding
2008, UofT wasn’t first. McGill was. UofT tied for second with
Can be pretty controversial.
o The criteria
Example: Library book count shouldn’t make a
o “Un-Canadian to be ranking universities”
Is the international reputation of Canadian universities slipping?
Recently, international rankings have said that Canadian
universities are slipping from the top spots.
o The top six have slipped down in the rankings.
Asian countries have started funding their universities more
Might depend on enrolment, so if countries are expanding
their education system then more people will be able to enrol
Might this slippage be reversed by creating distinctions
between research and teaching universities?
o Unrealistic for all universities to be all things to all
students. Cant expect universities to excel at teaching
o Become like the Americans and have the universities
become more specialized.
o Right now, all universities are expected to do research,
and teach students at the undergraduate and graduate
o Not a big difference in the different programs that
different universities offer.
o In the US, they have universities (or colleges) that have
Undergraduate college near Boston focused
on entrepreneurship. If Canada did this, maybe the top universities
would reclaim their place in the international
o The creation of a major division between a few
universities to do more research than others. Leaving
the majority of universities to focus on undergraduate
Faculty will probably not like this because people
who become university professors were
occupationally socialized throughout their
education. They were taught there is more
prestige in doing research than teaching
(especially undergraduate), which is the dirty little
secret of universities.
Basically the majority of faculty will not want to
give up their research roles to focus on
o Another problem is that Canada would have to create a
two-tier system (private and public).
Few number of top tier schools.
Has the top, smartest students
Who come from high status backgrounds
Mediocre schools for the bottom tier
Has “average” students from “average”
o For the most part, Canadian universities just base
admissions off high school grades.
UBC has started all applicants to submit a
personal essay, and list their extra curricular
Laurentian has started specializing. They have 14
undergraduate programs, 5 graduate programs,
and 9 research programs.
Mining (good since Sudbury was based on
Might Teacher Expectations Influence Student Attainment?
Pygmalion in the Classroom
o A study of elementary students and their teachers.
o Done by Rosenthal and Jacobson
o Students were given an IQ test. In some schools, the IQ
score was accurately told to the teacher. For the
purposes of research, a random sample of 20% of all kids in each grade were selected, and misidentified to
teachers as being extremely talented.
o The teachers would make the assumption that their IQ
score actually meant something, and treat the higher
level students differently than those with lower levels.
o Findings suggest that falsely labelling some students as
having high IQs changes teacher’s expectations of their
ability, improving their test scores over the course of
the academic year
o At the end of the year, the students were given an IQ
test. Those who were identified as really smart scored
higher than the rest.
More than twice as high
o Very influential study, but only partially replicated
Teachers in later studies not persuaded that some
other students were unusually talented?
Time between initial and follow up tests not long
enough in replicated studies?
Some didn’t wait until the end of the year,
they did it at Christmas time.
Not enough time for the self-fulfilling
prophecy idea to take place.
o By grades 2 or 3, academic self-concept has been
forged, and not easily changed by teacher
The greatest change in IQ scores was mostly in
younger kids (specifically grades 1 and 2)
Even in the original research this happened
Students by grade 3 pretty much know if they are
a good student or not. A teacher treating them
differently probably wont really change this.
o Greater teacher expectations cannot compensate for
poor cognitive skills of students
Even if teachers have really high expectations,
their students may not be capable of fulfilling
If someone is naturally really stupid, a teacher is
not going to fix that.
o Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
If teachers expect a lot, then the students will do
If teachers expect nothing, then the students will
Ray Rist: Social Class and Teacher Expectations SES characteristics of kids determine their placements in
ability groups in kindergarten class
o All black school
o The teacher was using markers of social class to judge
the student’s capabilities for academic work
Kids in different groups treated differently by the teacher
o Divided the students up into 3 groups:
Sat in the front of the room
Came to school every morning wearing
clean clothes. Had neat hair.
Most respectful of the teacher.
Those with the lighter skin colours
More likely to be praised by the teacher
More likely to get instructions form the
Not overly promising
Sat at the back of the classroom
Came to school in the morning without
clean clothing, weren’t groomed, smelled
Those with the darker skin colours
Came from single parent families, on
More likely to be criticized by the teacher
More likely to get little instructions from the
Sat in the middle of the room
Over the course of the school year performance gap between
the three groups widened
o Kids in the front got smarter
o Kids in the back got dumber
Once assigned to ability groups, little mobility between them
happened. This extends into grades 1, and 2
o Basically once a student was assigned to a specific
group, it was very unlikely for them to move to a
Example: Kids from the back don’t move to the
front later, and kids from the front don’t move to
the back later.
Educational Inequality Among Students Over the last 50-60 years, educational attainments have
increased for basically everyone
o Less people went to university, or college
o Less people finished high school, more drop outs
o But even today, educational attainment is still strongly
linked to social backgrounds.
Happens in all countries, it would be very difficult
to find a society that goes against this trend.
Sociologists of education are still trying to figure
out why this relationship occurs
o Study by STATSCAN, the probability of having a
university degree in 2003 based on the educational
level of their father
23% of women over 30 years of age were likely to
have a university degree if their father didn’t have
47% of women 30-39 years of age were likely to
have a university degree if their father did
Basically if one’s father does not have a university
degree, they are unlikely to have one. This is true
for both males and females.
From this study it would appear that there is little
change in the importance of parental education
Functionalists would say that they agree
that back in the day schools sucked at
equality of opportunity. BUT today there is a
weakening influence of parental education
on their children’s educational attainment.
Has equality of opportunity been achieved in schools?
o Conflict Theorists think that schools struggle to provide
an equality of opportunity
Does social background (class, gender, and race/ethnicity)
matter for educational success?
Considerable and consistent evidence that educational
attainment is linked to parental SES (social class)
Original questions about equality of opportunity focused on
the social class of students.
How might persistent class effects on educational attainment be
o See article “Examined Life” by Malcolm Gladwell on
intranet o Students from high status backgrounds do better in
school even when IQ and measured ability are taken
o Not based on ability factors of learning
Doing well in school requires more than the ability
IQ and measured ability is only one part in trying
to determine who will go onto university
o Even amongst the most gifted students, their social
background still affected their educational attainment.
Only 25% went on to university
o Among men with identical IQs, those who came from a
high background had 4.9 more years on average of
schooling than those who came from more modest
o For students from modest or low economic
backgrounds, the lack of money can be a barrier to post
o The price of post secondary education doesn’t overly
matter in terms of the chances of different backgrounds
o Annette Larieu – “The Hidden Advantages of Class”
Middle-class parents more comfortable with
school than working-class ones
Working-class parents wanted their children
to do well in school though. They just didn’t
feel comfortable because of their own
experiences with the education system
Middle-class students do better in school that
working-class ones. Working-class students do
less well in school because they (and their
parents) are opposed to education (Paul Willis –
Cultural Resistance to Schooling)
Boys and their parents would make a
conscious decision to not make much of an
effort in school. Maybe even to quit school
as soon as possible, and get a job.
Working-class parents would refer to the teachers
as experts, and would rely on them for advice on
schooling for their children.
Middle-class parents saw themselves as equals to
the teachers, so they are more likely to intervene as an activist for their child. They aren’t shy when
requesting a specific teacher. More likely to take
time off to meet with teachers.
Basically how parents feel about school will play a
role in how their children will do in school.
Inequality Among Students: Gender
It used to be the case that girls were less likely to attend
university than boys, but not any more
o Today woman are more likely to go to university than
2003/4 : Women represented 57.7%
o Woman have a presence in each field
In some fields they are not the dominant
Example: Engineering, architecture, math,
and computer science
How might we explain this turnaround?
o Role of Feminism
Guarantees some kind of equality of opportunity
Has broadened social horizons for women.
Encouraged them to be more ambitious about
Higher educational expectations.
o Job market has transformed.
Women are entering more
professional/managerial positions that they were
previously barred from.
Examples: Law, and Medicine
Historically, women were found in teaching,
nursing, and social work.
Didn’t need a degree in the past.
Now these positions need a university
o Men are more likely to enter “blue collar” jobs that do
not require postsecondary qualifications
Despite the fact that women are better educated, men
continue to earn more money on average.
Usually has to do the type of fields that women
choose while in university.
Example: BA in English, BA in Sociology, or
BEd are unlikely to match the earnings of
someone who has a BSc in Engineering
Women are the only ones who can get pregnant. Businesses account for potential maternity
Women are the primary caregiver, more
likely to take time off to take care of sick
Race and Ethnicity, and Educational Attainment
Significant variations in educational attainment between racial
and ethnic groups:
o Overall, visible minority students perform better than
78% of white kids went to post secondary
62% went to university
87% of visible minorities went to post secondary
52% went to university
o Within the visible minority group, there are significant
variations in attainment:
Asian students: high attainment
40% with university degrees
Black and Hispanic students: medium educational
18% with university degrees
Aboriginal students: low attainment
6% with university degrees
How might these differences be explained?
o Immigration policy
Has targeted people who have higher levels of
Before the late 1960s immigrants to Canada came
from the UK, and Europe for the most part.
Didn’t typically have any significant amount
Didn’t bring positive attitudes towards
education with them
o Socioeconomic background of immigrants
In Asian communities, education tends to be
Have a home life that helps support doing
well in school
To find out how a student is doing in school,
sometimes looking at their home life is a good
Can schools make a difference? o Could compare the test scores of areas with schools, or
those without schools
These communities don’t exist.
o Can’t come up with a definitive answer to this question
o Do differences on test scores get larger or smaller
during the summer?
During the school year the gap between
high status and low status students gets
During the summer, the gap increases
This is correct, because schooling does get
rid of some of the advantages that higher
status students have.
During the school year, the gap between
high status and low status students gets
During the summer, the gap decreases
Already talks of shortening the summer by
rearranging the school year.
o School do make some kind of a difference in the gap
between lower status students and higher level
Gets rid of some of the advantages that higher
status students have.
Fractured Transitions from School to Work: revisiting the dropout
problem (Tanner, Hartnagel, and Krahn 1995)
Study of high school dropouts in Edmonton, Alberta
o Interviews with 168 male and female dropouts
Fairly successful at have an equal number of
males and females
Tried to have both people who found jobs, and
people who didn’t
Basically tried to have a bunch of people who
were all diverse.
o Research question: how oppositional are high school
Why did they drop out of school?
o Had a survey with open and closed ended questions
Open ended meant that students could give
basically as many responses as they wanted Without these open ended questions, they
wouldn’t have gotten the findings that they were
o Reasons for Dropping Out
School Based – 60%
Didn’t like school
Didn’t like a specific teacher
Didn’t like the curriculum
This is an indication of opposition or
rebellion against schools
They were shocked at how little
commitment the dropouts had to schooling
Job/Money Related – 16%
Family didn’t have much money, needed to
work to help support them
This became a problem because at one time
finding a part-time job was very easy and
could even be encouraged to drop out.
No one in this study answered saying
they quit school because they had a