Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Small, Private Colleges Woo Veterans With Scholarships

NPR piece by Gloria Hillard - November 18, 2013

Many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking advantage of GI benefits to pay for higher education. But most are looking at large state schools or for-profit and online universities. Now, a new scholarship program in California focuses on veterans whose experiences and talents are better suited for smaller private liberal arts colleges.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Peter Brooks, Our Universities: How Bad? How Good? NYRB

In the March 24, 2011 issue of the New York Review of Books, literary scholar Peter Brooks reviewed four widely read books on higher education in an article titled "Our Universities: How Bad? How Good?" The books were Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa,Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—And What We Can Do About It by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus,Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities by Mark C. Taylor, and Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities by Martha C. Nussbaum.

Among other points, Brooks notes that (1) few of these critiques are new; (2) lots has been done over the decades, some with great effect, some not; (3) the education crisis is partly a surrogate for other crises in American society; (4) much of the allegedly at-least-semi-scientific criticism of higher education routinely fails to recognize the uniquely broad variety among American institutions of higher education; and (5) some of the criticism of higher education is misplaced, some disingenuously ideological, and some just "short on reasoned analysis and long on animus." Two brief quotes:
"If crisis there is, it surely has something to do with the larger crisis in American society: the increasing gap between haves and have-nots, the retreat from any commitment to economic fairness, the sense that the system is rigged to benefit a tarnished elite that no longer justifies its existence." 
"The result, I think, is a fair measure of bafflement and ressentiment, resulting in a kind of indiscriminate flailing about in criticism of the university, some of it justified, much of it misdirected, and some pernicious."

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Future with Only Ten Universities

"In 50 years, he says, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education and Udacity has a shot at being one of them."
Sebastian Thrun

Audrey Watters, who blogs at Hack Education gave a talk titled "A Future With Only 10 Universities" on 14 October at a pre-conference called "Minding the Future"* held at Mary Washington University.  Her spiel is to pose a dystopian future in which there are only 10 universities in the world, to speculate as to what they are, and then to suggest what the path to this future might look like.

I describe an alternative dystopian future in post on Majoring in the 21st Century, arguing that a likely future is one where small colleges become franchises of education conglomerates that are the descendants of companies like Pearson, Kaplan, McGraw-Hill, etc.

To give you a sense of her angle, here is her list:
  1. Oxford
  2. Cambridge
  3. Harvard
  4. MIT
  5. Stanford
  6. Princeton
  7. The University of Pearson (acquires Coursera, 2016)
  8. The University of Google (acquires Udacity, 2014)
  9. The University of Walmart (acquires University of Phoenix, 2017)
  10. BYU
Spoiler alert: she doesn't actually think this is an inevitable outcome.  There's a video of the talk on You-Tube (at 1:33:00).

* The conference description from YouTube post of the streamed video: "Across the nation, higher education has seen a recent flood of initiatives that seek to leverage the advantages of the "virtual" domain to improve affordability, degree completion rates, and educational outcomes. Many of these initiatives are being driven by calls to fundamentally change the landscape of higher education as we know it — but is this supported by thorough conversation or vision about what the new landscape should look like?

"To examine this question, the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV), a wide range of Virginia's public higher education institutions, and the Shuttleworth Foundation are sponsoring a two day event that will investigate these calls for disruptive change, and chart a path for Virginia public institutions to navigate the possibilities and challenges in the future.

"On Monday, October 14th, five thought leaders from multiple disciplines and professional domains will examine the issues, in light of the national landscape of higher education. A series of focused talks throughout the afternoon will be capped by a panel discussion dealing specifically with whether or not public institutions have their head in the sand when it comes to topics such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), distance learning, and the 'electronic delivery revolution.'"

Flawed Metaphor: Education Not Like Business

Evaluating and Assessing Short Intensive Courses

Two articles on the topic of assessing and evaluating short, intensive courses.  Most of the results appear positive in terms of learning outcomes, but there are a number of factors associated with variations in outcomes that appear worth paying attention to.
Using a database of over 45,000 observations from Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, we investigate the link between course length and student learning. We find that, after controlling for student demographics and other characteristics, intensive courses do result in higher grades than traditional 16 week semester length courses and that this benefit peaks at about 4 weeks. By looking at future performance we are also able to show that the higher grades reflect a real increase in knowledge and are not the result of a “lowering of the bar” during summer. We discuss some of the policy implications of our findings.

Altogether, we found roughly 100 publications that, in varying degrees, addressed intensive courses. After reviewing the collective literature, we identified four major lines of related inquiry: 1) time and learning studies; 2) studies of educational outcomes comparing intensive and traditional formats; 3) studies comparing course requirements and practices between intensive and traditional 
Scott and Conrad finish their literature review with several sets of open research questions suggested by their research:
  1. How do course requirements and faculty expectations of students compare between intensive and traditional formats and, if different, how does this affect the learning environment and student learning outcomes? 
  2. How do student's study patterns compare between intensive and traditional length courses?
Learning Outcomes
  1. How do pedagogical approaches compare between intensive and traditional length courses and, if different, how do these variations affect learning?
  2. How does the amount of time-on-task (i.e., productive class time) compare between intensive and traditional-length courses?
  3. How do stress and fatigue affect learning in intensive courses?
  4. Are intensive courses intrinsically rewarding and if so, how does that affect the classroom experience and learning outcomes?
  5. How do the immediate (short-term) and long-term learning outcomes compare between intensive and traditional-length courses?
  6. How do different student groups compare in their ability to learn under intensive conditions? For example, do older and younger students learn equally well in intensive courses?
  7. How does the degree of intensity influence student achievement? Do three week courses yield equivalent results to eight-week courses?
  8. How does the subject matter influence outcomes in intensive courses?
  9. Which kinds and levels of learning are appropriate for intensive formats?
  10. How do course withdrawals and degree completion rates compare between students who enroll in intensive versus traditional courses?
  11. How do intensive courses influence a student's attitude toward learning?
Optimizing Factors and Conditions
  1. What disciplines and types of courses are best suited for intensive formats?
  2. What type of students are best suited for intensive formats?
  3. What types of pedagogical styles and instructional practices are best suited for intensive formats? Must teaching strategies change for intensive courses to be effective?
  4. Can certain instructional practices optimize learning?
  5. Do learning strategies differ between intensive and traditional-length courses and if so, can students effectively "learn how to learn" in time compressed formats? In other words, can students be taught effective learning strategies for intensive courses that would enhance achievement outcomes?

See Also 

John V. Kucsera & Dawn M. Zimmaro Comparing the Effectiveness of Intensive and Traditional Courses College Teaching Volume 58, Issue 2, 2010, pages 62-68

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Three Articles on NACUBO Report on Endowments

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) publishes an annual report on the state of college endowments.  They pre-released some results recently, based on 206 responding institutions.  The full report with data representing more institutions is expected in February.

Documents from LAST YEAR's NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments (this year's not yet posted)

Click for Full Document
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Friday, November 8, 2013

How College Works (Harvard U Press 2014)

Teaching Unprepared Students: The Importance of Increasing Relevance

"Whether students arrive in your classroom underprepared (that is, their high school educational experience did not prepare them for the rigors of college work) or unprepared (that is, they are not ready to contribute and participate in your course on any given day), the way to help them is still the same."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Supporting Former Foster Youth Through College

from the New York Times...


See Also

Mills public policy graduate Nicole Hudley wrote her 2009 thesis on educational outcomes for former foster youth.

Entrepreneurship at Liberal Arts Colleges

From the Boston Globe...

With no grades or majors, Hampshire College, the Amherst institution with an alternative approach to higher education, seems an unlikely breeding ground for aspiring capitalists. 
But last week, the college announced the creation of a $1 million fund to encourage the “animal spirits” of would-be entrepreneurs among students and recent graduates. It’s called the Seed Fund for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the college will allocate $200,000 a year over five years to fund ideas that may lead to successful ventures. The fund will be managed by a small group of students, who will decide which business pitches deserve financing. 
“There’s no reason not to embrace entrepreneurship,” said Zilong Wang, who graduated from Hampshire in May, after creating a task force to examine creating a center for entrepreneurship at the school of 1,400 undergraduates. “With these structured resources, students will be empowered to take action.” 
The $1 million fund is the gift of a foundation run by Michael Vlock, a venture capitalist and 1975 graduate of Hampshire, and his wife, Karen Pritzker, a member of the Pritzker family of Chicago, one the nation’s wealthiest families.