Monday, April 28, 2014

Higher Education Organizations Go to Bat for Unpaid Internships

Several higher education organizations are lobbying for colleges and universities to be the arbiter of what makes for a valid unpaid internship experience. In other words, they are advocating a return to the status quo that led to the problem in the first place.

The more troubling aspect of the story it is a part of the continuing corruption of "experiential learning" by making it synonymous with "outside the classroom" and meaning by that work in off-campus organizations (whether they be for- or non-profit).  This discredits the value of the classroom and it undermines the transformation of what we do in the classroom by including more experiential work there.

The most prominent of them is the American Council on Education (ACE). Conspicuous by their absence from this list: AAC&U and CIC.  Several top universities have stopped offering academic credit for unpaid internships.

Ostensibly the six organizations have proposed something similar to the government standards: unpaid internships are OK if it benefits the intern rather than the company/organization. They pitch it as "let us regulate ourselves with finesse rather than be subject to clumsy government standards," arguing that a well run internship program won't have problems.... Absent is recognition that well-run internship programs are rare. And there is an obvious explanation: it takes a lot of work and who is going to pay for it?

And no one even mentions institutions collecting tuition for credits earned in unpaid work for external organizations.

Higher Ed Positions in the Bay Area


DeanArts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Chabot-Las Positas Community College District

The Dean is a management position designated by the Board of Trustees of the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. The incumbent is responsible for the satisfactory completion and/or coordination of the listed duties and responsibilities either directly or through administrative review. The incumbent is charged by the Board of Trustees with the satisfactory implementation of Board policy, District and College procedure as applicable to the position. In addition, the incumbent is expected to participate in the formulation of District and College policies by making appropriate recommendations for improvements or additions in policy or procedure through his or her reporting authority and/or by serving on College- and District-wide committees. 

Under general direction of the Vice President of Academic Services and through the process of shared governance, the Dean will administer the College program in the assigned instructional division. The incumbent will develop, direct, manage, and evaluate the curriculum and instruction, including the faculty and other personnel, and the facilities comprising that division. The Dean also provides administrative oversight of the college's Art Gallery, and Little Theater.

Location: Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94545
Pay Rate: $112,870 - $134,090/annual
Posting Date: 04-24-2014
Closing Date: 05-22-2014

Dean of Student Services, Student Support Programs

Chabot-Las Positas Community College District

The Dean of Student Services, Student Support Programs is a management position designated by the Board of Trustees of the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. The Dean is responsible for the satisfactory completion and/or coordination of the listed duties and responsibilities either directly or through administrative review. The Dean is charged by the Board of Trustees with the satisfactory implementation of Board policy and District procedure as applicable to the position. In addition, the Dean is expected to participate in the formulation of District policies by making appropriate recommendations for improvements or additions in policy or procedure through his or her reporting authority and/or by serving on District-wide management councils.

Location: Las Positas College, 3000 Campus Hill Drive, Livermore, CA 94551
Pay Rate: $112,870 - $134,090/annual
Posting Date: 04-24-2014
Closing Date: 05-22-2014

Director - UCB Retirement Center (7399U), #17638

UC Berkeley - Main Campus

The University of California, Berkeley, is one of the world’s most iconic teaching and research institutions. Since 1868, Berkeley has fueled a perpetual renaissance, generating unparalleled intellectual, economic and social value in California, the United States and the world. Berkeley’s culture of openness, freedom and acceptance—academic and artistic, political and cultural—make it a very special place for students, faculty and staff.

Berkeley is committed to hiring and developing staff who want to work in a high performing culture that supports the outstanding work of our faculty and students. In deciding whether to apply for a staff position at Berkeley, candidates are strongly encouraged to consider the alignment of the Berkeley Workplace Culture with their potential for success at

Executive Director, Institutional Research and Planning

Foothill-De Anza Community College District

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District is currently accepting applications for the management position above.

Reporting to the Vice Chancellor of Technology, the Executive Director of Institutional Research and Planning is responsible for providing leadership for institutional research throughout the district including the development, implementation and updating of the Institutional Research Master Plan. Plan, organize, design, coordinate, supervise and implement comprehensive institutional research and planning projects to provide information about the District’s organization functioning, its students and programs. Support and coordinate the development and maintenance of an institutional strategic planning process; plan, design and conduct research to meet compliance with state, federal, district and college requirements and accreditation standards; insure accuracy of state and federal reports on student outcomes. Establish effective working liaison with all District departments and divisions, providing assistance, which will enable the District to improve its effectiveness in meeting the educational needs of its students.

Required Documents: Resume
Number of Working Months: 12 Months
Salary: $120,080.13-$132,382.42 annually
Close Date: 6/4/14

Director of Development

Golden Gate University 

SUMMARY: The Director of Development is responsible for meeting the fundraising goals by securing major and leadership gifts (including campaign) for the assigned schools within the university. The Director of Development reports to the Vice President of University Advancement, and works closely with the Deans of assigned schools to provide direction and assistance with development activities.

Deadline Open until filled
Date Posted March 14, 2014
Salary Commensurate with experience

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Open Education Resources I

THIS, from
Dartmouth College Library Labs

Open Educational Resources: New Initiatives for Creation and Discovery

Open Educational Resources, or OERs, include full works like textbooks, as well as smaller units of content that can be repurposed as needed for the learning goals of a course. These are key resources for new approaches to course design and delivery, particularly but not limited to, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). The creation and discovery of OERs has been forwarded by initiatives involving librarians, computing experts, instructional designers, and faculty.  They are enabled by Creative Commons licenses. Here are a few notable examples of technology platforms that make it easier to create OERs, initiatives to support that creation, and discovery services specifically for OERs:
  • Rice University’s Connexions provides a platform including a content management system, an XML structure, and content on which to build, which they call “modules” and “collections”.  Connexions provides tools for writing and assembling content, and content on which to build, licensed for that purpose.
  •  Lumen Learning, founded by David Wiley, BYU Business School, offers support for faculty to work with and develop OER content, and provides consulting services for institutions to help plan for incorporating OERs.  David Wiley explains why in his TED talk:
  • The Open Education Initiative at UMass Amherst, started in 2011, provides funding for competitive grants to faculty to develop content.  Faculty can use a variety of platforms to develop content, but first learn about resources for finding existing content, and about licensing to make the material reusable.
  • Open Textbook publishing at Oregon State University involves the Library, the OSU Press, and the OSU Extended Campus Open Education Resources Unit, and provides funding for competitive grants to faculty to create open textbooks. See OSU Request for proposals for details on the program.
  • The Open Textbook Library is the result of a new project at the University of Minnesota focused on enhancing discoverability and peer review of OERs, including open textbooks.  David Ernst, University of Minnesota Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Resources, and Executive Director of the Open Academics Textbook Initiative discusses this in his TEDx talk:
  • Flat World Knowledge includes a catalog of resources, and an online editor so faculty can customize materials; it still offers affordable options but no longer completely free access.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The "Seven Sisters" Class of 1968

The New York Times is "celebrating" its digitization of its 1964 issues with the occasional article from "50 years ago this week." This piece from when admissions to selective east coast women's colleges was a news item.  Note that acceptance rates at half the schools have gone down but half remain at about the same levels they were 50 years ago.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Real "Competencies" for the 21st Century

Music to my ears. Sarah Lawrence, long known for its innovative approach to liberal arts education (still using narrative evaluations - something we could adopt at Mills to great effect IMHO), crafts a simple response to assessment madness and places it where it should be: at the student-advisor nexus.

Imagine: six goals that are about skill not ideological content; evaluated every semester in every course; tracked over time by student and advisor. Throw all the rest of the baroque apparatus away and get on with educating.
H/T to Mark Henderson

Play audio at MarketPlace Education

At Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., about ten students — all women but one — sit at a round table discussing Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey.” 
The 88-year-old college has a reputation for doing things differently. Most classes are small seminars like this one. There are no majors. Students do a lot of independent projects. And grades aren’t as important as the long written evaluations professors give every student at the end of every semester. It’s no surprise, then, that professor James Horowitz is skeptical of any uniform college rating system, like the one being proposed by the Obama administration.
“The goals that we are trying to achieve in instructing our students might be very different from what the University of Chicago or many other schools or a state school or a community college might be striving to achieve,” Horowitz says.
The Obama administration is due out this spring with details of its controversial plan to rate colleges on measures like value and affordability. The idea is that if students can compare schools on cost, graduation rates and even how much money students earn after they graduate — colleges might have to step up their game. Especially if, as proposed, poor performers risk losing access to federal financial aid.
All that, naturally, makes colleges just a bit nervous. Sarah Lawrence is fighting back with its own way of measuring value. The faculty came up with six abilities they think every Sarah Lawrence graduate should have. They include the ability to write and communicate effectively, to think analytically, and to accept and act on critique.
“We don’t believe that there’s like 100 things you should know when you graduate,” says computer science professor Michael Siff, who helped develop the tool. “It’s much more about are you a good learner? Do you know how to enter into a new domain and attack it with an open mind, but also an organized mind?”
Faculty advisors can use the results to track students’ progress over time and help them address any weaknesses. A student who’s struggling with communication could take class with a lot of oral presentations, for example, or make an appointment at the campus writing center. 
But Siff says the tool is also about figuring out what the college can do better.
“This tool will allow us to assess ourselves as an institution,” he says. “Are we imparting what we believe to be these critical abilities?” 
So how is the school doing? So far there are only data for two semesters, but on every measure seniors do better than juniors. Sophomores do better than freshmen. 
Starting next fall, advisors will meet with their students at the beginning of each semester to talk over their progress. In sort of a trial run, Siff goes over the results so far with one of his advisees, junior Zachary Doege.
On a scale from “not yet developed” to “excellent,” he’s mostly at the top end. Doege says he likes seeing his own growth. 
“I think the thing I like the most about this is just the fact that I can look back at how I was doing in previous semesters and sort of chart my own progress,” he says. “Not comparing me towards other students—just me to myself.”
That’s a different measure of the value of an education than, say, student loan debt or earnings after graduation — the sorts of things the Obama administration is considering as part of its ratings plan. Students and parents are right to ask if they’re getting their money’s worth, says the college’s president, Karen Lawrence. After financial aid, the average cost of a Sarah Lawrence education is almost $43,000 a year.
“People are worried about cost,” Lawrence says. “We understand that.”
And they’re worried about getting jobs after graduation. But she says the abilities that the new assessment measures—critical thinking and innovation and collaboration—are the same ones employers say they’re looking for.
“We think these are abilities that students are going to need both right after graduation and in the future, and so it could be an interesting model.”
One she hopes other schools will take a look at as they figure out how to answer the national debate about the value of college.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Proposal: Two Years of Free College for All

A recent paper by Sara Goldrick-Rab and Nancy Kendall suggests the actual policy goals of federal financial aid might be better met by redirecting it away from private institutions and toward support of two years of free education at state institutions. 

The authors argue (among other things) that private institutions are subsidized but actively resist accountability measures to which public institutions are subject and even with current subsidies the privates enroll a very small portion of low resource students (be sure to read pp 24ff). 

It is a provocative plan by smart scholars of higher education; ideas like this should engage us both for their social justice implications and for their implications to our institutions' financial models.

Executive Summary

For almost fifty years, the federal government has tried to make the American Dream universally accessible by using need-based financial aid to lower the price of attending college. The effectiveness of this approach to expanding opportunity and investing in America’s future has diminished because of declines in real family income, increases in demand for college enrollment, poor regulation of state funding and institutional costs, insufficient funding for and targeting of grant aid, and a political movement that places the needs of private businesses and banks over those of students and families. The results have undermined the national ideal of equal opportunity to succeed and equal rewards for hard work. Talented students are forgoing college because of the costs, students who start college are unable to complete because they cannot afford to continue, and even students who finish degrees may not realize all of the expected returns because of sizable debt burdens. All but the wealthiest families must borrow or pay an amount equal to or exceeding one-quarter of their annual income in order to finance attending a public 4-year college or university.

Fortunately, financial aid is not the only way to make college affordable. We argue that it is time for the federal government to partner with states, public colleges and universities, and localities and businesses to offer two years of college for free. This paper outlines a Free Two Year College Option (F2CO) that can be funded with existing resources, developed to overcome the problems in previous efforts to make college more affordable, and designed to ensure that wider access occurs without reductions in educational quality. The effort begins with a simple message to every American interested in pursuing education after high school: If you complete a high school degree, you can obtain a 13th and 14th year of education for free in exchange for a modest amount of work while attending school. Key aspects of the F2CO plan include:
  • All eligible students can attend any public college or university (2-year or 4-year) for free for the first two years
  • Through a redirection of current federal financial aid funding, the federal government pays tuition for all students, and provides additional performance-based top-up funding for institutions that serve low-income students. We estimate that per-student funding will be higher than the average tuition currently charged by community colleges, and only slightly lower than the average tuition charged by four-year colleges
  • Participating institutions cannot charge tuition or additional fees to students
  • State funding for higher education will be redirected to cover books and supplies for all students
  • Student living expenses will be covered through a state and local stipend equal to fifteen hours a week of living wage employment in the area, federal work-study in an amount equal to fifteen hours a week of living wage employment in the area, and access to federal loans equaling up to five hours a week of living wage employment in the area
We believe that such a policy is long overdue, and will significantly expand the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of our collective investments in postsecondary education and in a shared and secure future.

At Least They Are Supposed to Be

from The Chronicle of Higher Education April 25, 2014
Those Master's-Degree Programs at Elite U.? They're For-Profit
Think Tank
Kevin Carey
HIGHER EDUCATION has a long and fraught relationship with the labor market. From colonial colleges training clergymen to the Morrill Act, normal schools, and the great 20th-century expansion of mass higher education, colleges have always been in the business of training people for careers. The oldest university in the Western world, in Bologna, started as a law school. Ask students today why they're going to college and the most common answer is, by far, "to get a job."

But most colleges don't like to see themselves that way. In educators' own minds, they arc communities of scholars above all else. Colleges tend to locate their educationamissions among the lofty ideals ofthe humanities and liberal arts, not the pedestrian tasks of imparting marketable skillsIn part, this reflectsthe legitimate complexity of some institutional missions. But the fact remains that most professors were hired primarily to teach, most institutions are not research universities, most students are enrolled in prc-profcssional programs, and, it seems, few colleges have undergraduate curricula that match their supposed commitment to the liberal-arts ideal.

It's a nice trick-colleges and the people who work for them enjoy both the status associated with the exalted purposes of scholarship and the money that comes from playing a crucial role in building the nation's store of human capital. Within that contradiction is a suffocating elitism and a disrespect for 
people engaged in the necessary, difficult task of preparing diverse students for the increasingly volatile world of work.

Historically, this attitude has led colleges to neglect the growing market for adult students who need to enhance or retool their marketable skills. For-profit colleges entered the void. According to recently released data from the U.S. Department of Education, some of them arc doing an abominable job.

To take one example: Over a 12-month period in 2008 and 2009, nearly 27,500 people began repayin
student loans taken out to attend the University of Phoenix's online associate-degree program in what the U.S. Department of Education calls "office management and supervision," in which students learn about such things as the culture of the modern business environment and how to write memos. By the fall of 2012, 9,800 of those students more than one-third-had defaulted on those loans, with more sure to come. Phoenix alone has 20 programs with default rates over 30 percent. Other for-profit chains are just as bad,

Your College Does a Selfie?

Meeting as Wasted Time: Made, not Born

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a very long time. We academics completely miss the mark when we decry the number of meetings we have to attend. The problem is not the number of meetings, it's how abysmally run they are. Both our colleagues and our administrative sisters and brothers waste scads of institutional resources (read our time) by poorly thought out, poorly prepared for, and poorly managed meetings. We tend not to help much: few of us really know how to attend a meeting and almost no one actually does any "homework" before a meeting.

One solution I have been trying to sell is the budgeting of faculty time. Anyone who calls a meeting has to "pay" for it and in any given semester there is only so many "meeting person-hours" to go around. Another is to have ongoing training in how to do meeting. It's one area where some for profit companies have figured something out : they respect the idea that time is money and so they try to waste less of it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Departmental Collaboration Around Writing

A group of young sociology professors at Oakland University* (MI) got together and collaborated on a concerted effort to improve writing in their department in connection with a wider university project on writing that produced a "Writing to Learn Wiki" for faculty and students**. An account of their efforts was published in Teaching Sociology, our discipline's journal of "the scholarship of teaching and learning." Like much in that genre it is rather basic research and the article is longer than it needs to be, but some useful takeaways can be gleaned. Primary benefit: with this as a humble starting point, one could probably design a more robust and effective version 2.0.

They deployed several tactics: in class exercises, a library research orientation session in each class, peer review, in-class writing workshops, an online plagiarism tutorial, and a "student integrity statement" that students appended to written work. At the end of each semester they surveyed the students about their experiences.

IMHO, the project seems flawed by not including any explicit outcomes (i.e., some measure of whether students became better writers) relying instead on student self assessment ("did technique X help your writing?"), over-emphasis on citation format as a component of "good" writing, and the overarching goal of "writing like a sociologist" as something their graduates should be able to do. Given how sociologists write, this could constitute educational malpractice ;).

A few findings:
  • Students found the library research orientation sessions repetitive unless they were tailored to specific topic of a given class. The researchers distinguish between redundant repetition and reinforcing repetition.
  • Students did not like peer-feedback. In some cases mis-match of skill level meant lack of helpful feedback. In other cases, concerns about hurting feelings dominated urge to be helpful.
  • Focus on plagiarism can create an unproductive plagiarism paranoia - students' worry about committing it outstrips their capacity for writing well while avoiding it.
  • Common message from instructors across the program seemed valuable.
The researchers also noted some "accidental" benefits of their collaborative approach:
  • Ongoing discussion of process helped them fine tune it along the way.
  • Students appreciated consistent message.
  • Reduced overhead for individual instructors in terms of thinking through and preparing various writing exercises.
  • Discussion of process helped identify more optimal timing/scheduling of the various exercises within courses.
I would add a possible fifth benefit: I bet there is more follow-through among the instructors when they are aware that they are part of the collaborative project. Whether the focus is writing or something else, I suspect that has gigantic pedagogical payoffs.

A side note: Peer feedback is subject to a classic perceptual bias: instructors see it as time saving and thrill at the interaction they are encouraging, but the aggregate amount of person-hours, its ratio to quality results, and the wear and tear of emotions may be very unfavorable.

At the end of the article the authors say that their purpose is NOT to "ease their teaching duties" (it's about "sincere, shared commitment to improving students' writing"). I think this is unfortunate; the latter should be assumed - the problem is that living up to it is really quite labor intensive and we should constantly be on the look out for techniques that improve our efficiency. It's misguided to see these as antithetical.


* There is an old historical connection between this institution and my own, but I'll leave that to Mills trivia experts.
** Built on the open-source platform PBWorks.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Another Buzzword or The Holy Grail: Knowledge Transfer

The basic idea - generalizing from something learned in one context and applying it in another - seems sound, if a tad obvious. But is this a case of over-complicating/over-analyzing something as a means of achieving enhanced prestige, importance, and budget-line in the face of evolving irrelevance?

Leaving the Transfer Issue Up to Others

About half of those who get bachelor's degrees start out at
community or junior colleges. At some four year colleges a significant portion of their tuition revenue comes from transfer students. The challenges of credit transfer have been known for years and yet most institutions devote few resources to "articulation agreements" and transfer policies. When efforts are made, faculty rarely find the task interesting enough or important enough to be involved, leaving the work to admissions or registrar staff.

Ironically, perhaps, faculty then complain at how much extra work advising students is as they try to pretzel themselves to get through general education and major requirements that are designed with four year students in mind.

There are strong practical (financial), pedagogical, and ethical reasons to get this right, but, perhaps, it will take state and federal regulation to move this ball down the field.

See Also

But What Would We Do Without a Strategic Plan?

Interview in NYT with the author of the book I keep telling everyone to read.

See Also

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Higher Education's Problem: Seven Red Lines, All Perpendicular, Some Green, Some Transparent

This video is a spot-on dramatization of many, many meetings I've participated in during my time in higher education. Despite (or perhaps because) being peopled by very smart souls, the tolerance for senseless gibberish makes it amazing we manage to keep going. It's well done (and funny) enough to be worth the 7 minutes).

This British video is titled "The Expert" and it is based on a short story, Совещание, ("The Meeting") that appeared on the blog Слон в колесе (Elephant in the wheel) by Alexei Berezin in 2011.