Archive for the ‘Higher Education’ Category

Here’s how schools should be thinking about fall classes…

July 9, 2020

In-person? Online? Hybrid? … What to do?
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My view: Educators (especially at the college level) are making a fundamental mistake when trying to structure their curriculums for the fall.

They’re thinking about the problem in the wrong way.

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Now, most schools are simply trying to maintain past schedules and coax all courses online, essentially emulating what’s currently being done in the classroom.

Rather, they should strategize around  two fundamental questions:

1. Which courses require classroom presence?

2. Which courses are most suitable for online delivery?

When those questions are answered, load the fall schedule with the most online-suitable courses … and defer the classroom-dependent courses until the virus is behind us (hopefully when the calendar flips to 2021)

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So, which courses are classroom-dependent and which are online-suitable?

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Finally, a Covid testing plan that makes sense to me…

July 8, 2020

Tip of the hat to Georgetown on this one.
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Last week, I did some reading re: the Herculean challenges facing colleges as they contemplate when and how to re-open.

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In a nutshell, residence colleges face three major challenges:

  1. Staying afloat financially
  2. Delivering a valuable education
  3. Keeping their campuses healthy

One aspect of healthy campuses is instituting a comprehensive Covid testing program.

Many schools are rationalizing  away the need for testing, arguing that tests aren’t sufficiently accurate and that they cost too much to administer. Source

That’s not the approach that Georgetown is taking…

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Why do students need a physical classroom?

January 16, 2020

An interesting op-ed in yesterday’s WSJ concludes that 2020 will be “the year the dam breaks for college education in America”.

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The author notes  “the rising cost and slowing returns of traditional schooling, coupled with advances in and the growing acceptance of online education

Among the specifics…

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What’s the impact of declining birthrates on future college enrollments?

October 15, 2019

And, how should colleges brace for the changes?
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According to Nathan Grawe, a professor of social sciences at Minnesota’s Carleton College …

A declining birthrate means the currently typical college-going population could decline by more than 15 percent starting about 2026.

The impact: schools will need to tightened their cost belts, aggressively recruit students and do a better job retaining and graduating their enrollees … or close down.

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Let’s unpack Grawe’s argument…

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The degree-earning gender gap…

April 9, 2019

An interesting analysis done by economist Mark Perry concludes:

Since 1982, women have earned 13 million more college degrees than men.

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Let’s drill down on those numbers…

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More: Have colleges watered down their curriculums?

March 28, 2019

A survey of 700 schools answers the question.
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In a prior post, we outlined the criteria and method that the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) used to assess whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

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In a nutshell, ACTA researchers culled through over 700 schools’ course catalogs and web sites to determine what courses were being offered and, more important, which courses were required of all students.

Specifically, they investigated whether undergraduates are gaining a reasonable college-level introduction in seven core subject areas:

  1. Composition & argumentation
  2. Literature and critical thinking
  3. Foreign language & culture
  4. U.S. government & history
  5. Economics: Macro, micro, behavioral
  6. Mathematics, logic & computer science
  7. Science & scientific experimentation.

Here’s what they found …

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Why are Asian-American students dominating “elite” schools?

March 15, 2019

No, they don’t buy-off sports coaches and abuse standardized testing procedures. 
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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ” for short), is a selective DC-area magnet school designed to provide an elite, high-tech education for the most academically gifted students in Northern Virginia.

The school offers rigorous study in advanced college-level offerings like electrodynamics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

High octane academics, for sure … offered to the best and brightest.

What’s the rub?

Demographic mix.

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The school’s newly accepted Class of 2022 is 65 percent Asian, 23 percent white, five percent Hispanic, and two percent black.

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20 years ago, the concern was that Black and Hispanic representation at TJ was less than half their demographic mix in Fairfax County – the “feeder” county.

Several initiatives were launched to increase Black and Hispanic representation, including early identification and proactive outreach to high potential minority children; supplementary in-school and extracurricular programs to teach and mentor them; and more ready access to prep and gateway courses such as Algebra.

While undertaking those initiatives, something unexpected happened.

The numbers of Black and Hispanic students applying and enrolled at TJ remained stalled at the pre-initiative levels. So, that’s still a concern.

But, during the same time period (and unrelated to the minority initiatives), the number of white students declined sharply … and the number of Asian-American students has soared.

Why is that?

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Part-time nation: Even on college faculties …

July 24, 2014

interesting factoid from Quartz.com “ What universities have in common with record labels” …

Used to be that the majority of college faculty were on the tenure track … with less than 1 in 3 being non-tenure track “part-timers”.

 

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Source: Quartz.com

With the cost pressures that universities face these days, those numbers have completely reversed.

Now, the majority of university faculty s part-timers … and about 1 in 3 are on the tenure track.

And, Quartz points out that there’s increasing separation between content producing “marquee”  profs and “average” profs.

“The ranks of professors will quickly diverge into the 1% and everyone else.”

As the original Grandma Homa used to say; “It’s easy to be good, hard to be great.”

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