Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Students Should Read This

December 19th, 2014 Erik No comments

There are some aspects of learning that students should abide by.  Here is a list.

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Online Education and Competency

January 28th, 2013 Erik No comments

Is this the Future of Higher Ed? There is still a lot of resistance to online education at colleges and universities, but the modern demand for education in a non central setting is gaining more and more traction. Those colleges that do not embrace this trend will lose market share, and possibly have to shut their doors. Snip:


David Lando plans to start working toward a diploma from the University of Wisconsin this fall, but he doesn’t intend to set foot on campus or even take a single online course offered by the school’s well-regarded faculty.


David Lando plans to join a Wisconsin program that could award him a bachelor’s degree after he takes online tests to establish his knowledge.

Instead, he will sit through hours of testing at his home computer in Milwaukee under a new program that promises to award a bachelor’s degree based on knowledge—not just class time or credits.

“I have all kinds of credits all over God’s green earth, but I’m using this to finish it all off,” said the 41-year-old computer consultant, who has an associate degree in information technology but never finished his bachelor’s in psychology.

Colleges and universities are rushing to offer free online classes known as “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs. But so far, no one has figured out a way to stitch these classes together into a bachelor’s degree.

Now, educators in Wisconsin are offering a possible solution by decoupling the learning part of education from student assessment and degree-granting.

Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.



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College Majors and Facts/Values

June 4th, 2011 Erik No comments

Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield criticizes modern higher ed and the plethora of majors in the WSJ here.  The op-ed makes me think once again about common cores and a great books design for college curriculum.  Is there not value in that type of education that transcends market-place change?

Twenty Most Worthless Majors

April 27th, 2011 Erik No comments

From journalism, to literature, art, and english, the Daily Beast lists the majors that don’t pay.  Note: political science is not on the list!  Of course none of this really addresses the question of what human beings really need.

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Talking Honors College at Penn State

April 18th, 2011 Erik No comments

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Where Have The Good Men Gone?

February 20th, 2011 Erik No comments

Are guys not growing up, or taking longer to grow up?  Kay Hymowitz thinks so:

What also makes pre-adulthood something new is its radical reversal of the sexual hierarchy. Among pre-adults, women are the first sex. They graduate from college in greater numbers (among Americans ages 25 to 34, 34% of women now have a bachelor’s degree but just 27% of men), and they have higher GPAs. As most professors tell it, they also have more confidence and drive. These strengths carry women through their 20s, when they are more likely than men to be in grad school and making strides in the workplace. In a number of cities, they are even out-earning their brothers and boyfriends.

Still, for these women, one key question won’t go away: Where have the good men gone? Their male peers often come across as aging frat boys, maladroit geeks or grubby slackers—a gender gap neatly crystallized by the director Judd Apatow in his hit 2007 movie “Knocked Up.” The story’s hero is 23-year-old Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), who has a drunken fling with Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and gets her pregnant. Ben lives in a Los Angeles crash pad with a group of grubby friends who spend their days playing videogames, smoking pot and unsuccessfully planning to launch a porn website. Allison, by contrast, is on her way up as a television reporter and lives in a neatly kept apartment with what appear to be clean sheets and towels. Once she decides to have the baby, she figures out what needs to be done and does it. Ben can only stumble his way toward being a responsible grownup.

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Most Not Ready for College

February 12th, 2011 Erik No comments

What to do with most incoming students who need remedial education?  In Texas, the answer is to steer them into tech schools.  In other words, college is not for everyone.

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Wikipedia a Weak Source at Best

January 23rd, 2011 Erik No comments

All students, including mine, take note:

“If you write a paper and it only has Wikipedia cites you’re going to get a bad grade,” he said. “There are plenty of electronic books and journals you can use.”

Owens said the source is useful for finding background on a topic but should be avoided for anything deeper. Novi sophomore Joe Betro uses Wikipedia for just that.

“I do (use it) in my reports, not to quote Wikipedia, but to find other reliable sources,” Betro said. “Most of my professors actually tell me to use it … as a jumping off point.”

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How Freedom Rings for Liberal Education

January 22nd, 2011 Erik No comments

In the Weekly Standard last week, there was this great review (subscription required) of a book by Roger Scruton called Liberty and Civilization.  In the review, there is a provocative passage on the value of liberal education:

Yet the classical understanding of a liberal education is “not to liberate us to act on our desires, but rather, and precisely, to liberate us from slavery to them. Personal authenticity .  .  . consists in self-mastery​—​placing reason in control of desire.” The reason to study Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, Dante and Shakespeare, Rousseau and Kant, is to free our minds from the tyranny of present opinion, to free our wills from slavery to our passions, and to free ourselves to come to know, love, and choose what is beautiful and good. Of course, this presupposes that there are objective truths, and that they are best appropriated when freely pursued. Not merely knowing what is the case, but understanding the how and why, allows us to incorporate the string of reasons into one’s own deliberations and choices. This liberation from self, from popular opinion, and from radical skepticism, makes true liberty​—​freedom for excellence​—​possible.

Students not Learning to Think Critically

January 18th, 2011 Erik No comments

I am not sure this is all that surprising:

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn’t determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.

And then there’s this:

Forty-five percent of students made no significant improvement in their critical thinking, reasoning or writing skills during the first two years of college, according to the study. After four years, 36 percent showed no significant gains in these so-called “higher order” thinking skills.

Combining the hours spent studying and in class, students devoted less than a fifth of their time each week to academic pursuits. By contrast, students spent 51 percent of their time — or 85 hours a week — socializing or in extracurricular activities.

The study also showed that students who studied alone made more significant gains in learning than those who studied in groups.

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VDH on the Liberal Arts

December 27th, 2010 Erik No comments

With the rise of technical education–even at the University level–there has been some concern about what happens to liberal education (which I use interchangeably with liberal arts, though the two are not precisely identical). VDH has some strong words about the decline of the liberal arts and how modern technology represents, in some ways, a devolution:

Citizens — shocked and awed by technological change — become overwhelmed by the Internet, cable news, talk radio, video games and popular culture of the moment. Without links to our past heritage, we in ignorance begin to think our own modern challenges ….

And without citizens broadly informed by humanities, we descend into a pyramidal society. A tiny technocratic elite on top crafts everything from cell phones and search engines to foreign policy and economic strategy. A growing mass below lacks understanding of the present complexity and the basic skills to question what they are told. … pragmatists argued that our future CEOs needed to learn spread sheets at 20 rather than why Homer’s Achilles does not receive the honors he deserved, or how civilization was lost in fifth-century Rome and 1930s Germany. Yet Latin or a course in rhetoric might better teach a would-be captain of industry how to dazzle his audience than a class in Microsoft PowerPoint.

The more instantaneous our technology, the more we are losing the ability to communicate with it. Twitter and text-messaging result in an economy of expression, not in clarity or beauty. Millions are becoming premodern — communicating in electronic grunts that substitute for the ability to express themselves effectively and with dignity. Indeed, by inventing new abbreviations and linguistic shortcuts, we are losing a shared written language altogether, much like the fragmentation of Latin as the Roman Empire imploded into tribal provinces. ….Life is not just acquisition and consumption. Engaging English prose uplifts the spirit in a way Twittering cannot. The latest anti-Christ video shown at the National Portrait Gallery by the Smithsonian will fade when the Delphic Charioteer or Michelangelo’s David does not. Appreciation of the history of great art and music fortifies the soul, and recognizes beauty that does not fade with the passing fad.

America has lots of problems. A population immersed in and informed by literature, history, art and music is not one of them.

The College Degree Scam

December 16th, 2010 Erik No comments

Richard Vedder makes a vigorous argument at the Chronicle that 60% of college grads are underemployed:

With the help of a small army of researchers and associates (most importantly, Chris Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe, and Chris Denhart) and starting with help from Douglas Himes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) has unearthed what I think is the single most scandalous statistic in higher education. It reveals many current problems and ones that will grow enormously as policymakers mindlessly push enrollment expansion amidst what must become greater public-sector resource limits.

Here it is:  approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled—occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less. Only a minority of the increment in our nation’s stock of college graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor’s degree or more. (We are working to integrate some earlier Edwin Rubenstein data on this topic to give us a more complete picture of this trend).

Read more…

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Iowa Proposes Cuts in Higher Ed

December 4th, 2010 Erik No comments

The Conglomerate notes this Chronicle story on the cuts in Iowa that include doing away with the faculty sabbatical.  But as Glenn Reynolds finds, it is administrative bloat that is the source of all these “costs.”  He also notes that institutions that have sabbaticals, and use them, have professors who are research oriented and are more productive.  A deeper question in this era of austerity on the state level is what is the reason we have higher education?  What value does it provide to a state–or the Union?

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The Higher Ed Bubble 2

October 19th, 2010 Erik No comments

Michael Barone opines that government spending on higher ed has created a bubble that will likely burst.

Smaller Class Sizes….

October 15th, 2010 Erik No comments

work according to this study, and it seems, from a student perspective.  Question:  do grade distributions also fall as class sizes increase?

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Hayward Skewers Political Science

October 14th, 2010 Erik No comments

Steven F. Hayward, writes at The American about the irrelevance of political science as a discipline.  In some of my classes we have essentially the same discussion, but in not as technical way.  We consider Socrates and the intersection between political philosophy and the City.  Political science, or political philosophy, was the most important study for roughly two thousand years–in academe, political science was the science of the Whole.  Socrates embodied the birth of that discipline, and Plato and Aristotle established the first institutions of learning.

How far we have come.

The Three Year Degree

September 30th, 2010 Erik No comments

If you were a student today, would you like to get a degree in three years?  U Mass is one of the several colleges now offering students the opportunity:

A small number of highly motivated students have found ways to compress their college years by taking a heavy course load during the academic year and adding classes during the summers. About a dozen students a year have done this at UMass.

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The Higher Ed Bubble

September 26th, 2010 Erik No comments

Political Calculations has a nice two posts on the higher ed bubble that has been getting some newsworthy attention of late.  Essentially, as federal government outlays have increased for education, tuition has skyrocketed.  There is a correlatin to these numbers as the graph below suggests:

There is a lot of information in these two posts, but essentially, we have the higher federal government expenditures to blame for the rising tuition–as well as I would say, state cutbacks in educational support.  Snip:

These high and increasing levels of correlation between total federal spending and the average cost of college tuition strongly indicates that the federal government is directly responsible for the escalating cost of attending college for the vast majority of students.

So much for the cost explosion of college educations in recent years being unexplainable.

And you do realize that with this kind of relationship, a tool you can use to predict what the average cost of college will be several years into the future can’t be far behind….

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Tenure Disappears

August 25th, 2010 Erik No comments

As noted in the Chronicle, here, tenure is a disappearing reality:

Over just three decades, the proportion of college instructors who are tenured or on the tenure track plummeted: from 57 percent in 1975 to 31 percent in 2007. The new report is expected to show that that proportion fell below 30 percent in 2009. If you add graduate teaching assistants to the mix, those with some kind of tenure status represent a mere quarter of all instructors.

The idea that tenure, a defining feature of U.S. higher education throughout the 20th century, has shrunk so drastically is shocking. But, says Stanley N. Katz, director of Princeton University’s Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, “we may be approaching a situation in which there will not be good, tenure-track jobs for the great majority of good people.”

The question is whether this is a good development or a bad development for higher ed.  There are reasonable arguments on both sides.  On the one hand, tenure has been used, historically, as a buttress against abusive administrators–the college history of places like Harvard and Princeton abound with intellectual persecution of professors.  But that was over 300 years ago.  Do such protections have to apply on the 21st century? Beyond that, a stable professoriate means a college has a solid identity.  Take away tenure, and you take away an identity.

Still, what business guarantees a person a job?  Tenure can be abused by lazy faculty.  And, there is evidence that it has allowed irresponsibility to thrive.  That cannot be good for higher ed either.

There are certainly more we could talk about in regard to this issue.

But, there is more going on here.  At the same time tenure is disappearing, colleges are restructuring.  This has led to faculty layoffs and other budget cutting measures.

Clearly, higher ed is undergoing a lot of changes.

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The Education Bubble about to Burst

August 9th, 2010 Erik No comments

Instapundit blogger, and law professor, Glen Reynolds predicts that higher education is about to be rocked by people who find no value in the education:

Right now, people are still borrowing heavily to pay the steadily increasing tuitions levied by higher education.  But that borrowing is based on the expectation that students will earn enough to pay off their loans with a portion of the extra income their educations generate.  Once people doubt that, the bubble will burst.

So my advice to students faced with choosing colleges (and graduate schools, and law schools) this coming year is simple:  Don’t go to colleges or schools that will require you to borrow a lot of money to attend.  There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself deep in debt to no purpose.  And maybe you should rethink college entirely.

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The IPad and Higher Ed

July 19th, 2010 Erik No comments

Climategate & Higher Education

July 16th, 2010 Erik No comments

One thing that the global warming “scientists” did wrong, was they violated the scientific method and closed off debate by prohibiting other scientists to confirm or not their findings.  That is not the way academics, real academic, do things.  The “climategate” scandal is also calling into question the process of blind review that deserves greater scrutiny:

Our universities shape young men’s and women’s sensibilities, and our professors are supposed to serve as guardians of authoritative knowledge and exemplars of serious and systematic inquiry. Yet our campuses are home today to a toxic confluence of fashionable ideas that undermine the very notion of intellectual virtue, and to flawed educational practices and procedures that give intellectual vice ample room to flourish.

Just look at Climategate.

Students Are Studying Less

July 16th, 2010 Erik No comments
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Higher Ed Declines in Australia

July 15th, 2010 Erik No comments
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Making Student Loans Easily Available

July 14th, 2010 Erik No comments
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