July 13th, 2010

Education News Roundup
Articles posted by five reliably interesting sources of news about higher education.

Published by: philosophyandrew

had enough time to become entrenched but have plenty of preconceived notions of their own about teaching and learning. “We have some barriers to break down internally,” acknowledges Jonathan Gueverra, the college’s founding chief executive officer. “Even if you have the luxury of bringing in all new people, you have the problem of trying to present before them a blank slate and then showing them what we want done. The one thing I know about all faculty is that they recognize the need for students to succeed. Using data and knowledge, we want to provide them with that springboard.” So far, the community college has only 37 full-time faculty members and well over 100 adjuncts. Many of them came directly from teaching at the University of the District of Columbia — the troubled land-grant that, for ages, was the city’s lone public institution. Now, it is the incubation site for the new community college until it moves across town and becomes a freestanding institution. Marilyn A. Hamilton, the college’s Achieving the Dream program coordinator and an early childhood education instructor, is among those at the new community college leading the push for data integration at all levels. Currently, she is working with professors across disciplines to infuse technology into their teaching. For example, she hopes that by finding a way to gauge students' work over the length of a course, instructors will be able to identify the areas in which students are deficient before gaps in learning grow. Then, using everything from online games to YouTube, students can walk themselves through tutorials to catch up on whatever specific course material they still don’t understand, instead of sorting through everything all over again. “Every discipline at the college is up for program review,” Hamilton says. “We’re helping faculty design their courses in a way that is more interactive and so that it is clear to students what the expectations are. We want to embed that technology into the course delivery to build a culture of evidence. This should be able to help students be even more successful in discipline-specific courses as well as remediation.” As part of the college’s curriculum review, each course’s objectives must align with its student outcomes. Hamilton noted that for certain courses, this means a capstone experience where there was none, or a new set of exams. Many of the courses at the community college were given in the first two years at UDC and so are now being adopted for the new institution. For her early childhood education courses, students will now have to create a portfolio of their work
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What does 'open' really mean?
Source: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52859 July 13th, 2010

Another article on open education hidden behind a journal paywall, but who cares when we have Tony Bates to provide us with what is probably much more insightful analysis. And I certainly support his observation about the model being described here: "I think the idea of opening up classes to nonregistered students is a good one, but not just making them relatively ‘outside' participants of a class designed deliberately for face-to-face teaching. Wouldn't it be more logical to open up classes deliberately designed for distance delivery to non-registered participants, and design them carefully for joint use?" Yes. This is what George Siemens and I have done with the Connectivist-style courses. Bates also says "our systems are unnecessarily restrictive in allowing in particular mature adults to access university programs. The real problem is a lack of places in the system, and hence overzealous admission requirements, rather than finding means to combine registered students with others." Too true. Tony Bates, e-learning & distance education resources, July 12, 2010 [Tags: Connectivism , Adult Learning ] [ Link ] [ Comment ]

Getting It Right the First Time
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/ccdc July 13th, 2010

WASHINGTON — Starting an educational institution from scratch is a hard task. But it does have its advantages. Just ask the founding set of administrators and instructors at the Community College of the District of Columbia, which wrapped up its first academic year a few months ago. They believe the institution's relative newness — and therefore its lack of entrenched faculty and staff — give them the ideal opportunity to implement the academic and administrative practices considered likeliest to improve student success. Though college officials hope to create an institution where data collection is an everyday occurrence and nearly all academic decisions are based on that evidence, they have to get substantial buy-in from faculty and staff, who haven’t

July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

throughout the semester, much like their counterparts at the baccalaureate level do. “It’s all about changing the mindset of people,” Hamilton says. “It’s not so much starting from scratch, but introducing people to a new way of doing business. Some of them having been teaching the same way for 20 years, and they have their own way of doing things. We have to be more data-driven. Some are already there, and others will have to be brought along kicking and screaming.” So far, though, Hamilton says the transition among faculty who came to the community college from UDC has been relatively smooth. And though two semesters' worth of data is hardly enough to make any concrete judgments about the institution and its students, the initial retention numbers are pleasing to Gueverra and his team. For example, the college retained 70 percent of its 688 first-time freshman students who enrolled last fall to the spring semester. But this figure doesn't tell much about the institution given that most comparable data sets compare fallto-fall retention instead of fall-to-spring retention. Of these first-time freshmen, 82 percent of them required at least some remediation. Reforming remediation and further boosting this percentage also depends heavily on data collection. Gueverra notes that college staff members made over 400 phone calls in the past week to reach the first-time freshmen who did not return to the college, find out what happened, and adapt remedial coursework to future students’ need based on what they heard. The same team of student support staffers is also blanket testing all incoming students in need of remediation as well. “If we do this right, we’ll know at some point what we’re doing to make a dent to stem to number of students in developmental education,” Gueverra said. “We’re also going to assess every student up front, as early as possible, and alert faculty members to begin to provide them with information about their students that’ll help them succeed.” If Gueverra and company are unsure whether they’ve made an impact on the way their existing faculty and staff go about their business at the new community college, then they will certainly leave their mark on all newly recruited professors to the institution. “All new faculty must be familiar with an assessment of student learning,” says Jacqueline Skinner Jackson, dean of academic affairs. “They must be familiar with online learning and must be familiar with instructional technology. We want those skills embedded into the culture to feed student success." New Take on Work Force Education When C. Vannessa Spinner, the college’s associate dean for workforce development, was told by Guevarra that he would like there to be no divide between the workforce and academic sides of the new community college, she responded with a resounding, “Hallelujah!” she recalls The way Spinner sees it, too many community colleges operate with highly bifurcated missions, pushing academic and workforce development faculty, staff and students apart from one another when they could be best served by working

together. So, at the new community college, work force development is operating differently. First, the college shed programs like barbering, cosmetology and any unattached apprenticeship work — programs that had been offered by UDC — that did not result in an industryrecognized certificate or credential. Then, it began adopting stackable credentials for fields like nursing, so that students earn progressively greater certification as they go along. For example, nursing students are certified as a home health aide and then a nursing assistant while they work toward an associate degree in nursing. With this approach, students are guaranteed at least some credential if they have to stop out, or can work in jobs with advanced-salary potential as they continue on their career pathway.

Additionally, Spinner notes that all workforce development students are now earning college credit for their work, whether they are aware of it or not. All workforce development programs at the college also have embedded basic academic training, improving the students' reading and math skills as they learn job-specific skills, and eventually making them eligible for credit-bearing work. Washington State’s muchlauded Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (or IBEST) program, an initiative aimed at helping “underserved students,” was cited as the model for this method. “I don’t want to sit here and say, ‘You’re going to have to complete four years’ worth of literacy work before you can take a job training program to assist you to help your family,' ” Gueverra said. A Promising Start Students who have been around Washington long enough to see the ups and downs at UDC — whose graduation rate has hovered below 20 percent and is among the lowest in the country — are pleased with their time at the new community college and believe it could have a positive impact on the city. Ricardo White, a 49-year-old who recently graduated with an associate degree in early childhood education, says he hardly noticed the transition of his program from UDC to the community college last year, noting that his professors fully explained the change and helped students figure out what it meant for them. The new attitude of fellow students, faculty and staff at the new institution, he says, is a far cry from what he saw two decades ago when he came to UDC right out of high school to become a paralegal -- and eventually dropped out because of a lack of support from his professors.

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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

“I just felt like I was given the cold shoulder,” White says of the faculty and staff he encountered at UDC in the 1980s. “People are changing. There are so many highly motivated people and there is so much more community involvement. Just being here, you can tell the commitment the community college has to your success. This is where change starts. I think it can change Washington.” Michelle Adams, a 42-year-old community college student in early childhood education, echoes her classmate’s sentiment. She, too, dropped out of UDC in the mid-1980s when she enrolled there right out of high school, but now says her experience is much more positive. Adams says she was anxious about her program — which she enrolled in while it was still part of UDC — moving to the new community college, but says the change has helped her focus on her career goals. “When I first heard about the change, I said ‘What’s to become of me?’ ” Adams says. “I had this fear that I was going to be too old for a community college. I thought I was going to be the only 30-year-old here, but when I started I realized there were a lot of people like me. It’s been great to be so focused and so open with one another.” Both White and Adams hope their success at the new community college will inspire their friends and family to attend and further their education. The opportunity for D.C. residents to attend a community college in their own city, they say, has been a long time coming. Keiser University is a regionally accredited, private, career university that provides educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels ... The purpose of Southeastern Institute is to offer quality career education. Our programs focus on specialized skills and knowledge needed for today's ... Keiser University is a regionally accredited, private, career university that provides educational programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels ...

like to see transparency applied across the board. I'd like to know what private schools teach, and what it costs them. I'd also like clear reporting of corporate and executive salaries, the contents of the reports and analyses they send each other, holdings, subsidiaries, and agreements and cartels with other corporations. Once we have this information, we can make an informed decision on how overpaid and underqualified professors are, and how well public institutions compare with their private counterparts. Leigh Minsil, Dallas Morning News, July 12, 2010 [Tags: Schools , Online Learning , Books , Academia , Private Schools ] [ Link ] [ Comment ]

Rev. Paul Locatelli, Key Jesuit Academic, Dies
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/qt/ rev_paul_locatelli_key_jesuit_academic_dies July 13th, 2010

Rev. Paul Leo Locatelli, who was for 20 years president of Santa Clara University, died Monday morning of pancreatic cancer. At the time of his death, he was secretary of higher education for the international Society of Jesus. Details about his life may be found here.

Online Learning and Traditional Universities
Source: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52857 July 13th, 2010

Transparency law for professors sets off academic freedom debate
Source: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52858 July 13th, 2010

Professors oppose transparency. Or, at least, this is what might be concluded from opposition to a new "transparency law" in Texas. The law requires "universities... to post professors' syllabi, curriculum vitae, published works and salaries. Attendance costs and departmental budget reports also must be posted." Brian Leiter says , "this new law has one and only one purpose: to make it easier for right-wing crazies and ignoramuses to target and harass faculty." That may be true, It doesn't make it a bad law, though. What does make it a bad law is that it is aimed at state institutions only. I'd

Online learning is making clear the contradiction between equity and elite institutions. This contradiction is especially apparent when the things that define an institution as "elite" have nothing to do with learning. The real objection is loss of faculty control, as University of California staff argue that e-learning "not only degraded education but centralized academic policy that undermines faculty control of academic standards and curriculum as well as campus autonomy… a picture emerges of undergraduates jammed through a mediocre education and ladder rank faculty substantially removed from both control over and involvement with undergraduate education." If faculty showed any interest in keeping costs down,reaching more student, or even making academic papers openly accessible, I'd have more sympathy with their desire for control. But the relation between the professors and their entitled students is symbiotic - they need each other, to reenforce the idea that they deserve to be there, that they are better than other people. George Siemens, elearnspace, July 12, 2010 [Tags: Online Learning , Accessibility , Academia ] [ Link ] [ Comment ]

Protect Unpaid Internships
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2010/07/13/aoun

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July 13th, 2010
July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

Under new regulations proposed by the Department of Labor, unpaid college internships are preferable if the intern “performs no or minimal work.” That’s right: Even as many colleges and universities are expanding experiential learning, federal officials are issuing guidelines that would water down this powerful approach to education. In April, the Department of Labor crafted a six-part “test” that employers, students and colleges must satisfy to ensure that unpaid internships qualify as legal. Among the six criteria is the following requirement: “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern.” Whether or not the Labor Department’s proposal would have a direct impact on most college internships is the subject of debate. Defenders of the policy argue that it is simply a more stringent application of the longstanding Fair Labor Standards Act. Their goal is laudable: to protect students from being used as free labor, particularly by for-profit companies. However, just the threat of increased regulation could have a chilling effect on the willingness of employers to offer internships -- paid or unpaid. With experiential learning on the rise, through co-ops, internships and other approaches, the country cannot afford to create disincentives for employers to play a valuable role in the educational enterprise. Why is American higher education heading in the direction of experiential learning? The value proposition is clear: According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2010 Job Outlook Survey, 75 percent of employers prefer job candidates with relevant work experience. More than 90 percent prefer to hire interns or co-ops who have worked for their organization. But the real benefits of experiential learning go far beyond the practical advantage it affords students entering the workforce. Educators are increasingly realizing that the integration of study and practice is a more powerful way to learn. Perhaps more than ever before, this generation of graduates will need to navigate the unknown. They will need to be nimble and responsive to change, and become leaders of change. A strong foundation in their field of study is essential, but less tangible skills will be just as important: confidence, poise, adaptability, and the ability to work collaboratively. These are the foundations of leadership. When students participate in well-developed internships or co-op experiences, they immerse themselves in professional settings, ranging from multinational corporations to small not-for-profits. They bring their experiences back to the classroom, enriching the curriculum for themselves and their peers. They gain knowledge that will serve them for a lifetime. Rules that encourage student interns to perform “no or minimal work” are antithetical to the premise of experiential learning. Under these rules, internships or co-op positions would deteriorate into job shadowing, a pale imitation of true experiential learning.

We all share the Department of Labor’s concerns about the potential for exploitation, but the role of determining the educational value of an internship or co-op should rest with educational institutions. Colleges and universities must continue their active monitoring of experiential learning programs, and place students in secure and productive environments that further their education. A sustained commitment to experiential learning includes developing a strong network of employers who regularly provide employment opportunities for students. Through this network, institutions cultivate partnerships and work closely with students to find the best fit for both sides. Schools can and should require employers to provide detailed job descriptions that set clear expectations. In addition, employers should outline the learning outcomes students are expected to achieve upon completing their experiences. An interesting consequence of the Labor Department’s proposal is that it may create more demand for overseas internships. At Northeastern University, where we just celebrated 100 years of cooperative education, we believe the second century of experiential learning will be global. This is vitally important for today’s students, who are more likely than previous graduates to live and work abroad. A co-op or internship in another country is, by definition, more than academic tourism; it is true global education. But we don’t want international expansion to come at the expense of what we’re doing here at home. In a recent letter urging the Labor Department to proceed cautiously, Sen. John Kerry underscored the importance of experiential learning to the country as a whole: “Be it through internships, fellowships or co-op programs, this symbiotic relationship helps foster economic development and a competitive workforce.” As we invest in our future by investing in higher education, we should look for ways to expand, not diminish, the impact of experiential learning. We owe this to our students, our economy, and our society. This position is responsible for the coordination and implementation of "Bulls Nite Out" programming, outreach to commuter, non-traditional and ... The Dean of Students is responsible for providing innovative direction and overall management for the Student Life unit. The Dean of Students is a ... While the Director of Learning Outcomes Assessment has the primary responsibility for implementing the college's outcomes assessment plan, the ...

OLNet Fellowship Week 2 – Initial Thoughts on Tracking Downloaded OERs
Source: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52856 July 13th, 2010

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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

Scott Leslie describes how to track the use of learning resources, and deals with the objections to them. "I can hear the objections already... does this infringe on the idea of "openness"? What level of disclosure is required? ... I do want to respect these concerns, but at the same time, I wonder how valid they are. You are reading this content right now, and it has a number of 'web bugs' inserted in it to track usage yet is shared under a license that permits reuse." For the record, I do not use 'web bugs' or other tracking software in OLDaily. I find it distasteful, like looking in people's living room windows. Your mileage may vary, and I'm not making judgements. Scott Leslie, edtechpost, July 12, 2010 [Tags: Operating Systems , Open Educational Resources ] [ Link ] [ Comment ]

with regards to BB and how they do things to those systems that they acquire, or is it something more 'religious'?" Given the mistrust Blackboard has generated over the last few years, it's not surprising to see disappointment over the latest announcement. And in Canada, as Tony Bates notes , it's disappointing to see yet more of our innovative technology sold south of the border. But overall, with a "well played" from Siemens and acceptance that it was a smart move by Blackboard, the edublogosphere has been remarkably moderate in its response, and not really knee-jerk at all. Raj Boora, EDITing in the Dark, July 12, 2010 [Tags: Connectivism , Canada , Blackboard Inc. ] [ Link ] [ Comment ]

New Programs: Leadership, Homeland Security, Labor Relations, Taxation
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/programs July 13th, 2010

Land Grants Are Selling Their Cows
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/qt/ land_grants_are_selling_their_cows July 13th, 2010

GF Education Group, Inc. An education company specializing in the testing and evaluating of college graduates is seeking to engage educators in designing and writing test ... Lansing Community College Qualifications: EDUCATIONAL/EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS: - Bachelor's Degree required in education, instructional design, instructional technology or ... Brown University This position works closely with academic departments and in alignment with CE strategic goals, this position develops programs at the executive ... Brown University This position oversees a number of curriculum designers who produce online course content and assist faculty in instruction and students in course ... University of Maryland University College The Program Director, Criminal Justice is responsible for providing administrative and academic support for the MSM/ Criminal Justice and Intelligence ... Anne Arundel Community College While the Director of Learning Outcomes Assessment has the primary responsibility for implementing the college's outcomes assessment plan, the ... It would be nice if web conferencing systems like Skype all interoperated, but that seems not to be in the cards. Fring is accusing Skype of blocking them . "Now that fring expanded capacity to support the huge demand for video calling for all users, Skype has blocked us from doing so. They are afraid of open mobile communication. Cowards." Skype denies that it's a block, exactly. "Fring was using Skype software in a way it wasn't designed to be used – and in a way which is in breach of Skype's API Terms of Use and End User License Agreement." And accusing Fring of doing the blocking . Either way, it's pretty petty. Robert Miller, Skype Blogs, July 12, 2010 [Tags: Audio Chat and Conferencing , Branding , Conferencing , Video , Interoperability ] [ Link ] [ Comment ]

Fring's mis-use of Skype software was damaging to our brand and reputation
Source: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52854 July 13th, 2010

Knee Jerk Reactions
Source: http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=52855 July 13th, 2010

Raj Boora asks, "is the edtech-sphere disliking the BB Collaborate announcement because of some real concerns

Academic Outcomes of Study Abroad
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/abroad

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July 13th, 2010
July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

In 2000, researchers began an ambitious effort to document the academic outcomes of study abroad across the 35institution University System of Georgia. Ten years later, they’ve found that students who study abroad have improved academic performance upon returning to their home campus, higher graduation rates, and improved knowledge of cultural practices and context compared to students in control groups. They’ve also found that studying abroad helps, rather than hinders, academic performance of at-risk students. “The skeptics of study abroad have always made the argument that study abroad is a distraction from the business of getting educated, so you can enter the economy and become a contributing member of society,” said Don Rubin, professor emeritus of speech communication and language education at the University of Georgia and research director for GLOSSARI -- the Georgia Learning Outcomes of Students Studying Abroad Research Initiative. “I think if there’s one takehome message from this research as a whole it is that study abroad does not undermine educational outcomes, it doesn’t undermine graduation rate, it doesn’t undermine final semester GPA. It’s not a distraction. “At worst, it can have relatively little impact on some students’ educational careers. And at best it enhances the progress toward degree. It enhances the quality of learning as reflected in things like GPA.” The GLOSSARI project is of impressive scope and scale, and not every finding shows a positive impact of study abroad -- self-reported knowledge of world geography, for instance, actually decreased across time both for study abroad students and for a control group, and researchers found no significant difference in knowledge of global interdependence between the two sets of students. Rubin and Richard C. Sutton, director of the GLOSSARI project, executive director of international programs at Western Kentucky University, and formerly assistant vice chancellor for international programs at the University System of Georgia, presented these and other findings in a “final report” on the GLOSSARI project at the recent NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in Kansas City. Among their findings: Graduation Rates and GPA: Researchers compared graduation rates and grade point averages for 19,109 study abroad students, from across the state system (which includes community colleges, research universities and institutions in between), with a control group of 17,903 students selected to match the institution, semester of study and class standing of the students who’d studied abroad. “What we’ve tried to do in this project is to be very, very careful about who we compare with study abroad students,” said Rubin. “There are all these arguments that say the reason why graduation rates are higher for study abroad students are they are of higher socioeconomic status, or they may be more industrious, or they may be choosing easier majors.” Study abroad students, in other words, aren’t representative of all students in the Georgia system. So, rather than merely compare the study abroad students’ graduation rates with system-wide rates for first-time, full-time freshmen, who drop

out for any number of reasons, the researchers compared study abroad students to a control group of students who had already persisted to the same point in college. They also constructed the control group to closely represent the institutions the study abroad students were coming from (the University of Georgia sends more students abroad than, say, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and the control group was created with a goal of reflecting that). “Our goal,” said Rubin, “was to isolate the effect of study abroad and to make our groups as comparable in every respect except that one group studied abroad and the other did not.” They found that the four-year graduation rate was 49.6 percent for study abroad students, compared to 42.1 percent for students in the control group (and 24 percent for students in the University System of Georgia as a whole). Sixyear rates were 88.7 percent for study abroad participants and 83.4 percent for students in the control group(and 49.3 percent system-wide). The effect held across various subgroups of students divided by gender, race and SAT score, but was particularly pronounced for certain groups – most dramatically, four-year graduation rates for AfricanAmericans who’d studied abroad were 31 percent higher than for African-American students in the control group. Fouryear graduation rates for other nonwhite students who’d studied abroad were 18 percent higher than for their peers in the control group. Nationally, nonwhite students remain underrepresented in study abroad -- according to the latest data, from the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors survey, 81.8 percent of Americans studying abroad in 2007-8 were white. The GLOSSARI Project found that for students who’d studied abroad, their mean cumulative GPA prior to going overseas was 3.24 and the mean cumulative GPA afterward was 3.30. For the control group over the same period, the mean GPA increased from 3.03 to 3.06. Researchers found a particularly pronounced effect of study abroad on academic performance among students who entered college with the lowest SAT scores. Among students who entered college with a combined SAT score of 800 (on the verbal and math sections), those who studied abroad ended up with a GPA of 3.21 compared to 3.14 for those students who stayed stateside. On the other extreme, for those students who entered college with a perfect SAT score of 1600, study abroad had no effect on their GPA, which on average was 3.25 regardless. “The conventional wisdom is that students who are at risk should be discouraged from studying abroad altogether,” Rubin said. “But this suggests that study abroad can actually be an intervention to enhance the success for college students who are at-risk. Rather than derailing them, rather than diverting them, it actually focuses them.” Intercultural Learning Outcomes: In another phase of the study, researchers administered a 29-question intercultural learning outcomes instrument to 440 study abroad and 230 non-study abroad participants from 13 Georgia institutions. “There are so many different ways in which students are going overseas and we had to look at a way to assess that across this variety of platforms,” said Sutton. From pre- to post-test, study abroad participants surpassed non-study abroad participants in measures related to
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Published by: philosophyandrew

functional knowledge of cultural practices – the ability to say what’s funny in another culture, for instance, or take a train or bus to reach a destination. Study abroad students also grew in their knowledge of cultural context – for example, in their knowledge of how different cultural settings affect one’s own reactions and interactions with others – relative to non-study abroad students. Again, on measures related to knowledge of global interdependence and world geography there was no significant difference between the control group and study abroad students. (The general decline in knowledge of world geography – the ability to name four rivers in Europe and three in Asia, or name six countries in Africa – was, unfortunately, a common finding irrespective of time overseas). The GLOSSARI project did not consider outcomes related to second-language acquisition during study abroad (although lots of other studies have considered these questions). Researchers did find, however, that time spent speaking a target language was correlated with higher intercultural learning more generally, Rubin said. Disciplinary Learning Outcomes: Another phase of the study considered student learning in courses taught on campus and abroad. Researchers looked at three case studies of courses taught on the home campus and overseas – a Novels of Jane Austen class (taught in Oxford), a French Revolution and Napoleon class (taught in Paris) and an Intercultural Communication class (also taught in Paris). “I was disappointed that despite some vigorous efforts we ended up with only three really good case studies,” said Rubin. “There were a variety of reasons why. We insisted that the majority of the learning objectives had to be the same [in both versions of the course]… another requirement was that they had to be taught by the same teacher.” Researchers also wanted the student assignments to be the same on campus and overseas, as external evaluators looked at student work in gauging student learning. Students seemed to acquire more “fact detail” knowledge in courses taught on campus -- in the Austen class, for instance, students who took the course on campus cited more examples in their essays. One external rater noted, of the campusbased class, “I saw more answers that demonstrated a deeper understanding, not just of Austen’s body of work, but also of the political and social climate during the time of her writing.” In some ways, Rubin said, this finding is to be expected, as the duration of the study abroad version of the course was shorter and students in that class read fewer of Austen’s books. “On the other hand the big-picture kind of learning, the more conceptual learning and the sense of why this is important or why this is still relevant, clearly came across more strongly in the study abroad classes,” Rubin said. For instance, students in the French Revolution class “saw how the events of revolution are interwoven into contemporary France, which is something that students who studied it domestically never achieved. For them it was just a history class.” “One of the implications that people who design programs might think about is the value of what’s now being called hybrid learning abroad -- classes in which a substantial component is done domestically,” Rubin said.

The GLOSSARI project was funded in part by a $547,000 U.S. Department of Education grant, which expired June 30. Their data collection work completed, Rubin and Sutton are now making the GLOSSARI database available to other researchers to pursue further questions. Outcomes Research in Study Abroad “What’s distinctive about the GLOSSARI project is that it’s system-wide,” said Brian Whalen, president and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad. “No other project really matches it, I don’t think, in terms of the scope and the coherence.” But there’s no question that there has been a huge increase in research into study abroad outcomes, as study abroad has grown and as colleges increasingly emphasize the need to assess student learning outcomes more generally. As the latest indication of this, a NAFSA task force recently issued a report on assessing international education -- which should, the report argued, “be fully integrated into the broader assessment of U.S. higher education." Whalen, the editor of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, said increased assessment activity is happening on both institutional and faculty-driven levels. “Projects such as the GLOSSARI project, which are very comprehensive and are institutionally-based, are becoming more common as institutions are seeking to establish very good benchmarks for international education,” he said. “Accrediting associations are holding those institutions accountable.” ”And then you have another wave of research that’s coming out of faculty members in disciplines” – many of whom have led short-term study abroad programs. A recent issue of Frontiers, for instance, included an article by education scholars on the role of study abroad in teacher education, and another article -- its first author a molecular and cellular biologist – documented changes in intercultural knowledge and competence as a result of international, undergraduate research experience. That same issue also highlighted the findings of the Georgetown Consortium Project, another major, crossuniversity study that which compared language acquisition -- gains in oral proficiency, specifically -- and intercultural learning of students who studied abroad and those who studied the target language in U.S. classrooms. As the authors of the latter study write, in outlining the context for their research, research in student learning abroad has “increased dramatically. During the 1970s, 189 research studies were published; that number had increased 675 by the 1990s. During the first decade of the 21st century, the number will almost certainly exceed 1,000.” The research on study abroad outcomes covers a broad range of topics and uses a variety of instruments in asking questions related to second-language acquisition, or changes in attitudes, beliefs or knowledge as a result of study abroad. Among the many tools being used in study abroad research are the IDI (the Intercultural Development Inventory), the CCAI (the Cross-Cultural Adaptability Inventory), the OPI (the oral proficiency interview), the SOPI (the simulated oral proficiency interview), and the BEVI (the Beliefs, Events and Values Inventory). The Beyond Immediate Impact: Study
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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

Abroad for Global Engagement (SAGE) project, based at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, uses an instrument called the Global Engagement Survey to track long-term outcomes of study abroad on dimensions including civic engagement, knowledge production, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. “There has been some outstanding research that’s already been done in second-language learning overseas, in personal development, intercultural growth, and attitudinal and behavioral changes that occur as a result of study abroad,” said Sutton, the GLOSSARI project director. “But what we felt when we began the GLOSSARI study was that there had been limited efforts and attention paid to learning outcomes and knowledge acquisition and skill acquisition that we felt really needed to be addressed. “We saw this very much as a first step, although it turned out to be a very long step.” Designs and maintains a Center web-site that promotes the program and offers comprehensive resources associated with all aspects of Vietnamese ... This position works in concert with the Senior International Student and Scholar Advisor and other OIE staff to provide student-visa advising, SEVIS ... Responsibilities The Office of International Study Programs seeks a qualified candidate to work with the Director and other personnel in the Office to ... The Feinstein International Center's goal is to develop and promote operational and policy responses to protect and strengthen the livelihoods of ...

other have urged graduate programs to recognize that the odds favor their students finding jobs at institutions that place as much or more value on teaching as on research. Of the 41 programs with courses, 28 are required and the rest are optional. The analysis then tried to determine which programs were most likely to offer these courses. The size of the department and the size of the universities -- both of which could be thought to measure the resources available for courses -- were found not to be factors. But there was an inverse relationship between research productivity in departments and the odds of offering such a course. The relationship, while significant, had notable exceptions in the survey among public but not among private institutions. Some of the public institutions with strong research records -- such as Ohio State University, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin at Madison -- do have such courses. But as a general rule, highly ranked private university departments do not. Over all, public institutions were seven times more likely than private institutions to offer such courses, the study found, citing as a possible explanation “the public service component of state institutions or the fact that public institutions are consistently faced with state-mandated programs to enhance teaching generally.” The study notes that there are innovations that go beyond just having a single course on teaching techniques. For example, Baylor University, a relatively young doctoral program in political science, has placed an emphasis on the idea that it is training future college teachers with a “teaching apprentice” program. In this program, grad students are assigned to work with senior professors teaching an undergraduate course -- not by becoming teaching assistants, but by analyzing the course. The grad students prepare an annotated syllabus -- different from the syllabus used -- to explore various teaching issues. During the fourth year of the program, the grad students are “instructors of record” for a course, but then in their fifth year they shift to a focus on finishing dissertations. The study suggests that this approach provides in-depth exposure to teaching issues. The paper on these issues was written by a professor (John Ishiyama) and two doctoral students (Tom Miles and Christine Balarezo) at the University of North Texas. Position Summary: The Liechtenstein Institute on SelfDetermination in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University invites applications for a ... Position Summary: The Department of Politics at Princeton University is seeking qualified candidates who can contribute through their research, ... Position Summary: The Department of Politics at Princeton University invites applications from senior scholars for positions as tenured associate or ... Position Summary: The Department of Politics is seeking applications from well-qualified individuals for a position in the field of Comparative ...

Bailout for Tennessee Prepaid Tuition Program
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/qt/ bailout_for_tennessee_prepaid_tuition_program July 13th, 2010

Tennessee lawmakers are authorizing $15 million to stabilize a prepaid tuition program that was supposed to be selfsustaining but that is in danger of falling behind on its commitments, Nashville Public Radio reported. The bailout follows one in 2007 as the stock market started to decline.

Teaching vs. Research
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/grad July 13th, 2010

It’s common for many at research universities to say that just because they value scholarly production doesn’t mean they don’t care about teaching. But a new study of political science departments at doctoral institutions -- published in the journal PS -- suggests that there may be a tradeoff. The study examined 122 departments at universities that grant doctorates in political science to see which institutions offer a course for doctoral students on how to become good teachers. It turns out that only a minority of departments (41) do so -even though the American Political Science Association and

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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

Position Summary: The Department of Politics is seeking applications from well-qualified individuals for a position in the field of American Politics. ...

past. But, for some, the death of Dana might prove a cautionary tale. Mulling a Merger For many years, neither Dana nor Midland Lutheran took the possibility of a merger or partnership seriously. A mix of passion, rivalry and ego led decision makers at the two colleges to see their institutions, though small and heavily tuition dependent, as endangered only abstractly. They knew in their hearts that alma mater would live on indefinitely. The most serious consideration of a merger happened just a few years ago, after an Omaha World-Herald article in December 2006 conveyed an ultimatum from a major donor to both institutions: no capital donations until the viability of a merger was thoroughly studied. On first glance, and at a common sense level, a merger would’ve been logical. Two small colleges, 25 miles apart, both struggling to get by on enrollments far smaller than their capacities and affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Upon closer inspection, though, a merger didn’t seem to make sense to many of the parties involved. After the donor made his plea, the two colleges brought in Presidential Practice, a consulting firm staffed by former college presidents, to study whether it would be possible to unite the colleges. “They indicated that they didn’t feel a merger was feasible,” says Dennis Gethmann, president of Dana's Board of Regents. “The culture of the two colleges was too different” and their resources were insufficient to make a merger work. Had the colleges decided to move ahead on a merger, it’s likely that one of the campuses would have had to close, he adds. “Can you imagine the politics that would’ve been involved in that?” Christopherson says that the colleges would occasionally consider collaboration, especially after they both became affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the late 1980s. “Wouldn’t it be good if we had one Lutheran college near Omaha?” he recalls many people at both colleges thinking. “As small private colleges with small endowments, we’ve both been really challenged for a long time. We were looking for savings." He wishes he had more seriously pursued a merger while president. “In hindsight, maybe we should’ve come together. I probably would have preferred that there would’ve been some way that Dana could’ve been preserved rather than this tragedy.” He adds: “Of course you always look back and wonder, ‘What else could I have done, should I have done?’ ” After rejecting the idea of a merger, and with the college teetering over a cliff, Dana's Board of Regents decided in March that handing over the college’s name, resources and history to a for-profit corporation would be the only way to keep the college alive in any form. The Higher Learning Commission, though, threw a wrench in that plan when it said it would deny the college continued accreditation under the for-profit owners. After scrambling for close to two weeks since that denial, both the buyers and the Dana board have acknowledged that the college is almost certainly dead.
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Mergers and Survival
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/07/13/mergers July 13th, 2010

Like so many small private colleges, Dana College, a small Lutheran institution on the outskirts of Omaha, has long been precariously close to its death. “I’ve worried about the college as long as I’ve known the college,” says Myrvin Christopherson, a 1961 alumnus who was Dana’s president from 1986 until 2005. During those 19 years, not only did he weather several years of budget deficits and a fire that destroyed the college’s Old Main, but he also increased the college’s endowment from $1 million to more than 10 times that. “It was always able to pull through.” And that was the mentality that many alumni, donors, faculty members, administrators and residents of the small town of Blair, Neb., maintained, at least until a few weeks ago: Dana is special, Dana is strong, Dana can survive. But now that the college is almost certainly dead -- after the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools denied Dana’s request for continued accreditation after a change of control that would have put it in the hands of a group of investors -- supporters and observers are wondering what else could have been done to keep Dana alive. Again and again, they turn to the same potential solution: a merger or partnership between Dana and Midland Lutheran College, in Fremont, Neb., another small institution of modest financial means and below-capacity enrollment. For decades, officials and supporters of Dana and Midland occasionally considered joining forces, including when a key donor to both institutions exhorted them to do so a few years ago. But each time, the conclusion was reached that a merger would be too expensive, or too wrenching to the institutions and their towns, to succeed. "There's never been a keen desire on the part of the faculties or administrations of either institution," Christopherson says. "We were both critical to the culture and education and life of these communities." At many other small private colleges that have considered mergers, the story is the same. Their institutions are unique, special, like no other place on earth. Backers believe that their institutions will be able to survive dwindling enrollments, high tuition discount rates and rising costs. Though they've faced scares during previous recessions -- as Dana and Midland both did -- they've been able to make it through, and with that history and confidence in their institutions, presidents and boards take the leap of faith that they will be able to continue on without merging. Even at a time when the business model of nonprofit higher education is perhaps being challenged on more fronts than ever before, it's not clear that the leaders of struggling colleges are considering mergers more seriously than they have in the

July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

The board held its final scheduled meeting on Monday morning, appointing a receiver who has authority over the college’s assets (owned by bondholders) and making plans to ensure that students have access to their transcripts. “We’re wrapping up the affairs of the college,” says Gethmann, the board’s chair. An executive committee of four will stay on to “take whatever steps to cease operations” in the coming months. The nonprofit Dana’s accreditation, he adds, will likely continue until next spring, so that students who would’ve been seniors this coming academic year can receive Dana diplomas after completing their coursework elsewhere. Many are heading to Midland. Benjamin E. Sasse, who became president of Midland this spring and grew up in Fremont, says many people at his institution regret not doing more to save Dana. “A lot of us wish that [a merger] had been pursued more aggressively.” But the fact that there was no merger has been at least a temporary boon for Midland. About 300 of Dana’s 550 students, Sasse says, have enrolled for the fall, bringing Midland’s projected enrollment up to about 900. Before the recession, the college’s enrollment peaked at 1,100 but often hovered, with relative institutional health, around 900. “We’re being mindful that these students chose to come here but understand that Dana lives on for them,” he says. Former Dana students will be housed with the friends they planned to room with, and one home football game may be played on the Dana campus. Only time will tell whether the future applicants who would have headed to Dana will find a niche at Midland. Can Colleges Merge? As the U.S. economy tumbled two years ago, some experts on private colleges started to foresee an era of mergers. Though there have been some mergers and partnerships, the killer wave hasn’t hit the shore and some experts aren’t sure it will. In August 2008, Richard H. Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, told Inside Higher Ed then that “we may be in an environment in which colleges in difficulty are going to be willing to try more ambitious solutions, such as mergers.” Between rising energy costs, institutions’ dependence upon tuition discounts to attract students and the shrinking of donors’ wallets, “circumstances now are more extreme than they have been,” he said. Today, Ekman isn’t quite as sure. “Mergers are not the magic bullet for most of these situations,” he says. “Some of the places that can’t distinguish themselves are likely to continue at low quality and in tough financial shape, and some of them are going to close." David Breneman, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education, says that while the start of this recession, like the start of previous ones over the last few decades, hinted at the possibility of mergers, there haven’t been nearly as many as some anticipated. “I don’t believe there is a huge record of successful mergers in this country,” he says. “It’s just pure geography. No one wants to give up their campus and I think to successful merge … you probably need to be

in reasonable proximity to one another.” Even the 25 or so miles between Dana and Midland may have proved to be too far. “Why would anybody want to merge with them unless they’re close enough that they can actually make meaningful savings by selling some buildings and integrating the faculty and administration?” Alice Brown, former president of the Appalachian College Association, wrote last fall in Inside Higher Ed that one small college that she studied (in a project looking at institutions that eventually closed) started off the merger process seeing it as “salvation.” Within two years, administrators from the dominant institution had dismantled most of what was left. Her warning to colleges in dire economic straits: resist "hope" that the institution will make it through, or the precedent of other struggles it was able to survive A senior fellow at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Jon Fuller, says he doesn’t think mergers are the best way for institutions to collaborate. Instead, he points to regional partnerships like the Claremont Colleges in California and the Five College Consortium in Massachusetts. Twenty private colleges in Wisconsin have come together to consolidate back office functions and have saved millions of dollars. But for colleges that have already passed the point of searching for efficiencies, mergers are one final hope at keeping the name and traditions alive. Ekman notes that “there haven’t been too many where two equally struggling institutions decide to join forces as even partners.” As in the case of Dana and Midland, many institutions of that sort that consider a merger do so once it’s too late, and neither institution is able to play a dominant role. Lucie Lapovsky, a consultant to colleges who has done work for Midland and is a former president of Mercy College, in New York, agrees. “There’s always a clear rationale why one college is seeking out a merger with another,” she says. “Usually in this day and age, one school is stronger than the other.” Cases in point: the mergers of New York University and Polytechnic University, Fordham University and Marymount College, George Washington University and Mount Vernon College -- all in the last decade or so. In all those instances, the more dominant institution has taken over. Marymount has been dissolved. Mount Vernon is another campus on the other side of Washington, D.C. “How you merge two cultures is always very challenging,” she says. “It’s a series of compromises and that’s why most mergers don’t work.” University of North TexasBudget AnalystDepartment OverviewThe University of North Texas at Dallas invites applications for the position of Accountant ... This person is responsible for shaping an integrated approach to planning and allocating financial resources, forecasting, developing financial models ... The Director is responsible for directing and coordinating the procurement of supplies, materials, equipment and services; managing agreements and ...

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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

When Technology Doesn’t Help
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/ confessions_of_a_community_college_dean/ when_technology_doesn_t_help July 13th, 2010

so complex and high-maintenance that they require dedicated staff, thereby adding higher labor costs to the equation. There are excellent societal reasons why that’s a good idea. I like the idea of the rookie Nursing student making his first medical mistakes on simulators, rather than on people, for the same reason that I like pilots to use flight simulators before they first fly planes. Fewer casualties that way. But the college doesn’t capture the gains from that. It’s saddled with the costs, heaven knows, but not with the other side of the equation. And in an era of declining state support, there are only so many places to go to find the difference. I agree that certain applications of technology can save colleges money, and that colleges should take those opportunities seriously. But to assume that it will only be deployed where it saves money, or even that it will be a net financial gain, strikes me as reaching. We train people on the latest stuff because we have to, whether it saves money or not.

By Dean Dad July 12, 2010 9:36 pm Joshua Kim’s piece yesterday reminded me of a basic, but widely ignored, truth. In most industries, new technology is adopted because it’s expected to lower costs and/or improve productivity (which lowers costs over time). It doesn’t always succeed, of course, and the usual vagaries of faddism are certainly there. But by and large, the point of adopting a new technology is to make the underlying business stronger. But that doesn’t apply in either higher education or health care. In both of those, institutions adopt technology to meet rising expectations, whether it helps with cost or not. Much of the time, it actually leads to increased costs. For example, take the typical college library. Libraries don’t bring in much revenue on their own, if any; they’re pretty pure ‘cost centers’ for most colleges. They’re central to the educational mission of the college, to be sure; I’d suggest that in the context of a commuter campus, that’s even more true than elsewhere. But income is tied to credit hours, and libraries don’t generate credit hours of their own. In the past, typical library costs included labor, acquisitions, utilities, and not much else. Tables, desks, chairs, and carrels could be expected to last decades (and judging by some of the graffiti I saw at Flagship State, they did.) Yes, you might find microfilm or microfiche, but even there the space requirements were minimal and the purchases could last for decades. (For younger readers: microfilm was sort of like cassette tape...no, wait, you wouldn’t know that...it was sort of like movies watched really slowly...no, not like dvd’s...ah, screw it, I’m old.) It wasn’t at all rare for the highest-tech thing in the library to be the coin-operated photocopier. Now, students expect/demand that the library offer plenty of computer workstations with high-speed internet access, good wifi everywhere, all manner of ‘assistive technology’ for the visually or otherwise challenged, and access to proprietary (paid) databases for all sorts of materials. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but none of it displaced what had come before, and none of it came with its own revenue sources. And that’s before mentioning the price pressures that publishers have put on traditional acquisitions. As a result, the library is far more expensive to run than it once was. It isn’t doing anything wrong; it’s just doing what it’s supposed to do. The problem is that the technological advances it adopts -- each for good reason -- don’t, and won’t, save money. Something similar holds true in the health-related majors. As medicine has adopted more high-tech equipment and methods, we’ve had to adopt them, too, to train the students on them. But we don’t get any of the gains from that. We have to pay for it, but the productivity gains, if any, accrue to the industry rather than to us. Worse, many of the purchases are

The New iPhone Audible App
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology_and_learning/ the_new_iphone_audible_app July 13th, 2010

By Joshua Kim July 12, 2010 9:24 pm Audible just launched it's new iPhone app. I'm so excited. I've played with the app a bit. Here's what it seems to do: 1. You can see and download anything that is in your Audible library. 2. Some advanced playback features. 3. The ability to Tweet, Facebook, or e-mail what you are reading. 4. A note taking tool. 5. News and Events - including featured customer reviews, YouTube Audible links, Audible news and lists. What am I missing? As you know, I'm an Audible junky who loves audiobooks but hates the Audible.com website. For a list of my audiobook collection click on this link. It blows my mind that I can't share my list of books with other Platinum Listeners and audiobook freaks through either Audible.com or the new iPhone app. I find Audible.com continues to suffer from a poor recommendation engine, terrible integration with Amazon.com (the owner of Audible and the place for a much better book browsing and discovery experience), slow and awkward navigation, and a generally poor social features. What I do like about Audible.com are the same things I like about the new iPhone app - namely that I can see and download my whole collection in one place. One thing that seems to be missing from the Audible iPhone app is the ability to browse and download books. Will I be able to do this from the Amazon iPhone app? Is this feature coming? Am I just missing something? We should say thank you to the people at Audible for bringing out this iPhone app. This app will push me to put more books
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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

in my Library, so they are available for download should I ever find myself bookless and without a computer. I hope over time the social features of both the Audible.com site and the iPhone app develop. Us audiobook listeners are an oppressed group. We have to endure air quotes when people ask us what we are "reading" lately. We want to connect with each other. We want recommendations, we want to see each others libraries and wish lists, we want to know when someone (who has given us permission to see) buys a book. Have you tried the new Audible iPhone app? What do you like? What would you like to see included in the next version? ps. I'm just finishing "reading" Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed, by Gregg Easterbrook - it is amazing!

way off my shelves. This time I rethought their organization as well. For years I’ve had literary criticism in one set of shelves, Victorian literature in another, with another few devoted to “other things I might teach” or “other things I have taught.” There are a couple of shelves of writing books, and several of feminist theory as well. But it was the shelves of “things I might teach” or “have taught” that were posing the problem, as they threatened to take over my office. (And believe me when I say I have ample shelf space — my office is in a former library, with built-in bookshelves reaching from the floor almost to the ceiling along three walls. A window interrupts one set of shelves but otherwise that’s pretty much all that’s in here.) I spent a full day at it. I climbed up on my desk to reach some of my bookshelves, moved the library ladder around to get to the rest, and organized. Novels that had fallen out of alphabetical order were sternly returned to the proper location. Children’s books — the bulk of my teaching over the last ten years—finally got their own shelves, and their own organization. For at least a day, I knew where everything was — I even tracked down some books I’d loaned out, and got them back on the right shelves. This won’t last, I know. This morning I brought in a tote bag filled with books from the fantasy series I’m now writing about —they’d been on the home shelves for too long. But they’ll continue to move back and forth with me as I take notes on them in the evening (or at least as I imagine that it’s possible that I’ll take notes on them in the evening — some nights, certainly, they will simply stay in the book bag and come back to the office the next morning). I can’t tell my new colleagues which books they’ll want here, which at home. Perhaps instead I should suggest they invest in plenty of book bags, and get comfortable with the idea that the decisions they make today can always be revisited. Again, and again, and again.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Organizing the Office
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/mama_phd/ mothering_at_mid_career_organizing_the_office July 13th, 2010

By Libby Gruner July 12, 2010 9:14 pm (My last blog post contained a spoiler alert—this one may need a “book nerd” alert, for I fear that its musings are only of interest to folks like me whose books threaten to take over their living spaces. Consider yourself warned.) A couple of new colleagues are moving in to their offices today. They’ve just moved to Richmond, and are sorting out what stays at home and what comes to the office. I see the piles of boxes outside the offices and know that books are going in — but which ones? How do we choose? I was thinking about the question myself because I recently reshelved the books in my office. This is one of those end-ofthe-year mindless tasks that I usually try to do in May, but somehow I only got to it in early July this year. Over the course of a semester (or, to be honest, the whole academic year) my books tend to scatter. Some go on the “teaching now” shelf. Others make their way to the “consult for research” shelf— many of these are library books, but there are also novels and critical works of my own sharing shelf space with them. Others, of course, were pulled off a shelf for a quick consultation and didn’t make it back. And then there are the myriad books that seem to shuttle between home and campus, as I try to prep another novel at home, or get optimistic about working on my research over a weekend. These tend to end up in tote bags until I panic that they are lost for good, at which point I explore all the shelves, bags, boxes, and flat surfaces around me until they turn up. While in years past I have on occasion actually used my home office for research (and therefore shelved a good number of books there) recently I’ve found working from home too distracting, so most of my books have ended up in my campus office. But not all—for some reason, children’s fantasy (my major area of research) is still mostly at home. You’ll have gathered that my organizational strategies leave something to be desired. This summer, I resolved to do something about it. So when it was time to tackle the office mess, I didn’t just reshelve the books that had, over the course of the semester, made their

Compared to What?
Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/the_world_view/ compared_to_what July 13th, 2010

By Daniel Levy July 12, 2010 11:12 am Hardly a day passes when we don’t read about poor performance in higher education. This is true for those who follow the international scene and it’s true for those who follow mostly the US or virtually any other single country. The nearly relentless message is that we are not doing well in higher education. Modified, the message is at least that we are not doing nearly well enough. But compared to what? That should be an obvious and omnipresent question. Yet it is often ignored or left vague and inexplicit. Alongside many specific and valid gauges, the too common comparison is really to desires or goals. We should be “there” but we are still “here.” We should be at performance indicator or benchmark x but we are at y. “Report Cards” usually show “poor” performance. Even further, it is common to refer to higher education in crisis. Again, compared to what? Primary and secondary education, health care, higher education somewhere else, higher education ten years ago? How long or often can something be in “crisis” without just representing a reality, however lamentable?
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July 13th, 2010

Published by: philosophyandrew

There is of course nothing inherently wrong with desires and aspirations. They can indeed have positive effects--reminding us or our values, even our dreams, or exhorting us to larger and better efforts. A particularly good rationale in international comparison, is spurring via embarrassment: “our higher education system is on a level with Ghana’s?” But invidious comparisons to unrealistic standards can also have negative effects. The economist Albert Hirschman repeatedly pointed to such effects and failure syndromes. Hopes, expectations, and goals that are dashed again and again can lead to cynicism and a feeling that effort is worthless. Politics and the policy process have dynamics that often push to unrealistic goals: It is a way to “be for” grand things, sometimes even without much invested effort or resources. Common in UNESCO, World Bank, and many other international documents and projects is comparison of the developing country or region in question to developed countries. “See how far country x trails Western Europe in higher education access or expenditure” when more pertinent is comparison of access or expenditure to that of a country at a similar economic level (not that such comparisons are non-existent). Similarly, comparison to invented and declared standards can have pernicious effects. Leading work on numeracy in Latin America shows on metric after metric that country x or the region overall is way behind. Proliferating higher education accreditation bodies worldwide (which have vital roles to play) are demonstrably vulnerable to the temptation to set requirements at levels of what they think should be. Also tempting are metrics that are inappropriately applied to certain kinds of institutions (nonuniversity, technological, private) even if those metrics are appropriate for universities of high standing. Comparisons are essential to good higher education study. They can also serve useful purposes in higher education policy. But many prominent and repeated comparisons are either pointless or worse.

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