The new issue of On Campus with Women is now available online.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
If the question of where to start seems overwhelming, you are at the beginning, not the end, of this adventure. Being overwhelmed is the first step if you are serious about trying to get at things that really matter on a scale that makes a difference. So what do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Well, you have two things. You have a mind and you have other people. Start with those and change the world.Here is Elizabeth Coleman, president of Bennington College, at the 2009 TED Conference, calling for a reinvention of the liberal arts, and calling on us to get serious about saving the world. Find 18 minutes when you won't be disturbed and that you can devote to listening carefully to her message.
Students are yearning to make real change in the world, to address the global problems they inherited, but as it stands, college rarely equips them to do this. Subject matters of study are broken up into smaller and smaller pieces, with increasing emphasis on the technical and the obscure.... This, despite the evidence all around us of the interconnectedness of things.
Equally startling is the fact that no one makes any connection between what is happening to the body politic and what is happening inside our leading educational institutions. Education may be at the top of the list in the public's mind when it comes to increasing access to personal wealth; it isn't even on the list when it comes to responsibility for the health of this democracy.
We, the people, have become inured to our own irrelevance when it comes to doing anything significant about anything that matters concerning governance beyond waiting another four years…. [T]here is no such thing as a viable democracy made up of experts, zealots, politicians, and spectators
What is certain is that the individual talent exhibited in such abundance here needs to turn its attention to that collaborative, messy, frustrating, contentious, and impossible world of politics and public policy. President Obama and his team simply cannot do it alone.
If you sign up on the Weekly Innovations web site, you'll receive an email newsletter that contains items about all kinds of things related to higher education. You'll also have access to a lot of free stuff that may be of interest, such as a free, play-on-demand webinar called "Creating Learning Communities to Enhance Student Success." From their site you can also watch Will Farrell's commencement address at Harvard.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Why do I keep remembering all of these funny things from ancient times? Maybe I should have been a history teacher instead of psychology?
Whatever the answer to those burning questions, here's another one: Who remembers Father Guido Sarducci? Whether you do or don't, enjoy this:
From a recent issue of Campus Technology:
Homework assignments in Lisa Dysleski's general chemistry courses…were supposed to help students--mostly freshmen--understand the subject better and make them reach beyond mere facts and actually think. Instead, students became frustrated with difficult questions…and were simply giving each other homework answers.And now, for the rest of the story...
Dysleski and her colleagues…turned to a solution that has not only solved the problem completely--it has resulted in several other positive changes in the large, 250-student introductory chemistry courses….
The software assesses each student's skill level at the beginning of the semester, then tailors learning goals and homework questions throughout the course to match individual skill levels and learning paces.
"I love that my students are more prepared during lectures," she said. "I love that they're actually doing homework on their own. I love that they're coming to office hours with good questions." Those changes--as well as test scores that rose an unheard-of 10 percentage points in fall 2008 compared to fall 2007….”
Dysleski said she's more than pleased with the changes she's seeing in class. "In lectures, it feels as if students are participating more. They're yelling out answers more than in the past. They come to office hours more with prepared questions.”
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
If I were you (and in many ways, I am), I'd be very wary about signing up for online newsletters, email updates, etc. You might consider this one, though. Faculty Focus gives you access to a lot of materials that you may find very useful in promoting your students' learning. Occasionally they make documents available for download, free, and it's often pretty good stuff. The latest is Put to the Test: Making Sense of Educational Assessment. From the web site, about this publication:
On one side of the educational assessment debate, you have faculty who feel all these new educational assessment requirements stifle their academic freedom without providing truly meaningful data to justify the additional workload it generates.Partial contents:
On the other side of the educational assessment debate are those educators who accept the fact that educational assessment is here to stay and believe that, with careful planning, it’s possible to design exactly the type of assessment systems needed to get an accurate picture of student learning outcomes.
Creating a Sustainable, Faculty-Driven Assessment Initiative Assessment for the Millennial Generation Rethinking Assessment What Is the Role of Student Affairs in Assessment? Encouraging Faculty Involvement in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Assessing Class Participation: One Useful Strategy Outcomes Assessment Is Here to Stay, Get Faculty Buy In Assessment Methods Should Match Institutional Goals “Assessmania” and “Bureaupathology” in Higher Education Manias, Pathologies, and Alternative Approaches to Assessment
Monday, June 22, 2009
An earlier post on this blog mentioned Monica Rankin's use of Twitter in her history course at the University of Texas at Dallas. Here's more about this particular Twitter experiment.
A lot of people are working very hard to figure out how to turn these fun toys into useful tools in educational settings and elsewhere (witness Iran). Take a look at Dr. Rankin's notes about her Twitter experiment, and watch this video that documented some of what she and her students are doing.
The Spring 2009 issue of Liberal Education is now available online. Several full-text articles are available online, including the lead article on "What's Happened to the Major in Liberal Education?" and articles focusing on the place of liberal education in majors in biology, the classics, English, languages, economics, history, religious studies. And more...
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The June/July issue of AAC&U News is now available online. Just to remind you...
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises 1,200 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges and universities of every type and size.
AAC&U organizes its work around five broad goals:
Through its publications, meetings, public advocacy, and programs, AAC&U provides a powerful voice for liberal education. AAC&U works to reinforce the commitment to liberal education at both the national and the local level and to help individual colleges and universities keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet new economic and social challenges. With a ninety-year history and national stature, AAC&U is an influential catalyst for educational improvement and reform.
- A Guiding Vision for Liberal Education
- Inclusive Excellence
- Intentional and Integrative Learning
- Civic, Diversity, and Global Engagement
- Authentic Evidence
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The new issue of the Journal of Leadership Education is now available, and among its various articles on different aspects of leadership education, there are four articles on the assessment of student development in leadership education programs. The article titles and their first authors:
Assessment in Academic Based Leadership Education Programs
Brent J. Goertzen, Fort Hays State University
Leadership Education and Assessment: A Developmental Approach
Douglas R. Lindsay, United States Air Force Academy
Potential Issues and Pitfalls in Outcomes Assessment in Leadership Education
David M. Rosch, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Effective Leadership Development in Higher Education: Individual and Group Level Approaches
Susanne Braun, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich (Germany)
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Here's how they state their mission (italics added by me):
The Teagle Foundation provides leadership for liberal education, marshalling the intellectual and financial resources necessary to ensure that today's students have access to challenging, wide-ranging, and enriching college educations. We believe that the benefits of such learning last for a lifetime and are best achieved when colleges develop broad and intellectually stimulating curricula, engage their students in active learning, explore questions of deep social and personal significance, set clear goals, and—crucially—systematically measure progress toward them. The Foundation's commitment to such education includes its long-established scholarship program for employees of ExxonMobil and their children, and more recent work with organizations helping disadvantaged young people in New York City win admission to college and succeed once there. Finally, the Foundation is committed to disseminate widely the results of its work throughout the higher education community, understanding that the knowledge generated by our grantees—rather than the funding that enabled their work—is at the heart of our philanthropy.I encourage you to explore their very rich web site, and to consider subscribing to their blogs, podcasts, and/or email newsletters.
From U.S. News & World Report comes this story about how some faculty members are using Twitter to promote more involvement in their learning by their students. A few excerpts:
At the University of Texas-Dallas, history professor Monica Rankin needed a better way to get students involved in the classroom. The 90-person lecture hall was too big for back-and-forth conversation. So, with help from students in the school's emerging media program, she had her students set up accounts on Twitter—a micro-blogging service—and then use the technology to post messages and ask questions that were displayed on a projector screen during class. Rankin says that although the technology has its limitations, the experiment encouraged students to participate who otherwise would not have done so.And now, for the rest of the story...
At Champlain College in Vermont, marketing and online business professor Elaine Young went from using Twitter—which lets people send 140-character messages, or "tweets," out for anyone to see—as a tool to help teach in the classroom to something that business and marketing students can call on to build networks and make connections in the professional world. Compared to other social networking sites, "Twitter is more about creating connections with others who may not be your real friends," she says.
Another educator who's leveraging that instant-access information is David Parry, a professor of emerging media at the University of Texas-Dallas. Parry uses Twitter to enhance his classes and as a means of keeping students engaged in course content beyond the classroom walls. He has them create Twitter profiles and "follow," or track, his updates along with those of friends and others outside the university. Many of his students go one step further and use the site to alert their classmates to world events or issues that are relevant to the course .
Ever since instruction began being offered online there have been questions about whether students can really become as engaged in their studies using this instructional mode as is possible with face-to-face instruction. These questions are more urgent for certain kinds of courses. As this June 7 article from Inside Higher Ed says,
Science professors are often reluctant to teach their courses online, citing the difficulty of virtually replicating hands-on experience in the laboratory.Now, however,
...the proliferation of do-it-yourself experiment kits that allow online students to do at home almost everything that classroom students can do -- including dissect a fetal pig -- has won over some long-time critics to the portability of the sciences through distance education.And now, for the rest of the story...
“I have to say, I was amazed when I saw these kits,” [Nahel Awadallah, professor of anatomy and physiology] said. “I couldn’t believe they had everything that I would give my students in their anatomy classes on campus: a fetal pig, sheep’s eyes, sheep’s heart, everything.”
“To evaluate my students, I have them use digital cameras and Web cams,” said Penny Perkins-Johnston, anatomy and physiology professor at California State University at San Marcos. “Let’s say we’re interested in bones. I’ll make up a list of instructions, and I’ll have my students show me these structures on a short video that they can post online. Every student has to do it and, in that way, they are almost teaching me.”
If you decide to subscribe to the free email publication, Faculty Focus, you're eligible to download occasional reports, some of which are pretty useful. The most recent downloadable report is Student Collaboration in the Online Classroom. Here are a couple of excerpts from the description of this report:
How do you bring students together when they’re physically dispersed? Building relationships and communities in online courses is a concern for anyone involved in distance learning. After all, getting students to work effectively in groups is always a challenge. When you add the variables of time and distance to the equation, there are even more obstacles to overcome.
One of the best teaching tools in a traditional classroom is the team project. When students work together, they learn a great deal – not just about what they’re studying, but about how to work with others toward common goals, with shared responsibilities, for shared reward.
Traditional classrooms have an innate advantage in bringing students together … the students are sitting there right in front of them. A collaborative project can begin by simply seating the team at the same table.
Things are much different in an online environment. Students are not in the same room. They may not be in the same ZIP code. They may not be in the same state, or even country. Not only that, but due to the asynchronous nature of most distance education courses, it’s unlikely the students will even be online at the same time.
It’s no surprise, then, that adapting collaborative projects to online classes has been a challenge for educators.
Here's a summary of a panel discussion at the January 2009 Mathematical Association of America meeting. Applicable in other disciplines, not just math.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
From the June 4 Chronicle of Higher Education. A lot of folks think this is the proper approach at all levels of education, not just med school or other professional schools. I find it hard to argue against that position.
A couple of quotes from the article:
Future physicians should be given a clear set of “competencies” to master, rather than a rigid set of courses to take, according to a report released today by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.And now, for the rest of the story...
The committee members hope that by focusing on a dynamic set of competencies, rather than specific courses, they will open the door to more innovation in both premedical and medical curricula, and make it easier for premeds to take a variety of nonscience, liberal-arts courses.
The report says that its findings are “based on the premise that the undergraduate years are not and should not be aimed only at students preparing for professional school. Instead, the undergraduate years should be devoted to creative engagement in the elements of a broad, intellectually expansive liberal-arts education.”
And here's how this story played in Inside Higher Ed.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Here's the new issue of AAC&U's publication, Diversity & Democracy. Looks like there's some really good stuff in there, including a lit review on high-impact educational practices, educational practices that foster intercultural competence, first year learning communities, service learning and learning communities, plus more!
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Who remembers Woodstock? Who remembers Joe Cocker? Who is old (besides me)?
And if you remember Joe Cocker, did you understand what he was saying? Well, the truth is out.
Thanks to Mark Taylor, the Generation NeXt guru!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Some quotes from an article in today's Inside Higher Ed:
We are living in an era in which accountability is a public mandate. The pressures of a global market and domestic economic failures have refocused our attention more clearly on ensuring that institutions -- whether banks, government agencies, or universities -- are producing the results that they promise.And now, for the rest of the story...
Within higher education, the issue of accountability has often been cast as a polemic between insider knowledge (“We already know we’re doing a good job”) and external constituents (“Show us that you’re doing a good job”). We complain that external constituents don’t understand education, giving us an excuse to avoid self-examination and transparency. And yet, of all industries, we should be most effective both at critical self-analysis and at conveying that information, because we are educators. Posing research questions, and gathering, analyzing and using data to reframe an inquiry, are what we do.
We already have a model of higher education’s slow evolution toward accountability: assessment. It’s been 25 years with millions of dollars spent, and most institutions still do not have a coordinated system of assessing student learning much less an ability to demonstrate educational effectiveness. We don’t have the luxury of that glacial pace in developing functional systems of organizational learning to address the most pressing issues in higher education. To paraphrase our current administration in Washington, no crisis should be a wasted opportunity. More than ever, educators need to be making informed decisions based on evidence.
The call for greater accountability isn’t going away. We should take better advantage of this extrinsic impetus to develop genuinely useful and intrinsically motivated processes for developing and communicating institutional learning for our own purposes.
The first step toward genuine institutional learning is admitting we have a problem(s) and a need. And we do -- we should be making very difficult decisions about budget reductions or restructuring with clear and well-known evidence about institutional effectiveness.
…we have identified six common maladies that absorb significant institutional resources while thwarting learning…
Here's an article from the current Chronicle of Higher Education about a remedial/developmental program in math that's found a better way. A couple of quotes from the story:
Remediation is the no man's land of American education. Every year we send hundreds of thousands of young men and women over the top, across a rocky landscape strewn with pedagogical barbed wire and the remains of those who tried and failed before them. We know, without a doubt, that many of those eager and unsuspecting students won't make it. Yet we send them anyway, because there's always another fresh class of recruits to enroll.And now, for the rest of the story...
The cost to the nation in lost time and resources is astounding. The lofty goal of increasing the ranks of college graduates, voiced by President Obama and others, will not be met if we can't find a better way.
The problem was all too clear to the chair of the mathematics department, John Squires. "If half your students fail," he says, "you can't call that a success." So he decided to try something new. In spring 2008 he put in place the math "emporium model" popularized by the National Center for Academic Transformation. Instead of attending traditional lectures in basic math, elementary algebra, and intermediate algebra, remedial students come to a large computer lab where they solve math problems and, when they need help, work with on-site faculty members and tutors. Courses are arranged in weekly modules with accompanying quizzes that can be retaken until students are ready for the next step.
The results were impressive...And when remedial students went on to college-level math, their success continued...For the first time, students coming from the remedial sequence earned higher grades than their peers did.