Tag Archives: education

Students Failing my Underwater Remote Control and Basket-weaving Class

27 Sep

The University has instituted a new program called "Early Alert," which is designed to give poorly performing students an early warning that they are "deficient" in their coursework.  This means that they are earning a D or less in a 100 or 200 level course.  Currently, that is 26% of my International Relations class.  While not surprising since I pointed out the first day of class that I expected 25% of the class to get a D or less, it concerns me because of the how students have been graded up to this point in the class.  To understand my conern, you just need to know that I have been using a personal response system (i.e., clickers) in my class that allows me to ask students questions and have them respond electronically.  I can track attendance based on who answers questions and do short reading quizzes.

If you have simply attended every class session and responded to most of the clicker questions you have a C+ in the class.  This is true even if you have missed every quiz question I've asked so far due to the extra credit you have accrued by attending class regularly (On a side note, thanks to my generous extra credit policy another 25% of the class currently has over a 100% in the class).  Here's what concerns me:  If a quarter of the class is "deficient" when all they have had to do is sit in a chair for 50 minutes three times a week and click a button occasionally to pass, what is going to happen when they take their midterm and actually have to demonstrate an ability to think!

It does not inspire confidence.

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End of the Bluebook?

23 May

WTF?  According to the New York Times:

With their arsenal of electronic gadgets, students these days find it easier to cheat. And so, faced with an array of inventive techniques in recent years, college officials find themselves in a new game of cat and mouse, trying to outwit would-be cheats this exam season with a range of strategies — cutting off Internet access from laptops, demanding the surrender of cellphones before tests or simply requiring that exams be taken the old-fashioned way, with pens and paper.

When (and where) did students stop writing exams?  Seriously.  It's news to me that students write their essay exams on a laptop!

Link: Colleges Chase as Cheats Shift to Higher Tech – New York Times.

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The graduation gap

14 Mar

Proof that women are better students and that Linfield was a bit different than the state schools:

After six years, 59 percent of female students had earned degrees, while 53 percent of male students had. By institution type, 64 percent of students at private nonprofit colleges had a degree within six years, compared with 53 percent of those at public colleges and 25 percent of those at private for-profit colleges.

Link: The Chronicle

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No TV for Baby!

15 Dec

Technology is not always a good thing, something that parents of young children ought to be aware of. As a future parent, I find the trend towards more tech toys for babies to be troubling. Consider:

New media products for babies, toddlers and preschoolers began flooding the market in the late 1990's, starting with video series like "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby." But now, the young children's market has exploded into a host of new and more elaborate electronics for pre-schoolers, including video game consoles like the V.Smile and handheld game systems like the Leapster, all marketed as educational. Despite the commercial success, though, a report released yesterday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, "A Teacher in the Living Room? Educational Media for Babies, Toddlers and Pre-schoolers," indicates there is little understanding of how the new media affect young children – and almost no research to support the idea that they are educational.

Now I have no problem with a parent putting a baby in front of a "Care Bears" video for twenty minutes to balance the checkbook or cook dinner, so I definitely have no problem putting them in front of a "Baby Einstein" video for few minutes. However, the idea that this or other technology is going to give a child some sort of advantage in life is just not supported by any evidence. There are simply no documented benefits to out weigh the costs. In fact:

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time at all for babies under 2, out of concern that the increasing use of media might displace human interaction and impede the crucially important brain growth and development of a baby's first two years. But it is a recommendation that parents routinely ignore. According to Kaiser, babies 6 months to 3 years old spend, on average, an hour a day watching TV and 47 minutes a day on other screen media, like videos, computers and video games.

I will most likely plop my future progeny in front of the Tivo to keep them occupied at times. I mean, I already plop my cats in front of the TV to watch a DVD of birds, fish, and rodents to keep them busy and entertained. Therefore, I know I cannot guarantee zero screen time for my young children. I can however guarantee that the most technological thing they are going to have is a speak-and-spell and that they will not be playing on a computer until they start school.

Link: See Baby Touch a Screen. But Does Baby Get It? – New York Times.

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Men abandon education as gender gap widens

23 Oct

The College gender gap is widening:

In May, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education posted the inevitable culmination of a trend: Last year for the first time, women earned more than half the degrees granted statewide in every category, be it associate, bachelor, master, doctoral or professional …

There are more men than women ages 18-24 in the USA – 15 million vs. 14.2 million, according to a Census Bureau estimate last year. But nationally, the male/female ratio on campus today is 43/57, a reversal from the late 1960s and well beyond the nearly even splits of the mid-1970s.

At first blush, your first thought is probably that this is a good sign of women's progress and you would probably be right. However, there is a darker side to the story:

Today, though, the blue-collar jobs that once attracted male high school graduates are drying up. More boys are dropping out of high school and out of college. And as the gender gap widens, concern about the educational aspirations of young men appears to be gaining traction, albeit cautiously.

But even as evidence of a problem – a crisis, some say – mounts, "there's a complacency about this topic," McCorkell says.

Young men are falling apart and we need to do something about it.

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Job-Talk Blues

12 Oct

This makes me feel good about being on the market:

Relax. The job talk is just a short, casual way for us to get to know you — then judge you, ridicule you, and use you as a pawn in our vicious intradepartmental rivalries. (free)

Link: Job-Talk Blues

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Tenure: It isn’t for families

24 Feb

Ahh, the joys of tenure reform. Some of the latest suggestions:

  • Giving young professors up to 10 years – instead of 6 – to earn tenure.
  • Allowing faculty members to work part time for up to five years at a time.
  • Granting multiyear leaves to professors for personal and professional reasons.
  • Creating postdoctoral jobs to help people who have stepped out of academe after earning their Ph.D.'s, perhaps to raise a family, to re-enter their careers in higher education.

While I applaud the effort to make academia less hostile to having a family life, isn't it about time we just gave up? Maybe having a defeatist attitude for a few years will improve the chances of actually getting some meaningful reform.

Currently playing in iTunes: The Road to Mandalay by Robbie Williams

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