Thursday, May 23, 2013
Three Dollar People
I’ve got nothing against research universities; I got my doctorate at one. But it would be nice if we could shift the public discussion a bit from the “climbing walls” and luxury dorms of residential universities. More American undergrads attend community colleges than research universities. The funding issues here aren’t about out-of-control costs. At some level, it’s hard not to think they’re about writing off the three dollar people.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Credits and Credit Hours
But it’s the best and fairest way to break Baumol’s cost disease without just surrendering to a Wild West of credits meaning whatever anyone says they mean. The great appeal is twofold: break the cost chokehold while maintaining academic integrity. I haven’t seen a better way to do both. Is there one?
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A Different Measure
Monday, May 20, 2013
Reading Beyond Headlines
The real issues aren’t about fat cat administrators building empires. (Admittedly, I enjoy the irony of Bain Capital calling out fat cats.) Cost drivers include Baumol’s cost disease, the rise of IT, various unfunded compliance mandates, and public disinvestment. Among elite privates, replace “public disinvestment” with “status competition.” If you want to get a handle on costs, address those. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work; there aren’t as many of us per student as there used to be.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Thoughts on a Manifesto
The new culture of learning is one where learning takes place all the time, everywhere, and according to learners’ own preferences and motivations. Disappearing quickly are the rigor, expectations, and outcomes provided by the structures of a traditional education; and coming to the fore is an autonomous learner, who is her own authority on what’s relevant, germane, vital to her own education. Wide and resounding is the call: “The learner has changed! And so has learning changed!” And it follows that if they wish to survive, institutions of learning must change, too.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Career Services as Educational Appetizers
I suspect that the “afterthought” status of career services, on many campuses, is a holdover from the time when it was assumed that college-educated people already had the cultural capital upon arrival to navigate the work world; all they might need would be a few last-minute pointers. But that’s just not true anymore, if it ever was. For students who really don’t know the score upon arrival, waiting until they’re leaving is just too late. Better to get to them early, so they can appreciate what the academic side of the college can offer before it’s gone.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Ask the Administrator: How to Dissuade a Determined Dean
I chair a mixed social sciences department in a four-year campus of a large university system. Our campus is devoted primarily to business programs and my colleagues and I largely agree that providing a good arts and sciences education to business students is a worthwhile thing to do. Our dean (who has been here four years and will, we expect, soon be on his way onward and upward) has been pushing us for several years now to create a second major in one of the disciplines. No one in the department, especially those in the discipline, think this is a good idea. There’s little if any demand on our campus, and even our sister campuses with a major in the field have few enrollments; developing a major would also call for adding lines in fairly specialist areas that we don’t otherwise need.
This question is about dealing with a dean who can't seem to believe a department would not want to create a new major. After I explained the reasons for our lack of interest and showed him the data, he convened a meeting of the department, apparently thinking that I was misrepresenting my colleagues’ views. We were unanimous in our opposition. Now, though, we’ve just gone through an external review and learned from the review team that he charged them with trying to uncover hidden support for the new major. Again, they found none. I have every reason to suspect it’s not going to end here. How do we deal effectively with a dean who wants us to create a major where none is called for? We can divine no reason beyond his own vision, which simply isn't persuasive enough for us to do something we deem quite counterproductive. We’re trying to fathom his mindset so that we can turn him aside, but none of us quite understands his thinking. Who can provide us some insight into how we might end this stalemate?
Have a question? Ask the Administrator at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Inigo Montoya and Graduation Rates
Disclosing graduation rates to the public may serve some sort of purpose, if we can get the usual IPEDS flaws under control. (The current measure would do no good at all.) But to assume that a graduation rate equates to a given student’s chance of success is simply false. It does not mean what many people think it means. And if we act as if it does, we will systematically punish the colleges that reach out to the people who need college the most.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Ask the Administrator: Old Dogs and New Tricks
So I have one of the most interesting adjunct problems known to man...my adjuncts are too good.
I have tried to cultivate an environment of academic excellence in teaching for the last couple of years in my position. And it is catching with some of my part time instructors; however, my full time folks (who do not have tenure) won't move off center. How do I help my full timers see the wonderful work of some of the adjuncts in such a way that they won't want to string me up?!?
Enrollment in some of the adjunct taught classes well out paces full time folks. They are missing the boat, or rather, they are missing the dock with our students in the boat on which they are captain.
As a second to this....why when exposed to the same impetus for change are my adjuncts doing so much better at adapting than the full timers? I don't want to believe that it is routine, complacency, or laziness, but the cards are beginning to read otherwise...
There isn't much at stake for the full-time faculty. We don't have tenure, but as long as they don't rock the boat too much they are pretty secure in their jobs (as evidenced by the long list of retirees that have worked for the district for over 35 years who are steadily leaving the ranks).
Most of my full-time faculty have taught their courses the same way for many years. That is what I mean about "moving off center." They are using the same instructional techniques, no integration of technology, standard assessments as evidenced by the use of the same or similar tests that they have been using for years, average student evaluations. ...and lots of sitting around complaining about under-prepared students.
I have attempted to provide professional development, research, books, articles, sending folks to teaching workshops, sharing successes, patterning though examples, etc. The pattern for this intervention seems fall into three phases, surface level acceptance of intervention, contemplation or completion of task, and resolution usually accompanied by a variation of, "Yes, this is fantastic! How do we get adjuncts to do this?" I have tried mediocre reviews on average performance evaluations, I share success of those who are touching students, I even tried an online resource center. All to no avail. Success rates for full time folks still hover around 70% where part-timers are up above 76%. And it is not because they are easier. I sit in the classrooms.
In a nutshell, most of my adjuncts are superstars hitting over .350, and most of my full-time folks are bench players hitting only .260. I feel like I should be relying on full-time folks to blaze the trail and be exemplars in the classroom. I am beginning to wonder if those expectations are misplaced.
Have a question? Ask the Administrator at deandad (at) gmail (dot) com.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
We actually closed the ice cream shop. The owners threw us out just as nicely as you can throw people out. That’s what “last call” looks like these days. It’s better. Even if it comes at 9:30...