Sunday, December 20, 2015
An Idea Offered Freely to Candidates
I’ll warn any politicians who are reading: my daughter is onto you. If you haven’t done something by the time she reaches voting age, she’ll notice. You’ve been warned...
Your comments on disinvestment appear valid for community colleges but do not necessarily apply to universities. There is no apparent austerity at the flagship universities in my state. Their tuition increases were larger than ours and remain in place as significant funding is restored with most of it going to support the research mission of the university. Colleges are ignored.
You comments on the "credit hour" appear to be Trump-like magical thinking.
You need to explain how, as a transfer-centered institution, you will decide how much of what was learned at some other college or three will translate into assessed outcomes and "credit" toward graduation at your college. And if not you, who and how? AP exams for every course? You also need to explain how some portfolio from your college will be accepted by a university without the student facing magnified risks that "credit" will not be granted. And then you need to talk to your forum of employers and see what they think of a degree with a portfolio instead of a transcript.
Trust me here: I know of one such experiment at a college and it failed miserably. Once students decided they needed a job after graduation, it was finished.
And your statement about Baumol? More magical thinking. We already generate credit hours without the hours through every dehumanizing industrial educational process ever developed by man. The problem is that we gained most of that efficiency 50 years ago and most reforms have worked at walking it back (e.g. active learning). Or will personalized education become limited to private universities in your vision of cost-effective college until Watson takes over?
I'm not so sold on getting rid of the credit hour. It might save money if the median student were learning faster than the pace of the median college course, but I've never seen any evidence of that.
Add to that the feedback from employers (at least in my neck of the woods) that one thing they value from a college education is that a graduate has demonstrated the ability to stick it out through something hard and boring. Employers have told me that they want me to automatically fail any student who asks, "what do I need to do to pass this class?" because they think that person will become an employee who wants to know what's the least they can do and still collect their paycheck.
The more entertaining and "engaging" we make the educational experience, the more shortcuts we allow, the less value the degree has for employers. Demonstrated competencies say nothing about conscientiousness or persistence. Employers aren't about to "gamify" jobs to keep their employees engaged, nor are they willing to allow their employees to "test out" of assignments. ("I already know how to do a cash flow projection so you can't make me do any more of them!" Yeah, no.)
The real problem is that we've outsourced and automated away our mid-level jobs. Close to 2/3 of high school grads are starting college, hoping to get into one of the 1/3 of jobs that require more than a high school diploma (www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/article/education-level-and-jobs.htm).
Producing more college graduates, whether through subsidies, prior-learning assessments, or anything else, isn't going to make more white-collar jobs rise up to meet them upon graduation, unfortunately.
Personally, I'd like to see the candidates talking more about jobs.
Similarly, just because employers want employees who can survive boredom doesn't mean the optimal teaching approach is to bore students to death over the course of their degree. In any event, I would say it's not surviving boredom that an employer wants but professional pride that an employee takes in his/her work.
My conclusion was that they don't NECESSARILY apply to universities. It only takes one example to prove that claim. Dean Dad was generalizing from his narrow sphere of experience in the northeast, and I think it is important to keep perspective.
However, it isn't one university in my state, and it isn't one state, but I welcome your analysis (anonymous or otherwise) of the budget trends on a per-student basis for each university and college tier in your state. In the ones that I follow, the differences are dramatic, but none are in the northeast. And, FYI, my boss is fully aware of the horrible funding situation we experience but is too cowed by the threat of further cuts to speak up about it.
The one counter-example concerning budgets that I know about is the Penn State system, but that wasn't done against their will. They wanted to become semi-private so they could be more independent of the whims of the legislature.
Frankie Bow, while I agree with you on the credit hour, I take issue with something else you said: "The more entertaining and "engaging" we make the educational experience, the more shortcuts we allow, the less value the degree has for employers." I think our jobs *are* to make our subjects as engaging as possible. No one goes into a field because they think it's boring. I've had several students who have told me that they switch their majors to biology because I made it come alive; why would I want to put students to sleep or make them dread my class? Teaching would be a lot less fun and rewarding if we didn't want to make it as exciting as possible.
The reason I brought this up was to say that getting rid of the credit hour won't help graduates land jobs. A job-seeker who put in the seat time will have a major advantage over one who didn't.
(For the record, I don't actually try to be boring...)
I don't even see how it can save money, in your remarks @5:57AM quoting Frankie Bow's earlier remark. Are we going to charge them by the week rather than the semester, based, say, on how long it takes them to finish off some automated course offered by a textbook manufacturer? That would eliminate faculty salaries from the equation, but giant classes and self-paced classes did that 50 years ago when people first started putting one person in front of 2000 students via closed circuit TV. However, I do agree that there is a future where one professor could certify thousands of students in a subject without ever setting foot in a classroom. We are close to that in some math classes at one university I know about, although (again) that just tells me that we already have absorbed the cost benefit of computerized recitations and exams with no change in cost.
I can see where "prior knowledge" assessment can save both time and money, but assessing what someone knows is not free and there is no guarantee that a transfer institution will accept the credit your college gives them unless it matches something they know the value of, based on "credits". Heck, even transcript evaluation isn't free, although the college thinks my time is free when they send me some college's variant course to judge relative to ours.
I have yet to see anything other than magical thinking.
I thought I knew what you meant @11:22PM. When you put "engaging" in scare quotes, in conjunction with 'entertaining' and 'shortcuts', I assumed you meant the kinds of classes where standards match whatever the market will bear so students will pass and give the prof and class high ratings and maybe even learn something. Retention can be everything at some colleges.
by far, the top reason for rising college costs at public colleges is that "states have been disinvesting in higher education …. So states over a period of decades have put their money elsewhere -- into prisons, into highways, into things other than higher education."
Sanders has said the same thing various places.
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