Tag Archives: higher education

July 16, 2008, 11:17 am

Wednesday lunchtime links

  • How to deal with feelings of inadequacy, from xkcd.
  • edwired has some thoughts on the future of the academy in an economy where giving away your product doesn’t necessarily make your business unprofitable. Academhack follows up with related thoughts on using video podcasting to replace the usual lecture format. Interesting idea in giving away the podcast and then charging for in-class activity.
  • Why pay dues to join a fraternity or sorority when you can pay one low price and have all the drunken party games on your Wii? I find it ironic that the Association of Fraternity Advisors would be so shocked. Where do you think the idea for the game came from, people?
  • I’ve had a couple of posts lately about what I’d do if I were the university president. Now there’s a series of articles out on the same subject except with contributions by people who are probably a lot more qualified for that…

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July 10, 2008, 12:14 pm

Skipping class

Good quote about attendance via Study Hacks:

“The following are valid excuses for skipping class: I have a fever of 105 degrees; I need to fly to L.A. to accept an Academy Award; today in class we are reviewing a book I wrote; my leg is caught in a bear trap. The moral of this exercise: Always go to class!“
– from How to Win at College

Here are some memorable excuses I’ve had before:

  • A student missed class because, he said later, he had to go to the doctor. Fine, I said, just bring me the doctor’s note and I’ll excuse the absence. Instead of a doctor’s note, he brought me a bottle of pills that he said the doctor gave him. The bottle didn’t have a label on it.
  • A student approached me the day before a final exam to request that he be excused and take the final exam later in the week. The reason? He claimed his dad was a famous NASCAR driver and had called him up that morning…

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July 4, 2008, 6:07 pm

Letting teaching and research feed each other

Good article here at the Chronicle on balancing teaching with research, from a neuroscience professor who makes it work for him.

The reality of modern academe is that, no matter what your institutional affiliation, the time you can devote to research is being squeezed by multiple competing demands. No simple solution to that problem exists for any of us. But I have found that rethinking the nature of our professional commitments, such that teaching activities bleed into research ones (and vice versa), can be an effective way to reduce the time crunch. Academics describe their workload of scholarship, teaching, and service as if those were entirely separate entities. In reality, the line between teaching and research is usually much fuzzier.

Read the whole thing, in which Prof. Gendle writes at length about the potentially prosperous symbiosis between teaching and research. He points out …

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July 4, 2008, 8:28 am

If I were the university president… (v. 2)

…then I might be driven to drink because of the job stress, but I don’t think I would drive around drunk either:

The president of the University of Evansville was arrested for driving while intoxicated Wednesday evening.

Stephen Jennings, who has been president since 2001 at the dry campus, was driving with a blood-alcohol content nearly twice the level at which a driver is considered intoxicated, according to a probable cause affidavit posted online by the Evansville Courier and Press.[...]

“I have obviously made a very serious mistake, and I apologize to the campus community and the community at large,” Jennings said in the statement. “I will take every necessary action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Jennings pleaded guilty to two counts of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated Thursday morning via video from the Vanderburgh County Jail, according to court records….

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June 10, 2008, 11:09 am

Graduation in the Arctic

Fascinating story in InsideHigherEd this morning about graduation day at the University of Alaska’s Chukchi campus, located in Kotzebue, Alaska — 33 miles above the Arctic Circle.

Today, at commencement, it is a sunny and crisp 33 degrees. Younger residents don T-shirts and shorts.

The college, in Kotzebue, a settlement of 3,000 people, clings stubbornly to a gravel outcrop on the edge of the Chukchi Sea, where flat snow-covered tundra meets icy waters. Kotzebue is accessible by boat or air during three summer months; and by air, snow machine and sled in the winter. Residents, students, and faculty live peacefully without ordinary facilities such as a dry cleaner, saloons, discos, or a car dealership. There are more snow machines and dogs than cars in Kotzebue. The town includes an airstrip for bush pilots. People headed to the landfill must pause for incoming and outgoing planes the …

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May 16, 2008, 8:57 am

When students fail, who's responsible?

This story out of Norfolk State University has been lighting up the internet in general and the edu-blogosphere in particular. It revolves around Steven Aird, a biologist at Norfolk, who was denied tenure for failing too many students: 

The report from [Dean Sandra DeLoatch] said that Aird met the standards for tenure in service and research, and noted that he took teaching seriously, using his own student evaluations on top of the university’s. The detailed evaluations Aird does for his courses, turned over in summary form for this article, suggest a professor who is seen as a tough grader (too tough by some), but who wins fairly universal praise for his excitement about science, for being willing to meet students after class to help them, and providing extra help.

DeLoatch’s review finds similarly. Of Aird, she wrote, based on student reviews: “He is respectful and fair to…

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April 18, 2008, 10:26 am

The Pope's message to academia

Some quotes from the Inside Higher Ed article:

“At times, however, the value of the Church’s contribution to the public forum is questioned. It is important therefore to recall that the truths of faith and of reason never contradict one another. The Church’s mission, in fact, involves her in humanity’s struggle to arrive at truth. In articulating revealed truth she serves all members of society by purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of ultimate truths. Drawing upon divine wisdom, she sheds light on the foundation of human morality and ethics, and reminds all groups in society that it is not praxis that creates truth but truth that should serve as the basis of praxis.”

“Truth,” he continued a little later in his speech, “means more than knowledge: knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the individual in his or her…

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April 10, 2008, 9:41 pm

Handling academic dishonesty

Virusdoc, always the prolific commenter, has left another comment that raises the issue of how a professor should actually deal with academic dishonesty when it occurs. What follows is my own procedure for handling these situations; I’m sure it’s not perfect, and I’m open to suggestions for improvement, but it’s worked pretty well for me over the years. 

The overall strategy for dealing with academic dishonesty is that the students involved should be confronted with the issue promptly after it’s been discovered, given a chance to give their side of the story, and then the professor can move forward on the dual basis of the evidence in front of her/him and the student’s own statements. This strategy is opposed to two other possible strategies: 

  • Avoiding doing anything about the academic dishonesty at all, either by simply looking the other way and pretending it didn’t happen, or else…

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April 10, 2008, 7:42 am

I'll say it again:

Academic dishonesty is not only easy to catch, it’s a horrible miscarriage of the mutual trust upon which all of education is built, and students who willfully engage in it deserve all the punishment they receive, if not more. There’s simply no rationalizing it, and I don’t think we in higher ed do nearly enough to eradicate it. 

I bring this up because of virusdoc’s comment, just made on an old post

Resurrecting an old thread, but I just graded my first ever take-home essay test (open-book, open web, but no collaboration allowed and students were instructed to make sure their ideas and words were their own).

Out of 30 tests graded thus far, there were two students who boldly copied and pasted huge blocks of text from multiple websites into their test answers, without so much as an attempt to change any words or even alter the font from that in the website. It was horrific. In…

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March 27, 2008, 1:21 pm

Re: Quote of the day

I don’t want to leave the impression from my earlier post that making a college education worth something is all on the students. It’s most certainly not. There are three other factors, at least, that play in to making a college education valuable and not just 4+ years of wasted time:

  1. The faculty. Faculty have to teach and manage courses so that all students are challenged and pushed, to their intellectual limits, and also that being “intellectually inclined” as I interpreted that term earlier is rewarded. Not just making classes hard, in other words, but setting classes up so that there are amazing intellectual insights and learning experiences — and those are almost always gained by hard work.
  2. The curriculum. The curriculum that students encounter has to also reward intellectual inclination and demand that all students
  3. The administration.  Administrations have to manage human…

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