Tag Archives: higher education

August 1, 2008, 10:31 am

Fall preview

It’s August, which means the start of school is just around the corner. The public schools and my kids’ preschool start on August 11. Classes start for me on August 26, but there’s a run-up of meetings and other activities that consume the entire week prior to that. With all this stuff about to commence, here’s an overview of what’s on the plate this fall. I don’t blog about what’s going on at work or what my students do, but I do use CO9s to flesh out thoughts or experiences I have about what I’m doing. So this should give some context.

  • Teaching two sections of calculus. Although I didn’t blog much about it, I taught calculus in an 8-week evening format this summer and I thought it went very well. I was running the class with an eye towards reusability; I’m hopeful that I can reuse all the stuff that I prepped during the summer for my fall courses so that my energy can be devoted to…

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July 23, 2008, 10:34 am

What's wrong with curricular uniformity

Update: Welcome, InsideHigherEd.com readers! Please feel free to browse, and I’d suggest this Top 12 Posts page for starters.

My criticism of Ivy Tech’s handling of an adjunct who distributed alternate course materials to supplement his statistics class textbook needs a little clarification. I’m being critical here not so much of Ivy Tech itself as I am the model that sets Ivy Tech’s priorities.

I can accept that Ivy Tech, as an institution keenly interested in maintaining absolute consistency of course content across all sections, was simply acting within the dictates of its business model. Despite what its name might indicate, Ivy Tech Community College is not a single campus but a sprawling network of community colleges with 25 brick-and-mortar campuses throughout Indiana as well as a growing online education division. When you look at Prof. Norasteh’s statistics course, it is one …

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July 23, 2008, 6:26 am

Getting fired for helping students?

When you’re teaching a class and students are having trouble understanding the textbook, usually the responsible thing to do is provide them with some form of clarification in the form of a handout or some web links to additional resources. But apparently that’s a firing offense if you’re an adjunct faculty at Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College:

Pejman Norasteh — like many adjuncts — didn’t have much control over the material he was supposed to cover [in his statistics class]. But students started to send him e-mail saying that the textbook was unclear. One student said he was getting “depressed” and giving up when he didn’t understand the required assignments. Another student wrote: “As usual, our textbook does a poor job of explaining concepts. I am adding this chapter to my list of examples of how poor our book is….”

In response to the e-mail messages and personal…

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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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