Category Archives: Research


Academic Social Network Hopes to Change the Culture of Peer Review

An academic social network has added a tool it hopes will shake up the system of peer review.

The network is called, and it has grown to more than 25 million registered participants, who use it mainly to post their published papers in order to help others find them (and, it’s hoped, cite them). The site’s new tool, called Sessions, lets researchers post papers that are still in progress, and invite colleagues to comment on them so the papers can be improved before being submitted …


Researchers Complain About Changes in Amazon Tool Used for Surveys

This week Amazon changed the terms for a service that has become a standard tool in social-science research, and many scholars are complaining that it will mean higher costs to conduct surveys.

The service is called Mechanical Turk, and it is a marketplace that connects people on the Internet looking for paid piecework with anyone who has a small task and is willing to pay someone to do it. The concept is known as crowd-work, and many researchers have used it to pay strangers small amounts …


What Is Being Learned From MOOCs? New Report Takes Stock

The hype around the free online courses called MOOCs has drawn millions of students, who are all essentially part of a teaching experiment of unprecedented scale. These days, researchers are increasingly checking in on that experiment.

A new report, released on Thursday, seeks to answer the question “Where is research on massive open online courses headed?”

The report is the work of the MOOC Research Initiative, funded with more than $800,000 in grant support by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundati…


How Social Media Helps Students Adapt to College

For today’s students, social media isn’t just a diversion. It’s a support system.

That’s the key finding of a paper exploring the role that Facebook plays in helping students adjust to campus life. Collin M. Ruud, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, presented the paper, “Social Networking and Social Support: Does It Play a Role in College Social Integration?,” on Sunday at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting.

Mr. Ruud ha…


Blogs Aren’t Better Than Journal Assignments. They’re Just Different.

Although some instructors are phasing out journal-keeping assignments in favor of a class blog, a study has found that blogs are not inherently better instructional tools.

Drew Foster, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, recently said so in a paper, “Private Journals Versus Public Blogs: The Impact of Peer Readership on Low-Stakes Reflective Writing,” published in Teaching Sociology.

With all the hype about blogging, Mr. Foster decided to give it a try i…


Southern New Hampshire President to Advise Education Dept. on Competency-Based Learning

Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, will take a three-month leave of absence to join the Department of Education as a senior adviser to the under secretary of education, Ted Mitchell.

Mr. LeBlanc will be involved with the department’s innovation agenda, specifically its experiments with competency-based education and with establishing new accreditation methods for innovative programs.

Southern New Hampshire University has been at the forefront of competency-based educat…


Understanding the New Higher-Ed Landscape: Chronicle Sessions at SXSWedu

Big challenges face higher education these days, and plenty of talk about new models and approaches. At this year’s South by Southwest education conference, in Austin, Tex., The Chronicle is organizing a morning of sessions to share some of the trends and challenges we’re seeing, and we invite audience members to share their big ideas.

As part of the event, we’re borrowing a page from the TV show Shark Tank. We’re inviting several academic and start-up leaders to make a three-minute pitch abou…


Could Video Feedback Replace the Red Pen?

Screenshot 2015-01-24 08.12.56

Stills from a video critique by Monash U.’s Michael Henderson.

Writing useful comments on students’ work can be a fine art. And for instructors who put a lot of effort into crafting a critique, there’s always a substantial risk students will skip the written feedback and go right to the grade.

When Michael Henderson is grading his students’ final assignments, he likes to skip the written comments for them. Instead of a red pen, Mr. Henderson, a senior lecturer in education at Monash University, …


MIT Professor’s Blog Comment Sets Off Debate Over Nerds and Male Privilege

A deeply personal posting by an MIT professor and self-described “nerdy male” wrestling with the idea of male privilege has set off a debate about feminism, nerds, and privilege across the Internet.

The posting, by Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, appeared as a comment on his blog in December.

It was part of the discussion on a post Mr. Aaronson wrote earlier about how MIT had reacted after determi…


Call for Nominations: Who Are the Top Tech Innovators in Higher Education?

We’re reviving our annual feature profiling influential technology innovators and the ideas they’re advocating, and we’d like your suggestions.

Our hope is to cover a wide range of areas within the college world—teaching, scholarship, administration, libraries, student life, and more. So this is not just about decisions made in the top tech offices of colleges. And we hope to hear about a wide range of institutions—we’re just as interested in a scrappy project on a shoestring budget as we are a…