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Author Topic: Denied tenure for high fail rates in classes  (Read 56100 times)
betterslac
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« on: May 04, 2008, 5:13:26 pm »

This guy is either our hero for holding the line, or a dropout from LarryC's stfu course:

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/05/nsu-professor-loses-job-dispute-over-grades
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untenured
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2008, 5:48:48 pm »

Such articles invite polar positions.  Aird is a bastion of high standards in an institution of consumerism.  Aird is an ineffectual mastodon who covers up his poor pedagogy by blaming the students.

No doubt we'll be reading the squabbles from our fellow forumites shortly.  The first wave of posters will defend Aird and compare his experience with their own.  Then, someone will defend Aird too strongly and a response or two will support the students side.  That will spark reactionary posts against the pro-student forumites, implying they are coddlers and afraid of implying standards.  A tit for tat debate will then ensue.

Once that slows down, the jokers will appear, popping off obtuse and unfunny oneliners that dilute the quality of the thread as a discussion tool.  Then someone will connect Aird with breast cancer in horses, the topic will wander completely away from the original article.  The thread will die unloved in an amorphous heap, sliding away into oblivion a new threads shove into the abyss of old topic threads.

Untenured
« Last Edit: May 04, 2008, 5:51:51 pm by untenured » Logged
untenured
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2008, 5:52:52 pm »

oops
« Last Edit: May 04, 2008, 5:53:11 pm by untenured » Logged
sciencephd
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WWW
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2008, 5:58:56 pm »


"Citing seven classes in which 83 to 95 percent of his students got a D or F, Sandra DeLoatch, dean of the School of Science and Technology, wrote that Aird's "core problem" was "the overwhelming failure of the vast majority of the students he teaches."

Well one thing that everyone will probably agree with is that this is an unusually high percentage of failures.
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the_honey_badger
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2008, 6:02:03 pm »

Such articles invite polar positions.  Aird is a bastion of high standards in an institution of consumerism.  Aird is an ineffectual mastodon who covers up his poor pedagogy by blaming the students.

No doubt we'll be reading the squabbles from our fellow forumites shortly.  The first wave of posters will defend Aird and compare his experience with their own.  Then, someone will defend Aird too strongly and a response or two will support the students side.  That will spark reactionary posts against the pro-student forumites, implying they are coddlers and afraid of implying standards.  A tit for tat debate will then ensue.

Once that slows down, the jokers will appear, popping off obtuse and unfunny oneliners that dilute the quality of the thread as a discussion tool.  Then someone will connect Aird with breast cancer in horses, the topic will wander completely away from the original article.  The thread will die unloved in an amorphous heap, sliding away into oblivion a new threads shove into the abyss of old topic threads.

Untenured


My goodness, that was an exceptionally good analysis of the forum!
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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2008, 6:07:51 pm »

Or sockgumbee will say that it is because the biochemistry Aird is teaching is eurocentric, and t_folk will say that he is a racist.

From the article: "Student testimonials to Aird cite his passion for biology, his enthusiasm in the classroom and his willingness to help students who are struggling."  I think the University is going to have problems on this one; even if they win they are going to look very bad to the legislature and to the accreditors. - DvF
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2008, 6:08:41 pm »

Thanks.  I've been participating in this forum far too long.

Untenured
« Last Edit: May 04, 2008, 6:09:58 pm by untenured » Logged
the_honey_badger
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2008, 6:11:55 pm »

Thanks.  I've been participating in this forum far too long.

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sockgumbee
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2008, 6:30:23 pm »

Or sockgumbee will say that it is because the biochemistry Aird is teaching is eurocentric, and t_folk will say that he is a racist.

From the article: "Student testimonials to Aird cite his passion for biology, his enthusiasm in the classroom and his willingness to help students who are struggling."  I think the University is going to have problems on this one; even if they win they are going to look very bad to the legislature and to the accreditors. - DvF

I'd really have to have a lot more information than was given in the article to make any kind of assessment. But thanks DvF for thinking of me anyway.
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magistra
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2008, 7:21:49 pm »

Yeah, we don't know the level of these courses, things like that.  I hear there is a high fail rate in the sciences.  And there doesn't seem to be much dispute that students are ill-prepared when they come in.  I suspect he should soften things a bit, but that the faculty and even some students are with him is telling (though we didn't hear from the students he'd failed).  There's also this:

To support his allegations of grade inflation, Aird performed a statistical analysis of two common exams that were given to all students taking the freshman-level biology course in the fall of 2005. The median grade in all sections on both exams - taught by five different professors - was F.

And this:

"Every student doesn't learn in the same way," she said. "It becomes the duty of the faculty member to find ways to ensure that his or her students are understanding the material."

So, now we're the personal tutors of the students?  What if they don't study or come to class?  What if they're truly so deficient they can't understand the textbook?
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dr_strangelove
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« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2008, 7:44:15 pm »

The article mentioned a biochem class in which 22 out of 24 students dropped or made D's or F's. Biochem isn't an intro course, so if he was failing that many students, there was a severe mismatch between his expectations and the rest of the faculty's.

Regarding the test quote, I'm suspicious of his "statistical analysis." I took many exams as an undergraduate that were specifically designed to have low averages---50% or less---with the idea that the grades would be curved, and the mean (or median) assigned a grade of C or B or whatever. I can't help but think that he's taking a test like that and "analyzing" it according to a different scale (e.g. traditional 10 point scale where 90% and above is an A) and saying that the median grade was an F. Of course, this is just my speculation.

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hollow_man
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« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2008, 7:52:58 pm »

Get tenure first.  Joust at windmills after.
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wanderer
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2008, 9:13:02 pm »

I've never felt like there were objective, pure grades.  I think pretty much anything can be graded on a curve.  I've had schools where only 30% could get A's.  I've been at schools where certain departments gave almost all A's (at least for seminars).  I've also often had the experience that most of my students (~70-80%) were doing pretty comparable work.  Then it was up to me whether most of them would be getting a B- or an A. 

I could be a crusader about certain things, but not about D'ing of F'ing 80-90% of my students.  I mean, they would have to have skipped most of the classes or produced the worst work ever. 

I actually think this is a pretty interesting article to discuss...
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daniel_von_flanagan
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« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2008, 9:26:37 pm »

Wasteland: He has tenure (though he had to fight for it).

I've never felt like there were objective, pure grades.  I think pretty much anything can be graded on a curve.

I would think that a standard Uni biochem class would have some number of topics which the students are supposed to know to pass, and could be graded with reasonable objectivity.  - DvF
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hollow_man
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2008, 9:32:56 pm »

Wasteland: He has tenure (though he had to fight for it).

Sorry, was misled by the thread title.
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