Hello. It has been a while since I’ve posted, but I wanted to take the time to let you know that I have decided to take a hiatus from posting to this blog for now due to my new role at Capella University. It has been a pleasure to tackle some of the critical issues facing higher education today in this blog, and I greatly appreciate all of your thoughtful and challenging comments. Please feel free to read through the archive of posts and continue to share your comments.
Recently there have been several articles about colleges objecting to expectations that they report learning or academic outcomes. For example, this Inside Higher Ed article describes how Division III schools object to a proposed NCAA requirement to report graduation rates for their athletes. The schools say that this will drive costs up. But, they also fear that low graduation rates may bring some penalties, as has happened for Division I schools. This is just one more in a growing list of objections to reporting academic outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »
This New York Times blog post discusses a report from Public Agenda about a report underwritten by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation titled “With Their Whole Lives Ahead of Them.” Some 600 young adults, ages 22 to 30, who had left college before getting a degree were surveyed.
I object to the opening comment that Tamar Lewin makes: “only one in five of the students who enroll in two-year institutions graduates within three years. And even at four-year colleges, only two in five complete their degree within six years.” As I have written in the past, the three and six year timeframes are wrong-headed, and I think the findings in this survey highlight that fact. I am certainly interested and hopeful that students will finish their degrees. But to say that the 150% point (3 years for a 2-year degree, 6 years for a 4-year degree) is when they should finish is silly, especially when you consider that 85 percent (per this blog’s name) of college students are either older, studying part-time, and/or working while going to school. We need to consider a longer timeframe that allows for the reality of how these students proceed through to degree completion. Read the rest of this entry »
Law is the latest discipline to resist accountability in the form of clearly articulating intended learning outcomes, and then measuring to see if students, in fact, learned what was intended. This Chronicle of Higher Education article details the controversy stirred by the American Bar Association’s plans to shift from looking at inputs to assessing outcomes.
The article reports that several law deans reported that they are too busy with budget cuts, tough job markets and soaring costs to be bothered with whether students learn. OK, they did not exactly say that last part, but that is still the message. What they did say is that they would likely have to “hire additional staff members to collect data and develop testing metrics, and some curriculum changes could be expensive.”
Excuse me? What is it that you do in your law schools? Read the rest of this entry »
This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that between 31 and 45 states are keeping some individual records on college students. I think that is a very good thing. There are others in higher education who consider such record-keeping to be problematic and threatening. So threatening that they pursued and secured legislation to forbid the federal government from creating such a system. The article correctly reports that “When renewing the Higher Education Act in July 2008, lawmakers specifically banned the Education Department from creating any nationwide unit-record system to track individual college students.”
What lousy public policy. What we have developing now is a whole myriad of systems that may or may not communicate with one another, and that frustrate any serious attempt to understand what happens to students who may start at one college and end up at others. What types of students might do that? Well, the other 85% for starters. Read the rest of this entry »
Not that we need more reminders about just how dire the effects of the economic downturn have been for public colleges and universities, but the California State University System has announced that it will reduce enrollment by more than 40,000 students next year. That is happening despite increasing demand.
We all know that 40,000 students is a big number, but thinking about it in terms of other well known institutions emphasizes how dramatic this reduction really is. For example, Penn State University enrollment is just over 40,000 students. Thinking about California turning away roughly the same number of students that currently attend Penn State is a scary thing. And, when you add the 10,000 student reductions Cal State has made in 2009-2010, the total number of student reductions represents roughly the enrollment of the University of Texas-Austin. Read the rest of this entry »
The answer, according to this report from Inside Higher Ed, may simply be because we have to do it for accreditation. What the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment report reveals is that many colleges are measuring what undergraduate students learn. The problem is that they are not using the data to make improvements. For-profit schools and community colleges assess more than other types of schools. In fact, the more prestigious the school, the less likely it is to embrace assessment. The report states that “some faculty and staff at prestigious, highly selective campuses wonder why documenting something already understood to be superior is warranted. They have little to gain and perhaps a lot to lose.” Then the report goes on to urge schools to take assessment more seriously. Read the rest of this entry »
This article in Inside Higher Ed describes how the Colorado State University Board of Governors considered, ever so briefly, privatizing part of the university system to assure survival. The idea of public institutions doing something like this has been around for decades. The idea usually picks up some steam when we are in a fiscal decline and public funds become scarce. In this case, the idea was quickly rejected and described as hypothetical.
I empathize with the blight of the public university. While federal stimulus funds may be saving the day for the 2009-2010 academic year, and maybe even into 2010-2011, the 2011-2012 year seems to portend disaster. These institutions must do something different and, likely, dramatic. Read the rest of this entry »
It is hard to believe, but the University of Maryland University College, a premier online university, has been barred by the Maryland Higher Education Commission from offering its online doctoral degree in community college administration because it might duplicate a face-to-face offering by Morgan State College, another state college in Maryland. It is hard to believe because it is based on an outdated geographic approach to oversight of higher education. It is hard to believe because there are adult students in Maryland who cannot attend on-campus at Morgan State, and who will not have access to a Maryland college for this degree. It is hard to believe because there is an impending shortage of community college administrators, according to the article. It is hard to believe because it will be impossible to protect Morgan State from other competitors. Read the rest of this entry »
This piece on Inside Higher Ed is a response to the proposal to require nurses to have a bachelor’s degree in order to be licenses for practice. This is a more rational approach. It recognizes the realities facing nurses, health care, and the other 85% students. The tone is super, as Beverly Malone uses terms like “opportunities,” “academic and professional progression for all nurses,” and “to propel” practitioners to seek further education. Finally, it urges that we seek new ways, including online programs, to expand the capacity of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.
Welcome to The Other 85 Percent. So what does "the other 85 percent" refer to? Research has shown that only about 15 percent of higher education students still fit the traditional definition of young adults age 18 to 22 who live on campus and go to school full time. more