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10.5.15 Higher Ed Weekly Read: Articles Worth Reviewing
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Here are some industry articles that caught our eye recently.

More Than a Postdoc. “The program gives recent graduates increasingly valuable teaching experience to take out onto the job market. Preceptors also play a role in the university’s newly revised general education program, which includes seminars required of all first-year students, since these are the courses the fellows tend to design and teach.”

Rethinking State Support for Higher Ed. “Improving the sufficiency and fairness of state allocations for higher education will require shedding more light on within-state funding distributions. It also will also demand a more careful accounting of the real costs — not just how much is spent — associated with educating different groups of students at the postsecondary level. Such data are currently nearly impossible to come by, but they must be collected.”

Small Loans, Big Problem. “(1) Students who borrow the least are the most likely to default. A growing body of research has found that student loan defaults are concentrated among the millions of students who never earned a degree. Graduates who borrow the most tend to earn the most. But those who take on even a small amount of debt with nothing to show for it face a relatively high risk of defaulting.”

Measuring Motivation. “Like most colleges, the University of New Mexico is trying to help more of its at-risk students get to graduation. And officials at the university know academic preparation isn’t the only factor to watch. There is a broad consensus that so-called noncognitive skills — motivation, stress management, organization and even the ability to cope with financial pressure — influence whether a student succeeds in college. So the university recently started using a test from the Educational Testing Service, dubbed SuccessNavigator, to measure those attributes.”

Discussing the “Revolution in Higher Education.” “DeMillo’s methodology is to talk to the educators who are challenging the dominant scarcity narrative in higher education, and then to place those conversations within the historical context that colleges and universities operate. Along the way we learn a great deal about accreditation, the challenges faced by HBCU’s, and the potential of adaptive learning platforms paired with competency based degree models to challenge long-held postsecondary practices.”

Why “Skin in the Game” Doesn’t Make Sense. “In other words, if students complete more than fifteen credits and use IBR, the default issue shrinks to an easily manageable level. Alternately, one could say that the student loan default problem is not a cost problem at all. It’s a completion problem, and/or an information problem (ignorance of IBR).”

Reimagining the U.S. High School: An Open Letter to Laurene Powell Jobs. “In all of those previous reforms, fundamental questions divided those seeking major changes in the comprehensive high school  then and now. *What should students learn? *Should all students learn the same thing? *how should students best learn? *Who should decide answers to these questions? Every attempt to “transform” the comprehensive high school since the 1920s wrestled with these questions. Each generation of reformers came up with answers only to see that a subsequent generation of reformers supplied different answers to the same questions.”

Just Half of Graduates Say Their College Education Was Worth the Cost. “The overall results did not differ widely depending on the kind of institution attended — except when it came to alumni of for-profit colleges. Only 26 percent of those alumni strongly agreed that their postsecondary education was worth the cost. And 13 percent strongly disagreed that it was worth it, a proportion that was notably higher than the national average of 4 percent.”

The Gravest Threat to Colleges Comes From Within. “Colleges face criticism from students and others uncomfortable with the points of view expressed in the classroom and by individual faculty members. Provocative art, revealing films, graphic literary portrayals, and controversial speech are understandably uncomfortable for those who find such work contrary to their beliefs. Yet it is this type of work — controversial at times — that has enlightened the world.”

10 Reasons Why Internal Campus Communications Are So Difficult. “#3. Our E-Mails Are Too Long and Sub-Optimally Designed: E-mail is a problematic communications medium in even the best of circumstances. Unfortunately, we don’t know how to use e-mail effectively. There seems to be both an art and a science to writing persuasive e-mails, e-mails that break through the information clutter. We are, however, largely ignorant of these effective e-mail techniques. In theory, we get the need to write a persuasive subject line. To keep e-mails short and punchy, with the key information at the start of the message. Why is it so hard to turn e-mail theory into e-mail practice?”

When A.S. + A.A. > B.A. “And there are a number of reasons why students would want to pursue both degrees at the same time. One reason would be to enhance their transfer ability if they’re thinking about pursuing a similar bachelor’s degree, he said. … Another reason students may pursue both degrees is because they may make them more employable, Shugart said.”

When Schools Overlook Introverts. “The way in which certain instructional trends—education buzzwords like ‘collaborative learning’ and ‘project-based learning’ and ‘flipped classrooms’—are applied often neglect the needs of introverts. In fact, these trends could mean that classroom environments that embrace extroverted behavior—through dynamic and social learning activities—are being promoted now more than ever. These can be appealing qualities in the classroom, of course, but overemphasizing them can undermine the learning of students who are inward-thinking and easily drained by constant interactions with others.”

Nearly a Third of Undergraduate Degrees Go to Students With Prior Credentials. “For a growing share of college graduates, the degrees they’re taking home aren’t their first higher-education credentials. The percentage of college graduates stacking credentials by adding, say, a bachelor’s degree to an associate degree, or an associate degree to a certificate, grew from 25 percent to 29 percent between 2010-11 and 2013-14, says a report released on Wednesday.”

How Houston ISD Is Winning By Insisting That Its Data Systems Truly Work Together. “Through a ‘Common Cartridge’ (CC®) and ‘Thin Common Cartridge’ (TCC®), learning resources are ingested into the digital library of the teaching and learning platform, or TLP. A TLP is more than an LMS–a learning management system. A TLP includes Curriculum, content, and learning management systems. The learning resources are available to search by keywords or standards, and the content is divided in small units, sometimes smaller than chapters, which we call ‘discrete chunks of content.’”

To Twist and Weave and Untangle. “Here’s the thing about the now-deleted description: the professor was modeling the kind of discipline-specific knowledge-building activities in his “lectures.” The kind that comes from a deep engagement with the materials in question, and an understanding of a way (and maybe a few ways) to communicate that knowledge and skill. The kind that comes when pedagogy and research come together. That, to me, is what a ‘scholar’ is. If you’re not teaching, then you’re just researching, and that makes you…a researcher. I used ‘just’ very strategically here.”

Blinded by the Binary. “But it’s almost irrelevant to mention the power of CBE if one doesn’t, in the very same breath, talk about its limitations. And this is where Levine falls short. Indeed, he is silent. The problem of a CBE-only model is that it is solely and only concerned with exactly what can be articulated through learning objectives and competencies. And for all of the good intentions of such a model – for we all need benchmarks and a quality-control ‘floor’ to work from – it operationalizes a checklist-only framework of education.”

Paper or Tablet? Reading Recall and Comprehension. “Uncertainties remain about the influence of digital reading for in-depth reading comprehension for adults and raise more unanswered questions about the developmental implications for children.29 The effects of reading from digital devices on children’s cognitive developmental skills and literacy abilities are just beginning to emerge. Questions linger regarding the consequences of nonlinear reading on brain processing, especially adaptive shortcuts due to scrolling, scanning, and hyperlinks.”

A Stalled Digital Book Revolution? “The real question we should be asking is not how much of reading is digital, but rather how much are people reading? Reading is reading. Paper, e-book, app, audiobook – it doesn’t matter. Reading books is a habit, and habits must be developed. We spend so much time taking sides on the digital learning debate that we lose sight of the larger goal to encourage book reading.”

Hiding from Kids and Colleagues. “In an article preceding her new book, Anne Marie Slaughter talks about toxic work environments. She raises important questions about the flexibility of work schedules, advocating for more flexible schedules, changing family structural expectations, and having the ability to work at home. In my own experience, though, while working at home brings me great flexibility in some ways, in other ways, I think I just create a different type of “toxic” home-work environment.”

Reimagining the U.S. High School (Part 2). “Because so much work is involved in mobilizing support and resources for fundamental changes there is far more success in talking about major reforms than in adopting the planned changes. And there is even more of a gap between officials’ actions and what principals and teachers actually put into practice. Because of these gaps between talk, action, and implementation, intended fundamental changes get incrementalized and become just another spoke in the organizational wheel.”

Americans Spending More for College Out-of-Pocket. “The national study, ‘How America Pays for College 2015,’ from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, now in its eighth year, found that parent income and savings covered the largest share of college costs — 32 percent — surpassing scholarships and grants at 30 percent, for the first time since 2010. Families covered the balance of college costs using student borrowing, student income and savings, parent borrowing, and contributions from relatives and friends.

New Push on Bankruptcy Protections. “The administration’s proposal would not ease bankruptcy discharges across the board on private student loans. Instead it would extend the enhanced borrower protections only to private student loans that don’t offer flexible repayment plans like those granted to federal loan borrowers. Meanwhile, the standard for discharging student loans made by the Education Department should not be lowered, the administration said in the report.”

An IDEA Colleges Should Appreciate. “Many of today’s students grew up with the assumption that children with disabilities belong in the same classroom and have the same right to an education that they do. Research shows that having kids with disabilities in class teaches valuable lessons about acceptance, patience and diversity. As people with disabilities increasingly participate in the workforce, inclusive education also prepares the current generation of students for a diversity they will likely encounter in their professional lives.”

Insider / Outsider MOOC Divide. “What is fascinating is how little common understand is shared by MOOC insiders and outsiders. Almost none of the values, assumptions, and experiences of the MOOC insider community has crossed-over to those outside of this group. If anything, positions have hardened. Productive conversation is difficult as the experiences, networks, and even world views of MOOC insiders and outsiders have continued to diverge.”

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