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Three worrisome trends in U.S. higher education

The Washington Post – Jeffrey L. Selingo

“The thousands of college campuses that dot the American landscape have long been referred to collectively as a higher education system. It’s never been quite an apt description given the diversity of colleges we have. Increasingly the various types of institutions—from public flagships to selective liberal arts colleges—have very little, if anything, in common with each other. Much like American society is segregated by income and geography, so too is higher education.”(more)

Calculating a love of math

Arizona State University – Monique Clement

“Do you like math? People tend to feel strongly one way or another, and likely your decision rides on your experiences in the classroom. “Mathematics itself is fairly neutral,” said Jim Middleton, a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “There is no reason to either love or hate mathematics outside the experiences we have in and out of school along with the cultural attitudes.” When students’ enjoyment and understanding of math falters, so do the possibilities of STEM courses and career paths that require higher math in those student’s futures.”(more)

College may no longer be necessary, high quality K-12 education is

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Even though psychologists have been talking about a lack of correlation between college degrees, course grades, and job performance for decades, most companies continue to rely on these credentials and marks to make hiring decisions.

In the past couple of years, however, a few companies have broken rank. Google, a Fortune 500 technology firm, and Ernst and Young U.K., part of one of the world’s largest accounting firms, have publicly announced they no longer require college degrees for employment.

Google’s chairman said the company is more interested in an applicant’s skills, ability to think in a logical way, work ethic, breadth of experience, public speaking abilities, and creativity. Ernst and Young said they are interested in talented individuals regardless of background.

This transformation is due, in large part, to free access of information through the Internet. Over five years ago Bill Gates, a founder of Microsoft, suggested that traditional university education, especially at fixed-place institutions will no longer be necessary, since most of the content will be available online for free.

The college experience is under additional pressure, because college costs are rising at a rate higher than inflation and a college degree no longer guarantees a solid middle-class income. In fact, the College Risk Report (collegeriskreport.com) suggests that the rate of return on most four-year college degrees is worse than 2-year degrees and in some instances worse than no degree at all.

There is a small group of students who receive full ride scholarships to attend college. For these students, the costs are so low that the four-year degree makes financial sense.

Some people assert that college is an excellent place to make contacts. This may be a valid claim for students who are outgoing and takes advantage of all the clubs, speakers, professors, and research opportunities available at a school, but is probably not the case for most students who meet few people outside their dorms and classes.

Without a traditional college education, strong K-12 schooling is imperative since this will be where kids learn basic skills, hone public speaking abilities, refine creative thinking, and develop logical problem solving capabilities. Work ethic can be developed at school, home or in extra-curricular activities like sports. Breadth of experience can occur at school or through outside clubs and activities.

This new employment paradigm suggests we need to worry more about high quality K-12 education and less about college.

Build on AP, IB Exams to Prepare for College

The U.S. News and World Report – Sonya Ellis

“If you sat for an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam this year, you have achieved an important milestone in your academic career. You may now be ready to take the summer off before college. But before you do, it is important to consider whether you are truly ready for college – and all that takes is a bit of self-reflection. AP and IB exams simulate the skills and content of entry-level university courses. Beyond the desire to earn a good score on these tests, you should be sure that you have fully mastered their challenges. A full college workload can be intimidating. As such, it is valuable to spend the summer before freshman year focusing on improving areas where your AP or IB performance may have slipped. Review your exams in these four subject areas.”(more)

Are we educating educators about academic integrity?

Science Daily – Staff Writer

“A study by Swansea University researchers has found that student academic integrity is not a core concept taught to academics in Higher Education. An academic integrity-focused approach to addressing plagiarism emphasises the promotion of positive values alongside education of staff and students about good, and bad, practice in writing, studying and assessment design. The concept was developed many years ago and is seen as desirable, yet it was not clear whether academic integrity features prominently in the education of academics themselves.”(more)

Measuring Up

Education Next – Brian A. Jacob, Kevin Stange and Pieter De Vlieger

“There is a substantial body of research showing that teacher quality is an important determinant of student achievement in elementary and secondary schools, inspiring some states and districts to enact policies aimed at identifying and rewarding high-quality teachers. Yet relatively little is known about the impact of instructor effectiveness on student performance in higher education, where such insights could be particularly useful. Even more than leaders at K–12 schools, college administrators often have substantial discretion to determine which instructors receive teaching assignments.”(more)