Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 15, 2018

A new study in BioScience says that undergraduate research contributes to success in careers in the sciences, technology, engineering and math. Researchers compared the scientific career outcomes of 88 accepted participants in five National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates site programs with demographically similar applicants to those programs who were not selected. They found that research program participants were 48 percent more likely to pursue a Ph.D. in STEM, and likely to generate significantly more science products, such as presentations, publications and awards, than the other applicants.

The paper says that key components of the research program include funding for personal and professional needs, access to diverse field resources and the presence of other undergraduate researchers. Lead author Alan Wilson, an associate professor of fisheries, aquaculture and aquatic sciences at Auburn University, said in a statement that the study stands out because it takes a quantitative approach to assessing the impact of undergraduate research programs. Prior research on the topic “has taken a subjective approach, with participants responding through surveys or evaluations about what they got out of the experience,” he said.

June 15, 2018

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries system has signed a publishing agreement with the Royal Society of Chemistry, thought to be the first of its kind in North America.

The so-called read and publish agreement will enable members of the MIT community to access journals from the British scholarly society, as they normally would under a typical subscription agreement. However, the agreement also means that any articles published by MIT authors in RSC journals will be immediately available for the public to read at no cost (an option known as gold open access).

Greg Eow, associate director for collections at MIT Libraries, said in a press release that he hopes other institutions “will join us in experimenting with new publishing models and helping to move the dial towards openness.”

The agreement has been signed for an initial term of two years.

June 15, 2018

A House appropriations proposal for fiscal year 2019 would provide a $119 million increase for career and technical education but would keep the maximum Pell Grant flat at $6,095 in fiscal year 2019.

The proposal, released Thursday, would also increase support for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs by $60 million and $10 million, respectively.

"This bill is one that supports and benefits all Americans,” said Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee chairman Tom Cole.

Higher ed advocates have called for boosting the maximum Pell Grant to at least keep pace with inflation. But the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have identified work-force training as a major priority.

June 15, 2018

Pima County Community College officials are cutting the institution's football program, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

The team will play their final season this year.

The Maricopa County Community College District announced earlier this year that it would eliminate football programs at Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Glendale Colleges in 2019.

Pima is also cutting two of the four golf and tennis programs at the college.

Maricopa and Pima are two of the largest community college districts in the state, and in 2015 the Arizona Legislature and governor completely cut state support to both institutions.

June 15, 2018

First Watch Restaurants Inc., a Florida-based breakfast chain, has joined a growing number of companies offering employee education benefits.

First Watch employees can now complete their high school education for free through Cengage’s Career Online High School, which also works with employers such as Walmart, McDonald’s and Hilton.

First Watch is also offering workers college tuition reimbursement of up to $4,800 for a four-year degree from any college, and a 25 percent discount off any degree program (on campus or online) at Argosy University.

June 15, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute: Priya Kanan-Narasimhan, associate professor of management at the University of San Diego, determines the key to innovation at large companies may be looking at what they’re already succeeding in and doing it differently. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.

June 14, 2018

Some research suggests that student evaluations of teaching are influenced by students’ expected grades. And some professors report feeling pressure to make their courses easier as a result. A new study says that professors don’t have to worry about grades negatively impacting their student ratings as long as they use classroom practices students perceive to be fair. For their study, researchers surveyed a group of undergraduates’ perceptions of course fairness. They found that the relationship between grades and teaching ratings is attenuated when students believe their marks are determined by a fair process, and when professors seem consistent and responsive in their classroom practices in general.

“We’ve long known there’s an association between expected students’ course grades and how they evaluate teachers,” lead author Thomas Tripp, associate dean of business at Washington State University at Vancouver, said in a statement. “Faculty may not feel a need to award artificially high grades, if they knew how students’ perceptions of justice might influence this relationship.” Tripp and his co-authors found that students’ perception of fair classroom practices is based on four teaching practices: using rubrics and sticking to them; obtaining student feedback and acting on it; grading blindly to avoid bias; and adopting policies that allow for makeup work and absences. The full study, published in the Journal of Marketing Education, is available here.

June 14, 2018

In November, the case of Lindsay Shepherd became a major controversy when recordings surfaced of how officials at Wilfrid Laurier University questioned her use of a video in class showing a professor who does not back transgender rights. Shepherd never endorsed that professor's views, and she used the video in a communications course for which she was a teaching assistant to talk about language. But university official grilled her about it, although the university later apologized for how it had treated her.

Now she is suing the university for 3.6 million Canadian dollars (the equivalent of $2.8 million) over what she is calling an "inquisition" that left her unemployable in academe, CBC News reported. The university, while affirming its apology, said it would "vigorously defend" itself against the lawsuit.

 

June 14, 2018

The White House said Wednesday that Ivanka Trump, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, plans to meet with Senate lawmakers this week to push for a reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

The House passed a Perkins reauthorization bill last year, but negotiations over Senate legislation have been stalled for months over philosophical differences between Republican and Democratic negotiators.

The Trump administration has identified work-force training as a major priority, and Ivanka Trump will press senators on the urgency of reauthorizing the Perkins law, said Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley in a statement.

“The important legislation benefits more than 11 million Americans across the country and is integral to the administration’s working families and work-force development agenda," Gidley said. "Thanks to the robust economic environment and historically low unemployment rates, there is a record number of unfilled jobs and we are committed to ensuring current and future American workers have access to the high-quality vocational education needed to secure family-sustaining careers and thrive in the modern economy.”

Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate education committee, plans to hold a committee vote on Perkins reauthorization on June 20 -- whether or not there is a bipartisan agreement in place.

In a statement, Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said there is broad bipartisan support to get a deal done.

"I am ready to get this done, and I know there are a whole lot of Democrats, Republicans and business groups who join me in hoping that we can do this in a bipartisan way," Murray said.

 

June 14, 2018

The University of Iowa responded Tuesday to hundreds of allegations on social media that Nick Caracci Jr., a student at the university, sexually harassed women online and in person, the Iowa City Press Citizen reported.

A tweet posted Sunday asked users to retweet or respond if they had also been harassed by Caracci. The tweet has garnered 1,200 retweets and 220 responses, many of which include screenshots of unwanted messages from Caracci. The University of Iowa stressed that while it takes the allegations seriously, social media posts do not classify as an official report and the university can only take limited action.

The University of Iowa has received two formal reports of online harassment by Caracci from the same woman, the first filed in December and another in April, detailing that Caracci stalked her and she worried that he would harm her. It is unknown whether any incidents have been reported to Iowa City police.

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