Community colleges need better measures of student learning, measures that yield more information than tests, according to a study issued Tuesday by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report is based on three years of research, supported by Carnegie and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, on the teaching of basic math and English skills at 11 California community colleges. The research explored a wide variety of assessment techniques. Techniques studied included traditional tests and also "think aloud protocols" (audio and video records of students talking about their thought process while trying to read texts or solve problems), focus groups and surveys.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The volleyball coach at Quinnipiac University testified Monday that the institution has distorted athletic rosters as a means of hiding violations of gender equity laws, The Hartford Courant reported. According to the testimony, in a case in which team members are trying to prevent the university from eliminating the volleyball team, the university drops some male athletes from team rosters just before the season starts, reports on the total numbers of male and female athletes while those men are not counted, and then adds the men back. The university's athletic director declined to comment on the allegations.
Big-time college football programs now have a pool from which to select minority coaches, according to a study published in USA Today. The study found that about 15 percent of offensive and defensive coordinators in the football bowl division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association are from minority groups. Those coordinator positions are traditionally the path to head coaching positions. In 2002, the last time USA Today did the survey, only 5 percent of coordinators were from minority groups. Despite that significant growth in the pool, only 7.5 percent of head coaches are from minority groups, the newspaper found, up from 3.5 percent in 2002.
With anti-abortion groups continuing to criticize the University of Notre Dame's decision to have President Obama speak at graduation ceremonies, there was one commencement address the critics might like. The commencement speaker at Ave Maria University, which prides itself on strict adherence to Roman Catholic teachings, devoted time to denouncing Obama and Notre Dame. The Naples Daily News reported that the speaker at Ave Maria -- Thomas Hilgers, an obstetrician from Nebraska -- called Obama "viciously pro-abortion" and compared having him to the the invitation made to the speaker Hilgers heard at his own graduation, whom he described as a priest who turned out to be "a denier of the Resurrection, pro-homosexuality and pro-contraception." The anti-Obama talk on graduation day prompted one person to write to The Sun-Sentinel to ask: "Uh, what happened to 'love thy neighbor.' "
Harvard University has had notable success in recent years at attracting more students from low-income backgrounds. But even as the university offers generous aid packages that cover all official expenses, students without money find themselves in a series of awkward social and financial situations, The Boston Globe reported. The article looked at the gaps between students who use laundry services and those who wait at the washing machines in the dormitory basements, or those who tell fellow choir members that male students should have tuxedos for a concert, and those who not only don't have a tux, but lack the funds to rent one.
The District of Columbia agency that handles financial aid requests has just sent detailed information about 2,400 aid applicants to 1,250 of those applicants, The Washington Post reported. The office sent an e-mail to 1,250 applicants and accidentally attached a spreadsheet with 2,400 applicants' names, e-mail and home addresses, Social Security numbers, phone numbers and dates of birth. The agency has since asked all of those who received the spreadsheet to destroy it. Further, it sent an apology to the students whose information was shared, and is offering one-year subscriptions to a credit-monitoring service so that they can try to prevent identity theft.
New Jersey has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a special Rutgers University appropriation that supported a small nonprofit group to teach school children how to grow food in space, The Star-Ledger reported. Given that space agriculture hasn't exactly taken off, the revelation was sure to be controversial, but the newspaper found that this appropriation featured a peculiat twist on the concept of the no-show job. Much of the money has been going to pay the salaries of two people -- one of whom has been dead for two years. The newspaper first reported the unusual appropriation Monday morning, and by the end of the day legislators were vowing to kill the program.
George Zinkhan, a University of Georgia professor wanted in the murders of his wife and two others in a shooting that stunned Athens, Georgia, was found dead on Saturday. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Zinkhan apparently dug his own grave in a wooded area, covered himself up, and then fired a single bullet into his own head. University of Georgia statements on the incident may be found here.
The University of Rochester devoted the home page of its Web site this weekend (continuing today) to a Mother's Day salute. One hundred students posed with notes for their mothers. Each time the page is reloaded a different student appears. A similar approach is planned for commencement weekend.
Two British academics have conducted a survey of colleges and universities in the country, finding that few of them have policies barring students or faculty members from working in the sex industry, The Times Higher reported. At the same time, many colleges have "unwritten assumptions" discouraging such out-of-class employment. In a related article, the newspaper reported about discussion of a blog called Diary of a Russell Group University Call Girl. (The Russell Group is the organization of Britain's leading research universities.)