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Education Adds Likelihood of Holding Work Credential

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics shows that the proportion of adults with a work credential typically increases with educational attainment, excluding those adults with a doctoral degree. The figures range from 6 percent for adults with a high school diploma having a work credential to 68 percent for people with a professional degree.

Over half of credentialed adults -- 53 percent -- have less than a bachelor's degree.

Work credentials are often used as an alternative or supplement to education credentials like diplomas and degrees. The credentials include occupational licenses and certifications. The most common work credentials are obtained in health care, education and the trades, according to the report.

Study links procrastination and bogus excuses by German university students

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In Germany, university students who delay their work are more likely than others to lie about it and to engage in other forms of academic misconduct, study finds.

A Toni Morrison novel makes it into a curriculum known for its classical roots

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Columbia's core literature course, long criticized for its lack of diversity, adds to the list a novel by Toni Morrison -- the first living author and the first nonwhite author.

How to Better Serve Returning Adult Students

Up to 35 million Americans have enrolled in college at some point but failed to earn a degree or certificate. A new report from Higher Ed Insight, a research firm, tracks the challenges adult students face when they return to college. The 69-page document is an evaluation of the Lumina Foundation's adult college completion work. It seeks to describe what works with this population, in part by looking at local, state and national partnerships that bring together higher education and employers to better serve and engage returning adult students.

Several key changes in policy and practice would benefit these students, according to the report. They include:

  • Access to advisers who are capable of addressing adult students' complex needs;
  • Student services that are available during nontraditional business hours, or online;
  • Additional sources of financial aid, particularly at the state level;
  • More transparency about transfer credit policies, including before students enroll;
  • Flexible course scheduling, online courses and innovative degree-completion programs;
  • Access to opportunities to earn credit for prior learning.

Report Tracks Latino STEM Graduates

Excelencia in Education today released a report that lists the 25 colleges that graduate the most Latino students in science, technology, engineering and math. Using data from 2013, the nonprofit group found that 2 percent of all U.S. institutions graduate one-third of Latinos who earn STEM credentials. While the number of Latinos earning these credentials has increased, they still account for just 9 percent of STEM credentials earned. Latinos working in STEM also are concentrated in lower-paying jobs, with a higher representation in service fields than in professional occupations.

“The report shines a light on what many of us know to be true: that diversification within STEM postsecondary education, particularly among Hispanics/Latinos over the last decade, has been largely in the area of certificate/associate levels and diminishes at each successive level,” Gabriel Montaño, a research scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and president of the Society for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, said in a written statement. “The result is an increasing discrepancy in positions of leadership within the STEM workforce.”

The lists of top colleges for the production of Latino STEM graduates follows:

Certificates Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. Instituto de Banca y Comercio Inc., Puerto Rico
  2. South Texas College
  3. Miami Dade College
  4. Wyotech-Long Beach, Calif.
  5. United Education Institute-Huntington Park, Calif.

Associate Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. South Texas College
  2. San Jacinto Community College, Texas
  3. University of Phoenix-Online
  4. El Paso Community College, Texas
  5. Instituto Tecnologico de Puerto Rico-Recinto de Guayama

Bachelor Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
  2. Florida International University
  3. The University of Texas at El Paso
  4. Texas A&M University at College Station
  5. University of Texas-Pan American

Master's Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. Universidad Politecnica de Puerto Rico
  2. Florida International University
  3. University of Texas at El Paso
  4. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
  5. University of Southern California

Doctoral Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. Stanford University
  2. University of California at Berkeley
  3. University of Texas at El Paso
  4. University of California at Davis
  5. University of California at Irvine

A new graduate school of education will be competency based

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A new graduate school of education will be competency-based. As demand for teachers increases and alternative preparation programs spread, this school hopes to stand out to the best aspiring educators.

Student Opposes Teaching of Graphic Novels

A student at California's Crafton Hills College and her parents are urging the institution to ban the teaching of several graphic novels, Redlands Daily Facts reported. The student says that the novels, including Fun Home, The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House and Persepolis are violent, pornographic or both. (The novels have all been widely praised by critics, winning awards.) Ryan Bartlett, associate professor of English, said that this is the third time he has taught a course on graphic novels, and the first time there has been a complaint.

“I chose several highly acclaimed, award-winning graphic novels in my English 250 course not because they are purportedly racy but because each speaks to the struggles of the human condition,” Bartlett said in an email to the Daily Facts. “As Faulkner states, ‘The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.’ The same may be said about reading literature. The characters in the chosen graphic novels are all struggling with issues of morality, self discovery, heart break, etc. The course in question has also been supported by the faculty, administration and approved by the board.”

Essay rejects the hype over fear of liberal or diverse students

I’m a liberal white faculty member, and I have a confession: I have no idea why other liberal white faculty members claim to be so afraid of their liberal students. In the past few months, anonymous (and sometimes not) white professors have started airing these fears, or re-airing them, as they are reminiscent of old complaints. The campus culture, they claim, has grown toxic, with faculty members carefully paring their syllabi to avoid any potentially uncomfortable material. A specter, they will tell you, is haunting universities -- the specter of political correctness, or radical liberalism, or identity politics.

The latest of these accounts, published recently in Vox under the pseudonym Edward Schlosser, is particularly unconvincing. Schlosser, an ostensibly liberal professor, conflates real problems -- the shifting of higher education toward a consumer experience (explained and deflated well here by Rebecca Schuman) and the absence of job protection for contingent faculty -- with ghosts conjured by paranoia. The generality of Schlosser’s writing doesn’t pass the sniff test; for example, he claims, “Personal experience and feelings aren't just a salient touchstone of contemporary identity politics; they are the entirety of these politics.”

That sentence doesn’t stack the deck so much as it replaces it entirely. And the oddly random anecdotes of feelings-driven radical liberalism don’t add up; as in many invocations of the dangers of student liberalism, Twitter is a central go-to demon. The fundamental irony of Schlosser’s essay is that he criticizes overreliance on emotional responses that students have, but the fear he describes ultimately seems like an overreliance on an emotional response by some white faculty members. Criticism from students -- whether it’s over the reading choices, the assignments, the in-class dynamic -- isn’t new, even if it develops out of students’ political perspectives or not. Instructors have to learn to meet that criticism and engage it respectfully.

Finally, people of color are starkly underrepresented among full-time faculty members and face authority challenges in the classroom that white male faculty do not, so the growing concern about what the white professoriate can and cannot say seems laughable to me. Plus, for what it’s worth, I’m a white male instructor unprotected by the tenure track, but I don’t feel the fear Schlosser describes, and my academic friends and colleagues, both tenured and not, at a wide variety of institutions, either don’t feel this fear or don’t confess it to me.

All that said, I do think Schlosser’s concern comes from meaningful, important questions: How do faculty members teach controversial material in an open, respectful forum where students can learn? And how can white male instructors approach issues of race, gender and sexual orientation with sensitivity? I teach first-year writing, creative writing and the personal essay, so each semester I regularly teach (and encounter in student writing) controversial material. If a student has raised a complaint about my handling of that material, it hasn’t been mentioned to me. I don’t assume to know every experience that might arise in the humanities classroom; I also can’t claim I’m the exemplar of how to encounter controversial issues in the classroom. Based on my experience, though, I have suggestions below on how Schlosser and other fearful faculty can teach controversial material.

Know, and admit, the limits of your authority. All instructors try to prepare as comprehensively as possible, but we all enter the classroom with our blind spots, our little (and sometimes big) ignorance. If you help students understand both the background of knowledge you bring as well as the uncertainties and questions you ask of a subject, they likely will understand your perspective more fully and engage with the questions you want them to consider. You won’t lose authority; rather, they’ll grow to see, via your model, how they can enter into complex problems and develop their own authority. They’ll also recognize the limits of their own knowledge, and that knowledge is fluid and limited.

Know, and admit, the extent of your authority. Faculty members are overwhelmingly, disproportionately white; department chairs more so. That’s the main reason I can’t take seriously this anonymous fear of retribution from liberal students: even at colleges with less diverse student populations, students still find more diversity among their peers than on the faculty. The resistance some white faculty members feel from students is, among other things, likely resistance to discovering the university as an ostensibly open environment that is still a sometimes unwelcome one for students of color. Even if we’re trying to be welcoming, white faculty members, myself included, are part of the problem, whether we like it or not. (NB: We should not.) Acknowledging that disparity as part of the process of teaching difficult material can help students discuss that material openly.

Know your place -- or, rather, know the place you’re in. While earning my Ph.D., I taught at an urban campus in the Midwest. In one first-year writing course, a student argued that affirmative action has given unfair opportunities to African-American students. In the course of the conversation, I asked the students what percentage of the student body they thought was African-American. One student, from a rural area, guessed 50 percent; no student guessed less than 25 percent. When I told them the percentage was actually under 10, well under the demographics of the city, state and nation the university was home to, they refused to believe me. (Had they looked around the room, they would have seen a single African-American student among the 18 of them.) When I showed them the university’s website, the look of confused resistance that spread on their faces appalled me; one student continued disagreeing, saying there must be some mistake with the website -- an administrator had told him it was 25 percent.

Had I been more aware of the place I was in, I would have understood their reactions better. A colleague reminded me later that the university was bordered on two sides by predominantly African-American neighborhoods; the custodial staff and service workers on campus were also largely African-American. Many of the students came from predominantly white neighborhoods and rural areas; they’d never seen so many African-Americans, so their imaginations likely multiplied those numbers.

Wherever we are, we should remember that academe is a shorthand for extraordinarily diverse kinds of universities. That’s why many of us resist when longtime tenured faculty from elite universities describe their experience as universal, a useful reminder that advanced age and advanced degrees don’t necessarily confer wisdom. Knowing your own college or university culture more intimately will help you work more directly with your students, whether the subject matter is controversial or not.

Recognize your own emotional reactions. Fear has a way of magnifying itself. Just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean the thing you’re afraid of is real. Along those lines, I’m skeptical of those who posit a split between the intellectual and emotional. Too many of the essays about fear of liberal students (especially Schlosser’s in Vox) posit the fearful faculty as reasonable and the student body as unreasonably emotional. Not only does the fear some white faculty members describe seem like an emotional embellishment, conceiving of emotion and reason as disconnected opposites does a tremendous disservice to both. Yes, reason and logic can be dispassionate, even at times disconnected from our emotional responses, but to pretend that they must be ever thus in the humanities classroom ignores basic human experience. If you pretend as Wendy Kaminer does that the utterance of the n-word by a white person has a negligible emotional charge, you’re committing an intellectual sin.

Explore your own bias, and never treat it as solved. I’m a white man born and raised in Arkansas. I’ve spent years working to understand the legacy of racism in my home state, and I’ve come to understand that, no matter how fully I try, I’ll probably never filter from myself the last dregs of that legacy. Exploring that bias -- via Harvard University’s Implicit Bias test, for example -- and acknowledging it to students can be a useful path to helping instructors and students recognize their own biases and develop a more complex understanding of their own emotional and intellectual responses.

When we discuss race in my classes, I tell my students of my background and acknowledge that, as careful as I try to be in thinking and speaking about race, I almost surely bring biases and emotional reactions I don’t yet recognize. In my experience, that engages them with their own experience and the intellectual material we discuss. Along those lines, instructors can benefit from presenting themselves as learners. Both the best and the most frustrating students have an inherent mistrust of authority, I think. As an instructor, I do, too. My greatest pleasure in teaching is being surprised and enlightened by my students’ work, especially their productive, constructive challenges to authority. And when they realize they’ve taught the instructor something, the students gain a useful confidence and foundation for the development of more complex ideas.

Teach difficult, controversial texts, paying particular attention to intellectual and cultural diversity. The avoidance of difficult material that Schlosser describes would be enormously counterproductive, of course, and faculty need to reconsider their syllabi in light of ongoing change. For example, I had long been proud to have a diverse list of poets and fiction writers in my creative-writing class. But when I reconsidered the syllabus last summer, I discovered that the poetry readings were less diverse and less focused on issues of race and gender than I had thought. So I adjusted the readings, adding in poems like June Jordan’s “Poem About My Rights” and short stories like Percival Everett’s “The Appropriation of Cultures,” excellent writing that drew the students’ attention to complex issues. Just as we discussed sound and sonnet structure in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s “God’s Grandeur,” and image and figure in Marianne Moore’s “Poetry,” we discussed line breaks, anaphora, tone and race in Jordan’s poem.

As sometimes happens, I encountered student fatigue with discussions of race (in this case in a discussion of Jordan’s poem), only to discover what I think is often the source of that fatigue: many students see the beginning and end point of such discussions as “racism is bad.” When reluctant students saw how the issues were more complicated and required more inquiry, they became more engaged and moved to more compelling insights about the poem and about race.

Make clear the potential discomforts and challenges of the course material. To many, that might sound like a trigger warning, but it actually isn’t. On the first day of my classes, I mention that our reading (and possibly their writing, in creative-writing and personal-essay courses) will make us think in complicated, sometimes uncomfortable ways, about sexuality, race, gender and age, among other subjects. That isn’t a trigger warning; it’s simple politeness. Each class approaches its subject matter differently, and guiding students to your pedagogical approach helps them build the class dynamic more constructively. Trigger warnings, on the other hand, explicitly inform students about subject material that might trigger memories of trauma for those who’ve suffered that trauma. Though I don’t include trigger warnings, it’s frustrating that so many critics of trigger warnings conflate discomfort and trauma, ultimately misrepresenting the idea and design of trigger warnings.

If a student accuses you of hurting her/his feelings in a meaningful way, assume you’re in the wrong before you assume you’re in the right. This runs counter to the idea of “innocent until proven guilty,” but it’s a useful guide to self-awareness. (Bear in mind that I’m not arguing that departments should assume their faculty are in the wrong.) In academic and nonacademic contexts, I’ve seen plenty of people react immediately with a sharp defensiveness to all kinds of accusations, only to calcify that defense over time. (Full disclosure: I’ve been that person before and likely will be again.) Moving past the initial defensiveness, or converting the initial impulse into self-inquiry, can be useful in helping instructors consider their biases and emotional responses. Even if you and your colleagues decide you weren’t in the wrong, avoiding the defensive impulse will make you a more perceptive teacher.

What I’ve written above isn’t a comprehensive guide for scared white faculty; I’ve based it on my experience, so it’s necessarily limited. I’m trying to keep myself malleable in the hope of becoming a better teacher. Students will change over time; decrying the loss of some golden age while warning of some encroaching PC liberalism screaming across the sky does the students no good.

Charles Green teaches writing at Cornell University. He hopes that his bosses at the Politically Correct Policepersons Union will accept this essay in lieu of dues this month.

 

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Kennesaw State apologizes to student who posted video of how he was treated by advisor

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Kennesaw State apologizes to student whose video of his interaction with adviser went viral, and pledges to cut student-to-adviser ratio. But there are no easy formulas for such ratios.

Colleges start new academic programs

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