Quick Takes: Call to Reform Engineering Education, Yale Rejects 'Score Choice' on SAT, English Class Robbery, Ontario Union Adjusts Boycott Stance, Data on Study Abroad, Mormon Shift at U. of Utah, $245,000 to Teach a Single Course

January 16, 2009
  • Engineering education needs an overhaul, and must do a better job of introducing students to the actual practice of the profession, says a new report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The report calls for programs to have "a professional spine" in which each year includes "practice-like experiences," and for an emphasis on how concepts are used and connected. Further, the report calls for more education that shows how engineering fits into the world. These changes will require considerable new thinking about course and program structure, and who teaches, the report suggests.
  • Yale University announced Thursday that it will require applicants to report all SAT scores, as the College Board has required in recent years, not just selected scores, as the College Board is now allowing students to do. The College Board announced in June that it would let applicants decide which scores to report. Board officials said that they were trying to reduce student stress with the "Score Choice" program, but critics said that this move might be of particular help to wealthier students, who can afford to take the test repeatedly and to pay for coaching. Yale apparently agrees. A statement from the admissions office said: "A complete testing history provides us with some of the context required for making the fairest assessment of each applicant, always remembering that test scores are merely one element in a holistic evaluation. We believe that our policy maintains a more level playing field for low-income students who cannot afford repeated testing or the expensive test preparation that often accompanies it. We also hope that this policy will help to discourage excessive testing and help to simplify testing issues for all of our applicants, reducing the anxieties that some students may feel when trying to weigh complicated new strategies for enhancing their testing profiles."
  • An armed man entered an English class at LeMoyne-Owen College on Thursday and seized wallets and purses from the 18 students and instructor present, The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The college was briefly locked down after the incident, but then resumed operations.
  • A union that represents some graduate and teaching assistants at Ontario universities has adjusted its call for a boycott of Israeli academics as a way to protest Israel's actions in Gaza. Many Canadian academics have criticized the boycott call as unlikely to do any good and as a move that is antithetical to academic freedom. While leaders of the union have specifically talked about cutting ties to Israeli academics who do not condemn their government's actions, the Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees issued what it was calling a clarification of its position -- and saying that it now wants to boycott Israeli academic institutions, not individuals.
  • The Forum on Education Abroad is releasing its State of the Field Survey for 2008 today. Among the findings, 75 percent of institutions reported that they are actively attempting to send larger numbers of students abroad each year. Rising costs – both for student participation and program operation and administration – topped the list of challenges. In an issue of particular interest of late -- given the conflict in Gaza and concerns over the fate of study abroad in Israel -- 77 percent of colleges described the U.S. State Department Travel Warnings as critical factors in deciding whether to run programs or allow students to study abroad in a particular location. In 2006, 83 percent said the same.
  • The University of Utah has created a graduate fellowship in Mormon history and culture. That may not seem surprising, given the university's location near the center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But the university has historically been seen as hostile to scholarly work on Mormons so the fellowship is being viewed as a significant shift, The Deseret News reported.
  • Steven Hoch hadn't even served two months as provost at Washington State University when he left the position following an altercation with another administrator. Now, his contract is allowing him to be paid $245,000 for teaching a single course, the Associated Press reported. The topic is the Russian revolution.
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