Educators have long worried about students who "choke" on key exams. A University of Chicago study, published this week in Science, finds that if such students are given the opportunity to write about the worries 10 minutes before the test, their anxiety is reduced and their performance on the test improves substantially.
Higher Education Quick Takes
SAN ANTONIO — The National Collegiate Athletic Association released Thursday at its convention the results of its second comprehensive survey of athletes, revealing their opinions about myriad academic and athletic issues. The Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Learning of Students in College (or GOALS) study noted, among other findings, that the opportunity to play a certain sport was the most-reported reason for choosing a specific institution. Academics was second, followed closely by the institution’s proximity to home. Most athletes felt that their “pre-college expectations regarding academics and time demands were generally accurate” but that their “perceptions of the athletics and social experience in college were less accurate.”
The University of California at Berkeley, facing a new round of state budget cuts over the next year, on Thursday announced plans to eliminate 280 positions, 150 of them through layoffs and the rest through retirements or other means, The San Jose Mercury News reported. No faculty positions will be eliminated, but officials stressed that a range of income levels were covered, with about one-fourth of the positions being eliminated having salaries of $100,000 or above.
The DePaul University Faculty Council on Wednesday passed a motion calling for the president to reverse the tenure denial of Namita Goswami, a philosophy faculty member. Following the denial, a faculty appeals board determined that the decision should be reversed because of policy, procedural and academic freedom violations in her review, but DePaul’s president, the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, chose not to overturn it. The denial of Goswami, who is female and South Asian and has a well-regarded academic record, intensified the ongoing debate over why many women and minority candidates have been rejected in tenure reviews at DePaul.
The entire motion reads, “Faculty Council calls upon President Holtschneider to withdraw his final judgment in the Namita Goswami tenure case in order to allow for the full consideration of academic freedom.” The council voted to pass it 20-4-2, citing neglect to follow faculty handbook provisions that allow for a formal hearing or another contract when the appeals board finds academic freedom violations. Tenured political science professor Valerie Johnson previously told Inside Higher Ed that if the motion passed and Father Holtschneider still did not take action, she thinks “that would probably lead to a mobilization of a vote of ‘no confidence.'”
Prior to the meeting, Provost Helmut Epp sent a memo to the council that was later obtained by Inside Higher Ed. In the memo, Epp argued that a closer reading shows the handbook provision does not apply after a tenure decision has been made – rather, it applies only to faculty members whose academic freedom was violated before the final tenure decision. “While the language of the handbook could certainly be stated more clearly,” Epp wrote, “this seems to me to be the reading that best harmonizes and respects all the relevant texts.”
Harold Koh, legal adviser to the U.S. State Department, has written a letter to a number of academic and civil liberties groups pledging that federal officials will make every effort not to apply ideological tests in deciding which foreign scholars can have visas for academic trips to the United States. "In evaluating the reasons for the proposed travel, the department will give significant and sympathetic weight to the fact that the primary purpose of the visa applicant's travel will be to assume a university teaching post, to fulfill teaching engagements, to attend academic conferences, or for similar expressive or educational activities," the letter says. The American Association of University Professors and other groups that have been pushing for such assurances praised the letter.
A George Mason University policy barring the carrying of guns in campus facilities and at campus events does not violate the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment or the Virginia Constitution, the state's Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by a state resident who uses the suburban Washington university's library, among other facilities, and it upheld a state judge's earlier decision. "The regulation does not impose a total ban of weapons on campus," the Supreme Court said. "Rather, the regulation is tailored, restricting weapons only in those places where people congregate and are most vulnerable -- inside campus buildings and at campus events. Individuals may still carry or possess weapons on the open grounds of GMU, and in other places on campus not enumerated in the regulation. We hold that GMU is a sensitive place and that [the policy] is constitutional."
Vanderbilt University on Wednesday announced that it has modified its nursing residency application forms to make clear that those accepted into the program will not be required to assist in abortions, The Tennessean reported. The Alliance Defense Fund complained about the application this week, saying that such a requirement would violate federal law. While Vanderbilt said originally that its application had been misunderstood, it has now agreed to change the language to clarify that there is no requirement to participate in abortions.
Pima Community College on Wednesday released reports on concerns officials there had when Jared L. Loughner, the man accused of the Tuscon shootings, was a student, The New York Times reported. The reports referred to incidents that worried instructors and fellow students. Loughner once insisted that the number 6 was really 18, sang in the library and made a YouTube video in which he suggested the college was engaged in genocide and the torture of students. Loughner withdrew from the college after he was suspended.
An Italian-American group is criticizing North Central College for plans to have Spike Lee as the keynote speaker during celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the Chicago Tribune reported. "He wants to be provocative, and there's nothing wrong with that," Bill Dal Cerro, president of the Italic Institute of America, said. "Where we take issue is that he is provocative at our expense, to the point where he distorts our culture and goes out of his way almost to make us the bad guys." He cited such Spike Lee movies as "Do the Right Thing" and "Jungle Fever." Renard Jackson, a professor who organized the event, noted that Lee has offended many groups. "He's like Archie Bunker, he's an equal-opportunity portrayer of people, sometimes inadequately or improperly," Jackson said.