Higher Education Quick Takes
Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland were this morning named winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics for "ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems." Haroche is a physicist at the Collège de France and the École Normale Supérieure, both in Paris. Wineland conducts his research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado, both in Boulder, Colo.
Research released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that student performance on tests may be related not only to knowledge gained, but time between significant tasks. The new research -- by Ian Fillmore and Devin G. Pope of the University of Chicago -- examined student performance on Advanced Placement exams. The AP final exams are not always on the same schedule, so students who take more than one AP exam have varying amounts of time between the tests. The study found "strong evidence" that having shorter time periods between exams resulted in lower scores on the second exam. Students who take two exams with 10 days between them are 8 percent more likely to pass both exams than those who take the exams one day apart. An abstract of the study may be found here.
The marching band at Florida A&M University -- long a source of pride but more recently the subject of intense scrutiny because of a hazing death last year -- had serious academic problems, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Nearly 50 members of the 350 people in the band last year had grade-point averages below 2.0, the minimum required for participation in organizations such as the band. Twelve of those students had G.P.A.s of 1.0 or lower.
Jerry Sandusky, who will be sentenced today for 45 counts of childhood sexual abuse, maintained his innocence in a recording obtained by the student radio station at Pennsylvania State University, The Centre Daily Times reported. In the recording -- whose authenticity was confirmed by Sandusky's lawyers -- the former football coach blamed his accusers for his current situation. "I’m responding to the worst loss of my life. First, I looked at myself. Over and over, I asked why? Why didn’t we have a fair opportunity to prepare for trial? Why have so many people suffered as a result of false allegations? What’s the purpose?" he asked. He said that the only person he ever had sex with was his wife. And he said that one false accusation led to others. "A young man who was dramatic, a veteran accuser, and always sought attention, started everything. He was joined by a well-orchestrated effort of the media, investigators, the system, Penn State, psychologists, civil attorneys and other accusers. They won," Sandusky said.
Faculty and staff members at Indiana University at Bloomington are signing petitions and protesting the idea of a long-term lease by the university of its parking facilities, the Associated Press reported. Ohio State University recently signed a deal to lease its parking facilities for 50 years -- earning Ohio State $483 million. Indiana officials want a similar deal, but employees say that they fear a loss of jobs and less control over the fees charged to those who park there.
Many students at Cuyahoga Community College are objecting to the decision of the college's Metro campus to refuse to let Maria Graciani continue her job as an "ambassador" -- in which she helped with orientation, campus tours and other activities -- because 16 years ago she was convicted of aggravated assault, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported. Graciani has served in the position successfully in the past, but the college recently started doing background checks on those in such jobs, and denied her the chance to continue as an ambassador this year. While college officials declined to talk about the decision, they have said that that they introduced the background checks to protect the safety of everyone on campus. Graciani's conviction stems from charges that, during a brawl, she hit a woman with a beer bottle. She said in an interview with the newspaper that someone else hit the woman, but that she pleaded guilty to avoid prison.
The University of Texas at Austin has announced a pilot program to test the idea of linking loan forgiveness to progress made by undergraduates toward graduation. Under the program, the university will select 200 undergraduates who receive federal unsubsidized student loans. If they complete 15 credits in a semester, the university will repay $1,000 in principal, plus accrued interest.
A video has surfaced in which Representative Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican who chairs the House Science Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, blasts widely accepted scientific theories, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. In the video address to a church, Representative Broun said that the Bible contains the literal truth about all matters, and that those who think otherwise are wrong. "God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, the big bang theory; all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell," Broun said. "And it’s lies to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there’s a lot of scientific data that I’ve found as a scientist that this really is a young earth. I don’t believe that the earth is but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was made in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible tells us."
Broun is running unopposed for re-election.
A spokeswoman for him said that Broun "was speaking off the record to a large church group about his personal beliefs regarding religious issues."