Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 30, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Kelly Mix of Michigan State University reveals the connection between math ability and visual spatial training. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 30, 2013

African-American studies in the United States is "alive and well," according to a new report issued by scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report surveyed 1,777 colleges and universities and found that 76 percent have some type of black studies. While some college offer only a course or two, 20 percent of those surveyed have full departments or programs.

 

August 30, 2013

A student at St. Louis Community College was arrested Wednesday for a "violent" threat against the financial aid office, authorities said, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The Twitter message said that she was so frustrated with the financial aid office that she wanted to kill someone. The tweet didn't name an individual. College officials discovered the post through regular monitoring of social media about the college.

 

August 30, 2013

The board of the Educational Testing Service announced Thursday that Walt MacDonald will become the next president and CEO. MacDonald is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer of ETS. He will succeed Kurt M. Landgraf, who has been president since 2000.

August 30, 2013

Towson University has suspended its cheerleading squad from competing for the full academic year, citing an alleged incident of hazing, The Baltimore Sun reported. The Maryland university provided no details about the incident involving the team, which won a national championship award last year. But Towson's vice president for student affairs, Deb Moriarty, said in a statement that "hazing in any form will not be tolerated at Towson University. We hold high expectations for all of our students and their conduct as leaders, both on and off campus."

 

August 30, 2013

An external review released to Westfield State University's Board of Trustees Thursday found that President Evan Dobelle used his foundation-provided credit card for tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses, but several board members rallied behind him, The Republican of Springfield reported. The accountant's review, prepared in March, found that the president had charged $68,000 in personal expenses to the card, in violation of university rules. But in remarks to the board, Dobelle noted that no fraud had been discovered, and that he had repaid all of the personal charges, the newspaper said. The Boston Globe reported that Dobelle challenged the validity of the audit report, citing the fact that it had been approved only by an executive committee of the board.

Several board members praised Dobelle at the meeting. “When you are a visionary and want to do something great, you’re going to have detractors,” said one. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to correct statements about the nature and timing of the report.)

August 29, 2013

Pearson will expands its partnership with the adaptive learning technology company Knewton to offer MyLab and Mastering products to six new subject areas this fall, the education company announced on Thursday. MyLab and Mastering, e-tutoring products that "continuously [assess] student performance and activity in real time," have been available since fall 2012 for students in math, economics, reading and writing. With the addition of topics including biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, finance and accounting, Pearson estimates the products will reach about 400,000 students.

August 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Edward Hanna of the University of Sheffield reveals the connection between a pattern in the jet stream and recent warm temperatures in Greenland. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 29, 2013

A “citation stacking" scheme, in which editors of certain Brazilian journals published articles cross-citing each others' publications in order to raise the journals’ “impact factors” – a measure of a journal’s influence based on the number of times its articles are cited – has been discovered, Nature reported. The four Brazilian journals are among 14 that have been suspended from the Thomson Reuters ranking of journals.

“We’ve been caught wrong-footed,” said Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva, a retired psychologist and former editor of one of the journals, Clinics. Rocha-e-Silva told Nature that the scheme emerged from frustration with the fact that an agency of Brazil’s national education ministry evaluates graduate programs based partly on the impact factors of the journals in which students publish; because emerging Brazilian journals are poorly ranked, researchers don't wish to publish in them and the local journals do not improve.

The article notes that the scheme is not limited to Brazilian journals -- journals in Italy and China are among those that have been sanctioned -- but only in the Brazil case has an explanation been put forward.

August 29, 2013

While some observers say academe is already moving to a post-MOOC era or one dominated by MOOC-like offerings that aren't really massive open online courses, the MOOC itself has a new symbol of recognition. Oxford Dictionaries, published by Oxford University Press, has now added MOOC as an official word.

Definition: "a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people."

Origin: "early 21st century: from massive open online course, probably influenced by MMOG and MMORPG."

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