Higher Education Quick Takes
A study in Colorado has found little difference in the learning of students in online or in-person introductory science courses. The study tracked community college students who took science courses online and in traditional classes, and who then went on to four-year universities in the state. Upon transferring, the students in the two groups performed equally well. Some science faculty members have expressed skepticism about the ability of online students in science, due to the lack of group laboratory opportunities, but the programs in Colorado work with companies to provide home kits so that online students can have a lab experience.
Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, periodically releases lists of projects on which he believes the federal government has wasted its money. His new "Wastebook 2012," includes several research and education projects at colleges, and one of them is fighting back. That is number 79 on Coburn's list: "Duplicate magazine preservation," in which he blasts the National Endowment for the Humanities for awarding a $270,000 grant to Brown University and the University of Tulsa for the Modernist Journals Project, which is digitizing early 20th century publications. Coburn's book says that the project duplicates work being done by Google and others. Robert Scholes, a Brown professor who is co-director of the project, published a defense of it on the blog Magazine Modernisms. Scholes wrote that Coburn has the dollar figures wrong, ignoring that Brown and Tulsa are paying for half the work. Further, he says that the Google versions do not provide complete reproductions of the publications. And finally, he notes that the project also supports original scholarship. "Stepping back from these factual errors in the report, it’s important to understand that magazine and periodical studies constitute a vibrant and expanding area of teaching and research," Scholes writes.
Historically, the United States has been a popular destination for Israeli graduate students, but not undergraduates. That is starting to change, Haaretz reported. A decade ago, only a handful of Israelis came to the United States before graduate school, but now 70-100 do so. Last week, EducationUSA held its first undergraduate college fair in Israel (where it has previously organized events for graduate and professional schools). More than 600 young people attended.
California's budget cuts to public higher education are leading more students to look at private colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. Some public students, frustrated by being closed out of sections of courses, are transferring. Others, hearing such reports, aren't going public in the first place. Enrollment at the University of La Verne has increased 70 percent in the last five years. Saint Mary's College of California has seen a 51 percent increase in applications since 2009.
The Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student newspaper at the University of Arizona, has fired a cartoonist, whose depiction of a conversation between a father and a son has been denounced as anti-gay. The cartoon is visible on an online petition calling for the dismissal not only of the cartoonist but of editors who approved the work's publication. The cartoon shows the father saying, "You know son.... If you ever tell me you're gay... I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off of a bridge." The son replies "Well I guess that's what you call a fruit roll up." The newspaper published a letter apologizing for publishing the cartoon and pledging that procedures would be changed so that such a cartoon would not appear in the future.
One-third of faculty use some form of social media as part of their teaching, according to a survey to be released today by Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group. However, they tend not to do so regularly. Even the most popular form of social media for teaching -- blogs and wikis -- were used more than once per month by fewer than 10 percent of professors in the survey.
Video, meanwhile, has become an extremely popular teaching tool. Nearly 90 percent of faculty members in the survey said they use video for teaching. Use of video was fairly consistent across disciplines except for mathematics and computer science, where only 66 percent of professors reported using video to help teach -- an outlier that might come as a surprise to fans of Khan Academy and the major MOOC providers, all of whom rely heavily on video as a medium for teaching math and computer science concepts. Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group have conducted versions of the survey since 2010.
Barbara Mink is the new director of the community college leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin, the university announced this week. Mink, a clinical professor at the university, takes over for John E. Roueche, the program's founder, who stepped down this year after helping train scores of community college presidents during his 41 years at the helm. Earlier this year Roueche announced that he was starting a similar program at National American University, a for-profit. His departure led to speculation about the future of the leadership program and its affiliates, the Center for Community College Student Engagement and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.
Morehouse College will furlough faculty and staff and make budget cuts after an enrollment decline it says is attributable in part to increased denial rates on parent PLUS loans, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday. Loan denials went up this year after a change to underwriting standards cast a wider net for poor credit history, and the effects have been felt most acutely at historically black colleges. The Education Department says 95 percent of PLUS applicants at historically black colleges go on to finance their education in other ways, but Morehouse administrators told the newspaper that 125 students fewer than expected enrolled this year and it believes the new loan rules are at least partially to blame.