Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Each day, the College Board offers an online "Official SAT Question of the Day" to help students prepare. The question also indicates what percentage of those who tried it answered correctly. The question for Friday shows an unusually low correct answer rate (28 percent). But that may not reflect a weakness in mathematics education. Until some time over the weekend, the College Board's website was telling people who answered correctly that they were wrong, and those who selected one of the incorrect answers that they were correct.

The question: If 24/15 = 4/n, what is the value of 4n

A. 6

B. 10

C. 12

D. 30

E. 60

Michael Paul Goldenberg wrote at the website of Rational Mathematics Education that he answered B (the correct answer) and was told by the website that the correct answer was A. He also noted that the explanation for the incorrect answer (A) actually pointed to B being the real answer.

Michael Pearson, executive director of the Mathematical Association of America, said that the explanations were correct from the start (even when the answer was incorrect), so that "it's clear that someone simply set the wrong answer among the multiple-choice selections."

In an e-mail Sunday, a College Board spokeswoman confirmed that the error was in programming the answer key, and said that "we have resolved the issue and apologize for any confusion this may have caused."



Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Saint Augustine's University, in North Carolina, is in talks with Saint Paul's College, in Virginia, to acquire the institution, The News & Observer reported. Both institutions are historically black and were founded by the Episcopal Church. Saint Paul's lost its accreditation in June, setting off concerns about the viability of the institution without its students being eligible for federal aid. (Accreditation has been restored by a court injunction.) If Saint Paul's became a part of Saint Augustine's, the former could operate under the accreditation of the latter.


Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Briner reveals evidence that glaciers respond to temperature changes more rapidly than previously thought. Learn more about the Academic Minute here. And click here for last Thursday's Academic Minute, on youth voting patterns, and here for last Friday's podcast, on the literary movement known as Afro-futurism.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

A series of conflict-of-interest scandals have led to many attempts to limit the role of the pharmaceutical industry in supporting biomedical research. But an article in The Washington Post says that these ties remain strong and may even be growing, as the pharmaceutical industry has come to support more research than does the federal government. The Post analyzed articles on new drugs that appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine for a one-year period ending in August. Of 73 articles, 60 were funded by a drug company, 50 were co-written by people who worked for drug companies and 37 had lead authors, generally professors, who had in the past received funds from drug companies for consulting, speaking or doing research.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Why did Moorpark College oust Jon Foote as president of the student body? Foote is popular with fellow students and has emerged as a strong advocate for them, demanding more information about the California community college's budget, and questioning whether funds might be shifted from non-academic to academic areas, The Los Angeles Times reported. The college ousted him from his position after a series of altercations, all of which involved disputed incidents in which Foote's defenders -- including faculty members -- question the facts as stated by administrators.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Southern Utah University is investigating allegations that some instructors in its English programs for international students have been ignoring widespread plagiarism, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. One instructor quit in protest over her sense that officials were unwilling to deal with the problem, and one instructor is on probation pending an investigation. The instructor who quit estimated that one-fifth of the assignments she graded included questionable material. The instructor said that there was little discipline of students she found engaged in plagiarism. She discovered some of the plagiarism when she noticed certain unusual phrases that she found turn up when passages are converted from Arabic to English through Google Translate.


Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

British authorities have granted the for-profit College of Law university status, and the soon-to-be renamed University of Law will be the country's first for-profit university, Times Higher Education reported. The institution trains 7,000 students annually in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Under court order, the University of Colorado has ended a ban on guns on campus and has even made it possible for students who are registered gun-owners to keep their weapons in their residence halls. At the Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses, the university said that it would create residential spaces for students with guns. But The Denver Post reported that although this option was announced in August, not a single student has asked to live where guns are permitted.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 3:00am

When Canada started a new program to support endowed chairs at its research universities in 2010, and no women were selected, many academics were alarmed. The government responded by commissioning a study by the Council of Canadian Academies, which issued a report last week on the state of women in the country's universities. The report found continued underrepresentation in the highest ranks of research universities, and "no single solution" to the disparities. Generally, the study found similarities between the proportion and challenges of women in Canadian research universities and those of other economically advanced nations.

Monday, November 26, 2012 - 4:11am

Governor Chris Gregoire, who is finishing her time leading Washington State, has appointed her daughter to the board of the Seattle Community Colleges, The Seattle Times reported. The appointment was made October 29, but was not announced until Tuesday. A spokesman for the governor said that Courtney Gregoire, a lawyer for Microsoft who has worked as a legislative director in the U.S. Senate and deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Commerce, has "more than ample experience to serve on this community college board."


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