Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 4:25am

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.

 

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 4:16am

A federal judge on Thursday allowed the U.S. Justice Department to intervene and to expand a suit against the Law School Admission Council, charging that it discriminates against people with disabilities who take the Law School Admission Test. The suit, which is now national in scope, charges that "routine denial" of accommodation requests constitutes discrimination against people with disabilities. Further, the Justice Department says that the council's policies on "flagging" test scores obtained by students who do receive accommodations is unfair to those prospective law students. The council has denied wrongdoing.

 

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Many members of the military with student loans are missing out on important benefits, in part because loan servicers aren't giving them accurate information, according to a report released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dealing with how student debt is handled for active-duty members of the military. Those in service are eligible both for benefits available to all Americans with federal loans, such as income-based student loan repayment, as well as some benefits available just to them, like military deferments, post-active duty deferments and an interest rate cap while on active duty. 

The report found that loan servicing errors lead to unnecessary hurdles and, in some cases, deferments and forbearances. Some members of the military were denied the 6 percent interest rate cap on both federal and private loans. Others were put into forbearance they did not request, meaning that interest continued to capitalize. In some cases, these errors could cost members of the military tens of thousands of dollars, according to the report, which marked the bureau's first steps into identifying problems with federal student loans as well as private loans.

The bureau urged loan servicers to give members of the military complete and accurate information, and regulators and enforcement agencies to hold servicers accountable. "Servicemembers who are concerned about financial problems and who must struggle to get complete information or assistance from their lenders will have difficulty focusing on their mission and accomplishing their critical national security role," the authors, the student loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra and Hollister Petraeus, assistant director of the bureau's office of servicemember affairs, wrote.

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 4:18am

Franklin & Marshall College has announced that it will cap the loans in the aid packages of students from middle income families at $10,000. Those whose packages would have included greater loan volume will instead receive additional grants. College officials said that they wanted to see if this increased assistance would encourage more students from middle income families to enroll.

 

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 3:00am

Dinesh D'Souza, president of the King's College, a Christian college in New York City, has resigned after reports that he shared a hotel room with a woman to whom he was not married before filing for divorce from his wife. In a statement posted on the college's website Thursday, the president of the Board of Trustees said that D'Souza had resigned, effective immediately, to "allow him to attend to his personal and family needs."

D'Souza, an author and filmmaker who recently released an anti-Obama documentary, "2016: Obama's America," responded with a column on the Fox News website to an article in the evangelical World magazine that said he shared a hotel room with the woman he introduced as his "fiancée." He was not having an affair, he said. "I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings," D'Souza wrote. "Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancée at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong."

He attributed the story to previous rivalries at the King's College: its former provost, Marvin Olasky, is now editor of World, and resigned shortly after D'Souza, a Roman Catholic, was hired as president of the evangelical college in 2010.

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Sharon Kim of Johns Hopkins University explains the psychological response that often turns social outsiders into successful entrepreneurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Friday, October 19, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

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