Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

The Council of Canadian Law Deans is opposing a proposal by Trinity Western University, an evangelical institution, to start a law school, The Vancouver Sun reported. The deans say that the accreditor for law schools in Canada should block the new institution from opening because Trinity Western's policies bar gay relationships by students or employees. Trinity Western officials said that they are entitled to hold their religious views, and also to start a law school.


Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Michael Barera has been named Wikipedian in residence at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library at the University of Michigan -- the first such position at a presidential library. Barera will focus on expanding the availability of information about President Ford and the library's holdings on Wikipedia through the Gerald Ford WikiProject.


Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Governors should work together to undertake a review of states' policies on online education, given the fast-changing state of the industry and the cost to states and institutions of regulation, the National Governors Association said in a policy brief Thursday. The paper lays out the landscape of state regulation of distance learning and suggests areas that a study might examine, including whether states would consider joining a multistate compact or reciprocity agreement for authorizing online programs.



Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

The American Medical Association on Thursday announced a $10 million, five-year campaign to encourage medical schools to rethink how they educate future doctors. The medical group says it hopes its grants will spur new methods for teaching or assessing competencies for medical students, improving understanding of the health care system in medical training, and strengthening the professionalism of future doctors.

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

A group of senior faculty members are complaining that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is putting business interests ahead of the needs of graduate students and other campus constituents in a zoning proposal for expansion on and around its campus, The Boston Globe reported. The newspaper cited the faculty members' complaints that the proposal by the MIT Investment Management Company would prioritize commercial development over education and research purposes and pays too little attention to the pressing lack of affordable housing for graduate students.

Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Colleen Seifert of the University of Michigan explains why it’s sometimes hard to abandon an idea even when you know it to be false. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Friday, January 18, 2013 - 3:00am

Stevens-Henager College, which has multiple campuses in Idaho and Utah, has become the latest for-profit postsecondary institution to change its tax status: The Idaho Statesman reports that the institution became a nonprofit as of Jan. 1. The college's chief executive, Eric Juhlin, told the newspaper the change would allow the college to accept tax-deductible donations for its scholarship programs scholarship programs and accept donated equipment, among other things. Keiser University changed its tax status in 2011.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 4:03am

Days after the other public institutions in the state announced expanded initiatives to incorporate massive open online courses into their curriculums, leaders of the University of California said they would soon bolster their own efforts to use digital courses to expand student access in a more cost-effective way, the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press reported. Speaking at a Board of Regents meeting at which officials of the MOOC providers Coursera, Udacity and edX made presentations and regents discussed a position paper on online learning, President Mark G. Yudof said the university had "hit a wall with regard to traditional instructional methods," and suggested that online learning was largely the way way out. Yudof said the university would soon be announcing several expansions of its fledgling campaign to expand online learning, which has faced significant pushback from some faculty members. He vowed that the new efforts would be of high quality and not lead to layoffs of instructors.


Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 4:26am

With great fanfare and big names in the student learning world behind it, the Lumina Foundation two years ago unveiled its Degree Qualifications Profile with the hope that it would prod faculty members and college leaders to better define and drive their students to show what they should know and be able to do at various degree levels. Despite experimentation on scores of campuses and by accreditors and others, the profile's impact has been muted, and in a new paper released today by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, two of the crafters of the profile, Peter Ewell and Carol Geary Schneider, seek to give faculty members and administrators reasons (and tools) to embrace its use.

Both Ewell's paper, which is the core of the document, and Schneider's afterword, subtly concede that the degree profile has not been fully accepted or understood. Ewell offers a "tasting menu" of practical ways that faculty members and institutions can develop "the needed assignments, examination questions, and projects that enable the collection of meaningful evidence of student mastery," the profile's underlying goal. Contrary to the widely assumed view (from some faculty critics) that the profile is designed to lead to a standardized, reductionist way of capturing student learning, Ewell writes, "engaging assessment in the context of the DQP requires faculty to be much more systematic and intentional than is currently the case at most colleges and universities." 

Schneider more pointedly seeks to understand and explain why the degree profile "faces very real challenges" on campuses, which she attributes largely to faculty fears about standardization and the fragmented way (in departments, programs, etc.) learning is delivered on many campuses. The profile, she writes, "is a bold effort to help higher education move beyond credit hours to competency and beyond the fragmented learning too many students experience to intentionally preparing students to integrate and apply their learning to unscripted problems and responsibilities."

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Amsterdam held its annual faculty party last week, and many who attended wish they hadn't. The Associated Press reported that apparent food poisoning left 230 guests sickened, many of them violently ill with stomach ailments.


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