Robots Proctor Online Exams

For background on this subject, see How to beat online exam proctoring. It is easy for clever students to beat existing security systems for online exams. Enterprising students could even set up “cheating rooms” that make it easy for test takers to cheat. Judging by the amount of traffic this old post gets, cheating on …

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International College Ranking Metrics

Over the past decade, an interesting phenomenon emerging from the marriage of big data analytics with social media and online platforms is the widespread availability of online reviews and rankings. Consumers now have a plethora of information to consult when buying cars or choosing economically competitive hotels or finding new employment opportunities. What is the …

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$1.2 trillion college loan bubble?

See also When everyone goes to college: a lesson from S. Korea. Returns to a “college education” are highly dependent on the intrinsic cognitive ability and work ethic of the individual. WSJ: College Loan Glut Worries Policy Makers The U.S. government over the last 15 years made a trillion-dollar investment to improve the nation’s workforce, …

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Prepping for #DLRN15

Next week I’m headed to the The Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN) conference at Stanford.  The theme of the conference is Making Sense of Higher Education: Networks and Change. From the website: This conference will be of interest to researchers, academics, and practitioners who are exploring the many nuances of the complex and uncertain landscape of …

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Value-Added College Rankings

New report from Brookings estimates value added (in terms of economic success) by university, controlling for input factors such as student quality and family income. This is just the first step toward outcomes-driven rankings of universities that will be far more useful than the existing rankings, which are largely based on prestige. Brief summary. See …

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Rigorous inequalities

  The Effects of an Anti-grade-Inflation Policy at Wellesley College Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3): 189-204 (2014) DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.3.189 Average grades in colleges and universities have risen markedly since the 1960s. Critics express concern that grade inflation erodes incentives for students to learn; gives students, employers, and graduate schools poor information on absolute and relative …

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Pathway to Prosperity

One of my favorite thinkers/doers in the world today is British science writer and now activist, Colin Tudge. In a recent blog post on Groundhogs’ Day, Tudge comes out to show us there is a sane way out of the madness of  what he calls Neoliberal-Industrial (NI) agriculture “The Keys Ideas of Enlightened Agriculture”. In …

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STEM, Gender, and Leaky Pipelines

Some interesting longitudinal results on female persistence through graduate school in STEM. Post-PhD there could still be a problem, but apparently this varies strongly by discipline. These results suggest that, overall, it is undergraduate representation that will determine the future gender ratio of the STEM professoriate. The bachelor’s to Ph.D. STEM pipeline no longer leaks …

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Curbing the Athletic Arms Race

The New York Times covered the NCAA convention this past week discussing some of the turbulence around the organization and the big business of college sports. In Friday’s article by Ben Strauss, one of the suggestions thrown out by Prof. Andrew Zimbalist, economics professor at Smith College, was “to cap head coaches’ salaries at $500,000… …

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Feynman Lectures: Epilogue

The full text of The Feynman Lectures is now available online. These lectures were originally delivered to satisfy the physics requirement for first and second year students at Caltech. Legend has it that as the lectures went on, fewer and fewer undergraduates were seen in attendance, with their places taken by graduate students and even members …

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What Are Universities For?

Stefan Collini, professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge offers some considerations in his 2012 book of the same title. His erudite, yet conversational style made for a quick and enjoyable, yet thought provoking read. The last third of the book are previously written essays in response to major reports emanating from efforts …

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JSTOR Daily and Hookups

Looks like an interesting new magazine: JSTOR Daily provides insight, commentary, and analysis of ideas, research, and current events, tapping into the rich library of scholarship on JSTOR. (For non-academics, JSTOR is an online journal repository.) Here’s an article from the new magazine: JSTOR Daily: CAMPUS HOOKUP CULTURE: MYTH VS. REALTY The out-of-control hookup culture on …

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Lifelong tenure

Good evening, everyone. Let me add my sincere congratulations to those you’ve already heard tonight. Tenure at a great research university is a milestone in the life of a scholar. I hope you will take some time to reflect and to enjoy. In psychology there is a well-known phenomenon called the Hedonic Treadmill. Individuals who …

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Harvard admissions and meritocracy

Motivated by Steve Pinker’s recent article The Trouble With Harvard (see my comments here), Ephblog drills down on Harvard admissions. The question is just how far Harvard deviates from Pinker’s ideal of selecting the entire class based on intellectual ability. Others raised similar questions, as evidenced by, e.g., the very first comment that appeared on …

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Higher Education and Rising Inequality

In an intriguing article last month on Huffington Post, Harry Boyte, director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College and a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs,   talks about how the norms of higher education have shifted. In noting a recent report Unseen Disadvantage, Boyte …

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The Financial Outlook in Higher Education

On the heels of Michigan’s two largest universities announcing tuition hikes I felt it pertinent to remind us “7 in 10 Undergraduates Get Financial Aid” (Chronicle of Higher Education). Put into another statistic, that’s 71% (according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics). At Michigan State we have roughly 38,000 undergraduates …

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Undermatching is overblown

Troy Simon, a student at Bard College who was homeless as a child, is greeted by President Obama at a White House summit on college access in January (Chronicle of Higher Education) The Chronicle of Higher Education website this morning had a feature article titled “The $6 Solution,” which focuses on a college access issue known as …

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A Documentary on Michel Foucault

Open Culture recently dug up a 1993 documentary on Foucault, titled Michel Foucault: Beyond Good and Evil. As described by Josh Jones, the documentary “explores the philosopher and his complex and controversial life through interviews with colleagues and biographers and re-enactments of Foucault’s storied exploits in the American counterculture.” Given how often Foucault appears on syllabi in …

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Intervention and Replication

This article describes surprisingly effective interventions that improve college success rates for low SES/SAT students. Let’s hope they can be broadly replicated. NYTimes: … Laude was hopeful that the small classes would make a difference, but he recognized that small classes alone wouldn’t overcome that 200-point SAT gap. “We weren’t naïve enough to think they …

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The Soul of the Research University

Basic research, whose applications may be decades in the future, is an uncertain investment for any single entity (e.g., corporation), even if it is an essential public good for the long term advancement of civilization. Consequently, basic research is mostly done at universities and government labs. Indeed, the vast majority of research in the US is led …

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