Thursday, May 31, 2007

Feeling Squeezed

Original Article - InsideHigherEd: What people think about the high price of higher ed
Making Opportunity Affordable - Original survey report

Summary goes here!
To be fair to traditional institutions, I think most traditional institutions probably did not intentionally changed their practice over the years. But with the environment changed, they are failed in recognizing them and made the appropriate changes - which, in a way, is understandable knowing the self-governing nature of it.

Because of the current accreditation system, these traditional institutions are in a upper-hand position and is unlikely to change dramatically. So the price for the higher ed from these institution isn't going to change dramatically.

However, if we take closer look at the situation, we may realize that, for most parent or students, what they want is a good job prospective which may not requires all the bell and whistles that came with these traditional institutions.

The current accreditation system with it established way of qualifying institutions, prevent the innovation of new breed of institutions that could provide adequate job preparation for students at a low cost. For example, if few retired professors get together to provide instructions on accounting online. They can really lower the cost - $6/month for hosting free online education software (e.g. moodle). Course material from online resources etc... I believe no one can argue that this isn't possible. What make this impossible is the accreditation system of today. Without accreditation, they can't provide students a piece a paper that is deem so important in today's hiring practice (in contrast to selecting their employee via objective evaluation).

The question is, of cause, how can we prevent degree mills? The answer, as expected, should be based on objective evaluation on their graduates. This will give organizations entire freedom while holding the bottom line.

U.S. Department of Education could start with fields that are easy to implement and accredit organizations that meet the objective measurement. Taking this route will give public choices and vote with their money. Traditional institutions can continue work the way they want until some day, some of these new organizations is going to produces higher quality graduates that meet businesses needs at a much competitive price.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

10 Percent Plan Survives in Texas

Original Article

Summary goes here!
Again, if unlimited resource are available, there would be no arguments. The problem is exactly that the resources is not unlimited. So selection is a must. The question is, however, how can you predict who will provide the best interest for the public. The only reasonable approach is based on previous performance and this is where the admission policy comes in. Given all resource are equal, objective measurements is the only logical way. The un-equal in resource is what brought all these public policies.

Suppose that all high school are equal(demograpic etc...) , then that state is in a better position to impose this rule. However, when this situation is achieved, an objective measurement may be a even better criteria simply because this remove the human factors.

Key GOP Senator Warns Spellings

Original Article

Summary goes here!
I still questioning why there aren't any industry leader to create job hunting companies with objective measures. To me that's the best way to get things worked out. Institutions are free to do what they want and, therefore, there is no complain or push back from institutions. At the same time, companies that complained that there isn't qualified graduates can demonstrate they point. The published evaluation data can serve as the guide for students and parents. What a wonderful idea?

Is it practical?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Back Off on Accreditation, States Urge U.S.

Original Article

if we can't even persuade our traditional institutions to demonstrate the quality of their graduates, I don't see how can we hold the for profits responsible.

Well. As I said before and I say it again. With the for profits in the market place, we simply can be naive about what they might do. However, the problem is that if we can't even persuade our traditional institutions to demonstrate the quality of their graduates, I don't see how can we hold the for profits responsible.

I still hold high hope on the pro-capitalism. Capitalism does not mean no regulations. It actually mean the need of objective measurements.

Cheating Across Cultures

Original Article

to normal foreign students, as long as they understand the requirements they should be held responsible. ... environment may have certain effects on the behaviors — As higher ed become an important economic factor in the US, these behaviors can happen.
First of all, I am immigrant from Asian, and I studied in US and taught at US. Here’s what I would say.

When I just got here, I do admire the general honor code of American — not everyone but the majority. As everyone understand, not all Asian are cheaters and not all White are honesty.

There are definitely culture differences but I do believe there is no excuses if the expectation have been communicated effectively. I was not been taught about paraphrasing or to quote the source until just before I came to US and went through a culture camp which not everyone from my country is required to attend. As to the language barrier, I do have students that real have trouble understand English and I will say communicate with them is definitely necessary if you even allow them to your class. But as to normal foreign students, as long as they understand the requirements they should be held responsible. By the way, after spending half my lifetime here, I still not certain if I can serve effective jury duty which I, so far, is not willing to take part.

In my native country, expectation are high and students are under pressure to not to fail. I don’t mean this to be an excuse, but I do think this environment may have certain effects on the behaviors — As higher ed become an important economic factor in the US, these behaviors can happen. As you can see, there will be kids that do not need to cheat to success (they either work hard or are gifted (which I never valued much), and will hate those who cheat. On the other hand, when pressure are high, you will see people resort to other means to pass. The environment adopt to this by more carefully monitoring the evaluation process. So the testing environment is well monitored and in class test is the dominate way of evaluating students.

After saying these, the linking of high performance of Asian to cheating is miss leading especially if we are talking about monitored tests. You are not likely to cheat on that unless there is a security breach of the exam administrator or if you count the study of historical exam material as cheating too. To me, there is no crime to study these material if they aren’t anything illegal. To be realistic, you can’t given the same questions over and over again unless you think memorizing those facts are of evaluation value. Just think about what will happen if driver license test never change the order of the question — it just asking for trouble. And you sure kids of any race is not tempting?

0. As long as expectation are communicated, everyone is responsible.
1. The competing environment have its effects.
2. Language bareer could be real.
3. This can happen in US with the increasing role higher ed played in people's financial future.
4. Not all white kid can resist the temping.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Programming with Pictures

Original Article - Using 3D game in teaching programming

Summary goes here!
The efficiency of method is questioned. It may help some low level students. But are we promoting the culture of shifting students' duty to instructors'? There is nothing wrong with help but if you are going to produce high quality students, sooner or later they will have to be able to take on the learning seriously and be able to learn with imagination.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

‘College Prep’ Without ‘College’ or ‘Prep’

Original Article

My believe is that the cause is the lack of responsibility - which likely is our fault for not teaching them( kids) that.
“when students enter algebra I unprepared, the teacher may adjust the instruction to a lower level accordingly.” — We are all human and it likely you will adjust your course level accordingly and I don’t think there is anything wrong. However, this is part of the reason of the grade inflation, it’s may not be intentional, but effects are real.

Now the question is what if the dominant school culture is not to take academic seriously? — I am sorry to say that’s exactly what I felt while working with my kids and their friends.

I will say the solution is to set objective goals and let the truth speak the reality.

If people in the world with less resources can do better in these objective tests, shame on us.


As pointed out by J Miller: “behaving more like adults than pre-adults!". Unfortunately, I am questioning if we, as the adults, did well as a society. I think the resistance to state (Nebraska), nation or world wide objective tests say a lot about ourselves.

As to the point of activities, isn’t that’s what we, as an adults, should device the environment? Do we understand that everyone only have 24 hours? There simply no way for a person to do all. We need teach our youth how and what to choose. Do we weight part time jobs more than academics? What’s the reasonable balances?

To Randy Vlasin
Executive Director
FutureForce Nebraska

I know the importance of research data. On the other hand, I questioning the importance of research data. We know that 3rd world countries are getting competitive, I wonder if they have
the luxury in doing all these researches - I do not imply that they will not face the same problem we have today and following the same path of requesting research data.

As pointed out by J Miller at:
which is exactly what I experienced. There are kids that are bright but not taking academic seriously. As you said yourself, the big environment is different from ours and that of 3rd world countries.

The first question is do you think is there anything wrong with it and why? Of cause, from kids point of view, there is nothing wrong with it. Should we believe that we have a better vision
than out kids?

My believe is that the cause is the lack of responsibility - which likely is our fault for not teaching them that. There are too many things in our society that does not holding the responsibility at its highest standard. The resistant to a state wide comparable objective test is a good example - we are not setting examples for our kids that taken responsibility as due.

Of cause our kid is not lazy, they just not sure what is important. To them, the constant communication is so important to keep them informed of gossips. I wonder who is responsible in showing them that gossips is of limited value in fulfilling their current and future duties.

One more thing. When we cut too many slacks for them, we are not doing our jobs! Teachers
may not up to the multimedia, but if our kids become depend on multimedia to learn then they loss the ability of imagination even though that it's possible that this generation no longer rely on imagination to see 3D structures. There are differences between helping and spoiling.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Advance for SAT-Optional Movement

Original Article

There are ways to measure the ability. SAT failed to measure it. However, this doesn't mean it can't be done. The major problem of Grade is that they are standards with no standards.

I, in general, believe in objective measurements. I, however, disappointed by the response of Ms. Scoropanos. For one, ignoring what happened is just not right. For two, to support her statement, she should have provide her supporting material.

"The conclusion the admissions team came to was that high school grades in strong math and science courses in high school were the key factor, not test scores." What this mean to me is that there are ways to measure the ability. And if SAT failed to measure it, they must didn't employed the right measurements. However, this doesn't mean it can't be done.

The major problem of Grade are that they are standards with no standards. And I would like to see anyone that oppose the objective measurements to provide a solution to resolve the standards of no standards problem.

Cheating on a Different Level

Original Article - Cheating at graduate school

Teachers are responsible for designing methods that measure the achievement.
Higher Ed should re-think what and how to measure.

It is important to see if students understand the concept of adding numbers, but limiting their use of calculator in all math courses is ridiculous. Teachers are responsible for designing methods that measure the understanding — A homework assignment is a bad way of measuring understanding while the calculator-free in class test is a better one.

In the past, resources are limited and professionals are much relied on things they memorized and the limited resources they have at hand. Their career performance are limited in a similar way. These days, however, resources are abundance and the performance is no longer heavily linked to what people memorized rather than what information they can find and how well they can use it. Also, with the easiness of communication, consulting with their peer is part of the performance measure.

So. When instructors try to evaluate their students they have a lot to think about. For example, my students were never evaluated by their homework. They got unlimited opportunities to get their answer right and got full credits. They can talk to anyone. My idea behind it is that homework is a learning tool. It helps to clarify students’ thoughts. The test is the real measure of their achievement.

This world is evolving and higher ed suppose to be the one with forward thinking and vision. Let’s pay more attention to what should be measured and how should it be measured rather than counting on students’ ethic conducts, which, at least, is not what most instructors try to measure at the moment. So. Until the day we have integrity test established, we just have to know the limits and work around it.

In response to Prof. Manley,

Well. It seems that you have clear thoughts on the need of calculation devices of your students. That's great. Unfortunately, my point is simply to demonstrate that time has changed and resources available to students are growing and limiting students' use of these resources in their learning process is simply not justified.

Instructors are the one that can decide what to measure and how to measure it. In deciding on what to measure, they should take today's working environment into consideration. In deciding on how to measure it, they should device the test so that reliable measure can be made.

Devices, resources and even students' ethic are here to stay and instructors are the one that control the measuring process. Who else do you think that is responsible for the fail of the measurement? - I do not mean that threaten students with legal action is not an option, but we do need to think about the effectiveness of getting things done.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Battle Lines on ‘U.S. News’

Original Article - Colleges against US News ranking

The main problem is still on the data. Graduation rate is good. But... Evaluation scores of the graduates can be a good one. This is like the deliverable in a contract. Grades earned during the process are like progress reports toward the final deliverable. Degree mill won't survive, because they will be questioned on why adequately progressed students shall fail to reach the expected outcome.
Well. I have to agree that Kelly really hadn’t been careful.

As to the suggestion of ranking by ourselves, I really doubt that will happen. Too much politics involved.

The Canadian web site isn’t bad. And it can be done with NCES’s Peer Analysis site which allow public to retrieve raw data.

The main problem is still on the data. We need data that address parents and students’ concern. Graduation rate is good. But like Trinity’s McGuire said, they do provide valuable services in bringing incoming students to a higher level which is recognized by GOOD institutions but is not measured by the graduation rate. Also, as can be foreseen, degree mill can achieving a very high graduation rate!

The question! How can you HELP public understand values in a authoritative and comparable way(You don’t want the degree mill come in and CLAIM their high level of achievement)? You also like to make sure public is not mis-led by the numbers. For example, transfer to MIT is not the same as transfer to University of Nebraska. To me, I will say some evaluation scores of the graduates can be a good one.

For one, it gives parents and students very specific expectation. This expectation is like the deliverable in a contract. Parents and students need look for institutions that provides what they desired.

Institutions, on the other hand, have to select their students carefully( this adds responsibility to students to work hard), since if they can’t bring enrolled students to the promised value, they are in risks of lowing their institution’s reputation.

In this way, when institutions accept students, they agrees that the students are equipped with what is needed for institutions to bring them the agreed-on outcome. Grades earned during the process are like progress reports toward the final deliverable. If students holding acceptable progress, parents will continue to pay the due. Institutions can’t inflate the grades, because if they do, they will be questioned on why adequately progressed students shall fail to reach the expected outcome.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Elephant Not in the Room

Original Article - student attendance

Isn’t outcome more important?
I really think the outcome should be the emphases and not the attendance.

I am in science and engineer fields and I did not require my students to show-up just for the reason of showing-up. If they can learn what is required what’s the point of restricting them in classes? There are courses that need interactions to demonstrate points. Instructors should do so and integrated the demonstration into the evaluation — if you think there are things to learn, shouldn’t you construct a way to evaluate the learning?

As for the point of accountability, I happen to think this is exactly why we need the accountability standard. Require attendance is a wrong requirement. Like demonstrated in the article, I don’t see how some professors could have given the same grade for the same outcome.

Personally, I do believe if students had follow their reading assignments and catching-up with material, they will actually saving time to come to a well thought lectures. But, of cause, as people pointed out, this is part of the culture — which we have failed in teaching our youth. So. Back to the ethic education — which we can do well only if we are reasonable — we should not feel hurt because students not coming to class. The highest priority is how we help students learn and really show them reasons to come to class instead of insisting that come to class is the thing they have to do.

I woke up on my senior year and decided that there are things that are more important than just go to classes and as long as I didn’t waste my time, I am doing the right thing.