Monday, October 03, 2011

Our unprepared graduates

Original Article

Summary goes here!
To me, I have read this kind of articles long enough and have heard enough of proposed solution and I am basically not very interested in this kind of articles anymore.

For this particular one, the value is that it pointed out the quality of college graduate is of concern. However, this is not the first time this idea been pointed out. Personally, I have asked this question for a long time and there are various others.

The bigger question is what we are going to do to solve this problem.

For the beginner, we have to understand couple of things. First of all, our higher education all like to be unique and all have their own mission and there is no way to compare them - claimed our higher education insider (Presidents, Professors ... alike). Second of all, all our higher education claimed to equipped our students with critical thinking skills that none of our higher education insider knows how to quantify it. Third and not the last, our higher education insiders believe United State has the best higher education system in the world and there is no need to fix.

As we all know, higher education insiders include a lot of well educated, sophisticate professors, whose words carry weights - right or wrong is a different issue. But, as we all know, protecting self-interest is not immunized by any human beings including professors. In order for us to inches to anywhere closer to the solution, we have to exam these myth.

To continue...

The University of Wherever

Original Article

Summary goes here!
This has been my idea all these times. Like the article said, a lot of those in question can be resolved. For example, the evaluation or test can be arranged at a test center similar to what ACT has been handled all these years.

The biggest problem I see is actually the accreditation. Just think about this, they can't even trust Thrun to issue a Standford credit. The 'statement of accomplishment' may good to show someone who knows who Thrun is. But in general, it is useless for any practical purpose. Do you think that is what a 'normal' student is looking for? I doubt it.

One thing I would like to point out is that the statement 'There would be huge audiences and paychecks for superstar teachers, but dimmer prospects for those who are less charismatic.' is not necessary true. In the learning world, it is not the best written book will have the best effect on all students. Based on student’s background, some less than stellar book may have the most effect on some students. The same is true for lecturer. Based on the growing-up experiences of a lecturer, their illustration of a topic can be totally different and affect the same audience at different level. So, there is no short of the need for lecturer. Even for that non-lecturer, they can serve the purpose of counselor and customize the information to students' need.

Again, I see the greatest obstacle in evaluation and accreditation. Given that none of the professors these days supporting some kind of uniformed evaluation and the accreditation is still based largely on none student-achievement based factors, I see no light in front of this yet.

Friday, July 22, 2011

5 Myths of Remedial Ed

Original Article

Summary goes here!
Quick notes on points:
1. College Ready Standard - more important is standard on HS outcome which should be based on the reasonable achievable goal.
2. Don't care what college do with it's incoming students, the outcome is what should be demonstrated and published.
3. All solution should encourage responsibility.

Monday, March 28, 2011

How to interpret and select Peer Institution Criteria - An Essay

Other Peer Institution Selection Article

Since we are interested in ranking the performance of the school management, our pick of peer institutions should have similar resources and constrains so that the differences in performance can be attributed to the management of the school.
Peer institution comparison is a common practice for gauging higher institution progresses.

However, the practice of selecting peer institution and how comparison should be examined are not well understood.

This article is trying to shad some light on these two topics.

For selecting peer institutions, the general idea is pick institutions with similar values on some variables/measures. Once these peer institutions are selected, other measures are commonly used to gauge institutions progresses. A logic question that raised from this process is whether a variable should be treated as the picking variable or the comparison variable? If we are interested in gauging progresses caused by an institution's management/administration team, the answer to the question can then be answered logically.

Since we are interested in ranking the performance of the school management, our pick of peer institutions should have similar resources and constrains so that the differences in performance can be attributed to the management of the school. The resources and constrains should referred to things that isn't normally changeable by the will of the school.

To demonstrate the point, let's compare the number of graduates and enrollment a year of an institution. In this comparison, the enrollment could be a better variable than the number of graduates to be used as the picking variable since the enrollment to a large degree are constrained by the size or resource of the school while the number of graduates can be influenced by the deployment of better student support system by the management team. On the other hand, the resources provided by government to public institutions can be a better picking variable than the enrollment since with given resources, institutions can still achieving different level of enrollment success by management team's recruiting efforts.

The topic on how comparison should be examined can also be demonstrated with examples. For example, library expenditure can be used to rank peer institutions. The assumption is that the higher the spending, the better is the school. However, we can argue that in the name of servicing the students and faculties, the library spending is not the meaningful measure since the thing that really matter to students and faculties is the amount of content that is available to students and faculties. An institutions could have lower the library spending by subscribing to online libraries. While the spending is less, the content available to students and faculties are increased.

The other common case is that of the faculty salary. Institutions constantly use the peer institutions to solicit State's support in increasing faculty's salaries. Even though these are legitimate use of peer institutions, there are usually untold stories. Suppose two peer institutions are similar in all measures, the increase of the faculty salaries will inevitably increase the cost of of a degree in that institution. What is mean is that in order to convincingly present its case, institution have to also show their competitiveness in their management too. Likely than not, when presented these kind of agenda, institutions will choose to ignore the other measures, it is, then, the responsibility of the overseeing professional agency, be it the coordination board or legislature, to articulate the case.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

False Hope

Original Article

Summary goes here!

The original article is about a community college struggled to keep its open admission policy with tough budget time. With the low turn out of the remedial education, the article is intended to justify its move to move away from the open admission policy.

To offer my opinion, I would like to start with my believe of what education should be. Since human are not born equal intellectually, the best we can hope to come out of the education is for each person to reach their potential. In order for people to reach their potential, they need be inspired to be responsible and always do their best. Achievements may vary for each person, but the result is the best we can have.

This believe inevitably lead to the idea that college is not for everyone. However, this is a matter of 'to what extend'. To me, if all human being are doing their best, what left out will be those that are not capable. This is where the society should extend its helping hand for these people.

As point out above, the ultimate goal of education is, therefore, to teach and inspire students to be responsible and to do their best. Applying this to our K12 education, the question to ask is 'If all/most of our high school graduates did their best?' and 'How can we change that?'. To answer these two questions, we need to ask 'How do we know students aren't doing their best or reaching their potential?' and 'Why students aren't doing their best?'.

The answer to the first question can, at least, come from the comparing of students' achievement with their peers. The second question is much more difficult to answer since factors are many. Depend on what people believe, approaches differ. However, please remember that, no matter what approaches we take, we should emphasis the responsibility.

As we all know, like the intellectual, not all students are having the same support from home, family and communities. However, to focus our discussion on what school and teacher can do, we will deferred those factors for now.

In general, responsible is a much abstract concept that isn't easy to teach or evaluate. Common approach to teach responsibility, begin with some practical approaches like goal settings and progress evaluation.

My lines of thinking are students need be taught to understand the importance of taking up their responsibility and the importance of doing their best. Again, the basic idea is that, given nothing else is changed, doing their best is the best result we can come out of the situation. That being said, we understand that there are other things that we have to do to even teach students to understand the importance of being responsible.

As the history had taught us, we do not born with the inspiration of taking up responsibility and doing the best. The question is, then, how do we make them and how do we teach them and how do we inspire them?

To make them,

As I mentioned in my comment to the original article,

The open admission policy is a good thing. However, to be fair to the community, there isn't any reason to waste the public resources. If I am working hard to make my living, I expect anyone that I supported to pay the same earnest effort toward their life.

With that in mind, in my opinion, the open admission only make sense in a society where all citizen are inspired to work to their best. Given that not all our citizen are motivated to do their best, it is only reasonable to ask them to demonstrate their commitment by passing minimum requirements.

As an item I outlined in my 2008 campaign, the mission of a community college should be determined by the community, especially the remedial education.

=====My comments posted at =========
Connie is getting to the crux.

It is true that not everyone are intellectually equal. But for most people, the K12 curriculum is attainable. It is really a matter of studying.

If K12 were not able to bring students to that level, they should be hold accountable. So are those students and parents.

Community resources is not to be wasted. It should be used on people that put out earnest efforts. Otherwise, we are prompt people to cheat on the system.

The goal of the education, as always, is to teach people to be responsible and to do their best. The accountability measure is simply a passive safety net to ensure the minimum conformation. It will not produce a fast paced progress.

Our education have failed at its root, any effort of fixing it without addressing this basic concept is not going to obtain any significant progress.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Accountability and Resposibility

Summary goes here!
As the nation is working on the accountability in education. Please do not forget that a higher goal is to create responsible citizen.

An accountable system is necessary as human being aren't civilized/inspired enough to motivate themselves. The substance and indulgent are still driven the life of most human beings. However, building the accountable system is simply a passive safe net. By itself, it will not build a better future for human being or the nation. A passive system will only move the society at its tolerable slow pace. To accelerate, we need to create responsible citizens that motivate and drive themselves. Inspire them with the responsibility, the duty and the future of the human being.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Measuring Post-College Gainful Employment: New Government Rule Makes Sense

Original Article

Summary goes here!
The only thing I have trouble with the Department of Education's gainful employment is that what is the single reason these rules should not apply to all institutions? By the way, to be fair, the public tax dollar used in supporting the public institution should be included in the calculation.

The article mentioned: "Next, policymakers need to find a way to hold all education programs accountable". I can't see why next. Why not now? What the Department of Education is afraid of? Department of Education's job is the level the playing ground, not to play favoritism.

Personally, I applaud the intent. But I can't agree with Department of Education's favoritism. As an un-biased government agency, it should always hold the fairness to its highest standard.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Degrees Should Mean

Original Article

The point is to focus on what student learned. Not how you teach them or how institutions structure their courses.
I think the work done by Lumina has it's implication and use in generally framing the shared understanding. But, as mentioned through out the article, there is a long way to go to get to the campus level.

I would like related back to points raised by two commentators:

Andy Rundquist: "Not all employers care where a candidate got their BA/BS degree, but those that do have a lot to aid in their decision. Does the school have a good reputation? Have we hired someone from there before? "

Patrick F. Bassett: "Demonstrations of Learning"

As we all know it, institutions and faculties have a lot to say about how they like their students to achieve. That is all very well. But, on the other hand, that do not impose or limit what employers are looking for.

At this point in time, employers, in general, do not have the resources to do a thorough evaluation of their applicant. They are relied on interviews, references and reputations ... etc. Part of the reason, of cause, is a judgmental call on how much cost is worth to spend to fill a particular job, especially when there is no ready made assessment tools that can tell candidates apart.

Now, what if there were such assessment tools available? Noted that I use the plural. Each institutions are free to set their directions, tools will evaluate various kind of achievements. Employer is free to look at various combination of achievements. For highly academic courses, there are still markets for it, since the appropriate employers will understand that the usual assessment tools are not suitable in these cases.

The point is to focus on what student learned. Not how you teach them or how institutions structure their courses.

Lumina and faculties' work in defining the learning are of great use in framing the assessment tools.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are Undergrads Learning Much in College?

Original Article

Graduation rates and assessments are measures that balance each other.
I am in the opinion that the real study begins with students pondering on books.

As to solving today's problem, we need to support professors while, at the same time, evaluate students and publish the results.

I believe most of our professors are well qualified. It is our college kids that need to work hard. For these old kids, it is not the professors' job to tracking them down. Professors are there to provide guidance when these old kids run into obstacles while studying.

Part of the problems these day is that SOME professors are taking the easy way out when facing pressures from student evaluations and administrators and this is why we need to support our professors by evaluating students' learning and publishing the results.

If large percent of graduates failed assessments, it may indicate that professors may have been too easy on their students. This give professors voices to boost their grading system. Publishing the results will help professors to fend off pressures from administrators whose only goal is to boost the graduation rate.

Graduation rates and assessments are measures that balance each other.

Monday, January 24, 2011

For-Profit Colleges Could Do More on Shortage of Health-Care Workers

Original Article

Summary goes here!
The supply and demand is a complicate problem. But I am glad that at least some people begin to understand the idea of planned policy. As I point out in my various articles, one important role of government is to plan the future by bring in not just the vision but the practical considerations.

As to the question of matching the education to workforce need, a study done with the Nebraska data can provide a guide. There are, of cause, other factors to make the approach more precise, but it is a beginning.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smarten up college students before adding more graduates

Original Article

I support the idea of holding quality before quantity. But I have doubts about critical thinking.

I am simply interested in the title of the article, given that I personally have doubts about the so called critical thinking - which I will detailed a bit later.

For now, I would suggest these researchers to start small with just science and engineer majors and test them with practical questions. For these majors, the gain in knowledge is much easy to measure and quantified - but, still, this will not degrade the conclusion since graduates from different school would still not be equal.

As to the critical thinking I promised to detail, I will begin couple of articles I read on the web. One article interviewed three professors and all of them claimed that their field of study trained students critical thinking skills. When asked about how they measure them, all they can say is from their observation. In another article, a professor was asked to offer courses about critical thinking. He ordered all books about critical thinking and studied. His conclusion? Those people writing about critical thinking are nuts, which is not exactly his words - but you got the idea.

For those people like to dwarf science and engineer to knowledge other than critical thinking, I challenge them to master these knowledge before claiming the superior of the critical thinking. Math is based everything on logic or, reasoning, if you will. Would you argue that critical thinking is not based on reasoning? Even though math formalized the expression, it does not diminish any of the reasoning process. Physics and Chemistry all derive their conclusions through reasoning.