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.