Thursday, October 06, 2016

A mind of STEM graduates


With a higher education panel, error was caught by STEM graduates, but the reputation  worth less to nothing.

Many things went by in life without consciously been recorded or memorized. With my mind in education and STEM, a recent event is worth noting.

An office draft that is to be published were routed internally and to external experts for review. A section of the document presented the following information:

State and Local Appropriation Per FTE student

Data Source: State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) Report: FY2014

Cost of living adjustment (COLA)
Enrollment mix index(EMI)

(adjusted)  State and local appropriations per FTE student = ([Educational appropriations]/[FTE enrollment...])/[COLA/EMI]
The section, basically, describes how much money the state or local government spend on (per FTE, Full-Time Equivalent) student with adjusting factors of COLA and EMI.

When given the above information, for most or all reviewers, there isn't much to suspect the accuracy of the information - for one, the source is authoritative, for two, the formula involves more items/numbers than they want to see. Then, the third, there could be doubts if they could understand the methodology behind the calculation.These kinds of scene happened often. A report/publication often is a mash of information from other sources with limited originality. Lots of times, entities lack the talent and confidence in devising and defending their own methodologies.

STEM graduates, due to their training, confidences in handling complicated situation are high. It became more likely for them to take extra steps to try to seriously understand the limits and implications of a methodology. In other words, the ability of STEM graduates are peers to those that devised the methodology.

With their training, the first thing went through STEM graduates' mind is what [COLA/EMI] trying to show? From the syntax convention used, it seems that square brackets were used to denote items. However, due to their desire of unambiguity, they will either questioning the use of square brackets in '[COLA/EMI]' or questioning what COLA/EMI trying to show - as '/' can mean divide in mathematics but can mean something totally different in casual writings.

In order to answer the requisition mind, quick Googling revealed the info on EMI:
1. Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data were usedto develop a national average cost per fall FTE for each of the Carnegie
Classifications of institutions. This calculation used financial information from
FY 2011 and fall 2010 FTE data.
2. The proportion of each state’s FTE in each of the Carnegie Classifications was
calculated for fall 2010, and then multiplied by the national average cost per
FTE in FY 2011 for each respective classification. For each state, the products
for each Classification were summed, which yields the state’s enrollment mix
unit cost for the year.

With the mathematical training and the understanding of the purpose of the formula, it is clear that the EMI have to be divided by the '[Educational appropriation]'. At this point, the question is if the authoritative source made the mistakes? A STEM graduate knows what is right and what is wrong and would not afraid to challenge the authoritarians - after all, there is no authoritarians in the science - it is a matter of truth.

In this particular case, the source did it right. The question is then, what we did wrong and how should it be presented correctly. The turn of this event is that, as expected, among these specialists, all but one notice the error, none but two cares the voice of a STEM graduate.

If this is happened in the higher education, how about the general public? Do you really think our STEM push can be successful while, in most people's mind, STEM graduates do not worth the attention.

1 comment:

Shyamoli said...

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