Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm shocked...

Perhaps the seminar advised students not to pay $36K for a three day event. Or maybe that was in the remedial course. From CBS Moneywatch.

Lawsuit accuses Donald Trump of deceiving students
A class-action lawsuit in California accuses Donald Trump of bilking students at his for-profit Trump University. 
Plaintiff Art Cohen, a California businessman, alleges in a 2013 complaint that Trump lead him and about 5,000 other Trump University students to believe they would receive an education on par with elite business schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. Cohen, who says he spent $36,490 for a three-day seminar, also said that Trump seemed to have no involvement in the course and that the caliber of instruction was subpar.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bad news for community college short-term certificate programs?

Turns out they may not be all that meaningful.  Or profitable. From Money.

One Type of College Education That Almost Never Pays Off
Short-term college certificate programs sound like a no-brainer. These community college programs, which are intended to take less than a year to complete, promise a meaningful credential with a fraction of the workload and price tag of a more conventional college degree. 
But according to new research, published in the journal of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, these short-term certificates don’t actually make graduates more employable, or lead to a significant increase in earnings. 
“While we find that earning associate degrees or long-term certificates is associated with increased wages, an increased likelihood of being employed, and increased hours worked, we find minimal or no positive effects for short-term certifications,” wrote Mina Dadgar and Madeline Trimble, who jointly authored the study. Long-term certificates are designed to be completed in at least one year.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bartleby, the Scrivener

Anyone?  The art of work avoidance from The Atlantic.

The Art of Not Working at Work
Consider the last novel by David Foster Wallace, The Pale King, in which an IRS worker dies by his desk and remains there for days without anyone noticing that he is dead. This might be read as a brilliant satire of how work drains liveliness such that no one notices whether you are dead or alive. However, in the strict sense of the word, this was not fiction. In 2004, a tax-office official in Finland died in exactly the same way while checking tax returns. Although there were about 100 other workers on the same floor and some 30 employees in the auditing department where he worked, it took them two days to notice that he was dead. None of them seemed to feel the loss of his labors; he was only found when a friend stopped by to have lunch with him. 
How could no one notice? I talked with over 40 people who spent half of their working hours on private activities—a phenomenon I call “empty labor.” I wanted to know how they did it, and I wanted to know why. "Why" turned out to be the easy part: For most people, work simply sucks. We hate Mondays and we long for Fridays—it's not a coincidence that evidence points towards a peak in cardiac mortality on Monday mornings. 
There are, of course, exceptional cases. According to a Gallup report from last year, 13 percent of employees from 142 countries are “engaged” in their jobs. However, twice as many are “actively disengaged”—they’re negative and potentially hostile to their organizations. The majority of workers, though, are simply “checked out,” the report says.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I deserve a raise, I work so hard

Not so fast.  Does your boss like you?  From The Week.
4 things your boss will never tell you about getting a raise or promotion
Hard work isn't all it's cracked up to be. Performance is only loosely tied to who succeeds: 
Via Stanford business school professor Jeffrey Pfeffer's book Power: 
The data shows that performance doesn't matter that much for what happens to most people in most organizations. That includes the effect of your accomplishments on those ubiquitous performance evaluations and even on your job tenure and promotion prospects. [Power] 
Research shows being liked affects performance reviews more than actual performance: 
In an experimental study of the performance appraisals people received, those who were able to create a favorable impression received higher ratings than did people who actually performed better but did not do as good a job in managing the impressions they made on others. [Power]

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some tips for help with public speaking

Especially if you struggle with like I do.  From the American Express Open Forum.

Give a Killer Speech With Only Seconds to Prepare
It happens all the time. Even if you’re not a professional speaker, we all have moments when we’re asked to say a few words on short notice. Being asked to make a speech on the spot can intimidate even the most composed, outgoing person. It’s the kind of scenario that gives people nightmares. 
Until now. 
Use these six tips to make sure what you say is both coherent and memorable, even if you have just seconds to prepare. 
1. Use the callback technique. One of the tactics employed by standup comedians, the callback technique, is used to anchor your words to concepts or points that have already occurred during the event. The idea is to tie your speech to something that the audience—as a group—can relate to. You want to capitalize on the shared experience of the evening. Making a joke about something that happened earlier or mentioning the highlights of the evening so far creates a closer bond between you and the audience, and it sets them up to receive your words favorably.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Doctoral dancing

What a great idea! Using dance to explain complex research.  From Newsweek.

Every year since 2007, doctoral candidates have traded jargony text for tights, statistics for dance styles, and deductive reasoning for fancy footwork, all in an effort to translate their dissertations into a competitive dance-off. 
The overall winner of the 2014 “Dance Your Ph.D.” contest, announced Monday, kicked it up a notch, using a flying trapeze to put her work as a doctoral biology student, “Alterations to plant-soil feedbacks after severe tornado disturbance,” into motion.

A New Orleans native, Uma Nagendra’s doctoral research at the University of Georgia was inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and looks at how the “natural world recovers from disasters,” according to the announcement in Science—which along with its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and HighWire Press, sponsors the annual contest. 
In her video, Nagendra and five fellow aerialists sport bright green tights as they represent seedlings, twisting and turning on ropes in an effort to show “how several different species of tree seedlings in the southern Appalachian Mountains interact with soil organisms—and how tornadoes might mix things up,” according to her description. The video depicts a tornado coming through an undisturbed forest, she explains, disrupting pathogens that accumulate in the soil near tree roots and altering the forest environment.   
Nagendra’s video won the biology category as well as the overall 2014 title. Winners were also announced in physics, chemistry, and social science categories, as well as in an online audience vote.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The poor you will always have with you

Poor decision making.  From

Poorsplaining: What It's Really Like to Be Poor in America
Poor people are more likely than rich people to smoke. To get fat. To get into hassles with cops and creditors. To have children despite no visible means of support, to lurch from one crisis to another, and sometimes to have very bad attitudes. But before you judge them, just try being poor yourself. 
Linda Tirado has been poor, and she doesn’t judge. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, which goes on sale Oct. 2, is her unapologetic explanation for why she and other poor people do what they do. It’s funny, sarcastic, full of expletives, and most of all outrageously honest. 
For Tirado, being poor has meant walking miles to jobs because she didn’t have money to fix her car. Stacking boxes and cleaning toilets. Suffering chronic pain from rotten teeth she can’t afford to have cared for properly. Getting treated like human garbage by customers, bosses, doctors, and landlords. And then, after all that, being asked why she’s not smiling on command.  She writes:
I get that poor people’s coping mechanisms aren’t cute. Really, I do. But what I don’t get is why other people feel so free in judging us for them. As if our self-destructive behaviors therefore justify and explain our crappy lives. Newsflash: It goes both ways. Sometimes the habits are a reaction to the situation.
The genesis of Hand to Mouth was something she wrote last year on an online forum responding to a person who asked why poor people do things that seem so self-destructive. “Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain,” she wrote, while enumerating various things she’s done that might not seem particularly foresighted. Her impromptu essay was picked up by the Huffington Post, the Nation, and Forbes and generated, she says, “thousands” of e-mails.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quit working for free

Take your vacation time and be more productive.  From CBS MoneyWatch.

Americans apparently love -- or fear -- work so much that they end up volunteering to work for their employers. 
Workers skipped 169 million days of paid time off last year, forgoing vacation time that couldn't be rolled over, couldn't be paid out, nor banked or substituted for another benefit, according to an analysis from the U.S. Travel Association conducted by Oxford Economics. Those skipped vacation days have an economic value of $52.4 billion, with each vacation day equal to $504 per employee, the study found. 
While Americans have always tended to forego vacation days, the trend is worsening, with last year representing a low point in the last four decades, the survey found. Workers are often fearful of falling behind, while almost one in five workers is worried about losing their job, employment site found earlier this year. The U.S. is also the sole industrialized country that doesn't guarantee paid days off. 
"Americans are taking the value of their time for granted. By passing on vacation days and working instead, U.S. employees are serving as volunteers for their companies," Oxford Economics' Tourism Economics unit founder Adam Sacks said in a statement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The reality of lifelong learning in Germany

It often starts in an apprenticeship.  Could this work in the United States?  From The

The first thing you notice about German apprenticeships: The employer and the employee still respect practical work. German firms don’t view dual training as something for struggling students or at-risk youth. “This has nothing to do with corporate social responsibility,” an HR manager at Deutsche Bank told the group I was with, organized by an offshoot of the Goethe Institute. “I do this because I need talent.” So too at Bosch. 
“Building world-class diesel parts is hard,” the executive in charge of the program explained. “We’re very careful about who we hire. We’re looking for quality.” As for trainees, they learn quickly enough: A mistake on the factory floor is a million-dollar mistake—and they grow up fast, learning not just skills but responsibility. No wonder the apprenticeships are popular: At the John Deere plant in Mannheim, 3,100 young people apply each year for 60 slots, at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, it’s 22,000 applicants for 425 places. 
The second thing you notice: Both employers and employees want more from an apprenticeship than short-term training. Our group heard the same thing in plant after plant: We’re teaching more than skills. “In the future, there will be robots to turn the screws,” one educator told us. “We don’t need workers for that. What we need are people who can solve problems”—skilled, thoughtful, self-reliant employees who understand the company’s goals and methods and can improvise when things go wrong or when they see an opportunity to make something work better. 
A final virtue of the German system: its surprising flexibility. Skeptical Americans worry that the European model requires tracking, and it’s true, German children choose at age 10 among an academic high school, a vocational track, or something in between. But it turns out there’s a lot of opportunity for trainees to switch tracks later on. They can go back to school to specialize further or earn a master craftsman’s certificate or train as a trainer in the company’s apprenticeship program—and many do. What education reformers call “lifelong learning” is still a distant dream for most Americans. In Germany, it’s a reality.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Good news for art majors

Turns out, they're doing just fine.  Or at least the ones responding to they survey are....From The Pacific Standard.

Given the economic malaise of the past five years, opting to earn a degree in the arts—never a surefire route to a big salary—has been widely viewed as particularly risky. But a new survey suggests those recent alumni, as a group, are actually doing more than OK. 
“Arts graduates are among the happiest professionals in the U.S.,” insists the just-released report Making It Work: The Education of Recent Arts Graduates from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project based at Indiana University. 
Disputing the “gloomy myths around the value of an arts degree,” the report finds overall job satisfaction for people who have graduated with an arts degree over the past five years is quite high, at 75 percent. That figure is down only slightly from that of older graduates, 82 percent of whom say they are satisfied with their current job. 
The study suggests universities and other institutes of higher learning are getting better at training arts graduates in the more practical aspects of pursuing their craft. 
The report tracked 17,000 alumni who completed an undergraduate or graduate degree in the arts up to five years before being surveyed, along with 88,000 who earned degrees before that time. By far the biggest group of recent graduates—32 percent—earned a degree in fine and studio arts, including photography. Another 15 percent earned a degree in design, with nine percent earning theater and music degrees. 
Unsurprisingly, one of the problems they’re facing is the same one faced by graduates in virtually every discipline: Higher debt loads than previous generations. Only 31 percent reported they graduated with no student-loan debt, compared to 46 percent of those who graduated before the recession struck. Fourteen percent carried debts of $16,000 or more, which was true of only four percent of their older counterparts.

Monday, November 10, 2014

13th grade

Another slant on dual enrollment, early college, or whatever the hot new term is for merging high school with the community college.  From Slate.

Turns out, however, the 13th grade is not a half-bad idea when that “super senior” year also counts as a free first year of college—as it does in a few rural and exurban school districts in my home state of Oregon. For the students who participate in this optional fifth year, their transition to postsecondary education comes without tuition, but with substantial support and oversight—not only are they required to get periodic progress reports from every professor, every term, but sometimes the very classes they take are housed on that self-same familiar campus. 
The program gets its money—and its legality—from allowing the 13th-graders to exist in a sort of definition limbo: They’ve technically completed high school, but they’re not given diplomas yet, which grants them continuing eligibility for the state’s $6,500-per-student allowance—which, it turns out, is enough money to pay for community college tuition, books and lab fees, and have a substantial chunk of change left over for all that support and oversight. Then once they finish the 13th grade, students get that diploma and they can enter college as sophomores.

Don’t kill me, angst-ridden high schoolers—or parents eager to get them out of the house. 
The thinking behind the program is that currently, some 50 percent of Oregon residents who enroll in community college don’t even make it through their first year, and that statistic doesn’t account for factors such as class, race, or whether the student is a first-generation collegiate. Meanwhile, in some schools, the 13th-grade program, according to The Oregonian, has a 75 percent success rate. So, for those of us who actually enjoy watching students succeed, the 13th grade is starting to sound less objectionable. (The participating students, for what it’s worth, don’t enjoy having to get the constant progress reports, but do report enjoying their classes.)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A closer look at community colleges

As they innovate faster than universities.  But that's their mission, isn't it?  From The Hechinger Report.

Long the Rodney Dangerfields of American higher education, community colleges are suddenly getting some respect. . . .  
But at a time when there’s huge pressure for reform in higher education, many community colleges are proving more responsive than their four-year counterparts. 
Community colleges in 21 states have added four-year bachelor’s degree programs in high-demand fields, for example, and those in California will follow suit next year. They’ve connected closely with local businesses, and provide education so much more in tune with workforce needs that people who have bachelor’s and even master’s degrees return to community colleges for training that will get them jobs. Among students who transfer from four-year public universities, more than half now go in the opposite direction of Miramontes and switch to a community college, the National Student Clearinghouse says. 
One reason for this may be that nearly 30 percent of graduates of community colleges make more money than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees, other research by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce shows. And while that advantage narrows by mid career, it’s also true that the community college graduates who benefit from it pay much less on average for their educations—$3,264 per year for tuition and fees, according to the College Board, compared to $8,893 per year at public and $30,094 per year at private four-year colleges and universities. 
Universities haven’t paid much attention to their lower-level counterparts. “Now it’s, ‘Golly, what are they doing over there at that community college?” Debra Bragg, director, Office of Community College Research and Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 
Their bachelors degrees, many students have discovered, “didn’t focus on them getting the job they need,” said Michael McCall, president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. “Whereas they can get an allied health degree from us and go out and make $60,000 or $70,000 a year.” 
Community colleges in Tennessee will go completely tuition-free next year, and the same idea is under study in Oregon and being discussed in Indiana, and has been proposed in Texas. Only one in five community-college students has to take out loans to pay for school and other expenses, and the average debt for those who do is is $2,000 less than their counterparts at other types of universities and colleges, The Institute for College Access and Success calculates.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Let the games begin

I lean to the boondoggle side, although I think they can be valuable for new teams or organizational teams like we create in ACHE and TACHE.  But for established working groups, not so much.  From

And when play consists of a California wine tasting followed by a giddy sangria-making contest topped off with party hats and wobbly conga lines, is anybody really learning anything? 
Possibly, says professor Michael Useem of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, but it depends almost entirely upon whether a military-style debriefing summing up the key points of the exercise is done when the playing has stopped. “Velcro-ing yourself to a wall won’t do a thing for you, but if it’s framed as decision-making leadership and teamwork, it can work,” says Useem, director of the school’s Center for Leadership and Change Management. 
“They’re a management boondoggle—a waste of time,” says Michael Driscoll, a clinical professor of finance at Adelphi University who was a top trader on Wall Street for Bear Stearns and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, now owned by Credit Suisse. He recalled an annual team-building exercise, when he was a trader for GeoSphere Capital Management, a small New York hedge fund, that involved flying in employees and their spouses from Singapore to a conference center in picturesque Rye Brook, north of Manhattan. The purpose: to work, amid jargon-laden speeches about “idea bouncing.” 
“Did it really accomplish anything?” asks Driscoll rhetorically. “No. We already work 360 days a year with each other. You’re not going to discover something new.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fall Back

I'm not so sure about the "greatest shame" part, but man I hate when we spring ahead.  From The Atlantic.

Daylight Saving Time Is America's Greatest Shame
Daylight Saving Time is the greatest continuing fraud ever perpetuated on American people. And this weekend, the effect of this cruel monster will rear its ugly head again. On Sunday morning, Americans across the country will have to set their clocks back one hour, and next week, the sun will begin its ambling lurch to eventually setting at 4:30 in the afternoon. 
Technically-speaking, this sleep cycle-wrecking practice of setting our clocks back is because we will be going back to Standard Time after our flirty summer with DST. And the unsettling shift back to these hours, and the hour "we gain," is the back-end of the time-bargain we have to pay for setting our clocks forward in March to "maximize daylight"—a phrase probably better suited to organisms that rely on photosynthesis—during the spring and summer hours. 
Why we try and "maximize daylight" like we're plants is actually an archaic practice first thought up in the late 1700s and often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. As some elementary school teacher may have explained to you, this was a practice to accommodate agricultural workers and farmers (wrong, and we'll get to this in a minute) or lower the nation's electricity usage.   
A lot of that is prime b.s. There is actually no benefit or rhyme or reason we have to endure this weekend's time shift and no reason we should even be playing with the idea of losing and gaining hours. 

Non-Traditional Student Week

ETSU has a major in storytelling

The Science of Storytelling Infographic
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