Monday, June 29, 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sometimes being a high performer

Is just unfair.  The best workers get more work and the less competent get to coast a little bit.  A variation on no good deed goes unpunished.  From The Atlantic.

Being a Go-Getter Is No Fun
And too bad for that person. A new paper by a team of researchers from Duke University, University of Georgia, and University of Colorado looks at not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them. They find that responsible employees are not terribly pleased about this dynamic either. 
To begin, the researchers began by establishing that people do, in fact, assign more tasks to those they perceived as more competent. In a survey, participants read statements about a fictional employee “Sam”—different groups read different statements about Sam indicating how much self-control he had (self-control was used as a proxy for competence). When Sam was presented as someone with great self-control, participants expected much more of Sam’s performance at his manufacturing job. In a separate experiment, undergrads were asked to delegate essays for proofreading to other students with varying levels of self-control. Unsurprisingly those with more self-control ended up with more work assigned to them. 
“People ask high self-control people to do more for perfectly logical reasons—because they think that those who successfully demonstrate high (vs. low) self-control will perform better and accomplish more. So it is a reasonable thing to do, from the perspective of the partner, the manager, the coworker,” says Christy Zhou Koval, a Ph.D student at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and lead author of the study.“But for the actor, it can feel like a burden. Why should you do more work for the same reward, while your less capable coworker coasts along with lower expectations and work?”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The summer of Promise

Tennessee community colleges want the avoid the open door becoming a revolving door. From The Tennessean.

Colleges work now so TN Promise students succeed later
This summer represents a really important transition for Tennessee Promise," said Mike Krause, executive director of the program. "It's been conceptual for a while, and it's about to be very concrete." 
Tennessee Promise's freshman year will be watched closely by parents and educators across the state, and by a high-profile cheerleader in the Oval Office in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama visited Knoxville in January to celebrate Gov. Bill Haslam's pioneering program. 
Its success this fall depends largely on the work that is underway at the state's 13 public community colleges, where most of the eligible students will enroll. Colleges and state leaders are in the midst of laying groundwork for the students' arrival, from added staffing to special events.
While many of the changes vary by campus, some of the most crucial efforts are statewide, including an overhaul of remedial education and a robust redesign of the traditional orientation process. The leaders hope those changes will be enough to get the students onto campus and keep them there long enough to get a degree.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The humanities as the flower

On top of the S.T.E.M. Sigh. While there will always be a demand for people who can write, read, and understand written instructions--which English majors do at a minimum--it's hard to convince students those are viable job skills. 

Going for the hard sell as interest in English major declines
Kent Cartwright, a veteran English professor and former department chairman, urged a shift in thinking at the highest levels of a university proud of its prowess in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “We’re so completely STEM-driven,” Cartwright said. The administration, he said, is “full of people with goodwill” toward the humanities. “But they see the well-being of the university in a certain kind of way. We’re just not part of it.” 
Wallace D. Loh, president of U-Md. since 2010, disagreed. He said he likes to think of the university as a flower. “That flower has a long and very sturdy ‘STEM,’ ” Loh said. “But at the top of that STEM, there’s a flower, a blossom. And that flower is the humanities.” He said he walks around campus “with that metaphor of the flower in my head all the time. We have to nurture that blossom.” 
Loh said the university is committed to maintaining a strong faculty in the humanities regardless of ups and downs in the number of majors. However, he said, if he had money to expand the faculty, and if someone proposed adding another expert in Victorian literature, “my answer is, well, not at this time.” 
What about expanding faculty in computer science? Loh, worried that class sizes are nearing “intolerable” levels, said he would be more inclined to give that a green light.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Call for proposals

The Adult Higher Education Alliance Conference 2016

Current Explorations of the Adult Learner: Implications for Mentoring and More!

Orlando, Florida
March 10-11, 2016

Proposal submission deadline: September 15, 2015

The call for presentations for the AHEA 2016 Conference welcomes the following topics:
Current adult learner characteristics
Barriers to participation
Success factors
Advising adult learners
Support networks for adult learners
Formal advising and mentoring structures in higher education degree programs
Mentoring adult learners
Formal and informal mentoring relationships
Click to learn more.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's good to be the flagship

Even in Minnesnowta.  From TwinCities.com

Tougher UMN admissions draw more elite, more diverse students
A wealth of elite students is a recent development for the U, as well. Soaring undergraduate interest has raised the caliber of the young men and women admitted to -- and rejected by -- the state's flagship school. 
One of the easiest Big Ten schools to get into a decade ago, the U now turns down a higher percentage of applicants than all but Northwestern and Michigan. Applications jumped by 150 percent from 2003 to 2013, causing the U's acceptance rate to tumble to 44 percent from 76 percent, even as admissions steadily grew. 
Those who get in are arriving on campus better prepared than ever for the rigors of college. President Eric Kaler said the average freshman this fall will carry a record 28 on the ACT -- a mark achieved by just 10 percent of U.S. test takers and 15 percent of Minnesotans. Ten years ago, the U's ACT average was 25. 
"What you are seeing are students with lots of options and higher academic performance choosing to come to the U, and I think that's a good thing for the state of Minnesota," Kaler said.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

We have a B.A.S. degree

And I've been thinking about how to add a competency-based component to it.  Even badges are under consideration at this point.  Not sure I'd go completely this way, however.  This does show that the old degree completion route without some sort of vocational orientation is probably declining. From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

New Graduates Test the Promise of Competency-Based Education
So the professors and administrators designed a bachelor of applied arts and sciences in organizational leadership, with a largely standardized series of courses and a competency-based model. The development phase attracted money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Educause, and the program is now delivered in hybrid form, in person and online, at South Texas and entirely online through Commerce. 
Students pay $750 each for a seven-week term, during which they complete as many "competencies" as they can. That means mastering skills like problem solving and applied research, as demonstrated on written assignments or video presentations. The competencies are woven into courses for the major as well as general-education requirements. 
The biggest stumbling block for faculty members was terminology, said Ricky F. Dobbs, a professor of history at Commerce and dean of its University College. 
"You can make the word ‘competency’ mean just about anything," he said. As part of a team of faculty members and administrators that was creating the program, Mr. Dobbs and his colleagues used learning outcomes defined by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to develop a set of broad competencies in areas like change management, organizational behavior, and information literacy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Fixing things is good

Graduates with associate degrees and certificates in certain vocational areas will earn more than liberal arts graduates with bachelor's degrees.  I'm shocked.  Taken from Jill Barshaw, writing in the Hechinger Report.

Many community college grads continue to out-earn B.A. holders a decade after graduation
Two years ago my colleague Jon Marcus wrote about surprising research showing that many community college grads were out-earning bachelor’s degree holders. It was particularly true for those with vocational two-year degrees, in fields such as air-traffic control, dental hygiene or prison management. 
Critics complained it was unfair of researchers to look at outcomes in the first year right after graduation. After all, many liberal arts majors take a while to establish a career path. (And not all students go to college with the goal of gaining a marketable skill.) Some philosophy majors may eventually become high-paid CEOs. Similarly, community college grads with narrow technical skills could quickly become obsolete. Every day, machines eliminate another good factory job. Or a computer programming language goes out of fashion. Perhaps, over time, liberal arts B.A.’s win? 
So Mark Schneider, one of the researchers behind these studies, went back to the data in four states, to examine not only immediate post-graduation employment outcomes, but also five and 10 years later. 
He found that, over the long term, everyone is making more money. The B.A.’s do catch up; their annual salary increases are larger than those of community college grads. “But even 10 years later, there are many students with certificates and associate’s degrees in fields where they make more money than the B.A.’s,” said Schneider, a vice president at the American Institutes for Research and a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics. 
“If you know how to fix things or fix people, you win,” said Schneider, “It will get you into the middle class.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

Some tips for last minute events

That could be helpful at the last minute for any conference that needs an attendance boost.  By  Katharine Fong in Smart Meetings.

6 Tips for Last-Minute Events
It happens more often than you’d like: You’re tasked with pulling off a conference or event just a few days beforehand. It’s a stressful situation, no doubt about it, but the job needs to be done, and done well. Besides, if there’s one thing meeting planners are good at, it’s multitasking, right? 
The trick, says Dan McCarthy, event manager at VenueSeeker, is to come up with an organized plan. In a blog post on Bizzabo, he also suggests 6 tips for last-minute events. Our condensed version:
1. Focus on Quality, not Quantity
Zero in on prospective guests who really want to be at your event, rather than a mass mailing to every Tom, Dick and Harry who will turn out for the food and drinks. Take the time to send loyal followers a personal invitation by email, text or social media post. Or consider paid online advertisements through Google Adwords, Facebook or Twitter. 
2. Involve Key Participants
If you have event speakers, emcees and affiliates, have them spread the word through their own contacts. You can encourage participation with incentives, such as a free subscription or a product of their choosing for members who sell X number of tickets. 
You can also think of a sales reward tier level, especially for event partners, such as: 
-5 tickets sold: $20 gift card
-10 tickets sold: free 6-month subscription of your service

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We always negotiate free wifi

When selecting a hotel for our state conference sites. Conference attendees expect it anymore, and we usually have good luck getting the fee removed. The joke a few years ago during conferences held at upscale properties was that you had to stay at the Red Roof Inn for free wifi. From Fortune.

It’s not as though the cost of providing Internet access is overwhelming. In-room Internet rates “haven’t changed that much in the last 10 or 15 years,” even as the cost to the hotel of providing service has dropped dramatically, said Marcio Avillez, a senior vice president at Wi-Fi network access company iPass. 
“It’s the elephant in the room,” Malinowski said. “Why are chains charging for it? Because they can. It is a source of revenue. For many hotels, that’s something they’re not willing to give up.” 
But hotels can get into trouble. Marriott got into hot water over charges that it jammed Wi-Fi hotspots in one of its event locations. Convention attendees had to pay from $250 to $1,000 per device to go online. The debacle eventually cost the chain $600,000 to settle an FCC complaint over the situation. 
As for chains that differentiate between loyalty club members and other guests, Mandarin Oriental told Fortune the income “allows us to continue to invest in higher levels of bandwidth in our hotels,” which can make or break Wi-Fi experience and a customer’s satisfaction. Guests who create profiles get free access because “[e]stablishing a direct relationship is of tremendous value to us.” And according to a Marriott spokesperson, “Free Wi-Fi is a meaningful way to reward our most loyal customers and continue to attract next-gen travelers.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Jerk Store called...

Do nice guys finish last?  The research isn't as clear cut as you might think. If all else fails in your career path, take credit for results and act confidently. And maybe act a little jerky. From The Atlantic.

Why It Pays to Be a Jerk
The problem with competence is that we can’t judge it by looking at someone. Yes, in some occupations it’s fairly transparent—a professional baseball player, for instance, cannot very well pretend to have hit 60 home runs last season when he actually hit six—but in business it’s generally opaque. Did the product you helped launch succeed because of you, or because of your brilliant No. 2, or your lucky market timing, or your competitor’s errors, or the foundation your predecessor laid, or because you were (as the management writer Jim Collins puts it) a socket wrench that happened to fit that one job? Difficult to know, really. So we rely on proxies—superficial cues for competence that we take and mistake for the real thing. 
What’s shocking is how powerful these cues can be. When Anderson paired up college students and asked them to place 15 U.S. cities on a blank map of North America, the level of a person’s confidence in her geographic knowledge was as good a predictor of how highly her partner rated her, after the fact, as was her actual geographic knowledge. Let me repeat that: seeming like you knew about geography was as good as knowing about geography. In another scenario—four-person teams collaboratively solving math problems—the person with the most inflated sense of her own abilities tended to emerge as the group’s de facto leader. Being the first to blurt out an answer, right or wrong, was taken as a sign of superior quantitative skill. 
Confusing cause and correlation—the lab researcher’s bugaboo—is what the confidence man (or woman) relies on. Overconfidence is usually not a put-on, however. “By all indications, when these people say they believe they’re in the 95th percentile when they’re actually in the 30th percentile, they fully believe it,” Anderson says. 
Because overconfidence comes with some well-documented downsides (see: Rumsfeld, Donald), Anderson has lately been recruiting subjects with accurate self-impressions and instructing them to act confidently when they are uncertain, and seeing whether they fare as well as the true believers. “The actors are pretty darn convincing,” Anderson reports—but not as convincing as people whose mind-sets are genuinely untethered from their skill-sets. “It’s just that being fully self-deceived gets you further,” he says.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Looks like the continuing educators at Chattanooga State

And everyone else there will have a new boss.  She needs to stay away from trips to Barbados...and the like.  From the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga State Community College's new president is expected to be Dr. Flora Tydings, the veteran head of Athens Technical College in Georgia, pending approval next week by the Tennessee Board of Regents. 
TBR system Chancellor John Morgan said Friday in a news release that he will recommend Tydings to the Board of Regents at a specially called meeting Wednesday in Nashville. 
"President Tydings has the critical experience leading an institution with a similar mission to Chattanooga State," Morgan said. 
She has "demonstrated a clear understanding of the important role community colleges play in providing both career training for workforce development and helping students prepare for transfer to a university," he added.
Morgan predicted Tydings, who has led Athens Tech as its president for 12 years, "will provide a stabilizing influence for the campus while motivating its faculty and staff to continue moving forward with innovative programs." 
Tydings would officially take over as the community college's president on July 13, replacing interim President Fannie Hewlett. Hewlett agreed to serve temporarily after longtime President Jim Catanzaro, 77, retired under fire in December after 24 years at the helm. 
That came amid months of upheaval among faculty and a pending Regents' audit into Catanzaro's hiring of a woman he met while vacationing in Barbados and appointed to a newly created top position.

What's the value of a for-profit associate degree?

Not so much.  I've never understood why someone would choose a for-profit associate degree program over a public community college.  Public community colleges are workforce focused, convenient, and relatively inexpensive.  From The Pacific Standard.

University of Washington sociologist Patrick Denice reports that the answer depends in large part on whether you stick it out and earn the equivalent of a four-year degree. 
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, he finds that people who hold Bachelor’s degrees from for-profit schools earn roughly the same amount as those who hold equivalent diplomas from non-profit colleges and universities. 
However, those with Associate’s degrees from for-profit schools earn lower hourly wages than their counterparts who attended traditional institutions. Indeed, he writes in the journal Social Science Research, their earnings “are not significantly different than high school graduates.’”