Friday, July 31, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Experience is priceless

Lengthy immersion in the field is necessary for high quality creative works, a new paper finds.  From The Pacific Standard.

In 1990, psychologist John Hayes proposed the "10-year rule," arguing that even someone with enormous creative potential needs to spend a decade working on his or her craft before producing work of lasting merit. (He found this even applied to Mozart, who started composing in his pre-teen years and was already extremely experienced by the time we meet him in the rather misleading movie.)  
In a newly published paper, psychologists Richard Hass of Philadelphia University and Robert Weisberg of Temple University re-evaluate this rule by looking at the careers of some of America's most enduringly popular artists—five composers from the Great American Songbook era. 
They find that while 10 years is too rigid a number—there is simply too much variation from career to career—their work confirms Hayes' fundamental claim that "high-quality creative products emerge only after a long period of immersion within the field."...
So if you're plugging away at your art, or haven't quite made that scientific breakthrough you feel is close, don't give up. Time and discipline won't guarantee success—Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000-hours-of-practice rule has been effectively debunked—but they do seem to be an essential precursor to creating genuinely important work. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The advantages of dual enrollment

I'm getting immersed in dual enrollment since I'm on the dissertation committee of a doctoral student studying this. He'll be looking at its impact on a Tennessee population attending a local community college.  From The Atlantic.

High schools across the country are taking what might seem like a counterintuitive approach to educating some of their most at-risk students. 
They’re enrolling them in college before they even graduate from high school.
A new report from the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy suggests that dual-enrollment programs, where students take classes simultaneously in high school and at a local college, have proven especially successful at getting less-affluent and first-generation students into college—and through it. 
“It’s an acknowledgement of the changing demands of our society and the need of our education system to better equip students for the 21st century,” Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the center, told National Journal
Enrolling high schoolers in college programs helps schools catch weaknesses early, which can help them avoid costly classes later. 
Such programs, the center argues in its report, “have the potential to increase the size and diversity of the college-going population.” 
And as high schools see an increasingly heterogeneous student body, interest is growing, d’Entremont says.
Students often enter college without a clear understanding of what is expected of them, and many drop out when challenges arise. That’s especially true for less-affluent students, those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education, and those who do not have access to people with college experience who can offer guidance. A host of factors are at play, but inadequate academic preparation is key, the report argues. 
Other research from the American Institutes for Research supports the theory that students who enroll in early-college programs are more likely to then enroll at an institution full time, than their peers in traditional high-school programs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Alex, I'll take

Things your kids will ask that make you feel ancient for $100.  Here are three of the fifteen found in The Week.

15 common expressions younger generations won't understand
1. Why do we "hang up" a phone?
Phones used to have two parts to them, a base and a receiver. In order to end a call, the receiver had to be placed or "hung" on the base.
2. Why do we "dial" a phone?
To call someone on an old phone, you had to stick your finger in a rotating dial at number positions that would turn the dial for various lengths of time when released. You had to do the entire number every time.
3. Why does a phone or alarm clock "ring"?
Now phones and alarm clocks can make any kind of sound to catch your attention, but a long time ago, phones and alarm clocks had little bells inside them for this purpose.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Promises, promises

I had to apologize to my retired continuing education colleague, Dr. Chris Lefler, who had long insisted that Tennessee Promise wouldn't have the impact everyone was predicting.  He based it on his experience with dual enrollment high school students and their lax attitudes about meeting deadlines and requirements.  I was skeptical of his reasoning, to say the least.  It turns out he was mostly right.

Of the more than 58,000 students who applied for Tennessee Promise, it's expected that only about 28% will be eligible to use it this fall. The number I've heard tossed around is 16,000.  So it appears that more than 70% of those who applied did not complete eligibility requirements.  I didn't anticipate that.

So what will this mean for Tennessee universities and ETSU?  Will it mean we'll see late admissions as the masses that lose eligibility look for another path?  Or are most of those already enrolled somewhere else?  Are the ineligible students ready for or even interested in college or simply applied because of pressure from high school counselors?  Do we even want students who cannot meet simple deadlines and public service requirements (8 hours)?  Or will they have learned their lesson?  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Only one public university on the list

The other 19 are proprietary and private institutions.  Rutgers, interestingly enough, is the one public. From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

As Graduate-Student Debt Booms, Just a Few Colleges Are Largely Responsible
A new analysis by the Center for American Progress reveals that a small group of institutions is responsible for a huge share of graduate-student debt. Of the total volume of graduate loans issued by the department, nearly one-fifth — $6.6 billion — went to one of just 20 institutions. That’s a significant amount of money for so few colleges. 
What’s worse, the share of graduate-student debt emanating from those 20 institutions outstrips their share of enrollment. Together, the 20 colleges accounted for 12 percent of all graduate students but almost 20 percent of the loans.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

$100 in Tennessee

Has a real value of $110.38.  In Hawaii and New York, it's just over $86.

The Real Value of $100 in Each State
This week’s map shows the real value of $100 in each state. Prices for the same goods are often much cheaper in states like Missouri or Ohio than they are in states like New York or California. As a result, the same amount of cash can buy you comparatively more in a low-price state than in a high-price state. 
The Bureau of Economic Analysis has been measuring this phenomenon for two years now; it recently published its data for prices in 2013. Using this data, we have adjusted the value of $100 to show how much it buys you in each state. 
For example, Ohio is a low-price state. $100 there will buy you stuff that would cost $111.61 in a state closer to the national average. You could think of this as meaning that Ohioans are, for the purposes of day-to-day living, eleven percent richer than their incomes suggest. 
The states where $100 is worth the most are Mississippi ($115.21) Arkansas ($114.29) South Dakota ($114.16) Alabama ($114.03) and West Virginia ($113.12). In contrast, $100 is effectively worth the least in the District of Columbia ($84.96) Hawaii ($86.06) New York ($86.73) New Jersey ($87.34) and California ($89.05.) 
Regional price differences are strikingly large; real purchasing power is 36 percent greater in Mississippi than it is in the District of Columbia. In other words: by this measure, if you have $50,000 in after tax income in Mississippi, you would have to have after-tax earnings of $68,000 in the District of Columbia just to afford the same overall standard of living.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

This is good idea that hasn't received much publicity

Summer bridge programs have been around at universities for years, and it's good that they are duplicating that experience at community colleges.  If these are the most vulnerable of the at-rick students served by Promise, this will help them succeed.  And that benefits everyone.  From The Tennessean.

Hundreds of Tennessee Promise students across the state are beginning a three-week "academic boot camp" Monday, an effort officials hope will help them clear some of the hurdles typically faced by first generation college students. 
Reams of research show that first generation college students, Tennessee Promise's target population, are the most likely to drop out early, stymied by unfamiliar college terrain. Many of them aren't prepared for the academic rigor of higher education. And those who are face culture shock on campus. 
"The statistics are not good, not in our favor," said Krissy DeAlejandro, executive director of tnAchieves, a nonprofit that works with the state to guide Tennessee Promise students. 
DeAlejandro and her staff designed the Tennessee Promise Summer Bridge Program to anticipate the students' challenges. During what she called an "academic boot camp," students in the Bridge Program will receive intensive training in college-level mathematics and English. They also will meet with their campus leaders and advisers, laying the groundwork for the first day of the fall semester in August. 
"We wanted to bring that group of students in and try to increase their lexicon around college going," she said. 
More than 750 Tennessee Promise students agreed to attend the voluntary three-week program, which is taking place at each of the 13 public community colleges in Tennessee. If the program is successful, DeAlejandro said, more of those students will be armed with the tools they need to graduate with a degree in two years.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Coffee to go is strictly American

Sorry for not posting this closer to July 4th. Another reminder that we fought the Revolutionary War so we wouldn't have to drink tea. From the Pacific Standard.

True Patriots Take Their Coffee to Go 
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the to-go cup that I enjoyed on afternoons in Paris wasn’t a foreign concept just in France. Even the briefest search on Google shows that other cultures are similarly bereft of portable caffeine options. We’re the country that invented the disposable cup, the fast food chain, and the egregiously inflated cup size. The experience of getting coffee to go is a uniquely American institution, and it has changed the way we work, play, and present ourselves to the world. 
The American-ness of the to-go cup may not be immediately intuitive, simply because coffee has long been overshadowed in the American beverage-packing realm by the beer bottle and the soda can. We take it for granted that a modern Independence Day barbecue will involve Sam Adams and Cherry Coke prominently—yet we forget that in colonial times, coffee and tea were the poor man’s substitute for beer and cider. Post-World War II, after Coca-Cola had arranged a special exemption from the sugar ration, Coke became the caffeine source of choice for America’s youth. 
But by rights we ought to enjoy our Fourth of July fireworks with a steaming cup of coffee. Even before Americans had invented the disposable cup, we were changing history by fueling up with coffee on the go. Pioneers brought coffee with them to settle the West, brewing it over campfires; coffee became especially popular following the tea shortage during the War of 1812. Native Americans developed a taste for coffee, and would even attack wagon trains to get it, according to historian Mark Pendergrast. When coffee was added to the Union soldiers’ daily ration during the Civil War, they developed a creative solution for carrying it into combat. Some carbine guns were re-fashioned to hold a coffee mill in the buttstock—“so that the soldier could always carry his grinder with him,” Pendergrast writes. Perhaps the cannons should have had cup-holders.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

And here I am using Calibri

Like a jerk.  Sigh.  I remember when I barely knew what a font was.  And I used to work at a newspaper.  Now I have to choose from hundreds of them. From Mainstreet.

Why Using Times New Roman on Your Resume Is Like Wearing Sweatpants to an Interview
Using that typeface is the equivalent of "wearing sweatpants to an interview, according to Bloomberg. Other fonts to avoid, according to the Bloomberg report? Avoid Zapfino, which is to stylized and sweeping; Courier, which appears anachronistic as if punched out on a typewriter; and Comic Sans, which appears goofy and inspires rage. Instead, your C.V should have the correct fonts. 
Helvetica is earnest and digestible, Proxima Nova is a rounder version of Helvetica and Garamond is an ever sophisticated option. 
Of course, job seekers make mistakes beyond selecting the wrong typeface. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Taking one for the team

The university research team, that is.  From Pacific Standard.

Every Saturday Morning, Regine Gries drives nearly 10 miles from her home in Coquitlam, near Vancouver, British Columbia, to the insectary at Simon Fraser University. She sits down at a long workbench, rolls up her sleeves, and carefully presses five mesh-topped jars of bedbugs against her forearms. She listens to music while the insects bite her through the mesh. After about 10 minutes, the bedbugs, full of Regine’s blood, begin to retreat. Regine wipes her arm with isopropyl alcohol, and puts the jars back on the shelf. 
For the past eight years, Regine and her husband, Gerhard, a biology professor at Simon Fraser, have competed with research labs around the world to identify pheromones that attract bedbugs in the hope of developing a commercial lure. A 2010 survey by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky found that bedbug populations have nearly tripled in the past decade in the United States, and yet there haven’t been many advances for controlling and eradicating the pests. Most methods involve using a mix of pesticides and insecticides. (There has also been a lot of confusion about the pests: Last year, the Grieses conducted experiments in nearby apartment buildings, and discovered one tenant who complained of bedbug bites yet had no signs of an infestation—but who did sleep with the window open in a mosquito-friendly part of town.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The 5+2

Faster path to a humanities doctorate.  Sounding promising. The fear is that it creates an "adjunct factory," since graduates are offered employment for two years as "assistant adjunct professors."  On the positive side, a graduate has a two year cushion to try and find full-time employment.  On the negative, a graduate has only two years guaranteed and is locked into goofy status that is neither faculty nor adjunct but something in between.  Had I the option, though, I'd rather have two years to look for work than nothing after graduation.  From Slate.

The 5+2 Solution
“You finished your doctorate really fast!” The office manager of the University of California–Irvine School of Humanities was impressed as I forked over my completed and defended dissertation for their records. 
“Not really,” I said. “It’s been five years.” Five long years, if you asked me. 
“Exactly,” she said. “Fast.” 
Welcome to academia, where five years to finish a humanities doctorate—coursework, comprehensive exams, dissertation—is considered speedy. So speedy that a new program at my alma mater has raised hackles for encouraging graduate students to finish in a half-decade. (It also foists upon its postdocs what is possibly the worst job title in academia. More on that in a bit.) 
Irvine’s program, dubbed “5+2,” begins with increased funding for five years—about $23,000 per year, including summers. (Traditional fellowships and teaching assistantships vary, but usually pay less, and do not include summer funding.) Once the student has finished the dissertation, she receives a two-year “postdoctoral” teaching position within the university while she at last casts herself into a barren, jobless hellscape with completed Ph.D. in hand. The idea, according to School of Humanities associate dean James D. Herbert, is to shorten the time to degree while lengthening the odds of securing gainful employment afterward. Students have “a three-year window of optimal employment prospects,” Herbert told Inside Higher Ed. “So they’re better off applying from a real academic position rather than being a barista at Starbucks.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

The first thing we do

Let's kill all the lawyers. Or if Shakespeare's advice doesn't work, maybe think about killing a few law schools?  From Bloomberg.com.

Is It Time To Start Shutting Down Law Schools?
Years of a disappointing job market for lawyers have dramatically reduced the number of people interested in getting a law degree. Just under 53,000 people are expected to apply to law schools by the beginning of the 2015 academic year, according to the Law School Admission Council, down from more than 100,000 in 2004. 
Instead of making more things that fewer and fewer people want to pay for, one thought would be to eliminate some of those things. Are there law schools that should disappear? “Maybe,” says Al Brophy, a law professor at UNC. “But how is that going to happen?" he asks. "Will it happen because places say voluntarily, ‘hey, we aren’t making money, so we should shut down?’”  
Schools will not volunteer for their own demise, Brophy says, partly because so many people – alumni, faculty, staff – have a strong interest in keeping the end at bay. “It is going to take a lot to have schools shut down. What I think we are going to find is that they are going to be able to operate on shoestring budgets.”

Friday, July 10, 2015

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fired for the "F" word

Hmmm.  What academic freedom?  From The Advocate.

An LSU associate professor has been fired for using curse words and for telling the occasional sexually-themed joke to undergraduate students, creating what university administrators describe as a “hostile learning environment” that amounted to sexual harassment. 
A faculty committee that reviewed her case gave a few “notable” examples: Saying “F*** no” repeatedly in the presence of students, using a slang term for vagina that implies cowardice and telling a joke that the quality of sex gets worse the longer a relationship lasts. 
Teresa Buchanan, who specializes in early childhood education and trains elementary school teachers, is fighting back. 
The tenured faculty member said she’s the victim of a “witch hunt,” and plans to take the university to court for wrongful dismissal.
Her dismissal took effect June 19. 
The 20-year veteran of LSU argues that she has never sexually harassed anyone, though she acknowledged using profanity every so often and making jokes to keep the attention of her students or to jolt them to consider classroom issues they hadn’t considered.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Man, I hate personality profiles

Including the Myers-Briggs. I meant, especially the Myers-Briggs. I have been known to walk out of conference sessions when the profiles are passed out. As the author notes--it is like astrology.  From Wired.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Test Is Bunk But I Don’t Care
The obvious criticism of this test is that it’s based on dichotomies. Are you perceiving or judging? Introverted or extroverted? You must choose. This reeks of pseudo-science. Of course, most of us don’t fall clearly on one side or the other. When the specific introvert vs. extrovert duality was a hot topic a few years ago, many writers persuasively argued against reducing socialization patterns to a simplistic either/or. Indeed, reams of psychological literature debunks MBTI as wildly inconsistent—many people will test differently within weeks—and over reliant on polarities. For instance, someone can certainly be both deeply thinking and feeling, and we all know folks who appear to be neither. “In social science, we use four standards: are the categories reliable, valid, independent, and comprehensive? For the MBTI, the evidence says not very, no, no, and not really,” organizational psychologist Adam Grant wrote in Psychology Today after reviewing all the science on MBTI. It’s pretty damning.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Worried by low registration numbers?

Some tips to improve registrations, including overlooked items like making sure the registration system is working properly. From Melanie Woodward, writing in Eventplanning.about.com.

The Event Organizer In-Depth Guide to Tackling Low Registrations
Picture the scene… you’ve set up what promised to be a highly successful corporate event, potential attendees have been contacted by email and telephone. You’ve advertised and used all means at your disposal to achieve the delegate numbers you know you need for the event to give you a return on investment. 
The problem is, registrations are just not coming in at the rate you expected and you can see problems on the horizon if you don’t take action.
As the event organizer, you need to make an immediate re-evaluation of your event planning process and most importantly of all, sell your registration spots. 
If you're having trouble getting people to buy tickets to your events, use The Event Organizer In-Depth Guide to Tackling Low Registrations; our 10 Practical Steps to Solving an Event Organizer’s Worst Nightmare.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Millennial employment problem

The economy still hasn't produced enough jobs for recent college graduates. From Newsweek.

Millennial College Graduates: Young, Educated, Jobless
This spring, an estimated 2.8 million university graduates will enter the U.S. workforce with bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees just as America’s unemployment rate hits its lowest level in nearly seven years. Cause for celebration, right? Not so fast. 
The millennial generation is still lagging in the workplace, just as it did last year. It makes up about 40 percent of the unemployed in the U.S., says Anthony Carnevale, a director and research professor for Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. 
Generation Opportunity, a conservative nonprofit that advocates for millennials, releases a monthly “Millennial Jobs Report” that slices official labor data and tracks unemployment rates for younger workers. As of May, the data show 13.8 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are out of work, an improvement over 14.2 percent in January and over the same time last year, when it was 15.4 percent. The trend is encouraging, but the number is still way above the national jobless rate of 5.4 percent.
“If you look at the numbers starting in 2009, we’ve been in the longest sustained period of unemployment since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting their data following World War II,” says David Pasch, a spokesman for Generation Opportunity and a 26-year-old millennial. “This misconception that we don’t want jobs or that we’re lazy and entitled is nonsense.” 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Private colleges with large state grants

Who will be the first state to outsource its higher education? After all, another institution could come into Tennessee and educate our citizens at no cost to the taxpayer. That's a deal many legislators would love. Of course, we'd still need one institution for the football team, if nothing else. From The Washington Post.

How quickly will states get to zero in funding for higher education?
"In the aggregate, we almost don't have public education anymore now that tuition is contributing more than half of all revenue. Really we have subsidized private education," said Robert Hiltonsmith, a senior policy analyst at Demos and the author of the report. 
Another recent report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education put the disinvestment trends into sharper focus. Researchers at the organization project that if the current trend of paltry state investment were to continue, several states, including Colorado, Louisiana, Arizona and South Carolina, will contribute nothing to higher education in the next 10 years.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Where the grads are...

Someone waits for me. This could be the Achilles Heel of the Drive to 55--will we increase the number of college graduates only to have them relocate to other areas? This is one case where efforts aimed at adult students may show greater ROI. After all, adults typically have already laid down roots in a community or state. From the Pacific Standard.

The Futility of Trying to Attract (and Retain) College Graduates
Since 1970, the smartest metros have attracted more and more college graduates. The distribution of talent is divergent, concentrating in a few places. That divergence has gone hand-in-hand with economic prosperity. Thus, every city or town aimed to attract and retain people sporting at least a bachelor's degree. 
Not for the lack of trying everything and anything, brain drain continued to vex the losers. Which raises the question, why do college graduates move where they move? Seemingly begging the question, smart people moved to where smart people lived. That was the 1990s.