Archive for the ‘Academics – Research’ Category

Are you addicted to, err, cookies?

October 4, 2017

Sounds like a “dog ate homework” excuse, but you may eat too many cookies – not because you’re a fundamentally bad person – but, because you’re addicted to them andmay want to enroll in Cookies Anonymous.

In some ground-breaking research to be present at a Society for Neuroscience conference next month,  a Connecticut College study concluded that Oreos are just as addictive as drugs.

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Here’s the skinny on the research findings …

(more…)

You’re not paying attention !

August 24, 2017

Busting students using facial recognition software.

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I always walk around the classroom when I teach.

Couple of reasons: it  burns off some nervous energy and it lets me peek at students’ computer screens.

The latter is the the acid test of attentiveness.

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If I see one or two students checking email or sports scores, I figure it’s their problem and they move to the front of the queue for cold call questions.

If I see a lot of students “digitally distracted”, I figure that it’s my problem and I’ve got to adjust … e.g. shift out of lecture mode and into discussion mode.

That’s pretty straightforward in the classroom.

But, how to know if students are paying attention when they’re being beamed material online?

(more…)

The two most dangerous words in the English language today …

August 18, 2017

When it comes to human behavior, “studies show” are becoming “the two most dangerous words in the English language today.”

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According to Andy Kessler, writing in the WSJ

Many of the cited studies on human behavior are pure bunk.

For example:

The 270 researchers working under the auspices of the Center for Open Science spent four years trying to reproduce 100 leading psychology experiments.

They successfully replicated only 39 of the 100 psychology experiments.

A survey of 1,576 scientists published in Nature reported that “more than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments … and more than half are unable to reproduce their own experiments.”

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What’s going on?

(more…)

Stop saying “Don’t grade Trump on a curve”

September 29, 2016

My objection is technical, not political,

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The phrase “don’t grade him on a curve” has now eclipsed “It’s not who we are” as my absolute least favorite.

Folks who are saying it (think, Clinton supporters) are inadvertently flaunting their ignorance (which makes for great irony).

Speaking as a card-carrying academic, my objection is strictly technical.

 

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Let’s get basic.  What does it mean to grade on a curve?

(more…)

“Strip mall” teacher rakes in $4 million … now you’re talking.

September 2, 2016

Don’t I wish.

Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher.

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Here’s how he does  it …

(more…)

Nums: 94% of profs rate themselves above average … but, don’t we all?

April 29, 2016

According to LiveScience.com

Since psychological studies first began, people have given themselves top marks for most positive traits.

While most people do well at assessing others, they are wildly positive about their own abilities.

The phenomenon is known as illusory superiority.

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Illusory superiority is everywhere

  • In studies, most people overestimate their IQ. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94 percent of professors rated themselves above their peer group average.
  • In another study, 32 percent of the employees of a software company said they performed in the top 5%.
  • Drivers consistently rate themselves as better than average — even when a test of their hazard perception reveals them to be below par.

Ironically, the most incompetent are also the most likely to overestimate their skills, while the ace performers are more likely to underrate themselves.

Psychologists say the illusory superiority happens for several reasons:

(more…)

Warning: The gentleman’s C is dead … long live the gentleman’s A

April 7, 2016

Yep, grade inflation is alive and well.

The Washington Post reported findings from a 70-year retrospective analysis of college grades.

The central conclusion:

“Across the country, wherever and whatever they study, mediocre students are increasingly likely to receive supposedly superlative grades.”

In other words, these days, A is the new “average”.

Now, almost half of all grades given are A’s … triple the percentage from a few decades ago.

C’s – the old “average” – is dying a slow, steady death … and, there’s a higher likelihood of a student being struck by lightning than getting hit with an F.

 

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Here are some explanatory snippets and my take …

(more…)

Are you addicted to, err, cookies?

October 22, 2015

Sounds like a “dog ate homework” excuse, but you may eat too many cookies – not because you’re a fundamentally bad person – but, because you’re addicted to them andmay want to enroll in Cookies Anonymous.

In some ground-breaking research to be present at a Society for Neuroscience conference next month,  a Connecticut College study concluded that Oreos are just as addictive as drugs.

image

=======

Here’s the skinny on the research findings …

(more…)

Uh oh: More evidence that “scientific” research is flawed …

September 4, 2015

In a prior post, we reported that Dr. John Ioannidis, a director of Stanford University’s Meta-Research Innovation Center, estimated that about half of published results across medicine were inflated or wrong

For details, see Uh-oh: Most published research findings are false…

Now, the NY Times is reporting findings published in the Journal of Science which concludes that more than half of all studies published in the 3 most prominent psychology journals are seriously flawed and that their results can’t be replicated.

The Times says:

The report appears at a time when the number of retractions of published papers is rising sharply in a wide variety of disciplines.

Scientists have pointed to a hypercompetitive culture across science that favors novel, sexy results and provides little incentive for researchers to replicate the findings of others, or for journals to publish studies that fail to find a splashy result.

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Here’s the basis for the conclusion that the majority of the studies reported flawed conclusions …

(more…)

Uh-oh: Most published research findings are false…

November 21, 2014

I didn’t say it, the New Yorker magazine did, setting off a buzz in the halls of academia.

The theme of the New Yorker article –- titled “Truth Wears Off” –was that most (academic) research was flawed and not able to be replicated.  This is, the results were at best true under some special circumstances at a specific point in time, but can’t be replicated. At worst, they’re just plain bull.

Hmmm.

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Challenging the integrity of publication-driven academics?

Turns out that the New Yorker wasn’t the first mag on the beat.

(more…)

Uh-oh: Most published research findings are false…

October 29, 2014

I didn’t say it, the New Yorker magazine did, setting off a buzz in the halls of academia.

The theme of the New Yorker article –- titled “Truth Wears Off” –was that most (academic) research was flawed and not able to be replicated.  This is, the results were at best true under some special circumstances at a specific point in time, but can’t be replicated. At worst, they’re just plain bull.

Hmmm.

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Challenging the integrity of publication-driven academics?

Turns out that the New Yorker wasn’t the first mag on the beat.

(more…)

Oops: Plagiarism discovered in the Journal of

July 18, 2014

Academic and Business Ethics.

Yesterday, the Washington Post  reported  that an academic journal —  had to retract 60 research articles had to be retracted because its peer review process had been compromised.

Apparently, the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) —  no, I didn’t make that title up —  fell victim to a “peer review ring”.  A close knit group started cloning their electronic identities as experts.

So, while the journal thought that it was sending candidate articles to a broad sample of experts —  they were really sending them to a small handful of cronies.

In fact, because of the law of averages, on at least one occasion, an author got to peer review his own paper.

Oops

When the fraud was discovered, the journal ‘fessed up , retracted the compromised articles and allowed the senior editor to resign.

But, will the Journal of Vibration and Control (JVC) ever be able to restore its good name?

The incident reminded me of my absolute favorite academic journal scandal…

 

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Awhile ago, I got an email from the Executive Director of the Academic and Business Research Institute:

(more…)

Ouch: “Old Professors Never Quit, They Just Hang Around”

August 22, 2013

A real-world colleague of mine used to ask “Where do old marketing people go? I never see any around …”

Hmmm.

Now, Bloomberg has broken the code and I can answer my former colleague:

“They go into teaching … and stay there.”

Now, it’s getting real personal.

 

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A survey commissioned by Fidelity (who the heck knows why) reported in the journal Inside Higher Ed found that “some 74 percent of professors aged 49-67 plan to delay retirement past age 65 or never retire at all.”  Never retire at all?

Here’s what’s going on …

(more…)

Bias: How valuable is an “easy A” ?

August 21, 2013

Answer: Real valuable.

Perennial question for Ivy-aimed  high-schoolers is “which is better an A in a regular course or B in an AP course?”

Admission officers always say “Take the AP course and get an A in it”.

Easier said than done sometimes.

Fast forward to college and b-school admissions.

If you want to get into a highly ranked b-school, Is it better to get average grades in hard courses at an academically challenging college …. or high grades in easier courses at an easier or grade-inflated school?

 

College admissions gameboard

 

Here’s the answer …

(more…)

“Strip mall” teacher rakes in $4 million … now you’re talking.

August 7, 2013

Don’t I wish.

Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher.

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Here’s how he does  it …

(more…)

Rapid response: “Thunderbird is alive and well”

July 3, 2013

Yesterday we posted Thunderbird on the rocks? …. citing an Economist article that reported sharply declining enrollments in Thunderbird’s MBA program.

 

 

We received a polite reply from Thunderbird’s Associate VP of Admissions and Student Affairs:

There were some incorrect statements made in the recent Economist article. 

It is true that we are spinning off a few of our more Executive Education areas into a joint venture, but Thunderbird stands much as it always had.

In fact, the numbers quoted are not represented correctly either as our student body has changed significantly

In the past years, Thunderbird, like many other great schools, has opened online MBA programs, Masters Programs (Finance, Marketing, etc.), and Executive programs both on campus and abroad. 

The actual student body size of Thunderbird is still very similar to what it was 10 years back

I just wanted to make sure that our friends at Georgetown know Thunderbird is alive and well – though the unfortunate recipient of mal-interpreted data from  the media.

Couple of points:

1) Nice to hear that T’bird is, in fact, alive and well … and innovating

2) Hats off to T’bird for their rapid response program … a lesson re: how to handle bad PR

3) Proud to welcome T’bird’s administration to the ranks of HomaFiles readers … now, follow us on Twitter

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma           >> Latest Posts

Thunderbird on the rocks?

July 2, 2013

Not the cheap wine … we’re talking higher education.

An article in the Economist caught my eye: “The higher-education business – Honours without profits?”

The thrust of the article was that  not-for-profit schools are starting to hook-up with for-profit schools … ostensibly to frame a more sustainable business model …  merging the intellectual capacity of universities with the content delivery efficiency of the for-profits.

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Interesting, but that’s not what caught my eye … here’s what did.

(more…)

Uh-oh: Most published research findings are false…

June 30, 2013

I didn’t say it, the New Yorker magazine did, setting off a buzz in the halls of academia.

The theme of the New Yorker article –- titled “Truth Wears Off” –was that most (academic) research was flawed and not able to be replicated.  This is, the results were at best true under some special circumstances at a specific point in time, but can’t be replicated. At worst, they’re just plain bull.

Hmmm.

image

 

Challenging the integrity of publication-driven academics?

Turns out that the New Yorker wasn’t the first mag on the beat.

(more…)

Uh-oh: Flawed research … “retraction notices” surge

June 30, 2013
Punch line: An increasing number of published research studies – scientific & academic – are being “retracted” because the outcomes being reported can’t be replicated or are just plain fraudulent.

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Here are the details ..

(more…)

Ouch: Columbia b-school prof blasts academic research …

May 3, 2013

The blog InDecision posted the “presidential address” given at the conference of the Society for Consumer Psychology by Columbia Professor Michel Tuan Pham.

In his preamble, he bluntly questioned both the “external and internal relevance” of the research that he and his colleagues publish.

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First, his perspective on external relevance … 

(more…)

Tsunami Alert: NYU b-school prof blasts high MBA tuitions …

April 26, 2013

In a Financial Times article,  NYU Stern School of Business professor Larry Zicklin, says the days when getting an MBA costs well north of $100,000 are coming to an end.

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Zicklin argues that  …  b-schools face an existential threat … and that they aren’t aware of the tsunami that’s about to hit them.

The era of charging $100,000 for an education is over.

Here’s why …

(more…)

Oops: Plagiarism discovered in the Journal of

March 21, 2013

Academic and Business Ethics.

No no kidding.

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Last week, I got an email from the Executive Director of the Academic and Business Research Institute:

(more…)

Watch out HBS, Perdue University is pecking at your heels.

March 20, 2013

Nope, not a typo.

It’s Perdue as in chickens, not Purdue as Boilermakers.

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Who says so?

None other than HBS Prof. Clay Christensen — the father of the idea of disruptive innovation.

(more…)

Nums: 94% of profs rate themselves above average … but, don’t we all?

February 8, 2013

According to LiveScience.com

Since psychological studies first began, people have given themselves top marks for most positive traits.

While most people do well at assessing others, they are wildly positive about their own abilities.

The phenomenon is known as illusory superiority.

image

Illusory superiority is everywhere

  • In studies, most people overestimate their IQ. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94 percent of professors rated themselves above their peer group average.
  • In another study, 32 percent of the employees of a software company said they performed in the top 5%.
  • Drivers consistently rate themselves as better than average — even when a test of their hazard perception reveals them to be below par.

Ironically, the most incompetent are also the most likely to overestimate their skills, while the ace performers are more likely to underrate themselves.

Psychologists say the illusory superiority happens for several reasons:

(more…)

Pssst: Wanna buy a dissertation?

January 18, 2013

Here’s an academic shocker: Researchers found that many Russian doctoral students purchase their dissertations

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Here are the facts.

(more…)

Bid & Ask: Are new graduates ready for prime time?

January 8, 2013

Just read an interesting McKinsey study: Education to Employment – Designing a System that Works.

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The focus of the study:

Worldwide, young people are three times more likely than their parents to be out of work.

Paradoxically, there is a critical skills shortage at the same time.

In other words, there are two related global crises: high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of people with critical job skills.

This report focuses on skill development, with special attention to the mechanisms that connect education to employment.

More specifically:

  • Seventy-five million youth are unemployed
  • Half of youth are not sure that their postsecondary education has improved their chances of finding a job
  • Almost 40 percent of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies

An obvious conclusion: employers need to work with education providers so that students learn the skills they need to succeed at work

The pivotal finding: Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes.

(more…)

The future of education …

December 7, 2012

Uh oh.  There’s a new world emerging …

Captured poignantly in a pitch by Mary Meeker of KPCP

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Source

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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma                            >> Latest Posts

Teachers making millions of dollars … don’t I wish

October 5, 2012

Punch line: Here’s an angle … An online lesson-plan marketplace allows teachers to make thousands (or millions!) selling lesson plans to other teachers.

Anybody want to buy a PVP syllabus?

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Excerpted from businessweek.com’s “How a Teacher Made $1 Million Selling Lesson Plans”

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Deanna Jump is not a trust fund baby. She never married into money and she has never won the lottery. But in the past year-and-a-half, the 43-year-old kindergarten teacher has earned more than $1 million. Her unlikely strategy: selling catchy kindergarten lesson plans to other teachers.

Jump is just one of 15,000 teachers currently marketing their original classroom materials through the online marketplace, TeachersPayTeachers (TPT). Since signing on to the site, she has created 93 separate teaching units and sold 161,000 copies for about $8 a pop.

To be fair, no one else on TPT has been as wildly successful as Jump, but at least two other teachers have earned $300,000, and 23 others have earned over $100,000, according to site founder Paul Edelman.

Edelman launched TPT in 2006 after sinking grueling hours into planning his own classes. “To get ahead, Edelman and his colleagues swapped ideas and lesson plans. They also perused online sites for helpful resources, but found only sub-par, outdated materials.

After four years in the classroom, Edelman hit upon the idea for an online lesson-plan marketplace. Soon after the launch, New York-based publisher Scholastic bought the site for a low six-figure sum. Over the next few years, TPT continued growing, though not fast enough to hold Scholastic’s interest. Edelman bought the site back in 2009.

Little by little, TPT began gaining steam. Today the site has 1.1 million active members and over the past year has seen enormous growth. Last month alone, TPT grossed $2.5 million in sales, up from $305,000 in August 2011. It has 10 employees working in customer service. Teachers pay an annual premium membership fee of $59.95 to sell materials on the site, and TPT takes a 15 percent cut of most sales.

Jump admits that her own success is partly due to keeping a popular blog that helps direct readers to her TPT materials. TPT’s “Follow Me” button has also been a boon. “I have over 16,000 followers,” she says. “So every time I post a new product, an e-mail goes out to those people and—literally within an hour—I’m selling, selling, selling.”

In the past three months, Jump, who earns $55,000 per year teaching, has collected $213,000 in TPT sales. The money has not changed how she lives day-to-day. If anything, she’s working harder than ever, putting about 40 hours a week into TPT projects, apart from her regular teaching schedule. So far, she’s used the money to pay off bills, send her daughter to college, and buy a handicapped-accessible van for her quadriplegic brother.

Edit by BJP

>> Latest Posts

Shocker: Profs shell out $$$ … got Obama.

September 25, 2012

No surprise that liberal university profs support Obama.

What may be surprising is that they’re throwing money into the pot … in a big way.

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According to the Washington Times

Professors are stocking Obama’s campaign war chest.

The elite fundraising committee through which President Obama solicits his largest campaign donations relied overwhelmingly on professors from equally-elite universities last month.

The top donors, measured by frequency of donation, were Duke University, the University of Michigan, University of California, University of Washington and Stanford University, and Mr. Obama’s alma maters of Columbia and Harvard.

>> Latest Posts

This prof taught 100,000 students last semester … wow.

May 22, 2012

Thanks to the spread of high-speed wireless technology, high-speed Internet, smartphones, Facebook, the cloud and tablet computers, the world has gone from connected to hyperconnected.

Finally, a generation that has grown up on these technologies is increasingly comfortable learning and interacting with professors through online platforms.

Coursera, a new interactive online education company.hopes to revolutionize higher education by allowing students from all over the world to not only hear his lectures, but to do homework assignments, be graded, receive a certificate for completing the course and use that to get a better job or gain admission to a better school.

Coursera just broke the million enrollments level.

Andrew Ng an associate professor of computer science at Stanford says: “I normally teach 400 students. Last semester I taught 100,000 in an online course on machine learning. To reach that many students I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Source: N.Y. Times

>> Latest Posts

Re: the high cost of college … what if teachers taught more?

April 11, 2012

Chatted recently with a collegial friend on the high cost of colleges.

We honed in on the questions of whether faculty salaries were a large or small portion of a typical university’s cost structure and whether faculty teaching productivity (i.e. how many courses and students taught) had much of an effect on total educational costs.

Turns out that the issue was recently studied by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity  … with some blockbuster results:

“Recently released preliminary data from the University of Texas strongly suggest that the state of Texas could move towards making college more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching.

Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half.

Moreover, other data suggest a strategy of reemphasizing the importance of the teaching function can be done without importantly reducing outside research funding or productivity.”                   

Hmmm … if teachers taught more, college costs would go down.

That’s a shocker …

>> Latest Posts

MBA Rankings: A loser’s uh-oh upsets conventional wisdom …

March 28, 2012

In a prior post, we looked at changes in Business Week’s rankings of MBA program in the 10-year period from from 2000 to 2010.

The key observations:

  • 13 MBA programs (e.g. HBS, Wharton, Kellogg) held their top 30 positions – plus or minus a spot or two – between 2000 and 2010
  • 6 MBA programs were in the 2000 Top 30 and improved their position by 6 or more spots between 2000 and 2010
  • University of Chicago  jumped 9 spots to take over the #1 ranking
  • 6 MBA programs that weren’t in the Top 30 in 2000 broke into the 2010 Top 10
  • 5 MBA programs dropped a whopping 15 places or more from 2000 to 2010 (more on that later, too)
  • Another 6 MBA programs dropped 5 spots or between 2000 to 2010

Also in a prior post, we observed that among the 6 MBA programs that weren’t in the Top 30 in 2000 and broke into the 2010 Top 10, SMU is the shining star.

SMU came out of nowhere – unranked as late as 2006 – and soared to #12 in 2010.

They did it with A+ Teaching and A+ Career Services … that earned them a #6 ranking with Corporate Recruiters and a #12 ranking overall.overall.

While SMU’s formula reflects mucho common sense, it’s not exactly conventional approach.

More often, MBA programs try to boost their rankings through intensified faculty research.

The logic: publish in academic journals, get recognized as thought-leaders, attract better students and recruiting companies … and a virtuous cycle becomes unstoppable.  Makes dense.

Our neighbor, the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business tried that approach … with some disappointing results.

In 2000, Maryland was  at #27.

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Given its relatively low #33 rating in Intellectual Capital, Maryland turned up the research jets.

Successful?

Well, Maryland’s ranking in Intellectual Capital skyrocketed to #2 … trailing only Duke – a perennial research giant.

What happened to it’s overall ranking?

Maryland dropped 15 spots … out of the Top 30 … to #42.

Ouch.

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Source: Business Week – 2000 & 2010 MBA Rankings

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BTW: The #3 program in Intellectual Capital is Wake Forest.

Its overall rank?

According to Business Week … #47.

>> Latest Posts

MBA Rankings: A big winner’s keys to success …

March 27, 2012

In a prior post, we looked at changes in Business Week’s rankings of MBA program in the 10-year period from from 2000 to 2010.

The key observations:

  • 13 MBA programs (e.g. HBS, Wharton, Kellogg) held their top 30 positions – plus or minus a spot or two – between 2000 and 2010
  • 6 MBA programs were in the 2000 Top 30 and improved their position by 6 or more spots between 2000 and 2010
  • University of Chicago  jumped 9 spots to take over the #1 ranking
  • 6 MBA programs that weren’t in the Top 30 in 2000 broke into the 2010 Top 10 (more on that later)
  • 5 MBA programs dropped a whopping 15 places or more from 2000 to 2010 (more on that later, too)
  • Another 6 MBA programs dropped 5 spots or more between 2000 to 2010

Among the 6 MBA programs that weren’t in the Top 30 in 2000 and broke into the 2010 Top 10, SMU is the shining star.

SMU came out of nowhere – unranked as late as 2006 – and soared to #12 in 2010.

How did they do it?

Here are the details that support the SMU ranking in 2008 – SMU’s first time in the Top 30:

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Answer: heavy emphasis on Teaching (A+) and Career Services (A) yielded a #17 ranking among Corporate Recruiters … and a number #18 overall ranking.

Not bad! But, apparently, not good enough for SMU.

Things got even better in 2010.

SMU kept Teaching at an A+ level and boosted Career Services from a plain old A to an A+ … the result: up to #6 with Corporate Recruiters and #12 overall.

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Source: Business Week – 2000 & 2010 MBA Rankings

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Bottom line: Get good students, teach them a lot, help them find jobs …. and, BINGO, MBA program success.

You’d think that’s common sense, right?  No surprise.

Well, tomorrow we’ll look at one of the biggest losers … with a twist that may surprise some of you.

>> Latest Posts

MBA Rankings: A 10 year perspective … and, some surprises.

March 26, 2012

There has been a lot of talk around here about the MBA school rankings.

Typically, the conversation revolves around the changes – up or down – from the last rankings.

I got curious … wanted to see the landscape change over a longer-term … and picked a 10-year time horizon of the Business Week rankings – 2000 to 2010.

My going-in hypothesis was that there would be heavy inertia … that the top slots would be occupied by the usual suspects.

And, I expected schools to show relatively little movement up or down.

Here’s what I found …

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13 MBA programs held their top 30 positions – plus or minus a spot or two – in 2000 and 2010:

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6 MBA programs that were in the 2000 Top 30  improved their position by 6 or more spots between 2000 and 2010:

  • UC Berkeley had the sharpest rise … 10 spots to #8
  • Univ. of Chicago (my alma mater) had the most impressive gain … “only” 9 spots since they couldn’t do better than taking over the #1 ranking
  • Stanford cracked the Top 10 by moving up 6 spots.

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Surprising (to me), there are 6 MBA programs that weren’t in the Top 30 in 2000 and that broke into the 2010 Top 10 … 5 just made it into the Top 30 … a proud accomplishment, but one that pales in comparison with SMU … SMU came out of nowhere – unranked as late as 2004 – and soared to #12 in 2010.

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Of course, if there are winners, there must be losers.

5 MBA programs dropped a whopping 15 places or more from 2000 to 2010.

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Another 6 MBA programs dropped 5 spots between 2000 to 2010.

  • 5 of the programs stayed in the Top 30 despite their skids
  • Cornell and MIT-Sloan dropped out of the Top 10
  • Unfortunately, my beloved Georgetown’s slip was enough to lose Top 30 status.  (Don’t worry, we’ll be back …)

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Source: Business Week – 2000 & 2010 MBA Rankings

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In subsequent posts we’ll drill down to “why?” and “so what?”

Stay tuned.

>> Latest Posts

 

From the faculty lounge: False Positives

March 23, 2012

Punch line: Sometimes, published academic research results are flat out wrong.  Hmmm.

Excerpted from HBR’s Daily Stat: Researchers Can Easily “Prove” False Findings
 
Using legitimate statistical analyses, researchers were able to show in an experiment that participants were nearly 1.5 years younger after listening to the Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four” than after listening to a song that comes with the Windows 7 operating system …

… an obviously ridiculous finding that demonstrates how easy it is for research to yield “false positives,” say Joseph P. Simmons and Uri Simonsohn of The Wharton School and Leif D. Nelson of UC Berkeley.

Too often, researchers aren’t aware of the high likelihood of finding false evidence, and the pressure to publish leads scientists to convince themselves of the validity of their findings, the authors say.
 
Source: False-Positive Psychology : Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

>> Latest Posts

Uh-oh: Law school deans and U.S. News “may have committed felonies” in “publishing false info”

March 22, 2012

According to Prof. Mark Perry

A paper by two professors at Emory University School of Law, provocatively titled “Law Deans in Jail” reports:

“A most unlikely collection of suspects – law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees – may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News’ ranking of law schools.

The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements.

Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools’ expenditures and their students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud.

It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data.

U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information.

In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.”

Geez, if you can’t even trust law school deans

>> Latest Posts

The business of business cases …

March 20, 2012

Punch line: Publishing business case studies is big business, and more schools are looking to cash in.

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Excerpted from WSJ: “The Business of Case Studies”

The three largest case-study publishers and distributors jointly sell more than 10 million cases and see tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year.

Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. dominates the market, recording sales of 8.5 million case studies in fiscal 2011 and estimating that 80% of the cases used world-wide come from there.

To maintain its edge, about five years ago Harvard started offering “simulations,” or online role-playing exercises.

Though simulations still represent a minor share of sales, they are growing fast. Sales in 2011 rose 37% from the prior year, which was double the 2009 figure.

There also has been growing interest in short cases as publishers market to part-time M.B.A. programs for time-crunched working adults, which have seen a surge in enrollment in recent years.

Harvard’s “Brief Cases” and concise offerings from other publishers can run just three or four pages, about one-quarter the length of a traditional case.

Case publishers and distributors are pushing hard into emerging markets, too, accepting cases written by faculty at up-and-coming schools in India, China and Latin America and selling products to those same institutions.

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Top five cases from Harvard Business Publishing, fiscal 2011

  • Cola Wars Continue: Coke and Pepsi, 2006 — Competitive strategies of the soft-drink giants
  • Starbucks—Delivering Customer Service — Efforts to improve customer-service satisfaction
  • Apple Inc., 2010 — Can the iPad take the company to new heights
  • Walt Disney Co. — The Entertainment King—Disney’s 1980s turnaround and strategic challenges in the early 2000s
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing, USA, Inc.—Solving assembly problems with the Toyota Production System

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Overheard in the faculty lounge … re: the Target flap.

March 6, 2012

By now, everybody has heard how Target mines data on shoppers to ID when they’re approaching life events — e.g. having a baby — that make them “vulnerable to marketing initiatives.”

The reaction of many marketers seems to be: “why aren’t we doing that?”

The reaction of shoppers is predictably negative: “Invasion of privacy”, “manipulative”, “creepy”.

The reaction in the faculty lounge is interesting.

Background: a branch of marketing studies consumer behavior … how and why consumers think and act … why they pick one brand over another, etc.

There seems to be concern among some academic CB researchers that their findings are  being hijacked by evil profiteers, to the disadvantage of the masses:

Consumer behavior research clearly helps the stores in the “attack” on the consumer. Does CB help in the development of the “defense” of the consumer?

One colleague sought to allay any pangs of guilt:

The “consumerism” defense is that the findings can be used to benefit both producers and consumers.

Any way, as [a famous consumer researcher] used to argue “the effects we study are so small in the real setting that any harm done is minimal.”

Now, that’s a rallying cry for you …

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C’mon man: A college course on Jay-Z ???

November 4, 2011

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Parents are shelling out about $5,000 in tuition money so their kids can probe the deep thoughts of rapper Jay-Z.

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Excerpted from Wash Post : Jay-Z 101

Rapper Jay-Z is now being examined in the ivory towers of academia.

One of the most popular courses at Georgetown is — SOCI-124-01 “Sociology of Hip-Hop — Urban Theodicy of Jay-Z.”

Prof. Michael Eric Dyson asks:  “What’s the intellectual, theological, philosophical predicate for Jay-Z’s argument?”

He says that Jay-Z’s work has proved to be powerful, effective and influential. And it’s time to wrestle with it.”

When the class reached its 80-student enrollment cap the first week of the semester, Dyson relocated to a bigger room that could seat 140 students. That’s the official head count, anyway.

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Tell me again why we’re behind in math & science …

Thanks to JMH for feeding the lead.

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Prediction: Obama’s midnight pardons will rock the world.

October 27, 2011

On his current campaign swing, President Obama is throwing around tax payer money to rebuild his base.

Earlier this week it was the Federal refinancing of underwater home loans.  Taxpayers will own any defaults.

Yesterday it was the announcement of an executive order to restructure, cap, and eventually forgive student loans after 20 years of payments.

That one troubles me.

Even CNN acknowledges:

The president’s focus on college loan assistance could also help him with younger voters — generally a core Democratic constituency. In 2008, Obama carried two-thirds of all voters ages 18 to 24, according to national exit polls.

Did you know that a provision of the ObamaCare law was to nationalize student loan programs?  Amazing what you can sneak into a 2,000 page unread law.

Now, the Executive branch (i.e. the Obama administration) has wide, unprecedented latitude to grant, structure and forgive student loans.

Presidents have often issued pardons and waivers during their last hours in office.  Think Bill Clinton pardoning uber-tax evader Marc Rich.

I predict that if Obama gets beat in 2012 – a 50 / 50 bet as things now stand – he will issue the mother of all pardons: forgiveness of all Federally held student loans and maybe, while he’s at it, the forgiveness of all Federally held home loans.

Far-fetched?

I don’t think so, and now, I’m on the record.

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Making science cool (again) … dy-no-mite!

October 20, 2011

My daughter-in-law has a group of PhD scientist-friends.

Last summer I was chatting with them about why the U.S. is reportedly falling behind in math and science.

They offered  that the PhD grind is, in fact, a grind … and that comp levels in science are paltry.

My hypothesis: there aren’t enough aspirational heroes for kids these days.

In my day, Salk was a hero vaccinating polio and every kid wanted to be an astronaut.

My prescription: we need more heroes and we need to make school (and science) cool again.

Well, maybe science is getting cool again.

Check out this video from the McGill Cancer Research Center … a fun view of lab science.

See, science doesn’t have to be boring!

                                    click to view

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Thanks to Barbara Gordon & Jess Homa @ American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for feeding the lead

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Flawed research … “retraction notices” surge

August 15, 2011

Punch line: An increasing number of published research studies – scientific & academic – are being “retracted” because the outcomes being reported can’t be replicated or are just plain fraudulent.

Geez.  If you can’t believe the journals …

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From Thomson-Reuters & the WSJ …

Since 2001, while the number of papers published in research journals has risen 44%, the number retracted has leapt more than 15-fold.

Just 22 retraction notices appeared in 2001, but 139 in 2006 and 339 last year.

Through seven months of this year, there have been 210, according to a Thomson Reuters study of peer-reviewed journals world-wide.

 

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