Archive for the ‘Education – Academics’ Category

College: Making Freshman year (almost) free …

October 11, 2017

Let more students earn AP credits by putting “boilerplate” courses online and beefing-up certification testing.

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A article posted on Real Clear Politics caught my eye.

The author Steven Klinsky, is credentialed as a businessman and education reformer, chairman of Harvard’s Public Education Policy Group and founder of the Modern States Education Alliance (MSEA).

He observes that (1) traditional brick & mortar colleges are increasingly unaffordable, (2) that “the tuition cost for many online courses has been set every bit as high (or sometimes higher!) than for the same course delivered in the physical classroom” and (3) that increasingly popular MOOCs can deliver quality content but no college credits—just “certificates of completion”.

So, as a private citizen and philanthropist, Mr. Klinsky has been trying to “square the circle” with MSEA’s “Freshman Year for Free” program.

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How does Klinsky and MSEA plan to do it?

(more…)

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

October 6, 2017

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

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The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” on college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

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Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

(more…)

Some “interesting” SAT results …

October 5, 2017

The College Board publishes a “Total Group Profile Report” college-bound seniors.

A couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

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OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

(more…)

Answer: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 25, 2017

Here’s the ANSWER to to last week’s math challenge

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Last week, we touted Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools … specifically, its intensive math curriculum

And, we presented a challenge question (taken from the 10th grade curriculum) …

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Noble Charter HS – Math Challenge Question

The rectangle shown below is divided into four green squares, seven gold squares, four orange squares, and one blue rectangle.

If the perimeter of the blue rectangle is 20 cm, what is the perimeter of the larger rectangle?

Explain your reasoning.

         Recommended: click to download and print PDF

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Here’s the answer …. and a method for get it.

(more…)

Question: Are you smarter than a 10th grader?

September 22, 2017

A math success story … and a challenge (for you).

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Earlier in the week, we posted results of a report ranking U.S. high school students #40 in math literacy among developed nations.

A friend reminded me that those are averages … and there are some bright lights.

One such bright light is shining at Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools.

Noble is comprised of a growing network of high quality public high schools located in Chicago’s communities of greatest need.

Noble has 18 campuses educating 12,000 students.

True to its mission, 98% of the students are minorities and 89% low income.

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Here’s the kicker …

According to Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes:

Students at The Noble Network of Charter Schools receive the equivalent of nearly two years’ worth of math in each single year. Source

What kind of math are they working on?

Here’s a problem from the 10th grade curriculum …. try it.

(more…)

More distressing news on the math front …

September 19, 2017

Last week, we praised algebra, logic and Latin as basic learning skills.

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

Yesterday, we reported that U.S. high schoolers math scores are continuing to drop … and that the U.S. now ranks #40 among developed countries.

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

Now there’s discouraging news out of California: Algebra is under siege.

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In 2009, the California Community Colleges system began requiring demonstrated math competency at the level “typically known as Intermediate Algebra … or another mathematics course at the same level, with the same rigor.”

What was the result, and what do educators plan to do about it?

(more…)

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

September 18, 2017

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

image

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

(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…)

What makes a good teacher?

August 23, 2017

Short answer: It’s anybody’s guess, until you see them in action.

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Interesting article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives

A couple of economic researchers chased after a Holy Grail: “Searching for Effective Teachers”.

They reviewed a stack of studies, conducted a few new ones and drew conclusions about teacher recruitment in public schools.

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Some of their conclusions are conventional, and some may surprise you …

(more…)

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

August 11, 2017

Topic came up in recent chats, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

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GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

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That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

If you’re stressed out by your grade, just change it … say, what?

August 10, 2017

Here’s one from the “great moments in higher education” file.

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According to Inside Higher Education

Rick Watson — a business professor at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business — included a “stress-reduction policy” in his course syllabus. syllabus

Under the policy, students could change their grades if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.

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Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….

(more…)

Technology throws educators another curve ball …

July 26, 2017

Now, students can access an inventory of exam answers.

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In a prior post Why Johnny can’t write … we reported that high school teachers are assigning fewer writing assignments … in part, because many students simply Google the topic and plagiarize much of their work.

And, they can do so with a high degree of impunity, knowing that teachers and administrators will look the other way rather than go through the aggravation of prosecuting a case of academic dishonesty.

OK, that’s essays and term papers.

But, tests that students take should be relatively clean, right?

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Not so fast, cheating on tests has always been around, but now it’s going high tech …

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Forever, teachers have provided students will sample test questions and libraried past exams.

Students have passed the word to fellow students about tests – how hard? what topics? what questions?

Now there’s a high tech turbo-charger.

In the old days, students might try to slip a note to a fellow test-taker with answers.

Not a prevalent problem since the process was easily detected with documented evidence – the captured note.

Teachers now report that some students will use their cell phones to take a photo of their answers and instant message them to a classmate across the room.

Hit delete and the electronic evidence is gone.

Try to ban cell phones and hear a chorus of “But, it’s my calculator, I need it.”

Now it’s not just a few renegades in class sharing answers.

The process is escalating thanks to technology.

For example, there’s company called QEDed .”

“QEDed is a mobile app that allows you to share your questions and answers from same name courses such as Econ 101, Calculus 101 with schoolmates and new friends around the world.”

Sounds innocuous enough, right?

Here’s a nightmare scenario for teachers:

In real-time student test takers access a QEDed-like site and search for a similar question.

Ouch.

Of course, a defense mechanism might be having students surrender their electronic devices as they enter the test room.

Yeah, right.

Let me know how that goes …

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Why Johnny can’t write …

July 20, 2017

Chatting with faculty colleagues, there seems to be a consensus that writing skills among MBA students have been declining.

I’m not talking about flowery prose and precise grammar.

I’m talking about logical argumentation … being able to explain why something is happening and what to do about it.

My hypothesis was that colleges aren’t requiring students to take courses (or demonstrate proficiency) in, say, critical thinking or logic … and that college students today aren’t required to write many papers that hone their thinking and writing skills.

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Testing my hypothesis on a middle school math teacher-friend, I got a rude awakening …

(more…)

Will liberal arts majors inherit the world?

July 13, 2017

A strong argument … but the data contradicts.

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One of my summer reads is a book called “The fuzzy and the techie” by Scott Hartley –formerly of Google & Facebook, now a venture capitalist.

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Hartley’s basic premise is that, almost by definition, liberal arts majors acquire fundamental thinking and communication skills, such as critical thinking, logical argumentation, and complex problem solving.

Sounds good, but here’s the rub …

(more…)

Should chess be taught in schools?

July 11, 2017

Chess players are smarter – DNA or training?

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Interesting article from the American Council of Science and Health …

A group of researchers examined people who do and do not play chess.

The question: are chess players smarter than non-chess players?

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Here’s what the researchers found …

(more…)

Want to estimate somebody’s IQ?

July 10, 2017

Ask them what their college major was.

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As the American Council of Science and Health puts it:

Though we don’t like to admit it, intelligence and IQ matter.

Creative people tend to have higher IQs.

Expertise, in any area, generally requires a higher IQ.

One research study concluded that a degree in math or physics takes an IQ of at least 120.

Taking the converse of that last point a step further, an analysis by Quartz indicates that a person’s college major serves as a good proxy for intellectual aptitude.

The Quartz analysis wasn’t able to determine the average IQ by college major, but it was able to triangulate from several cognitive metrics that all converged on a similar pattern.

So, extrapolating to IQ from a metric like SAT or GRE scores isn’t a big leap.

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Let’s drill down on the findings …

(more…)

Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

July 7, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.

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According to The Atlantic …

As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

When he assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable:

He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school.

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906.

She still is.

Gotta give the man credit for walking the talk.

Former President Obama?

Not so much …

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A Dept. of Education study found that students in the nation’s capital that were provided with vouchers allowing them to attend private school made “statistically significant gains in achievement.”

Despite that finding, then President Obama curtailed the program … and turned around and enrolled his daughters in Sidwell Friends – the swank private school of choice for the DC elite.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that several sources found that many of the Democratic Senators who voted against school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos –- opt out of the public school system and send their off-spring to private schools.

OK, maybe they really thought that DeVos wasn’t as qualified as Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, who presided for 7 years over declining test scores and “failing schools” headlines.

Or, maybe their pro-choice inclinations don’t really extend beyond their family & friends when it comes to education.

As the USN&WR opined:

Education politics are big business in America, often pitting institutionalized interests like the NEA against parents and kids.

And, equally unfortunately, there are far too many people who are in a position to right the wrongs who are taking advantage of their ability to opt out of the discussion, at least as far as their own children are concerned.

Where education is concerned there’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President, who send their children to private schools.

And, there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.

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So, what’s the answer?

(more…)

Mastering math … or anything else.

July 6, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

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Interesting article buried in the  WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.

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Here are a few snippets from the article …

(more…)

Great moments in education … really

June 20, 2017

DC public school “graduates” pre-schoolers.

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Yes, I’m a doting grandfather.

My granddaughter Maddie has been attending pre-school at Hyde-Addison Elementary — a DC public school.

Not a a typical DC school since it’s located in Georgetown …

Evidence: Last week, a highly supportive parents’ group arranged for Maddie’s pre-school class to “graduate” in caps & gowns.

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My first reaction: It seems like a bit of overkill … but she sure looks cute.

Upon reflection, I think the parents at Hyde-Addison School have hit on a brilliant idea…

(more…)

Mastering math … or anything else.

May 25, 2017

Some insights on the science & practice of learning.

=======

Interesting article buried in the weekend edition of the WSJ: “How a Polymath Mastered Math—and So Can You”

The subject polymath (a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning) is Prof. Barbara Oakley.

To make her long story short, she was a self-proclaimed horrible math student in high school, dove back into math in her mid-20s, and is now an engineering professor..

“Her progression from desultory student to respected scholar led her to a sideline in the study of learning itself.”

She is the author of ‘A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra)’ and ‘Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential’.

clip_image002

Here are a few snippets from the article …

(more…)

A prof says: “You earn exam points … and, the burden of proof is on you”

April 28, 2017

Students often take issue with grades … sometimes understandably, sometimes not so much.

For perspective, here’s an interesting op-ed by an econ prof …

(more…)

Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

April 7, 2017

Topic came up (again) in a post-class chat with students, prompting this HomaFiles flashback…

=======

GREAT article in the WSJ from MSB’s own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

image

=======

That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

Should lawmakers (and regulators) have to eat their own cooking?

March 2, 2017

Might induce some genuine empathy and motivate some constructive action.

=========

According to The Atlantic …

As a presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter criticized “exclusive private schools that allow the children of the political and economic elite to avoid public schools that are considered dangerous or inferior.”

When he assumed office in 1977, he did something remarkable:

He enrolled his 9-year-old daughter, Amy, in a predominantly black Washington, D.C., public school.

Amy became the first child of a sitting U.S. president to attend a public school since 1906.

She still is.

Gotta give the man credit for walking the talk.

Former President Obama?

Not so much …

image

A Dept. of Education study found that students in the nation’s capital that were provided with vouchers allowing them to attend private school made “statistically significant gains in achievement.”

Despite that finding, then President Obama curtailed the program … and turned around and enrolled his daughters in Sidwell Friends – the swank private school of choice for the DC elite.

So, it wasn’t at all surprising that several sources found that many of the Democratic Senators who voted against school voucher advocate Betsy DeVos –- opt out of the public school system and send their off-spring to private schools.

OK, maybe they really thought that DeVos wasn’t as qualified as Obama’s basketball buddy, Arne Duncan, who presided for 7 years over declining test scores and “failing schools” headlines.

Or, maybe their pro-choice inclinations don’t really extend beyond their family & friends when it comes to education.

As the USN&WR opined:

Education politics are big business in America, often pitting institutionalized interests like the NEA against parents and kids.

And, equally unfortunately, there are far too many people who are in a position to right the wrongs who are taking advantage of their ability to opt out of the discussion, at least as far as their own children are concerned.

Where education is concerned there’s one America for the elites, like members of Congress and the President, who send their children to private schools.

And, there’s one for everyone else, the regular people who are seeing the educational dreams they have for their children shattered on the altar of politics.

========

So, what’s the answer?

(more…)

Tell me again why Duncan was good, but charter-advocate DeVos is bad …

February 8, 2017

Math scores dropped since 2009 … U.S. now trails 39 countries.

Strikes me that Duncan is an easy act for DeVos to follow as Education Secretary..

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

image

==========

Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

(more…)

Want higher exam grades?

January 31, 2017

Well, then quit browsing the Internet during class.

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A recent study by psychology researchers at Michigan State University investigated students’ actual Internet usage during classes.

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The students agreed to have their in-class browsing activity monitored .

The researchers then matched the browsing activity with the students’ self-reported browsing behavior, their overall academic readiness (think: SAT / ACT scores), their self-reported motivation and interest in the class, and their performance on the course’s final exam.

Here’s what the researchers discovered …

(more…)

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

January 12, 2017

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

=========

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

image

==========

Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

(more…)

College: Making Freshman year (almost) free …

November 22, 2016

Let more students earn AP credits by putting “boilerplate” courses online and beefing-up certification testing.

========

A recent article posted on Real Clear Politics caught my eye.

The author Steven Klinsky, is credentialed as a businessman and education reformer, chairman of Harvard’s Public Education Policy Group and founder of the Modern States Education Alliance (MSEA).

He observes that (1) traditional brick & mortar colleges are increasingly unaffordable, (2) that “the tuition cost for many online courses has been set every bit as high (or sometimes higher!) than for the same course delivered in the physical classroom” and (3) that increasingly popular MOOCs can deliver quality content but no college credits—just “certificates of completion”.

So, as a private citizen and philanthropist, Mr. Klinsky has been trying to “square the circle” with MSEA’s “Freshman Year for Free” program.

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How does Klinsky and MSEA plan to do it?

(more…)

Score higher on the SATs … GUARANTEED!

October 13, 2016

Just make sure that your parents went to college.

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The College Board has just released it’s “Total Group Profile Report” for 2016 college-bound seniors …

One set of numbers caught my eye:

SAT scores by the student’s parents level of educational attainment.

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Note that about 2/3’s of the college-bound seniors taking the SAT came from homes with a degreed parent – either associate, bachelor or graduate.

Only about 1/3 came from homes with parents having only a high school education or less.

And, the performance differentials are substantial between the groups …

(more…)

Some “interesting” SAT results …

October 12, 2016

The College Board has just released it’s “Total Group Profile Report” for 2016 college-bound seniors.

A couple of sets of numbers caught my eye ….

Let’s start with math scores/

Two big takeaways:

(1) The gap between boys and girls narrowed from the 40 point difference in the 1970s to about 25 points … but has remained fairly constant at that level for about the past 20 years

(2) Scores for both boys and girls have been falling for the past dozen years or so.

 

image

=======

OK, boys outscore girls in math, but girls do better on the verbal part of the SATs, right?

(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…)

High tuitions … and “Baumol’s Cost Disease”

June 22, 2016

Previously, we posted What do high healthcare costs and high tuitions have in common?

A loyal reader reminded me of the connection between high tuitions and “Baumol’s cost disease”

To that point …

The NY Times ran a piece by Harvard Prof Greg Mankiew summarizing his views re: high and increasing college tuitions.

One of Mankiw’s identified causes is “Baumol’s Cost Disease”

Many years ago, the economist William Baumol noted that for many services — haircuts as well as string quartet performances — productivity barely advances over time.

Yet as overall productivity rises in the economy, wages increase, so the cost of producing these services increases as well.

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Education is a case in point …

(more…)

In praise of tough teachers …

May 4, 2016

My students are likely to cringe at this post which kinda legitimizes my teaching style.

Uh-oh …

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According to a recent WSJ article:

The latest findings in fields from music to math to medicine lead to a single, startling conclusion: It’s time to revive old-fashioned education.

Not just traditional but old-fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands.

Why?

Because here’s the thing: It works.

 

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Of course, that conclusion flies in the face of the kinder, gentler philosophy that has dominated American education over the past few decades.

The conventional wisdom holds that teachers are supposed to tease knowledge out of students, rather than pound it into their heads.

Projects and collaborative learning are applauded; traditional methods like lecturing and memorization — derided as “drill and kill” — are frowned upon, dismissed as a surefire way to suck young minds dry of creativity and motivation.

But the conventional wisdom is wrong.

And the following eight principles explain why …

(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…)

Which is better: taking notes by hand or on a laptop?

April 25, 2016

The idea of taking class notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today.

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But, according to NPR , it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way …

(more…)

Why do students surf the internet (or doze off) in class?

April 19, 2016

In his book Brain Rules, author John Medina reports on empirical observations of student’s classroom attentiveness.

What did he find?

Student’s attention level “naturally” takes a dive approximately 10 minutes into a class session.

This is “natural occurrence” that is linked, in part to body chemistry … and to “mental habits” developed by the current generation of web and channel surfers.

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OK, that’s the problem … what’s the solution?

(more…)

Hasnas: Teachers with conservative views don’t make the cut.

April 4, 2016

GREAT article in the WSJ from our own John Hasnas – MSB Professor of Policy & Ethics: The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid

His central point: When recruiting faculty, universities seek diversity by gender, race and nationality … but, not ideology.

In many instances, conservatives and libertarians need not apply.

 

image

=======

That conclusion probably doesn’t surprise many of you who already see the elephant in the middle of the room.

But, Prof. Hasnas provides some texture and “inside scoop”

Here are a couple of highlight snippets from the article … (more…)

What do universities have in common with record labels?

February 19, 2016

Interesting article on Quartz.com tracking how “the internet’s power to unbundle content sparked a rapid transformation of the music industry” and arguing that “it’s doing the same thing to higher education today.”

Let’s start with the recorded music industry.

It’s no surprise that

The unbundling of albums in favor of individual songs was one of the biggest causes of the music industry’s decline.

It cannibalized the revenue of record labels as 99-cent songs gained popularity over $20 albums.

What did surprise me is that recording industry revenues have dropped by half from the $14 billion in 2000.

QZ Chart 1

The eroding revenues and and internet dynamics have “changed the way music labels had to operate in order to maintain profitability.”

“The traditional services of labels: identifying artists; investing in them; recording, publishing, and distributing their work; and marketing them—are now increasingly offered a la carte.”

And, talk about the top 1%  and distribution of riches …

Being a recording artist these days is a hard gig …

Pressure from labels then had downstream effects on content creators, specifically artists.

The top one 1% of artists now take home 77% of revenue, and the rest is spread across an increasing number of artists.

The pain of the record labels is forced on artists through smaller royalty payments.

Ouch.

Now, what’s the parallel to higher education?

(more…)

High tuitions … and “Baumol’s Cost Disease”

January 21, 2016

The NY Times ran a piece by Harvard Prof Greg Mankiew summarizing his views re: high and increasing college tuitions.

One of Mankiw’s identified causes is “Baumol’s Cost Disease”

Many years ago, the economist William Baumol noted that for many services — haircuts as well as string quartet performances — productivity barely advances over time.

Yet as overall productivity rises in the economy, wages increase, so the cost of producing these services increases as well.

image

======

Education is a case in point …

(more…)

Employers: 9 of 10 college grads poorly prepared …

January 13, 2016

According to the WSJ

9 out of 10 business owners surveyed by the American Association Colleges and Universities said that recent college graduates as poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

“Employers are say that they don’t care about all the knowledge you learned because it’s going to be out of date two minutes after you graduate … they care about whether you can continue to learn over time and solve complex problems.”

 

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Are employers being too critical?

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What’s the most prevalent undergrad major these days?

November 23, 2015

The WaPo published some education statistics extracted from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Note: The source –  ”Digest of Education Statistics” – is a veritable treasure trove of education statistics

One dissected data series was the distribution of undergrad degrees granted.

I was a bit surprised to see that roughly 1 in 5 undergraduate degrees granted are in business.

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Note: The gray lines are at the 10% and 20%

Here are a few other points that caught my eye …

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Does playing basketball make you taller?

November 11, 2015

Of course not … that’s silly.

OK let’s try a variant of the question: Does education make you smarter?

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I bet a lot of you would bet the over on that one.

Here’s what the researchers say …

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Business Week: 2015 MBA Rankings … new process, new results.

November 3, 2015

Bloomberg (Business Week) changed the way it compiles its MBA rankings “with a sharper focus on what people most hope to get after business school.”

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Specifically, BW beefed up its emphasis on alumni feedback to calibrate how they’re doing,  what they’re earning and how happy they’re feeling.

And, BW says “Older elements of our ranking, including a tally of faculty research, have been scrapped because they don’t get at our fundamental question: How well does this business school channel its graduates into good jobs?”

Here is the revised list of metrics for scoring MBA programs.

  • Employer Survey (35 percent of total score):  recruiter feedback on the skills they look for in MBAs, and which programs best equip their students with those skills
  • Alumni Survey (30 percent):  feedback from the classes of 2007, 2008, and 2009 on how their MBAs have affected their careers, their compensation change over time, and their midcareer job satisfaction
  • Student Survey (15 percent):  the class of 2015’s take on academics, career services, campus climate, and more
  • Job Placement Rate (10 percent):  the most recent data on how many MBAs seeking full-time jobs get them within three months of graduation
  • Starting Salary (10 percent):  most recent data on how much MBAs make in their first jobs after graduation, adjusted for industry and regional variation

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Here are the 2015 rankings …

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A bad week for standardized testing … and bad results from standardized tests.

October 30, 2015

This week, for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam.

The results weren’t pretty: “Results from national math and reading tests show slipping or stagnant scores for the nation’s schoolkids.”

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And, it’s even worse than it sounds.

Let’s cut to the chase …

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School “misbehavior” can be lucrative long-run … say, what?

September 29, 2015

Talk about a potential license to kill …

That was my first thought, but the article reporting a study by a Johns Hopkins prof turned out to be more nuanced than the headline … and, in my opinion, very misleading.

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The summary conclusion: some students who misbehave in school learn less (as measured by conventional scoring) but end up earning more over their lifetime.

Here are the details and my take …

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OECD : Over-use of computers is detrimental to education.

September 23, 2015

The Organization for Economic Co-operation Development (OECD) recently issued a report on the impact of technology – think, of computers in the classroom -– on fundamental learning.

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The bottom line:

“Students who use computers very frequently at school do much worse [in reading, science and math], even after accounting for social background and student demographics.”

More specifically …

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Literacy, learning and Common Core standards …

September 17, 2015

I’m really conflicted in the debate re: the Common Core and its higher standards of learning.

As I argued in a prior post, I’m all for giving students a more rigorous education, but wonder if the emphasis on standards is just a diversion from fixing fundamental problems.

See Common Core: Is the problem really standards?

Said differently, it’s really easy to print & mail higher standards, but … what good are they if students aren’t achieving lower standards because of their capabilities, their environment or the educational delivery system. 

Case in point: U.S. literacy rates.

My hunch: all states have standards that say, at a minimum, “students should be able to read”.

Still, Google “U.S. Literacy Rates” and you get linked to articles with titles like:

The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn’t Changed In 10 Years

Broad-scale studies indicate that less than 15% of the U.S. population reads proficiently.

Ouch.

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Think about those findings for a moment …

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Eureka: Common Core’s new math … take the minute quiz.

September 15, 2015

Heard a story recently about a 3rd grader who was failing math.

Her state had signed up to the Common Core Standards (and testing) … and her school district had embraced the the Common Core curriculum.

Her math grades in 1st and 2nd grade were just fine.

When the Fs started coming home, her father – a college-educated engineer – jumped into the fray to tutor her.

The Fs kept coming.

The Fs kept coming  even though her answers were right … her process of arriving at the right answer was wrong.

Before you say, “well, certainly she needs to do the problem the right way”, take this simple test.

Question: Little Joey has a jar with 35 jelly beans.  He gives away 17 of the jelly beans to his friends. How many jelly beans does Joey have left in the jar.  Show each step of your calculation and label all numbers.

Do it !  Should only take a few seconds ….

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Homework is discriminatory … say, what?

September 10, 2015

A recent study, published in The American Journal of Family Therapy concludes:

“Students in the early elementary school years are getting nearly three times as much homework than is recommended by education leaders”

According to CNN, parents reported first-graders were spending 28 minutes on homework each night versus the recommended 10 minutes.

Student doing homewrok

 

What are the potential consequences of this gross overload? 

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Common Core: Is the problem really standards?

August 11, 2015

When questioned in the debate re: his support for Common Core, Jeb Bush gave a mushy (and self-contradictory) answer .

When he was done, I wasn’t sure if he was for it or against it.

For his punch line, he reverted to the universal “we need to set higher standards” argument.

A couple of other candidates jumped in to praise higher standards.

Sounds like motherhood, right?

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I’m not so sure ….

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More educated women having babies, but …

May 8, 2015

Pew just published an interesting study on birth rates and family size.

Here’s one of Pew’s spotlight charts.

The data seems to support the headline …

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But, there’s a more compelling takeaway …

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