Monthly Archives: September 2016

Hillary Clinton’s Plan For America’s Students

Via NPR Ed : NPR:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s detailed education policies are rooted in investments in education and economic growth.

LA Johnson/NPR

For nearly as long as she’s been in the public eye, Hillary Clinton has counted the well-being of children among her defining causes — from the bestselling 1996 book (and enduring cliche) It Takes A Village to her advocacy for the State Child Health Insurance Program. This presidential campaign has been no exception, except if anything, she’s been working even harder to draw connections between investments in education and economic growth. Here’s a rundown of her positions from cradle to college.

Her opponent Donald Trump has released no such details, but you can read what he may be thinking here.

Early Childhood

Clinton has made childcare and early childhood education a key plank of her campaign, including:

She also has proposals to lower the cost of childcare for families, and particularly for parents who are also college students.

She hasn’t talked a lot about how she would pay for these proposals, which the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates could cost up to half a trillion dollars.

Higher Education

"Free college" was a major rallying cry for Clinton’s primary opponent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. At the Democratic Convention, Sanders gave a speech endorsing Clinton, in which he said:

" … We have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family [in] this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less — 83 percent of our population — will be able to go to a public college or university tuition-free. That proposal also substantially reduces student debt."

Clinton has also proposed a three-month moratorium on all student debt payments. If you’re an entrepreneur, the freeze could be extended up to three years. And she’s backed universal free community college.

Taken together, the CRFB estimates these proposals could cost another half- trillion dollars if phased in over four years.

K-12 Schools

Clinton talks less about the details of her K-12 education proposals than she does about either higher ed or early childhood — maybe because there’s a wider range of opinions among Democrats about the best ways to improve public education.

On her website, she calls for "a campaign to elevate and modernize the teaching profession." On the stump, she’s said, "I respect teachers and educators – and I want to give them the support they need to do the job we ask."

Clinton’s platform calls for:

It’s also worth noting that, at the Democratic National Convention where Clinton was nominated, the party adopted significant changes to its education platform:

  • Support for the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.
  • Opposition to "high stakes standardized tests" used to close schools, withhold funding, or to evaluate teachers.
  • Moderated support for charter schools, insisting that they be "democratically governed" and that they not displace neighborhood schools.

All of these changes were perceived as union-friendly and cut somewhat against the grain of President Obama’s education policy. In particular, his Race to the Top initiative explicitly encouraged states to use test scores in teacher evaluations, an approach that’s been extremely unpopular with teachers’ unions and has also drawn the ire of measurement experts at the American Statistical Association.

It’s unclear how these party positions might translate into policy under a Clinton administration.

What we do know is that she was endorsed relatively early, last July, by the American Federation of Teachers. Both Randi Weingarten, head of the AFT, and Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, the head of the other large education union, the National Education Association, have been full-throated Clinton surrogates.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Shaken By Economic Change, ‘Non-Traditional’ Students Are Becoming The New Normal

Via NPR Ed : NPR:

September 25, 20168:35 AM ET

Asia Duncan, 32, is formerly a seller for a jewelry maker. Now, she’s attending Pasadena City College and is working to be a doctor.

Maya Sugarman for NPR

New community college student Asia Duncan makes her way to class up an outdoor stairwell on the sun-filled campus of Pasadena City College in southern California.

"I’m actually headed to an ‘Intro to College’ class," she says. "They’re teaching you about college and what’s a unit."

It’s a class about taking classes?

"Exactly," she says, "It’s telling me where on campus I can find different resources. So some of it is helpful."

The resources Duncan needs most now may not be things the school can help much with: childcare and income.

Duncan is a 30-year-old single mom with two boys: Leo, 8, and 18-month-old Ray. The father of her children, she says, is not yet paying child support.

"Now everything is kind of falling on my lap: two kids, I’ve got to kind of get my priorities in line and go back to school and do what I need to do."

Duncan studies for a modern genetics class in the backyard of her Pasadena home. Once in medical school, she’s hoping to go into dermatology.

Maya Sugarman for NPR

Fresh out of high school, Duncan went into the retail jewelry business.

She earned a gemology certificate and worked in retail and corporate jewelry sales in Washington State and Louisiana for more than a decade. "I assumed I was going to live and die in the jewelry industry and work there forever, really."

These days, free babysitting from her grandmother who lives nearby helps a lot. And federal Pell Grants make a big difference with tuition.

But it’s a struggle. She’s now looking to take out student loans -– soon.

She’s happy, though: She’s getting good grades at Pasadena City College, which she says has been welcoming and supportive.

"I didn’t really realize that I was going to like it so much. I think it’s just the excitement of where this education is taking me."

She hopes it takes her on to a four-year school and, eventually, medical school — maybe dermatology: "I think I just want a job, a position, a career where I don’t have to worry about money. I don’t have to think about that. And I also want to be able to help someone."

While colleges and universities have seen enrollment growth follow every recession since 1980, the boost in enrollment following the Great Recession was far greater than previous.

And a growing number of those students enrolling are older, working, have a family -– or all three.

Nearly half of those enrolled in higher ed today are so-called "non-traditional" students. One quarter of all students are over the age of 30.

The increase is driven mostly by tough financial realities and a changing economy.

Duncan says she felt some angst about going to college later than most. How will I relate to 19- or 20-year-olds, she thought?

Yet they’ve been supportive and helpful, she says, even though she sometimes feels a little "hungrier" for school than some of her classmates.

"When I say hungrier, I mean I have to get this done. It’s not an option for me. I can’t take another two years off from school. I can’t afford it. These younger students, they do have an opportunity to maybe postpone school and go and figure themselves out. A lot of younger students, they don’t know — and that’s OK," she says, adding "I’m coming in a little bit older and a little bit wiser and know what I want."

Chuck Sewell is another adult student taking that journey.

He grew up in a large, poor and — by his own account — dysfunctional family. He left school after the fifth grade to help care for his siblings. He eventually got a GED.

By his late teens he had found a career path — residential real estate -– and ran with it. Over the next three decades he built a successful business flipping homes, renting homes, staging properties and serving as an agent.

But when the Great Recession hit, that all came crashing down. He lost everything. For a time he was living out of his truck. "Ended up homeless. Didn’t have very much money left," he says. "It was a tough time to go through. Emotionally, psychologically – it was very difficult."

After a few years adrift — "I think I was in shock," he says — Sewell found the strength to make a change. "I knew I needed to support myself for the rest of my life. I decided to go back to school. I’d always wanted an education. I felt cheated out of my education because of my childhood and was very eager to go back. That was exciting to me," Sewell says.

Now, at 58, Sewell is getting straight A’s at Pasadena City College.

Inspired by his own financial and emotional challenges after wiping out during the recession, he wants to eventually get a master’s degree in social work. "I want to give back," he says, "I want to help people."

Duncan and Sewell are hardly alone: Almost half of all undergraduate students in higher education today can be categorized as "non-traditional." At America’s community colleges, those students are the vast majority.

Those realities underscore how outdated the term "non-traditional student" really is, says Yancey Gulley, an assistant professor at Western Carolina University. Gulley says that label sends older students a damaging message "that this place ‘is not made for me.’ We just keep ‘othering’ them and reminding them that this is a chance we’re giving them, we actually don’t think we belong here."

The terminology debate gets to a much larger issue: Gulley argues that too few four-year institutions are adequately addressing the fact that they are run on the antiquated idea they mainly serve students in the 18-to-24 range.

One example — many adult learners take courses in the evenings when campus services are closed. "What if they need tutoring help?" Gulley asks. "What if they need to drop by the admissions office to change their program of study? What if they need to meet with financial aid?"

More and more schools "are having to adapt their policies and practices around these older learners," says Deborah Seymour with the American Council on Education’s Center for Education Attainment and Innovation. "They can’t isolate themselves from what is slowly becoming more than 50 percent of the student population," she says.

The hurdles for older students, she says, are often greater: many are juggling work and family with school. Many need to catch up on basic courses. "And the pressures are greater," Seymour says, "they may have fewer years left to work. It’s a very practical challenge for people."

More colleges and universities need to become better equipped to address the needs of older students, she says. And soon. The already large adult student population is projected to grown even larger in coming years.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Trump questions spending decisions of colleges with large endowments

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, on Thursday outlined his first specific idea on how to make colleges more affordable. He said that he would work with Congress to pressure institutions with large endowments to spend more on students — or to face a loss of their tax-exempt status.

A detailed plan was not released, but Trump said in a speech in Pennsylvania that college debt is having a devastating impact on many students and graduates. And he criticized the spending decisions of colleges and universities with "multi-billion dollar endowments."

According to a Washington Post account of the speech, he said that endowment spending should focus on students. "Instead these universities use the money to pay their administrators, to put donors’ names on their buildings, or just store the money, keep it and invest it. In fact, many universities spend more on private-equity fund managers than on tuition programs…. But they should be using the money on students, for tuition, for student life and for student housing. That’s what it’s supposed to be for.”

On student loans, he said: “The students are choking on those loans. They can’t pay them back. Before they start, they’re in trouble. And it’s something I hear more and more and it’s one of the things I hear more than anything else,”

Trump has suggested for weeks that he would be making proposals on college affordability.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has made college affordability a major part of her campaign and has been talking about it quite a bit on the campaign trail. Her proposal would make in-state public higher education free for students with family income of up to $125,000. She has also proposed a three-month moratorium for all federal student loan borrowers on repaying their debt, during which time borrowers would get help refinancing their loans or moving into income-driven repayment plans.

Trump’s proposal comes at a time that some Republicans in Congress and some experts who focus on low-income students have been suggesting that wealthy colleges should be spending more of their endowments on financial aid.

Regardless of what one thinks of those approaches, a key fact is that the overwhelming majority of college students enroll at institutions without large endowments. Further, some of the colleges and universities most generous with student aid — including those at which low-income students do not have to borrow at all — are among those with multi-billion endowments.

While endowment values fluctuate, about 50 colleges and universities are in the category of "multi-billion" cited by Trump. Close to another 50 may have endowments of $1 billion but less than $2 billion.

Large Endowments Reporting Losses

Trump’s proposal also comes as some of the largest endowments in higher education are reporting losses for the last fiscal year.

On Thursday, Harvard University’s endowment — the largest higher education endowment — reported that it lost 2 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. A report released by the Harvard Management Company blamed a "low interest rate environment and market volatility," but also admitted that "execution was also a key factor in this year’s disappointing results."

The value of the endowment on June 30 was still enormous compared to the rest of higher education: $35.7 billion.

But an analysis by Bloomberg said that the most recent returns are part of "a decade of lackluster returns compared with the school’s elite rivals."

And Harvard is not the only university with a significant endowment reporting losses. Many large public universities — including the Universities of California, Colorado, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Iowa, Washington and Virginia; and Ohio State University — are reporting losses in the last year.

Response From Pro-Clinton Group

Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton group, released a statement Thursday denouncing the Trump proposal:

“Trump introduced what appeared to be an attempt at a college affordability proposal, which is ironic coming from the man behind the student-swindling Trump University and Trump Institute. He has no credibility to speak about affordable and high-quality education when his own employees were told to target single parents desperate to feed their children and encourage students to drain their retirement accounts. Americans deserve better than Donald Trump.


2016 Election
Editorial Tags: 
Is this breaking news?: 

via Inside Higher Ed

U of Tennessee investigating a professor and popular conservative blogger for tweeting that drivers should “run down” protesters in North Carolina

U of Tennessee investigating a professor and popular conservative blogger for tweeting that drivers should "run down" protesters in North Carolina

U of Tennessee investigating a professor and popular conservative blogger for tweeting that drivers should "run down" protesters in North Carolina

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville says it’s investigating a law professor’s tweet suggesting that motorists “run down” protesters blocking traffic following a fatal police shooting in Charlotte, N.C. The professor, a popular blogger with the Twitter handle @Instapundit, says he hasn’t been contacted by the university directly, and many free speech advocates say that his remark — however objectionable — should be protected.

“He apparently is unaware of how dangerous it is to the driver who runs over a human being, and he is apparently unaware that vehicular homicide is both illegal and evil,” said John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, referring to Glenn Reynolds, the professor in question.

Yet while Reynolds’s tweet “is unquestionably stupid and morally repugnant,” Wilson said, “it generally should not be subject to investigation or punishment.” He didn’t threaten a particular person harm, Wilson said, and it “seems his overwrought statement was meant to convey anger with the protesters, not a serious call for violence against them.”

Robert O’Neil, a former president and professor emeritus of law at the University of Virginia who studies the First Amendment, had a similar opinion, saying he’d treat the “arguably tongue-in-cheek tweet as though it had been uttered orally during a rally, or even in print.” That means pausing to recognize its “inherent ambiguity,” as well as Reynolds’s physical distance from the events in Charlotte.

While O’Neil hoped Tennessee wouldn’t sanction Reynolds, he did say that “collegial guidance would certainly be appropriate” — especially as Reynolds teaches law.

Reynolds, the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at Tennessee and moderator of the conservative blog Instapundit, was temporarily blocked from Twitter Wednesday evening after he responded to a tweet from a local news station notifying the public that protesters were stopping traffic and surrounding vehicles on Interstate 277, outside Charlotte. “Run them down,” Reynolds tweeted.

The post immediately caught attention on social media and from news outlets, with many accusing Reynolds of inciting violence toward those demonstrating against the Tuesday shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a police officer. Reports vary as to whether or not Scott was armed, and his family, who deny that he was, have linked his death with police shootings of a number of other unarmed black men in recent years.

Reynolds, whose account has since been reinstated, said Twitter asked him to delete the tweet to return to service. He posted the tweet elsewhere lest he be accused of “airbrushing.”

On his blog Thursday, after his tweet attracted attention, Reynolds said, “I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. … But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings and so on.”

Reynolds “wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road,” he wrote, “but I wouldn’t stop, because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.” He later said that he agreed with a suggestion that “Keep driving” would have been more in line with what he was thinking, but that his tweets “can’t be all be perfect.”

On Thursday, Melanie D. Wilson, dean of Tennessee’s College of Law, posted a statement to the university website saying that she was “aware of the remarks” and of the “serious and legitimate concerns expressed by members of the [law college] family and the University of Tennessee community, as well as concerned citizens across the country.”

Wilson said Reynolds’s comments “do not reflect my views and opinions, nor do they reflect the values of the college and university,” and that she, administrators and faculty members are “investigating this matter.”

While the university is committed to academic freedom and diverse viewpoints, and Wilson and her colleagues support civil disobedience and free speech, she said, “we do not support violence or language that encourages violence. [Reynolds] has built a significant platform to discuss his viewpoints, but his remarks on Twitter are an irresponsible use of his platform.”

Seeming to invoke Reynolds’s status as a teacher, Wilson added that Tennessee law students are to become “not only responsible lawyers, but also responsible global citizens who are able to competently represent people of all backgrounds.”

Via email, Reynolds said he hadn’t been contacted by the university about any investigation, beyond Wilson’s statement. He referred additional questions to Robert Shibley, executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

A university spokesperson confirmed that Tennessee is investigating the case. “University administrators, as well as the College of Law dean and faculty, are discussing a number of issues related to the tweet,” she said via email.

On Thursday evening, Reynolds published an apology in USA Today, where is a contributor; the newspaper promptly said it was suspending his column. "Wednesday night one of my 580,000 tweets blew up," Reynolds wrote said. "I didn’t live up to my own standards, and I didn’t meet USA Today’s standards. For that I apologize, to USA Today readers and to my followers on social media."

Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary for tenure, governance and academic freedom at AAUP, said what matters is that any question of whether Reynolds’s tweets merit discipline should be referred to a faculty committee.

AAUP’s statement on extramural utterances — those outside of teaching or research — says that the “controlling principle is that a faculty member’s expression of opinion as a citizen cannot constitute grounds for dismissal unless it clearly demonstrates the faculty member’s unfitness to serve. Extramural utterances rarely bear upon the faculty member’s fitness for continuing service. Moreover, a final decision should take into account the faculty member’s entire record as a teacher and scholar.”

Of course, referrals to a faculty committee don’t always happen. Steven Salaita was famously “unhired” by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014 for his anti-Israel tweets — which some said incited violence — absent a faculty review. A key difference between that case and Reynolds is that Salaita hadn’t quite started his job, and Reynolds is a chaired professor. AAUP censured the university over the incident, and Illinois eventually settled a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and First Amendment violations with Salaita.

Reynolds’s case also recalls that of David Guth, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Kansas who was suspended from teaching prior to a faculty review for tweeting the following after the 2013 shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington: “The blood is on the hands of the #NRA. Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters.”

Critics said Guth was advocating more violence. FIRE argued that his speech was protected, and Guth said at the time that he didn’t wish gun violence on anyone but that "if it does happen again — and it likely will — may it happen to those misguided miscreants who suggest that today’s death toll at the Navy Yard would have been lower if the employees there were allowed to pack heat." He was allowed to return to teaching, but the Kansas Board of Regents ultimately approved a new policy limiting what employees may say on social media. The move was panned by First Amendment advocates, but the regents argued the new policy would better facilitate free speech.

via Inside Higher Ed

University mental health services face strain as demand rises 50%

Via Higher Education Network | The Guardian:

Figures show significant rise over five years, with more first-year and international students seeking counselling

The number of students seeking counselling at university has rocketed by 50% in the last five years, according to figures obtained by the Guardian.

As tens of thousands of teenagers leave their family homes this week and begin to arrive on campuses for freshers’ week, research shows that university counselling services are under increasing pressure as demand grows.

Continue reading…

The Flipped Classroom Unplugged: Three Tech-Free Strategies for Engaging Students

Throughout this summer article series, we’ve addressed some of the most frequently asked questions about the flipped classroom in higher education. We’ve shared ideas for student motivation, student engagement, time management, student resistance, and large classes. Since this is the final article in the series, I reviewed my notes and the findings from the Faculty Focus reader survey on flipped classroom trends (2015), and there’s one more topic we need to address:  creativity.

“I don’t know if I’m creative enough to flip my class. How do you keep coming up with new teaching strategies and tools to engage students during class time?”

In almost every workshop I teach, at least one participant asks me this question. And, the findings from the Faculty Focus reader survey highlight the scope of this concern among educators. Almost 79% of the survey respondents indicated that “being creative and developing new strategies and ideas” was sometimes, often, or always a challenge when implementing the flipped classroom model.

By design, the flipped classroom model challenges you to plan activities and learning experiences where students focus on applying, analyzing, and evaluating course content during class time. It does take a certain amount of creativity to flip your classroom, but it doesn’t have to be intimidating. You can flip your class using simple strategies that allow for students to interact with the material and engage with each other.

For example, lately, I’ve been exploring the idea of flipping moments in our classes without using technology. What would happen if we got back to the basics with some of our activities and used everyday tools to engage students in higher levels of thinking? Would this help some of us overcome some of these feelings of intimidation and inspire us to be more creative? To start the conversation and get the creative ideas flowing, here are three “unplugged” flipped strategies you can add to your class to engage students.

Flipped Strategy:  Adaptation of Muddiest Point
Tool:  Index Cards
“Muddiest Point” is a classroom assessment technique that allows students the opportunity to tell you what they are still confused or unclear about from the lesson (Angelo and Cross, 1993). Ask students to write their “muddiest point” on an index card. You may want to specifically focus their attention on the material from today’s lecture, yesterday’s lab, last night’s homework, or any other learning experience you want them to examine. After your students complete the task, divide them into groups and tell them to analyze the cards based on some set of criteria. Ask them to look for patterns, common themes, categories, or outliers. Note how this adaptation of the Muddiest Point activity challenges students to move beyond just explaining what they don’t understand and into the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. They are now summarizing, sorting, analyzing, and evaluating the cards while looking for connections and themes.

Bonus idea: After students sort the cards, challenge them to find the answers together. If you want to keep things “unplugged,” tell them they can only use their textbook, hand-written notes, or other printed materials.

Join Barbi Honeycutt on Oct. 18 for The Flipped Classroom: Strategies to Overcome Student Resistance and Increase Student Engagement. During the program, she’ll provide strategies you can use to create a successful flipped learning experience for you and your students. You will learn how to identify the reasons that some students resist the flipped classroom model and how you can address those challenges to increase the likelihood that they will come to class prepared. Learn More »

Flipped Strategy: Mind Mapping
Tools: Sticky Notes, Whiteboard, Markers
Give each pair or group of students a stack of sticky notes and ask them to go to the whiteboard or chalkboard. Assign a topic related to the course material and challenge students to create a mind map of the topic using only their sticky notes. Explain that they can only put one idea on each sticky note, but they can use as many sticky notes as they need. Encourage them to use markers or chalk to draw lines and make connections between the ideas/concepts so you can see how their mind map is organized. By using sticky notes, it’ll be easier for the students to change their maps based on new ways of thinking.

Bonus idea: If you assign all groups the same topic, then you can ask them to rotate around the room and compare and contrast the different mind maps. You could give each group a different colored sticky note so they can add to another group’s mind map, almost like a gallery walk but with sticky notes.

Flipped Strategy: Brainstorming Challenge
Tools:  Pair of Dice, Worksheet
Give students a case study, question, or problem that benefits from brainstorming. Then, divide students into groups and give each group a pair of six-sided dice. Tell students to roll the dice, and whatever number they roll represents the number of answers they need to generate. For example, if they roll a four and a five, they need to brainstorm nine possible solutions. If they roll a pair of sixes, they need to brainstorm 12 possible solutions. Give them a worksheet to record their ideas. Once groups have completed their challenge, ask them to switch their worksheets with another group and review their lists. This could be the beginning of a class discussion, or you could go another round and see how many more ideas students can add to another group’s list.

Bonus idea: At the end of this activity, ask students to review all of the ideas, select the top two best solutions, and justify their decision.

Hopefully these unplugged flipped strategies will inspire you to be creative in your own way. Your flipped classroom may not look like your colleague’s flipped classroom, and that’s okay. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. There isn’t one “right” way to flip your class. The most important takeaway is to use the tools and strategies that make the flipped model work for you and your students.

Thank you for following the series this summer. I hope I have addressed many of your questions about the flipped model, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Now it’s your turn! What “unplugged” flipped strategies have you used in your classes to enhance student engagement?

Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. 2nd edition. Jossey-Bass.

Honeycutt, B. (July 7, 2016). Three ways you can use index cards to FLIP your class: Another “unplugged” flipped strategy. Published on LinkedIn. Available online:

Barbi Honeycutt is the owner of FLIP It Consulting in Raleigh, N.C. and an adjunct assistant professor at NC State University. Her new book 101 Unplugged Flipped Strategies to Engage Your Students. Connect on Twitter @BarbiHoneycutt and on her blog.

The post The Flipped Classroom Unplugged: Three Tech-Free Strategies for Engaging Students appeared first on Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning.

via Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning

Evaluating Student Evaluations

Zero Correlation Between Evaluations and Learning

New study adds to evidence that student reviews of professors have limited validity.

September 21, 2016


Colleen Flaherty

A number of studies suggest that student evaluations of teaching are unreliable due to various kinds of biases against instructors. (Here’s one addressing gender.) Yet conventional wisdom remains that students learn best from highly rated instructors; tenure cases have even hinged on it.  [more]