I was the invited outside speaker at a professional development event for schoolteachers. The day’s lunch was preceded by a public prayer that inspired me to consider parallels in “callings to serve” that can be found in both education and religion. Sometime later, I happened to read a poem in a Jewish prayer book that expressed noble intentions for a worship space. The
poem didn’t reference a particular faith—it was really just a set of intentions. Immediately, I thought of what professors hope for in their classroom spaces.
Without reopening any debate on prayer in public school, I’ll say that I don’t think any of us would object to a list of intentions that call forth a mindfulness that echoes the values embedded in our institution’s statements of mission, vision, and code of conduct. Nor should there be anything wrong with reminding ourselves and our students that a course is about so much more than students getting grades and teachers getting paychecks.
Two trends in the evolution of quality assurance in Canadian postsecondary education have been the emergence of outcomes-
based quality standards and the demand for balancing accountability and improvement. Using a realist, process-based
approach to impact analysis, this study examined four quality assurance events at two universities and two colleges in Ontario
to identify how system-wide quality assurance policies have impacted the curriculum development process of academic programs
within postsecondary institutions. The study revealed different approaches that postsecondary institutions chose to use in response to quality assurance policies and the mechanisms that may account for different experiences. These mechanisms
include endeavours to balance accountability and continuous improvement, leadership support, and the emerging quality assurance function of teaching and learning centres. These findings will help address the challenges in quality assurance policy
implementation within Canadian postsecondary education and enrich international discussions on the accountability-improvement dichotomy in the context of quality assurance.
Keywords: internal quality assurance, external quality assurance, accountability, continuous improvement, learning outcomes
Most political discussion of higher education these days focuses on the return on investment to individuals, rather than on the contributions that colleges and universities make to society broadly. So it wouldn't be surprising to find that many Americans don't put much stock in the "public good" arguments on which much government funding of higher education was premised.
But a new survey finds that most Americans continue to support government funding of higher education and to recognize that colleges and universities play many roles beyond helping them (or their children) get a good job or other personal return on investment.
We are a group of undergraduate and graduate students from York University connected with each other through sociology professor Cary Wu’s research methods courses. Led by Dr. Wu, we recently came together as a virtual group to discuss what makes in-person classes unique and different from online-learning. Through this productive discussion, we were able to determine what it is about in-person classes that we long for. Here, we share with you seven main themes that emerged in our conversations.
Canada ranks first among OECD countries in the proportion of the adult population whose highest level of education is a credential from a community college or similar type of educational institution. Canada’s rate of attainment of this type of educational credential is more than three times the average for OECD member countries, and only three member countries have rates that are more than half Canada’s rate. This paper explores the factors that contribute to Canada’s high rate of short-cycle tertiary education attainment relative to other countries. The factors examined include: the role and prevalence of short-cycle postsecondary institutions in different countries; the proportions of students who begin postsecondary education in a college rather than a university; college graduation and transfer rates; and different approaches to workforce preparation. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of some of the implications of the international differences that were explored.
Students and graduates alike consider creating good jobs for young people a top priority for government. Right after affordability of post-secondary education, it is the top area they’d like government to prioritize.
A guided meditation on the word “empathy.” An ambidextrous drawing where a student used both hands to illustrate and write about the word “renaissance.” A video on the word “ingenuity” where the student spoke the entire final paper into Siri without typing. A violin background score with birds flying into the sky to explain the word “unknowable.”
These are examples of student final projects in an M.B.A. class titled Creative Thinking: Designing Sustainable Innovations that I taught in Rome and where we used principles of Leonardo da Vinci to understand the creative process. Many students in this class were specializing in finance, accounting, supply chain and other “hard” disciplines, and some were pursuing joint J.D. degrees. Thus, this was probably the first time in their careers that they had worked on a nontraditional final project.
Only two-thirds of college students in the United States have ever written a paper that's 10 pages or longer.
This statistic is part of a new report by Primary Research Group, based on a survey of 1,140 college students at four-year institutions in the United States about the writing and grammar instruction that they’ve received and how much additional instruction they believe they need.
Teaching first-semester freshmen presents some unique challenges. You are teaching them not only your subject, but also how to be college students. One of the best strategies I have found is to begin with a collaborative project that asks them to research their new home: the campus.
While there is a tremendous amount of value to being able to see your students’ faces during distance learning, we can’t force them to be on camera, just as during in-person teaching, we can’t force unengaged students to lift their heads or remove hats or hoodies that obscure their faces.
With experimentation and persistence, however, you can arrive at strategies that work. Whether they need options, encouragement, or trust in order to turn their cameras on, there’s likely a solution that is the right fit for your classroom, circumstances, lessons, and students.
Imagine constantly feeling pulled in multiple directions while trying to balance life as a college student and a mom. Keeping up with readings, devoting time to studying while also working to pay for childcare and tuition can often result in making choices that puts both roles in question. Whether a student mom is missing a child’s soccer game for a course, or missing class because of a sick kid, these are all common struggles that students who are moms face every day. Student moms have a very challenging role to balance. The guilt of not being present as a mom with the constant student demand of papers, exams, and class expectations can leave student moms exhausted and at risk for dropping out.
I was reading an old issue of the Harvard Business Review when I came upon a passage that sounded awfully familiar: "Boards, once the dependably cautious voices urging management to mitigate risk, are increasingly calling for breakthrough innovation in the scramble for competitive advantage." That observation — made about the corporate world in 2017 — could just as easily be describing higher education today.
Across academe, the calls for innovative, "transformative" leadership have grown louder as the financial, political, and demographic waters have gotten choppier. In the recruiting process, trustees say they want a president with the creativity and conviction to do what it takes for the institution to survive. But once hired and on the job, are trustees really willing to support a "transformative" president?
Recent media attention has brought to light the levels of sexual harassment faced by undergraduate students, and it appears that such incidents are on the rise for graduate students, too. Most of the cases reported involve faculty members as the perpetrators, yet little attention has been given to harassment among faculty members themselves, and this is a phenomenon that also affects student learning.
Among the many things that faculty members worried about in our Covid-19 switch to remote teaching was how to provide course materials when students could no longer walk into a campus library. The distance between our students and every volume, every assigned reading, every computer station seemed to underscore what was different and newly difficult about teaching and learning in a pandemic.
Despite growing enrollment of university students with disabilities, they have not achieved academic parity with their non-dis-abled peers. This study matched 71 first-year university students with disabilities and students without disabilities on three variables: high school average when admitted to university, gender, and program of study. Both groups of students were compared on three measures of academic performance: GPA failed courses, and dropped courses after first year of university. The relationship between accommodations and academic performance was also analyzed for students with disabilities. Even when matched on admission average, gender, and program of study, students with disabilities had a significantly lower GPA
and were more likely to fail courses in their first year than their peers without disabilities. While note-taking in the classroom was associated with being less likely to drop a course, it was also associated with poorer academic performance, as was using a calculator or alternate format during exams. The more accommodations students lost in the transition from high school,
the worse they performed academically at university. Students who lost human assistant support in the classroom and the use of a computer or a memory aid during exams had a significantly lower GPA and were more likely to fail courses in their first year of university compared with students who did not lose these accommodations. These findings have implications for accessibility offices and universities in supporting the access needs and academic success of students with disabilities.
Keywords: accommodation, academic performance, transition
I’ve sat on the Curriculum Committee at two different higher education institutions. I’ve also participated in college assessment committees and accreditation committees at both the school level and institutional level. I’ve designed courses and entire programs from scratch and have revised courses and programs to meet either accreditation or institutional needs. One activity all these endeavors has in common is the development or re-development of meaningful and measurable outcomes.
Unfortunately, what I’ve discovered is that most faculty are not well-versed in curriculum design, and therefore unable to have the forethought to consider what they want their learners to know and be able to do upon completion of their course or the program as a whole. Outcomes, when considered, become like the paper tail in the game pin the tail on the donkey. They are an afterthought, and one that is attached blindly to a course or program. When working with faculty on their course or program development, I utilize the practice of backwards design in which you start with the end in mind. Outcomes are the
end we have in mind.
The university reward structure has traditionally placed greater value on individual research excellence for tenure and promotion, influencing faculty’s allocation of time and definition of worthwhile labour. We find gender differences in Canadian natural sciences and engineering faculty’s opinions of the traditional criteria for measuring academic success that are consistent with an implicit gender bias devaluing service and teamwork. Most women recommend significant changes to the traditional model and its foundation, while a substantial minority of men support the status quo. However, this comparative qualitative analysis finds more cross-gender similarities than differences, as most men also want a more modern definition of success, perceiving the traditional model to be disproportionately supportive of one type of narrow research scholarship that does not align with the realities of most faculty’s efforts.
Thus, this study suggests a discrepancy between traditional success criteria
and faculty’s understanding of worthwhile labour.
When I first began teaching online courses, I did so with a fair amount of uncertainty and trepidation. Could I replicate in a digital environment what I believed was essential for an in-person course? What I learned, however, was that I didn’t need to replicate my face-to-face pedagogy exactly. I could find different, albeit related, techniques and practices to achieve a
similar outcome online.
We read with interest the recent opinion article, “Online learning isn’t as inclusive as you may think,” published by University Affairs in early May. We feel the authors provided a limited perspective regarding online education and online learners. We disagree with several of the
authors’ contentions and generalizations, which we outline below. We also direct the authors and readers to sources that may help to address some of the issues the authors raise.
First, the authors suggest online learning provides opportunities to those who might otherwise have been “excluded from or marginalized in higher education.” This is a generalization for which we feel perhaps the wrong words were chosen. At Athabasca University (AU), where we
teach, we see no indication that our students come here due to feelings of exclusion or marginalization.
The old expression that you never have a second chance to make a first impression is certainly true in the classroom. Early in my career, I tried several first-day-of-class strategies, ranging from briefly introducing the course and dismissing students early to spending the entire time reviewing policies and procedures, but I began to feel that I was missing an important opportunity. Students are never more attentive than they are on the first day of class, when they’re eager to determine what kind of professor they’re dealing with, and although it is tempting to delay the real work of teaching and learning until the class list has stabilized, it can be difficult to change even the subtle norms that are established during this initial class. Several years ago, I tried a new approach, and I’ve been using it with great success ever