Much of the debate about accessibility issues in higher education in recent years has focused on audio and video -- take, for example, the high-profile lawsuits against prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley.
But new data from Blackboard show that the most common types of course content that students use on a daily basis -- images, PDFs, presentations and other documents -- continue to be riddled with accessibility issues. And while colleges have made some slight improvements over the last five years, the issues are widespread.
The findings come from Ally, an accessibility tool that Blackboard launched today (the company in October acquired Fronteer, the ed-tech company behind the tool). Ally scans the course materials in a college’s learning management system, comparing the materials to a checklist based on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. If any issues arise, the tool flags them and suggests accessible alternatives.
After one too many students called me by my first name and sent me email that resembled a drunken late-night Facebook post, I took a very fogeyish step. I began attaching a page on etiquette to every syllabus: basic rules for how to address teachers and write polite, grammatically correct emails.
Over the past decade or two, college students have become far more casual in their interactions with faculty members. My colleagues around the country grumble about students’ sloppy emails and blithe informality.
Mark Tomforde, a math professor at the University of Houston who has been teaching for almost two decades, added etiquette guidelines to his website. “When students started calling me by my first name, I felt that was too far, and I’ve got to say something,” he told me. “There were also the emails written like text messages. Worse than the text abbreviations was the level of informality, with no address or signoff.”
A seasoned educator shares four ideas for supporting students who have suffered emotional trauma.
Ice crystallized on the windshield, then a tire burst on the way to school, making you late. By the time you arrived, the computer (with the video clip and presentation cued up) froze. Minutes later, Jason pulled the fire alarm while you tried to catch up on parent emails. During lunch duty, a student was punched in the nose. Your nose is stuffy while you explain to the principal right before an IEP meeting why your plans haven't been submitted yet. The day trudges along. . . At last, the final bell rings, and in your first quiet moment of the day, thoughts of leaving the teaching profession suddenly seem, well, right.
It's that moment when you want to say, "I quit!"
Canada is one of the most highly-educated countries in the world.
Fifty one per cent of 25- to 64-year-olds have a tertiary (university or college) qualification, up from 41 per cent in 2001 -- the highest proportion among developed countries. That translates to almost 4 million people with a college diploma and five million with a university degree. The number holding doctorates has especially soared, doubling to more than 160,000 over the past ten years. Immigrants hold half of these degrees.
Canadian universities will welcome unprecedented numbers of international students this fall, with some institutions seeing jumps of 25 per cent or more in admissions of students from abroad, evidence that Canada is increasingly seen as a tolerant, stable destination in a world beset by political uncertainty, the schools said.
Applications from international students were up by double digits this year, with record levels of interest from American students. Many observers had suggested that the election of Donald Trump was a reason. But until this month, when many foreign students must respond to admission offers, it was not clear how that interest would translate into enrolment.
“We have a rising tide of isolationism and exclusion in Europe, in the United States, and people are looking to Canada,” said David Turpin, the president of the University of Alberta. “We will have these incredible students who will be educated in Canada, and in many, many cases go back home and build linkages that are crucial for our future development,” he said.
There’s mounting evidence suggesting that student evaluations of teaching are unreliable. But are these evaluations, commonly referred to as SET, so bad that they’re actually better at gauging students’ gender bias and grade expectations than they are at measuring teaching effectiveness? A new paper argues that’s the case, and that evaluations are biased against female instructors in particular in so many ways that adjusting them for that bias is impossible.
Moreover, the paper says, gender biases about instructors -- which vary by discipline, student gender and other factors -- affect how students rate even supposedly objective practices, such as how quickly assignments are graded. And these biases can be large enough to cause more effective instructors to get lower teaching ratings than instructors who prove less effective by other measures, according to the study based on analyses of data sets from one French and one U.S. institution.
PhDs can feel boxed into a limited range of job options, particularly just after graduate school or a postdoc. But doctoral degree holders work in a wide range of roles. I myself work as a life coach and entrepreneur, hardly what I expected I’d do after a history PhD! Career exploration was crucial in my case: I felt lukewarm about all the choices I thought I had; I needed to look elsewhere.
“Don’t be afraid to explore options that are outside your comfort zone,” says Jessica Hartshorn, a forest health specialist for the Minnesota department of natural resources. She encourages new grads to try different things. “People get tunnel vision in the job market and often forget that it’s okay to try things and move on. No matter what you do you will learn a lot about your field, and about yourself, and nothing is permanent.” Dr. Hartshorn echoes what my conference co-host Maren Wood tells PhDs: “Your first job is not your last job.”
I f you want to be a chair, dean, provost, or even president, you must ace every step of the hiring process, or you will not advance to the next. Each stage has its own nuances and peculiarities.
So far in the Admin 101 series, we have covered the initial decision to seek a leadership position, the ways to prep for the job hunt, the challenges of working with search consultants, and the tricks to assembling your application.
Now we turn to a crucial intermediate step before you are a full-fledged candidate: getting your name in the pool that matters. That is, either: (a) the pool of people that an executive-search firm will present to the hiring committee or, (b) where no outside consultant is used, the pool taken seriously by the campus search committee. In both cases, your goal is to be selected for the next step — a first-round interview, often held at an airport or on Skype.
In recent years, there has been a vigorous cottage industry of websites and publications (most but not all on the political right) trying to generate controversy about college professors who say or believe things outside the rather narrow mainstream of public opinion.
The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, Campus Watch, The College Fix, Breitbart, and College Insurrection, among others, devote themselves with some regularity to policing faculty speech, and then presenting it — sometimes accurately, mostly inaccurately — in order to inflame public outrage and incite harassment of academics who expressed verboten views. Because American law gives very wide latitude to malicious speech for partisan political ends, there is little legal recourse for faculty members subjected to such harassment. But we may still ask: How ought colleges and universities respond to these (often orchestrated) onslaughts against professors?
One of my doctoral students just got a tenure-track assistant professorship. That’s excellent for her, but a decade ago, it wouldn’t have rated mention in a newspaper column. Of course, that was before the amount of tenure-track openings dropped like a barometer during hurricane season. Today, getting a tenure-track position feels more like a "Man Bites Dog" event.
During that same period, undergraduate enrollment at American colleges and universities continued to rise — as it has for decades. Clearly more and more students need to be taught, so where have all the teaching jobs gone?They’ve gone to the same people who have been doing a lot of our undergraduate teaching all along: contingent faculty members, meaning graduate students and adjuncts. That’s not exactly news to anyone who has been watching the faculty labor market — or to the graduate students doing so much of the work. In the humanities, we’ve seen nontenure-track jobs (NTTs) multiply year after year. As David Laurence of the Modern Language Association has shown in PowerPoint talks he’s given on the subject, the proportion of faculty jobs that are tenured and tenure-track has been dropping steadily over the past two generations.
A Q&A with Peter Cornish of Memorial University on the Stepped Care model, which he hopes will get everyone on campus to be part of the support system for those dealing with mental health issues.
In 2014, Peter Cornish helped the Student Wellness and Counselling Centre at Memorial University launch the Stepped
Care program. With this model, the level of intensity of care is matched to the complexity of the condition. When someone
says they are stressed, or they are not feeling happy, then society tends to say, “Okay, go see a psychologist,” said Dr.
Cornish, who is director of the counselling centre. However, not everyone needs to see a therapist all of the time. The Stepped
Care model brings in many other “low intensity” options for the patient that are readily available in the community, but which
we’re often not making use of. University Affairs sat down with Dr. Cornish to find out more about the Stepped Care model and
why universities should consider it.
What if traditional high school transcripts -- lists of courses taken, grades earned and so forth -- didn't exist? That's the ambition of a new education reform movement, which wants to rebuild how high schools record the abilities of students -- and in turn to change the way colleges evaluate applicants. Sounds like quite a task. But the idea is from a group with considerable clout and money: more than 100 private schools around the country, including such elite institutions as the Dalton School and the Spence School in New York City, plus such big guns as the Cranbrook Schools in Michigan, the Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and Miss Porter's School in Connecticut.
The organizers of the effort believe all kinds of high schools and colleges are ready for change, but they argue that it will take the establishment to lead this particular revolution. Organizers believe that if more than 100 such elite private schools embrace a new transcript, they will attract supporters in higher ed who will embrace the approach for fear of losing top applicants (both in terms of their academics and ability to pay). And then the plan could spread -- over perhaps a decade -- to public high schools as well. Along the way, the group hopes to use the ideas of competency-based education -- in which demonstration of mastery matters and seat time does not -- to change the way high schoolers are taught.
It has been well established that different segments of the population are more or less likely to aspire to and attend college or university. In particular, students with disabilities, low income students, first generation students, students from rural communities, Indigenous students, and male students are less likely to attend university. These disparities in access are primarily a university issue, in that these groups are not generally underrepresented in colleges relative to the population. Based on these findings, it has been suggested that enhancing the college-to university pathway may be a vehicle to reduce inequities in university access (Kerr, McCloy, Liu, 2010).
The purpose of this study was to examine the profiles and pathways of college-to-university students in order to enhance our understanding of who is accessing this transfer pathway, and their unique needs and experiences. To do this, the motivations, experiences, and outcomes of four groups of Ontario students were examined: 1) College applicants who aspired to complete
a 4-year degree; 2) College applicants who did not aspire to complete a 4-year degree; 3) University applicants with a completed college credential; and, 4) University applicants with no previous PSE. This study also contributes to the literature by offering insights into the factors that may contribute to the persistence and success of transfer students.
A study presented Friday at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting shines some light on the way women are hired for top higher education leadership positions in searches involving third-party executive search firms.
For the study, Harvard Ph.D. student Jeraul C. Mackey obtained access to proprietary data from a search firm that remained anonymous. The data covered almost 500 searches over an eight-year period starting in 2009. Mackey ultimately analyzed a subset of the data covering 250 searches for two- and four-year public and private nonprofit institutions.
He was able to look at how women candidates fared at each stage of the recruitment process for upper-level positions, finding that women fared better as searches progressed. He was also able to examine recruiters’ preferences about women candidates, finding that the gender makeup of a recruitment team had no discernible effect on whether a search ultimately resulted in a woman being hired.
I might never have sought an online teaching assignment if my husband hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer. Faced with a foreseeable future of his multiple hospital stays, home recovery, and anticipated need for my amateur nursing — all while trying to care for our two children — I jumped at the chance to temporarily transition to an online teaching schedule.
Having the option to work remotely and asynchronously was a godsend. I figured my online students would have no idea if I were moderating online discussions or grading papers while sitting next to a spouse hooked up to an Oxaliplatin IV. During this family crisis, I knew I would miss being in the same room with students, and the instantaneous give-and-take of a physical classroom. I only ever envisioned online teaching as a short-term reassignment.
data. Germany recorded close to a 7 percent increase in international students coming to the country. This follows a jump of nearly 8 percent the previous year. Numbers have risen about 30 percent since 2012.
In most English-speaking countries, this kind of news would have university finance chiefs grinning from ear to ear: more international students means lots of extra cash from hefty tuition fees.
But in Germany, students -- on the whole -- famously pay no tuition fees, regardless of where they come from. Seen from the U.S. or Britain, this policy may appear either supremely principled or incredibly naïve. With international students making up nearly one in 10 students (and even more if you count noncitizens who attended German schools), why does the country
choose to pass up tuition-fee income and educate other countries’ young people for free?
UBC dataset on PhD outcomes holds key for prospective graduate students to make an informed choice about obtaining PhD training.
Last week, I received an email from my PhD alma mater UBC and instead of a request for donations or an invitation to an event with the expectation of soliciting a donation later, I was treated to a new dataset emerging from the west coast. UBC has collated responses from its PhD graduates between 2005 and 2013 (myself included!) into an outcomes website and document. This is a great move for a number of reasons, but perhaps most importantly, it holds the key for prospective graduate students to make an informed choice about obtaining PhD training – a comprehensive set of data showing what those who have come before you have done.
The decade since 2004 has brought profound reexamination of the role and results of developmental programs in community and technical colleges around the country. Pushed by the emerging student success and completion agenda, colleges have dealt with intense scrutiny and a demand for the redesign of these programs.
The research PhD was created to support the development of individuals able to use the power of rigorous scholarly inquiry to advance society. If the academy is committed to ensuring the relevance of the degree for the 21st century, we need to understand how our graduates are, or could be, contributing to the world today. This information will help tremendously in raising awareness of, and increasing the transparency about, potential careers, and in informing our educational endeavours.