There is something worse than forgetting to attach the attachment

Yesterday, I found that I had typo on an online review sheet that led some students to read an extra chapter before an exam. Reading that an Iowa TA accidentally sent nude photos of herself to her class made me feel better about my mistake.

UT President Powers on our higher ed investment

University of Texas President Bill Powers has an op-ed piece (“Higher ed needs investment“) where he outlines the case for reviving the state’s investment in higher education. Powers concludes with a broad argument about who bears responsibility for making the most of an investment in higher education :

University administrations need to aggressively control higher education’s cost. But the responsibility for the cost of public higher education also rests with the public. Higher education affordability should be a nationally shared priority. State governments should begin making up lost ground by returning to their historical investment levels for higher education. It will help hold the line on the cost to students, and it’s the best investment of public dollars we can possibly make.

What Powers leaves out is the failure of state leaders to set real priorities and the rising costs of the increasing bureaucracy spawned in the hall state and federal bureaucracies. The very officials complaining about college costs have contributed to them in their posturing over pointless “accountability” programs that accomplish nothing except make universities hire more people who work with state bureaucrats rather than students.

Is Perry “Going After” UT-Austin?

New accusations that Rick Perry is trying to go after the University of Texas and President Bill Powers (“Willeford: Perry “Going After” UT-Austin, Powers“).

Perry probably has little real interest in going after UT. However, he has shown an inclination to tag along on some of the half-baked ideas spawned by Jeff Sandefer and other large donors. However, Perry is smart enough to avoid a public fight with the UT. He ditched Sandefer and this “reforms” every bit as quickly as he ditched mandatory HPV vaccines and the Trans-Texas Corridor.

Perry makes mistakes. He seldom repeats them.

Gallup poll on online education

A new Gallup poll (“In U.S., Online Education Rated Best for Value and Options“) that shows Americans have a mixed view on online education. This was evident from way the poll was reported by Insider Higher Ed (“Americans’ Views of Online Courses: Gallup survey finds majority of adults see online courses as equal to or better than classroom-based courses in several key ways“) and the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Traditional Education Beats Online in Key Areas, Opinion Poll Finds“).

The results were mixed:

Gallup Results

Americans saw online education providing more options and a better value than traditional schools.  At the same time, they have doubts about online education’s quality of instruction, reputation with employers, and reliability of testing and grading.

The demographics behind respondents’ preferences for getting college degrees versus getting job specific skills/knowledge. College-age Americans favored job skills by a wide margin as did 30 to 49-year olds (although by a smaller margin). That means our students and their parent agree on the value of job skills.


Just more evidence that we need to do a better job of promoting what we offer.

A Guide to Grade Complainers

“Ms. Mentor” has some great advice in an article (“Taming the Complainers – Do Your Job Better“) about how to deal with those students who complain about grades.


The Risks of Performance-Based Funding

There’s a an interesting discussion on performance-based funding in a article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (“Trustees Hear About Risks of Performance-Based Support for Colleges“). Community college leaders are worried about  poorly designed incentives and  unintended consequences of such formulas.

Reduce cheating while improving learning

Here’s s short interview (“Author of new book discusses ways to reduce cheating and improve student learning“) with James Lang about some of what he learned as he looked more deeply at the causes of cheating and the kinds of assignments faculty can use that encourage learning while discouraging teaching.

It looks interesting. I’m adding Lang’s book to the long list of books I wish I had time to read.


Unpaid Internships

Check out the whole cartoon at

Check out the whole cartoon at

Political cartoonist Matt Bors has taken up the cause of interns (“Unpaid Internships Must Be Destroyed“). It’s an issue that has been troubling me since my arrival at SFASU. We serve a lot of students whose families have little money and half of our graduates are first-generation students.  In short, our students are exactly the kind of people who can not afford to take an unpaid internship.

Who can afford to work for free?

These businesses are making lots of money as they take our graduates on extended test drives. Employers are asking for our students to engage in more internships while they’re in college. They’re also asking our graduates to accept more unpaid internship when they get out of college.  I don’t think this is what “free enterprise” means.

Delaying Improvements

The Texas Tribune has a story (“In Absence of TRBs, Universities Delaying Improvement“) about how schools are responding to the lack of funding for projects. Perry’s silence on this has had a profound impact because funding these projects is not going to get the spotlight without a little help from state leaders. Perry is very interested in slowing the state’s rising debt as he positions himself to run for president and that made the issue a non-starter with him.

“Majoring in a Professor”

A story in Inside Higher Ed reports on a  study that finds choice of student’s major most influenced by quality of intro professor. One one hand, this means that we need to think carefully about how intro level classes are taught. On the other hand, it’s a  scary to think that students pick a field based largely on one faculty member.