Size Does Matter…In Reducing the Grade Gap

As a staff member at an institution with a law school, I found this information very interesting. Research conducted by scholars at Stanford University Law School found that “class size and pedagogical policy have a considerable role to play in addressing gender gaps.”

They looked at the grades of both men and women enrolled in law classes from 2001-2012.   Of the 1, 897 students in the study they found that women scored on average .05 points lower than their male counterparts in large, lecture type settings. In smaller classes, there was no gap and men and women fared equally.   The author asserts that while the difference seems small and insignificant, it could make the difference between earning a clerkship or not.

I am curious as to how this translates into other disciplines.





Coming Home: Ethics and the American University by James F. Keenan, SJ

In his article, Dr. Keenan makes the distinct difference between academic ethics and what he coins as university ethics.  He says that university typically look at academic ethics as an examination of behavior by faculty members such as inappropriate relationships with students, plagiarism and cheating. University ethics, on the other hand looks at the standards of ethics as they pertain to out of the classroom issues such as student affairs, athletics, tuition, residential life and all other functional areas of the institution.

Keenan asserts that” isolationism and the attendant lack of solidarity dulls our sensitivity to matters that should be critiquing.” He sites that  faculty work alone, teach alone and write alone to support his notion of isolationism.

As Dr. Keenan points out, there have been numerous articles that show how truly “unethical” the university is. This can been seen in regards to numerous sex scandals, hazing in band and fraternal organization initiations and the misappropriation of funds.  These are all examples of “systemic failures” because universities do not hold their its employees to professional ethical standards.”These failures can be seen both the American higher education system and abroad.

Dr. Keenan asserts that faculty members are not trained on behaving ethically when it comes to grading papers, maintaining office hours and other behaviors that occur in solitude and behind closed doors.  Because there are very few “structures of horizontal accountability” faculty members only pay attention to what pertains to them and not what others are doing.  Additionally, because academic administrators come from the faculty, they have no more expertise or proficiency in ethics than the faculty members that report to them.

The author believes that we should move away from the concern of academic ethics and towards university ethics because that is the only way to adequately address the former.


HBCUs Not Rushing to Embrace LGBTQA Issues of Staff and Students

In a recent article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education, HBCUs were brought under fire for the lack of support that they show to students from diverse sexual orientations.  A white professor at Alabama State University filed a lawsuit against the university alleging that he and his husband were the recipients of discriminatory practices.

Dr. John Garland and his spouse (who also works at the institution) spoke out publicly about policies that were afforded to heterosexual married couples, but not to them.  When they went public with their complaint, they were retaliated against.

This incident is not new to HBCUs and continues a dilemma that they have faced for years; support for facutly, staff and students who are LGBTQA.  According to Sharon J. Letterman-Hicks, executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, HBCUs have been the targets of numerous lawsuits as a result of discrimination.

The struggle comes from the long history of HBCUs being culturally and religiously conservative; particularly those that are faith based.  Additionally, many are private institutions and the alumni and boards of trustees expect them to only acknowledge “traditional” marriages. This philosophical ideology could prove to be detrimental to enrollments at institutions that are already struggling.

There are however, HBCUs that do show support for the members of the LGBTQA community.  Bowie State and North Carolina Central have resources provided on their campuses that include a resource center at Bowie state and faculty and staff who are dedicated to addressing the needs of the community.