Weekly Journal. Week 12

This week I will continue my discussion about issues in higher education that Donald Trump’s administration had about four years ago based on the article of Ryan Craig “The Top 10 Higher Education Issues We All Agree On”.

6. Outcomes should be about “distance traveled”.

According to Ryan Craig, it may well be that the reason Harvard is viewed as a world-class university while your local school is not is entirely due to the caliber of inputs (i.e., student talent) that the institution attracts. So when we measure outcomes, we need to ensure we’re not focusing on metrics that correlate entirely with inputs, but rather on “value added” by the institution to students. “Distance traveled” is value added with a twist: providing extra points to institutions with a demonstrated track record of enrolling low SES students and producing strong education and employment results. The critical importance of distance traveled in education and employment will be reified when employers see data demonstrating that, at the candidate level, distance traveled is consistently predictive of career success. [1]

I completely agree with this statement, this “distance traveled” measure is probably the most important criteria to evaluate the education process in different universities. However I could not find any data to compare the outcomes that Ryan Craig mentioned, so I do not really know is there any change with this issue.

7. Technology is key to improving learning.

The author of this article states that utilizing technology in teaching can go a long way to improve efficacy for a given cohort. Lectures must be replaced by not only flipped classrooms, but dynamic classrooms that require students to view lectures ahead of time and answer formative assessments so faculty are able to focus classroom time where students have an incomplete understanding.

According to many sources, in last years technology indeed has improved education. Definitely there is a positive change in this field.  [2] [3]

8. Assessments are needed to save the liberal arts.

According to the writer, over the past several decades we have seen an exodus from liberal arts into pre-professional programs (business, healthcare, education, technology) – one that is more pronounced for lower SES students. Unless and until colleges and universities are able to document that liberal arts programs actually produce the outcomes we’ve taken on faith, this exodus will continue and liberal arts programs will be increasingly a plaything for rich kids (who’ll use connections to get good first jobs, so it doesn’t matter what they study). Incorporating assessments demonstrating critical thinking, problem solving and situational judgment is the most likely way to convince employers (and students) of the value of our beloved liberal arts programs. [1]

In my opinion, critical thinking, problem solving and situational judgment are very important skills for all students and graduates. Honestly, it is difficult for me to evaluate the changes in this educational issue without data. Therefore, I cannot make any conclusion.

9. Follow the money.

Ryan Craig said that today (in 2017), colleges and universities get paid no matter what. If we’re serious about accomplishing any or all of the above, the federal government has two choices: it can condition funding on outcomes (à la Gainful Employment) or require schools to put “skin in the game.” It’s possible the Trump Administration and Republican Congress will do both, but my money is on the latter, which will come in the form of income share agreements (ISAs). Requiring colleges and universities to contribute a defined percentage of federal grants and loans in “risk capital” – sourced internally or externally – for each and every student will do more than any other single change to align institutions’ interests with student outcomes. It will be hard to make any progress in changing behavior as long as the current financing regimen remains in place. [1]

I did not find any real evidence that this situation changed. Colleges and universities still get paid no matter what.

10. Colleges are worth saving (especially the one you attended!).

According to the author, as enrollment patterns – exacerbated by demographic trends – continue to shift, an increasing number of colleges will experience declining revenue, particularly smaller colleges and universities outside of major urban areas. Because there are natural limits to discounting, out-of-state students, and television revenue for Division I football teams, most of these institutions will seek new survival strategies, including following the Sweet Briar playbook and sending out an S.O.S. to alumni. [1]

Alumni contributions to U.S. colleges and universities increased by 6.9% between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2018, climbing to a grand total of $12.15 billion, according to a 2019 report from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Therefore I can conclude that colleges and universities efficiently use this approach [4]

In summary, we can see that some issues are not solved yet. But now it will be the attempt of solving them by another administration.


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryancraig/2017/01/20/the-top-10-higher-education-issues-we-all-agree-on/?sh=676b083fa876

[2] https://gsehd.gwu.edu/articles/5-ways-technology-has-improved-k-12-education

[3] https://www.trustradius.com/buyer-blog/how-technology-improves-education

[4] https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/the-short-list-college/articles/universities-where-the-most-alumni-donate

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