The role of adjunct professors in higher education…..

https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/role-adjuncts-professoriate

As we continue along under the current administration we will see shrinking operational budgets and increasing financial aid needs.  The article poignantly speaks about these issues such as with traditional “brick and mortar” institutions being challenged by “for-profit” companies who offer nontraditional scheduling and modality of instruction.  The current university state must adapt or risk being pushed out of the market.  One thing that is constant across the higher education system is the use of adjunct faculty to reduce tenured expenditures.  This is seen largely in community colleges and professional degree programs.

There was research in 2006 that showed community colleges with heavy reliance on part-time faculty had the lowest graduation rates.  This brought up the concern of:  how are the adjunct professors evaluated; are they able to obtain professional development; and, are they able to join a faculty union?  Obviously another major concern is how this mode of education is affecting the students.  Community colleges and universities that employ adjunct professors may be getting a better deal with their deduction in labor expenditures, but, the overall health of the institution may be suffering.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

 

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How poverty impacts success in higher education…….a look at priviledge….

https://www.nysut.org/news/nysut-united/issues/2013/november-2013/how-poverty-impacts-student-success-in-higher-education

The article begins with a metaphor comparing admission to a university to a baseball game:  the wealthy start the game at third base, the middle class start the game at first/second base, and the poor start the game at the home plate.  Who do you think has the advantage?  Not only do students from low socio economic status (SES) often have to work harder than others to get into college in the first place, but, they have to work even harder just to stay.  Often times, they have to work two jobs and don’t leave enough time for school work so their grades suffer, or, they take out large federal loans which cripple their economic status even more upon graduation.

As tuition costs increase state sponsored funding has decreased.  The hard choices aren’t necessarily only for low SES but also for regular students who have seen their funding decrease.  Myself for example had to choose in September to either (a) get dental insurance for the year or (b) make a car payment.  I chose the dental insurance which was a blessing because I now have to have a root canal done which costs $1,800 plus a crown which costs $1,000!  The dental insurance covers $1,000 so I will still be financially strapped by having to pay $1,800 on my own.  I read a report one time that the majority of Americans don’t have $500 set aside in case of an emergency.  We are all living pay check to pay check and I can only imagine how much worse this is for those living at or below the poverty line.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Future of the University…..what will higher education look like in 2030…..

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/what-will-universities-look-like-in-2030-future-perfect#survey-answer

The article I read today really had me thinking about the future of the university and our higher education system in general.  It started out talking about how a few years ago the media compared “the imminent future of 2015” as depicted in Back To The Future Part II and the actual advancements at the time.  One major thing that was omitted was the invention of the internet or better known as the world wide web.  What if as we discuss this topic now we miss such a critical component of the future university?!?  Can we expand our minds and be creative enough to think that far outside the box?

The article states that we might not have anyone to teach because the jobs we are preparing students for currently, might be done by robotics.  It also speaks about how most classes will be taught online.  Obviously, those requiring labs such as in the sciences or medical field will still have to have on campus curriculum.  The current rage is “flipping the classroom” in which students lead the discussion and the teacher takes on more of an advisory role.  Will this reverse in 2030 as the pedagogical pendulum swings back to a more autocratic institution?  Knowledge is advancing at such a rapid pace it is questionable to think that professors will have the base to educate students without themselves first going back to school.  Finally, problem focused research and interdisciplinary collaborations must happen because the world is becoming more and more interconnected.

I really enjoyed reading these viewpoints, although some of them were a little too doomsday for my taste.  I thought the “imagery” of the pendulum swinging back and forth helped me put things into perspective.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Innovation and technology in the classroom…..a new era….

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/glimpse-future-oscars-innovation-higher-education/

An article I recently read was on the topic of innovation in the classroom in higher education.  I primarily focused on the discussion regarding “flipped classrooms” because this was a recent experience in one of my own seminars here at VT.  I had never heard of the term before so I was interested to find out why we were doing it.  It is a new model in higher education in which the students spend time discussing or presenting topic ideas and the professor acts more as a facilitator than an educator.

Often times in a seminar students are “spoken” at and not actively involved in the information that is presented.   The flipped classroom model allows the students to process a complex problem or subject matter and then teach it back to their colleagues in a language that is interesting and one they understand.

I personally enjoyed my own flipped classroom experience so I’m happy to see this is an education model that is being explored in a more rigorous manner across the system as a whole.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Refugees in crisis….education at a glance in Australia…..

http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/1512-Education.pdf

During a recent week we talked about the challenges and areas of opportunities faced by refugees in the education system.  I came across the excellent report which is linked above regarding people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary visas in Australia put out by the Refugee Council in 2015.  The report offers eight very strong recommendations to the government on how to improve the system and make education more accessible to those who need it the most.  At that time there were 30,000 people who identified as asylum seekers or as a refugee.

Primarily the biggest issue faced by those wishing to attend school was that they were getting charged international student rates, which they couldn’t afford as they were not eligible for student loans.   Another challenge was that even if they could afford the tuition they severely lacked English skills to comprehend the material.  The report evaluated fifteen universities around the country and only four of them offered full tuition coverage.

Overall, I really enjoyed learning about this issue and how to make it better for students, some of the lessons could easily be applied in the USA.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Open Access challenges…..first, to be relevant…..

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261517715001041

I read a journal article titled “Impact factors: Influencing careers, creativity and academic freedom” by Dallen Timothy in Tourism Management from 2015.  The essay details strategies one must employ when trying to obtain tenure at a university.  When evaluating the tenure process it all comes back to one key indicator:  the impact factor of journals.  When professors are trying to get tenure they must publish in “high impact” journals which are set by their governing board.  The unfortunate challenge of Open Access journals is that they are not on these “lists”.  In order to become more widely used in academia OA journals first have to become relevant to the governing boards.  Literally, what counts is what is counted.

The author states it best when he says:  “My comments reflect concerns regarding impact factors as inhibitors of younger-career academics, limiters of academic freedom, and suppressors of creativity and innovation.”  He supports the idea that the more freedom to publish where one desires will encourage a new generation of critical thinkers.  We can’t get outside the box when the box is made of steel.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Equity fair opportunities…….trans to the challenge of tenure……

http://www.metroweekly.com/2017/11/jury-awards-1-1-million-transgender-professor-discrimination-lawsuit/?utm_source=Metro+Weekly&utm_campaign=4d9fce2bc0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_22&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e1ac56f0d0-4d9fce2bc0-275905309&mc_cid=4d9fce2bc0&mc_eid=daf6968036

This recent article caught my attention because the trans professor has been suing Southeastern Oklahoma State University for many years now.  It appears the judge has finally reached a verdict.  She was awarded $1.1M for her claim that the university created a hostile work environment and retaliated by denying her application for tenure.

Interestingly enough, the case was originally brought on by the Justice Department under the Obama administration who sued the school..  Then, under the Trump administration the Justice Department dropped the lawsuit and stated that Title VII doesn’t protect unless “someone is being discriminated against their biological sex assigned at birth”.  She filed her own case and won the lawsuit.  This has big implications on the academic arena as it sets precedence for what not to do when denying someone tenure.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

 

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Hate crimes on the rise…..conflict resolution needed….

https://www.dailydot.com/irl/hate-crimes-rose-nearly-5-percent-fbi/

As a diversity class we are more prone to latch onto public commentary regarding hate-crimes.  According to the article the FBI has reported an increase of 5% in total hate-crimes reported from 2015 to 2016.  On a personal note I’m positive this percent will double once the numbers are in for the year 2017.

Hate-crime motivations:  anti-Black (50%), anti-Hispanic (10.4%);   anti-Jewish (54.2%), anti-Muslim (24.8%); and, anti-gay (62.8%), anti-Lesbian (21.5%).  In total, approximately 7,300 hate crimes were reported and give us cause to be concerned.  The current administration is running on a campaign of separatism and misogyny; encouraging a fear based approach to local politics and  international relations.  Let’s hope the reins get drawn in before the hate crimes triple or double.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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Ethics in research at a top university under fire…..

http://abcnews.go.com/US/dartmouth-college-professors-investigation-alleged-sexual-misconduct/story?id=50837417

Having just started my career at a top research institution I was shocked to read the article that was published last month via ABC News.  The article revolves around three research professors at Dartmouth University who are under criminal investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct.  As a new student I had to undergo official IRB certification as part of my onboarding before I could progress onto my TA position or implement research sponsored by the institution.  Considering this particular research focused on studies of sexual desire and attractiveness I would have thought that a high level of scrutiny had been applied by the IRB and local university itself throughout all phases of the research.  Shame on them for not doing so.

Other articles speak about the situation in which the three professors created a hostile academic environment involving excessive drinking, favoritism, and inappropriate behavior were the norm.  In total around 15 students have filed official complaints and the university is complying with law enforcement for a full investigation.

Innocent until proven guilty, however, in my opinion reputation is will also be lost regardless of the litigation outcome.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

 

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The Lost Art of Disagreement……freedom of speech….

I had the privilege of attending an excellent speaking engagement put on by VT on Wednesday in Squires.  It was supported by the Veritas Forum and was primarily concerned with addressing the task of handling difficult conversations (social, political, religious) with grace and understanding.  Is it possible to encourage an environment of mutual respect and shared understanding even in the academic arena?

The two main speakers were Dr. Christian Lundberg (UNC) and Dr. Christian Matheis (VT).  Both gentlemen were fantastic and cautiously approached the subject matter in the beginning, but, as time went on you could sense an ease of interconnectivity happen and an almost symbiotic relationship take place.  Dr. Matheis graced the stage with his presence and mastery of his knowledge in the theory base.  The audience members all seemed to really enjoy the conversations and even the questions at the end were fairly vague and non threatening.

Overall, I would encourage this type of speaking engagement again because it put issues at the forefront which might not be addressed or spoken about if otherwise not done in such an organized and structured fashion.

Thanks!

Cheers, Lehi

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