Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Framing the future of higher education

This was why I skipped class Monday and Tuesday to be in Texas (not just because it was 70 F and sunny).

Some interesting readings:

Brief background:
I was invited to participate because of some CHE articles about the college and hands-on pedagogy. The HEPI was founded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board as a research arm. They brought together faculty, administrators, students, outside experts, and legislators for this symposium to build bridges. We had speakers, followed by interactive workshops where groups were formed with a mixture of the above, and then wrap-up sessions.

Selected Speakers:
  • Mark Schneider, VP American Institutes for Research: Discussed the cost effectiveness of higher education. Liberal education pays off, just not as much and takes longer than the best professional programs in dollar terms, such as engineering. (We may need to measure ten-year rates, not five as currently.)
  • Carol Geary Schneider, President AACU: Promoted LEAP program (used in our own AMP). Liberal studies makes fundamentally better and more functional human beings” and is a prerequisite for a vibrant democracy
  • Dr. Eduardo Padron, President, Miami Dade College. Discussed MDC – largest in the country -- in general and the results of their recent academic master planning – “His students know that without that post-secondary credential, there’s no American Dream” for them.
  • Teresa Sullivan, UVA: recently embattled president, fired by the (conservative) UVA Board and then reinstated.
  • Katherine Brooks, author of “You Majored in What? Mapping your path from Chaos to Career.”

Take homes for me:
·     There is a long list of “high impact” practices that we already do or have thought of, many of which we implemented through the AMP and just now being assessed and evaluated, that these experts recommend, but that are very hard to implement in these large systems such as Texas’.
·      Examples:
o   Internships
o   Students support networks and teams
o   Problem-based learning, trans/interdisciplinary
o   Community-based learning. Recommended: more engagement with for-profits, not just non-profits for CBL, which we don’t do much of at all
o   Student research
o   Collaborative research and group work with diverse partners that don’t agree with you
o   Community contributions --- to a larger community, not just the home institution
o   Flipped classes
o   Peer tutoring and advising
o   Outcomes-based curriculum mapping, planning and assessment
o   Reconsider the “agrarian-based” college calendar
o   First year “boot camp” courses (Padron’s phrase, not mine)

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