Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lecturing--what's wrong with it?

I agree that lecturing should be minimized--but it takes a plan and a cultural change for students to know they have to read the material and that class is time for activity and interaction.  I try to do both, but am not always successful.  I taught a new class this semester and tried to have relevant application activities for the chapters; since it was a class in Interpersonal Communication at the 2000 level, I wanted them TALKING to each other.  I was pleased that now at the end I go into class and they are talking (silliness, sometimes, but that's ok, they are young) rather than glued to their cell phones. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018




You'll enjoy this brisk read about family secrets, Southern weddings, and murder. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Is this serious?

Apparently, yes.  It's legit. 

Advice on Higher Education Accountability

Link to article interviewing Robert Kelchen on Higher Education Accountability

Helpful article on nuts and bolts of this issue, which isn't sexy but matters to those of us in administrative positions.  Quotation:

"Whether this is fair or not, I think that tougher accountability policies are the only way that public funding for higher education doesn’t get cut. Policy makers have many other ways to use taxpayer dollars, and higher education isn’t necessarily in the good graces of all legislators at this point. Colleges have to demonstrate their value in order to get more money -- or at least to avoid cuts. The higher education community should work to make sure that accountability policies come with potential rewards as well as penalties and that colleges with fewer resources get assistance in developing capacity to meet their performance goals."

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Student Evaluation of Teachers, Revisited

Good article for discussion:

As usual, the comments are as good as the article.

My position is that SETs should have objective questions about teaching behavior and minimize opportunities for students to comment on anything extraneous (like looks or tastes in clothes); should be used as formative assessment primarily (instructor can address concerns in annual evaluations and be expected to improve in specific areas); should never be used as primary evidence in tenure and promotion unless clearly problematic. In the last, if using a 5-point scale and the instructor never gets above 4, that is problematic.  But if an instructor routinely gets 4.3 and the mean  for the institution is 4.4, there should be investigation into why and other sources examined for tenure and promotion.

However, I can understand why an administrator would not tenure someone whose evals are consistently below institutional means.  It is likely that the faculty member will let the whole issue slide after tenure and it would be hard to get improvement out of them.  This is why I think, in general, we need a better system than tenure.  Most faculty I know do not totally relax after tenure, but it does happen. 

Academic Freedom or Just Bad Taste

Link here is to article about an instructor uttering the "n" word in class because he lets students bring songs to class to play and they sing along and this song had the racial slur.  He is being disciplined.

1.  I would question the policy of letting them bring songs to class to play in the first place.  Is that of value to the class, or just pandering to the students?
2.  An instructor must maintain control in a class.  The students shouldn't be allowed to play songs with objectionable material.
3.  The instructor should not sing along.
4.  As to the word, well, I'm not going there.  I made the error of using that word in my first novel as an example of racism, said by a black person who was making a point.  It was problematic, so it came out in second edition.  I am a free speech advocate but also an advocate of civility, so there's no reason for anyone to use it. 
5.  White faculty should just know better.  I think this instructor showed bad judgment, but should not be fired for it, just told to change his teaching practices.  Where I teach, we don't have carte blanche to do anything in class--we have to actually convey content and assess learning. I guess not every college has gotten that memo.
6.  All that said, we have an egregious lack of due process any more in this country.  Incredible.