McDonald’s “Hamburger University” trainees — often assistant and shift managers — will be able to use their credits to earn a certificate or associate degree through Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College, reports the Indianapolis Star. McDonald’s employees across the country will have a chance to turn their management training credits into a credential through Ivy Tech’s online program.
The program is called a “degree crosswalk”, reports Community College Daily.
Group learning “is a waste of classroom time and an obstacle to student learning,” argues Bruce Gans, who taught English at City Colleges of Chicago.
At a community college where he worked, non-tenured English instructors were evaluated on whether they fostered “group activities such as study groups and team projects.” Those who didn’t use group learning risked losing their jobs.
Gans observed teachers who were up for tenure or contract extensions.
A literature instructor wanted students to understand metaphor. She “circulated a set of lachrymose pop song lyrics and divvied the students into groups of three to identify and analyze the lyric’s figures of speech.”
During the collaboration period, most of the groups alternated between working desultorily and not at all. The instructor leaned against the edge of her desk silently observing her realm, then circulated briefly among the groups. There were many to visit, which precluded going into great depth with any.
Much might have been accomplished had the instructor used that class time to present accurate analysis and modeling the thought process of decoding metaphor and to directly question her students. Instead, the students learned very little from their group work.
In a class on how to write a research paper, another instructor paired students, distributed readings on the research topic and told students to teach each other how to paraphrase the passages.
Students texted, made phone calls, chatted and joked. It “seems exceedingly unlikely” they learned about paraphrasing, Gans writes.
The central value of being in a classroom consists in the opportunity to be instructed directly by an expert credentialed in a core skill and complex body of knowledge, a teacher who has experience articulating ideas clearly and in holding students to rigorous standards of proficiency and civility.
. . . The strategy of group work, in contrast, is to unleash learning by yoking together two or more students who often possess neither aptitude nor concern for the assignment. If a professor divides a class into small groups to correct grammar errors in their papers, no one should be surprised when the final papers substantially retain the original errors and have incorporated new ones.
Group projects are supposed to teach students to collaborate. Gans is dubious. “Groups are creatures of compromise, consensus, the intellectual mean, the mediocre.”
Having students evaluate each other’s writing doesn’t work if nobody’s a good writer, argues Troy Camplin, a lecturer in English at University of North Texas in Dallas.
A remedial writing student asked why we did peer review since, “I feel like I’m getting nothing but bad advice. I mean, they don’t know any more than I do.”
. . . I spent about half of my time going around telling students to ignore practically everything their fellow students told them to do. My students did not know grammar, or how to write a good sentence, or how to write a coherent paragraph, or how to make an argument – and I was asking them to critique their fellow students on precisely those points!
Good writers tend to be avid readers, Camplin argues. “The practice of reading good writing allows you to see what good sentences, good paragraphs, and good arguments look like.” Students need to read extensively “before they can learn how to write well.”
At Citrus College in southern California, students can’t express their political beliefs outside a small “free speech” area, complains the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is urging Citrus students to Stand Up for Speech as part of a national campaign to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes on college campuses.
On September 17, 2013—Constitution Day— student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle was threatened with removal from campus by an administrator for asking a fellow student to sign a petition protesting NSA surveillance of American citizens. His crime? Sinapi-Riddle was petitioning outside of the college’s tiny “free speech area.”
. . . Amazingly, this is the second time FIRE has coordinated a lawsuit against Citrus College’s “free speech area.” In 2003, the college agreed to abandon its free speech zone as part of a court-approved settlement following a First Amendment lawsuit filed by a student.
Sinapi-Riddle also is challenging the college’s “verbal harassment policy,” which prohibits “inappropriate or offensive remarks,” and the college’s elaborate permitting requirements for student groups. Before holding a campus event, groups must wait two weeks and get the permission of four separate college entities.
FIRE promises to sue colleges that limit students’ First Amendment rights.
Can Khan Academy help community college students learn algebra? With a $3 million U.S. Department of Education grant, WestEd will evaluate the effectiveness of Khan Academy’s resources for developmental math students at 36 California community colleges.
Khan Academy is a free, Internet-based learning environment that includes instructional videos, adaptive problem sets, and tools for teachers to use in providing individualized coaching and assignments to students.
. . . “Until now, there has never been a rigorous, large-scale efficacy study of Khan Academy, in community colleges or in K-12 settings,” says STEM Program Director Steve Schneider.
Algebra I instructors with no Khan experience will be randomly assigned to integrate Khan videos and problem sets into their normal classroom activities or to teach as usual. Comparing Khan-aided students to the control group, researchers will evaluate whether using Khan resources affects persistence and achievement. In addition, they’ll analyze what factors, such as teacher preparation, student characteristics and course structure, improve effectiveness.
A recent SRI study looks at how K-12 schools use Khan to teach math, notes EdSurge.
Founded by Salman Khan, who started out tutoring his cousins’ children in math, the nonprofit now offers 6,000 instructional videos and 100,000 practice problems in math, biology, physics, chemistry, economics, and more, reports Inside Philanthropy. Some 350,000 teachers also use the videos as classroom aids.
Persistence rates are declining for first-time college students, reports the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
Overall, the persistence rate — the percentage of students who return for a second year — dropped 1.2 percent since 1009. Of all students who started college in fall 2012, 68.7 percent returned to college at any U.S. institution in fall 2013, and 58.2 percent returned to the same institution.
In the two-year public sector, persistence has fallen 2.3 percentage points since 2009, while the retention rate has dropped 1.1 percentage points.
Of all students who started community college in fall 2012, 57 percent returned to college at any U.S. institution in fall 2013, and 46.5 percent returned to the same institution. For full-time starters, the persistence rate has fallen 2.8 percentage points since 2009, while the retention rate has dropped 2.2 percentage points. For part-time students, the persistence rate has fallen 1.1 percentage points since 2009, while the retention rate has increased 1.0 percentage points.
Eastern Mississippi’s “Golden Triangle” has drawn “high-wage, high-skill jobs to an area with very low median income, poorly ranked schools, and a history of farming and low-end factories,” writes James Fallows in The Atlantic.
Laid-off workers from packing houses and minimum-wage garment plans weren’t ready for jobs in “a billion-dollar modern steel mill or an Airbus helicopter factory,” he writes. But East Mississippi Community College, or EMCC, stepped in to train local people for skilled jobs so they can share in the new prosperity.
Raj Shaunak, born in Kenya of Indian ancestry, built a manufacturing business with family members in Starkville, Mississippi. When it was sold in 1989, he began teaching adult-education courses and math, then went on to workforce development.
EMCC advertises its job training options and places students in “skills-based pathways,” Raj explains. Students are assessed, “brought up to speed in areas of weakness” and trained in the skills they’ll need to be employable.
These include precision measurement, ability to read graphs and blueprints, “lean manufacturing” procedures, teamwork and flexibility, trouble-shooting, “continuous improvement,” and all the other traits you’ve heard about if you’ve visited any advanced factory in Japan, Europe, China, or the US.
In the EMCC training facilities, students work on real versions, or sometimes scaled-down models, of the machinery and products being made in the local factories. I saw them dealing with real engines from the nearby PACCAR factory, and real computer-controlled machine tools.
A new Yokohama Tire assembly line will need 500 workers. EMCC hopes to train as many as 5,000 candidates.
“What happens to the ones who don’t get hired?” Raj asks, anticipating the question. “They will have much higher skills, and they will be more marketable—either when Yokohama opens its next phase [another 500 jobs], or anywhere else.”
“We cannot guarantee a job for anyone. We are in the business of training people to be part of a qualified pool of applicants. We’re trying to move people from dependence to enterprise and independence.”
Also as part of the Yokohama deal, all of the company’s own direct hires—”its engineers, its PhDs, its technicians, everyone except the CEO!” as Raj put it—will also go through an EMCC program.
“When you are competing for businesses, you have to have the infrastructure, you have to have the quality of life, you have to have the land,” Raj told Fallows. “But most places that are competing have those things. We now have a critical mass of trained and trainable workers. Companies have told us that this makes the difference.”
To expand training for advanced manufacturing jobs, EMCC is opening a $38 million “Communiversity” to house 15 manufacturing, technology and engineering educational bays, reports The Dispatch.
Rate colleges on “social responsibility,” said the departing chair of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators at the group’s annual conference. Instead of President Obama’s proposed ratings system, colleges should be recognized for educating low-income students, said Craig Munier, who directs financial aid at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
The plan, which is modeled on the LEED ratings of green buildings, would assign institutions ratings of silver, gold, or platinum based on a calculation that would take the percentage of a college’s undergraduate students who are eligible for Pell Grants, multiply the number by a ratio of credit hours earned to credit hours attempted, and divide it by the institution’s cohort-default rate.
Part of the goal, Mr. Munier said, “is to create a little public embarrassment” for institutions that are not fulfilling their duty to educate needy students. He jokingly called the plan “Craig’s LEED certification on social responsibility.”
Panelist Marcus D. Szymanoski, manager of regulatory affairs at DeVry University, argued for multiple metrics that would recognize that different students have different priorities.
Community colleges are struggling to pay back their student loans, writes Andrew Kelly in Forbes. While two-year public colleges charge low tuition, the default rate is high.
Only about 20 percent of community college students borrow, and 70 percent borrow less than $6,000. But low graduation rates put even small borrowers at risk of owing more than they can repay.
“Unfortunately, less debt does not equal fewer defaults,” writes Kelly. “And default’s consequences, like wage garnishment and severe credit damage, can hurt borrowers even more than a bloated loan balance.”
Policymakers should turn their attention from total debt to students’ ability to repay, Kelly argues. Income-based repayment plans “try to do exactly this, but they are far too generous to graduate students,” who often have high debts and high incomes.
The “front-end problem” is that “student loan programs encourage attendance at any program, at any college, and at any price.”
That means we subsidize a lot of failure. According to my analysis of the most recent federal data, about 37 percent of loan disbursements in the Stafford and Parent PLUS programs (loans for undergraduates) in 2012-2013 went to colleges with six-year graduation rates that were 40 percent or lower. That’s a lot of loans to people whose chances of finishing a degree are worse than flipping a coin.
What we need are policies that push students toward more effective and affordable options on the front end: better consumer information, income-share agreements, and risk-sharing that gives colleges skin in the game.
The Student Loan Ranger has advice for community college students on how to avoid the debt trap.
What works for remedial students? The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (CAPR) will assess new approaches to remedial assessment, placement and instruction.
The Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, in collaboration with MDRC and scholars at Stanford, University of California at Davis and Vanderbilt, has been awarded a five-year $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences to create the center.
Three major studies are planned:
A national study to survey the characteristics of developmental students, the dominant remedial practices across two- and four-year colleges, and the nature and extent of reforms that have been recently implemented or are in process.
A randomized control trial in partnership with the State University of New York’s community college system to test the effectiveness of a “data analytics” assessment and placement system that relies on more information, including high school records, than the traditional method of placing students into remedial education.
A randomized control trial at several Texas community colleges comparing the New Mathways Project—a program developed by the Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin to engage students in more active learning of math curricula that are tailored to specific academic pathways—with the traditional remedial and introductory college math sequence.
In addition, CAPR will investigate innovative approaches to remediation, including California’s Early Start.
CCRC’s Thomas Bailey and MDRC’s Lashawn Richburg-Hayes will lead the new center.
States don’t track students college readiness and progress through remediation with any consistency, concludes an Education Commission for the State report, Cure for Remedial Reporting Chaos. A companion report recommends creating a national “framework” for measuring and reporting on remediation.
Increasing retention and graduation rates remains an elusive goal for community colleges, write Terry O’ Banion and Ross Markle on Diverse. Evaluating student behaviors, such as time management, goal setting and persistence, can help raise completion rates, they argue.
O’Banion is president emeritus and senior fellow for the League for Innovation in the Community College. Markle, senior research and assessment advisor at Educational Testing Service, helped create the SuccessNavigator™ assessment.
Almost 50 percent of community college students drop out by the second year. That’s especially disastrous for black and Latino students, who primarily turn to community colleges for higher education.
Successful college students have to manage their schedule and schoolwork on their own, maybe for the first time. They need to understand what’s expected of them. They need to know how to find support. They must be committed to attaining a degree or certificate and feel assured that it’s worth their time and tuition. These factors are especially important now for the many first-generation students who enter community college.
. . . students with strong academic study skills, commitment to academic goals, personal time management and social support are much more likely to complete their degrees.
Such measures are stronger predictors of graduation than academic ability, write O’Banion and Markle.
Asking students “about how they organize their time, what they value in a college degree, and how they cope with stress, challenges and financial or family pressures” could help colleges do a better job of helping students develop the behaviors that lead to success, they write.