Showing posts with label higher education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label higher education. Show all posts

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Value of Applied Research and Alternative Publishing

Ask a crusty old academic and he/she will tell you that unless research is in a peer-reviewed journal it has no value and should be discarded as “junkwork. In contrast, talk to a seasoned CEO and he/she will tell you that if university research has any value in the market it will need to be applied to solve business problems. This divergence of thought and perspective is changing the way universities and corporations disseminate and use information.

There are some academic traditions that unnecessarily restrict the value of education and hinder the growth of the business community. Corporations are end users of information that apply research build products, enhance services, and improve operations. Failure to see the value of alternative methods of conducting, publishing, and using research beyond elitist journals defeats the purpose of academic studies.

CEO’s, executives, and consultants rely heavily on information to make strategic decisions. They obtain ideas   online, databases, libraries, magazines and personal knowledge. Few have direct access to university libraries and expensive subscription journals. When was the last time you saw a copy of a scientific journal on a CEO’s desk?

Assuming that the CEO understood academic jargon, it is still doubtful the company would be willing to pay the costs associated with high-end academic journals. There is a growing crisis where academic knowledge is becoming restrictive and inflexible reducing the amount of potential users (Stemper & Williams, 2006). Most businesses won’t have access to groundbreaking research until it is widely available in the market.

The value of research is not based on the quality of the journal, but a number of times the research is used and applied to problems. It is possible that university research agendas include pushing for business application and measuring a number of times it has been quoted by others (“Applying Research”, 2004). Companies are willing to support universities that create useful informational products.

Improving innovation in business relies on ensuring that the information from academic research is making its way into industry. Reducing bottlenecks and restrictions improves information flow, and increases the likelihood it will reach intended audiences. Open-access journals and alternative publication sources create a more direct connection to industry and should not be discarded based on tradition. The value of academic research is in its usefulness and its ability to enhance industry innovation versus the type of journal it originated. 

Stemper, J. & Williams, K. (2006). Scholarly communication: turning crisis into opportunity. College & Research Libraries, 67 (11). 

“Applying Research”. (2004). Applying research and building value: business faculty at work. Georgia Trend, 20 (3).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Studying for Career Success-Knowing What You Know

Everyone who attended formal schooling knows that studying is a grueling and often not so fun process. For a few out there who enjoy learning they seem to slice through their books like a knife through butter. Despite the motivated few the vast majority of students either don’t know how to study or don’t study to maximize their future potential.

Studying is one of those activities that comes along with attending any type of formal educational program. The professor typically steers the student to certain conclusions, but it is up to the student to do the leg work so they can learn the necessary background information to reach those conclusions. Understand what the professors says is different than understanding why he/she says it.

Not reading the text or outside sources is apparent in the level of depth in discussion and papers. Length is not the same thing as depth. Depth means a student can cover the required concepts succinctly and with enough substance to justify their main points. It is not a long winded explanation consisting of shallow and unsubstantiated rhetoric.

Without this effort, answers won’t have much meaning and graduates are unlikely to be able to apply this information to real life situations during the course of their employment. For example, if a graduated was exposed to best management practices during a course but doesn’t know how to apply those practices they will risk failure in their careers.

Success comes to those who put in the time and effort to learn. It can be frustrating, and it can take a long time but over the course of one’s career they will become more successful than those who didn’t study. It may not make sense to them while they are in class, but it will make sense to them when they have to rely on their knowledge to overcome challenges.

A few tips for studying:

-Read all required and supplemental materials.

-Search through the library and outside sources to support papers and develop a point of view.

-Engage in discussions to learn what others know about the topic.

-Question other students and expand on ideas they offer.

-Develop a method of studying  that can apply to most learning situations.

-Ask questions when you don’t understand principles.

-Incorporate feedback to continue to add the quality of papers and thought.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grade Inflation: Rescuing Students from Unrealistic Expectations

Grade inflation has been a drag on the quality of education for sometime and sets students up for future failure. The artificial, and often accidental, inflation of grades persists and doesn’t appear to have an immediate resolution. Professors feel pressure to continue providing high grades despite its long-term damage to the student, the university, and future employers. Looking out for students requires holding the line on grade pressure.

Its easy to give high grades when the benefits significantly outweigh the costs of holding students accountable for learning. Professors mentioned that grade inflation is a result of poor student evaluations, poor student-teacher relationships, financial aid requirements, and excessively high student expectations (Caruth & Caruth, 2013). Giving accurate grades comes with internal and external pressure to lower the standards.

On the first day, students walk/ log into a class with preconceived expectations of what grade they should have regardless of their actual performance. Based upon studies of undergraduate and graduate students the average undergraduate student expects a B- while graduate students expect a B+ (Schwartz, 2009). This expectation sometimes leads to disappointment and anger if they do not get what they thought they should.

Perception vs. Market Performance

One problem with giving into student demands is that eventually reality will hit the student in ways they don’t foresee. At some point, they will need to show their mastery of the material and will experience serious disappointment from job loss, lack of forthcoming opportunities, and inability to overcome challenges. Today’s false perception of their performance can lead to serious job market consequences tomorrow.

An employer may consider the merits of hiring a student on the honor roll but will become disappointed with the value of the degree if the student has lower performance than expected. The problem of high grades with low performance becomes a detriment that can take students years to figure out once they reflect on their failures. The costs to the employer and the student can be substantial.

Reserving the Independence of Faculty

There is no doubt there are good and bad faculty. Faculty should be held accountable when they are miserably not engaged in the educational process but should not be held accountable for student misperceptions of grades. Faculty evaluations should have only a limited amount of performance influence as they can at times be conduits to express anger stemming from disappointment than an actual reflection of teaching quality.

Peer reviews should weigh higher on these evaluations as they offer a better reflection of performance. This doesn’t mean that student evaluations are not important but that they sometimes don’t reflect accurately the job that high performing professors are doing. Peer reviews offer a method of seeing if the professor is actively engaged in the learning process from the perspective of people with industry knowledge.

It is better to use a battery of measurements that include peer reviews, student evaluations, basic class metrics (i.e. postings, engagement, etc...), and quality of content to evaluate professors. If the goal is to create more accurate assessments than a well-rounded report with multiple measurements may get a better total picture. Each university will need to determine if that "accurate picture" is worth the time and cost.

Setting the Tone Right From the First Day

Universities should stand by their commitment to high quality learning to create relevance in the modern market which will be the truest judge of performance. Student disappointment is often a result of misperceptions fed by grade inflating, misinterpretation of the value of grades, and the overall academic culture. Students should consistently be told they need to earn their grades and must challenge their existing assumptions to move to higher states of adaptive learning.

Forcing students to reach higher levels of performance should be a fundamental goal. A’s should be difficult to obtain and a valid measure of actual performance. The average student should be in the C and B range with areas of improvement apparent. Continually pushing students to get better may create frustration but often leads to higher long-term performance. If the student see where they can improve it is up to the professor to show them. Rescuing students from drowning themselves in the misperceptions of what is needed to be successful in life may be one of the most valuable higher education lessons.

Caruth, D. & Caruth, G. (2013). Grade inflation: an issue for higher education? Journal of Distance Education, 14 (1).

Schwartz, D. (2009). The impact of more rigorous grading on instructor evaluations: a longitudinal study, 2 (1). 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Intuition and Scientific Advancement Among the Gifted Population

Giftedness is a trait that comes with high intensity, motivation, love of learning and emotional sensitivities that make a person highly functional in the environment. Many countries have gifted enrichment programs to ensure that such individuals can fully contribute to the development of society. The U.S. has not fully developed their programs. Understanding the power of giftedness and their intuition that leads to career success is important in fostering their abilities for the benefit of everyone. 

Science has moved beyond the definition of giftedness and is working on better ways to select and categories giftedness for better development (Porath, 2013). Intuition is one of those gifted traits that lead to higher mastery of the environment and scientific innovation through perceiving differences within the environment. That perception matched with the rigor of scientific logic encourages new discoveries.

Intuition can be extremely powerful and can culminate in all types of useful conclusions that would have taken years with the normal investigative process.  Intuition is seen as a cognitive style that has been described as the “sixth sense” where the unconscious recognizes patterns and solutions to those patterns before the conscious mind is aware (Pearson, 2013). Such processes can be used to make accurate decisions and investigated for clarity afterwards. 

Intuition is so powerful it can do things science cannot yet explain fully. For example, intuition can lead to health choices that put cancer in remission, picking a better deck of cards for better results, and selecting items behind screens without seeing anything that would tip a person off. According to Dr. Turner book Radical Remission the body picks up on environmental cues unconsciously and makes conclusions that manifest themselves in physiological responses (Turner, 2014). 

Gifted individuals have powerful senses of intuition and logic that can lead them to unique AND innovative methods of solving problems.  According to studies on highly intelligent and creative people, gifted individuals often display a preference for either rationality or intuition (Karwowski, 2008). The style they rely on will impact how they understand and approach their world. 

Intuition among the gifted is an interesting and often unexplored trait where their biological and psychological preference matches to create unique powers of understanding and reasoning. The same skill that allows them to find new discoveries in their respective fields also leaves many unable to follow their train of thought. Gifted individuals are considered relatively rare among the population and ensuring they have the social, legal, and intellectual support/protection is important for advancing society. 

Karwowski, M. (2008). Giftedness and Intuition. Gifted and Talented International, 23 (1).
Pearson, H. (2013). Science and intuition: do both have a place in clinical decision making? British Journal of Nursing, 22 (4). 

Porath, M. (2013). The gifted personality: what are we searching for and why? Talent Development & Excellence, 5 (2). 

Turner, K. (2014). The science behind intuition. Psychology Today. Retrieved

Thursday, March 19, 2015

8 Ways Online Education will Help Balance University Budgets

A sound college degree is expensive and the cost of managing universities is continuing to put pressure on stretched state budgets. Online education entered the market in the past few decades and is disrupting the traditional system. Despite this feather ruffling it also will bring a few new things that may help both universities and states become more cost effective.

The legal design of the institution (for or non-profit) is less important than the actual quality of education provided. To that end, traditional land based universities have come grudgingly to accept the merits of online education in both terms of cost and learning quality. Online education will change the cost structures of universities (Cowen & Tabarrok, 2014):

  1. Using the best professor and content creators to teach more students.
  2. Save time with less repetition and commuting costs.
  3. Flexibility in when and how lectures are viewed.
  4. Greater productivity improvements as software substitutes labor.
  5. Additional incentives to invest in quality as market increases.
  6. Stronger feedback through adaptive systems.
  7. Greater student measurements.
  8. Reduce cost and increase quality of higher education through enhancing productivity.

Online education is here to stay and will continue to grow and develop over the years. It will provide a number of benefits for universities whose administrative and cost burdens are high. By focusing on high quality online quality learning, universities will be able to find higher economies of scale and greater reach for their educational benefits.

Cowen, T. & Tabarrok, A. (2014). The industrial organization of online education. American Economic Review, 104 (5).

Monday, March 9, 2015

Why do People Enroll in Online Education?

All students have hopes, goals, dreams and desires; some are more realistic than others. Each is limited in their available time and resources to make those dreams a reality. Higher education affords the opportunity for people to achieve parts of their dreams and find ways of moving up the social ladder. Unfortunately, life has many different types of roadblocks people must navigate to achieve their goals. According to a study in the Journal of Educators the students who choose online education do so for scheduling purposes (Fontenot, et. al., 2015).

Many of today's students are older than those of the past and the ever changing market requires them to be adjustable while continually learning new ideas and concepts. That new knowledge can come from informal and formal sources. Education is one of those formal educational processes that leads to a degree that can be used to apply for job openings.

People don't always go to college right out of high school nor do they have the resources to focus only on their education. Some people will graduate from college early and go back to college at a later date to receive a master's degree or some other degree that helps them stay on top of their fields. The fluid nature of the market makes it difficult for people to keep updated.

Online education is one way to go to school while not giving up on traditional responsibilities. Some people have work responsibilities while others may have family responsibilities. Juggling these responsibilities is difficult at best. Trying to further education in a ground based system may be near impossible for many people and could limit their potential contributions to society.

Based upon a survey of 165 students it was found that students who choose to take online courses do so because of timing and scheduling; they enjoyed the flexibility and convenience of online education. A mitigating factor was perception of quality.  Students who perceived online education as a valuable quality proposition will be more inclined to go online.

The study helps us understand that as the real and perceived quality of education rises and people become more familiar with online education there will likely be a higher percentage of society taking online courses. As traditional universities, and existing online universities, improve their offerings they will attract motivated students who feel that the quality and convenience of their education affords them new options. For a generation growing up with more familiarity of technology online education will seem to be a natural fit.

Fontenot, R. et. al. (2015) Predictors of enrolling in online courses: an exploratory study of students in undergraduate marketing courses. Journal of Educators, 12 (1).