Is there trouble brewing? Check it out. The title is a link to the full story.

New standards seek to measure what students actually know

A new set of standards, published by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, outlines what skills and knowledge students should possess after earning a college degree. The Degree Qualifications Profile was developed with funding from the Lumina Foundation, and its accuracy has been tested at 400 colleges and universities in 45 states over the past four years.

Policies that Cause Rather than Solve Problems

Today I received an email from a student in my 9:30 am class. it read:

“Forgot my id. I will be late. I’m in the front but they won’t let me in.”

This particular student is a student with special needs, and so this student has a note-taker. The note-taker was there at 9:30, but the student was not. By 9:45, the student had not arrived in class. Unfortunately, I checked my email early this morning, but did not check it in the time between my arrival at school and first class, and so, following policy, the note-taker left.

 

About 20 minutes later, just under the halfway point of the class, the student came in to see a board full of notes and material on Categorical propositions. The work we did in class today laid groundwork for the next three weeks worth of material. Students who were there experienced a huge and important front-load the second major unit of the class. Students who missed it will be scrambling to catch up  right up until the mid-term exam.

Her email was sent at 9:04 am, by the way.

So, this student did everything right except bring her school ID with her, and now her success in the class is imperiled. All for a policy that is ostensibly aimed at “improving student safety.” Do we really need to say that most of the college shootings of the last 10 years have been carried out by people who had IDs? Do we need to point out that our college is objectively safe–relative to other colleges and other City Colleges, based on the Clery Report data? Do we really need to point out that the last time we did a security survey, there was much more concern among faculty about students than about strangers? About being alone in stairwells and hallways and offices than about people without ids wandering in?

If a few students can bring about a policy change (that was the reason provided at the State of the College address, right?) with major potential implications on student learning and work and the rest–without consulting Faculty Council or anything else–then perhaps a few faculty belly aching about a stupid policy that creates problems without solving any can get a similar result. Let’s say my bag is stolen with my wallet and ID in it. Let’s say further that I don’t have cash on me (typical). I suppose I could borrow some, but let’s say I arrive at a time and day where the people I see that I know are, like me, without cash or access to their ATM cards for some reason. Should I take a sick day? Should I send a note to my students to wait, ride the train home, scrounge up some quarters from the couch and laundry room and my kid’s bank and return and pay $10 so I can work?

“Of course not,” someone will say. You will see someone who will vouch for you or loan you the money or whatever.” And they’d be right. I would be slightly and probably only temporarily inconvenienced by the situation, because I’m white, I’m old, I’m male, I’m employed, I’d be in professional (or semi-professional) dress and so on–take your pick of possible reasons I’d have it easy.

My student, however, and likely many students, does not live with the same privileges. My student was sent home on a day that she needed to be in class, on a day when she arrived 30 minutes before class was to start, only to return to find that, because she had been sent home to get a piece of plastic with her picture on it, she had not only missed important material but missed out on the chance to have her special needs accommodated. And for what? To what end?

I am hopping mad right now.

The Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and the Academic Calendar: Art and Academics

Glyptotek

“City Colleges will be performing scheduled maintenance on our UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) from 1:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 28th. All CCC network systems, including Blackboard, email, PeopleSoft, and My.CCC.edu, will be unavailable during this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this outage may cause. Please plan accordingly. If you have any questions, please contact the IT helpdesk at cohelpdesk@ccc.edu.”

CAST Events

Shared by request:

 

Colleagues,
 
Start the new school year off right with some new technology tips for your teaching toolkit. CAST is proud to sponsor two exciting events this month for faculty members!
 
iPad Training: Friday 9/12, 9am-4pm
Learn new ways to use the iPad to improve your teaching experience (for a full list of topics, see attachment). Attendees will receive a stipend of $25 per hour for the 6-hour workshop and must attend the full day. Attendance is strictly limited to 20 faculty members, so sign up today! RSVP here: RSVP for iPad Training 9/12. For more information, contact Kevin Smith, Larnell Dunkley, or Chao Lu.
 
Blackboard Conference: Friday 9/26, 9am-3:30pm
Learn new techniques and share ideas with colleagues! Workshops will be graded by difficulty level to provide a comprehensive experience for all users. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by Mon 9/8 using this link: RSVP for Blackboard Conference 9/26. For more information, contact Megan Ritt or Andrew Cutcher. (We also need presenters! Sign up via the RSVP link).
 
Thanks for reading! See you at the CAST kick-off meeting next Thursday 9/11, 3:30-4:30pm, room 1046.
 
Best,
 
Andrew Cutcher and Megan Ritt
CAST Coordinators

 

Can You See the Future?

Both Ephrem and Ivan have been after me over the last couple of weeks to set up another Football Picking Contest and I aim to please (where I can), so here it is.

The site is called “Office Football Pool” but this is just a contest, not a pool. It is free to join and your ‘winnings’ will be entirely ego related. Once upon a time I made certificates and offered non-valuable prizes, but I’m about five years behind on that so you’ll have to come up with your own reward if and when you win.

Once you go to the site, you’ll have to set up an account (unless you have one from last year), but it’s free and easy. Also, like last year’s, you’ll be picking against the spread and earning points based on both the correctness of your picks and your confidence ranking of them (earning 14 points for the pick you are most confident about and 1 for the pick you are least confident about).

Good skill to you!

Hot Take on the New Bookstore

So, I’m a fan. I helped a couple of students work through the process during registration, and I liked what I saw.

I like the look of the interface, I like that students can use their financial aid vouchers and buy their books with a click or two. As a faculty member, I like being able to snoop into the reading lists of other classes (both other philosophy classes at other colleges and across departments at our own) without having to use the clunky PeopleSoft thing. And, best of all, I like not sending our students to a bookstore that I thought was ripping them off, even for used books. I always liked Hector and found him helpful, but the prices at Beck’s were frequently outrageous.

So, in short, it seems like a big improvement. Kudos to anyone and everyone involved with the decision.

On the delta side of things, I (and another colleague) have noted that WAY fewer students have their texts in hand on the first day of class than when there was a physical bookstore. I have a theory as to why. When students have selected their books and are checking out, they get three options for shipping (Expedited, Standard, and something else) and each shows a range of dates. The range, though, is not standard. So the expedited option one might say, expected arrival 8/26-8/29 and cost $52 in shipping, while the standard option said the expected arrival was 8/28 to 9/6, but only cost $15. The student, then chose the standard option and said, “Well, it’s way less, and it’s only two days later.” In other words, she only looked at the first number of the range, rather than considering the possibility that she might be waiting for her books until almost the third week of class. After we talked about it, she said, “It all comes out of my aid, right?” and I nodded and she selected “Expedited.” I know to double check the second date of that range because I have messed up so many times on my own orders. Even though I buy a lot of used books on Amazon, even now I end up sometimes hoping to get them in a certain time frame and grinding my teeth for misreading the shipping information.

It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out and whether (as I fear) many students, even more than usual, will have to struggle through the first few weeks of class while waiting for books to arrive.

I have also found it interesting to watch as the prices and used/marketplace book availability fluctuates from day to day. Four days ago, a book for one of my classes (one I hoped to start with) was only available as New ($28) and it said, “On Backorder 1-2 Weeks.” But when I looked on Sunday, there were copies available under “Used” and “Marketplace” that were half the price of the new one. Then today, it only shows New as available and it is listed again on backorder. So, a student who times their order right, can save a lot of money. Possibly.

That’s what I’ve noticed anyway. Anyone else?