Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Now That's Accent on the Individual!

In a time when there are tremendous pressures on all sides for financial efficiencies, it is uplifting to hear that the idea of liberal education is still alive here and there:  
Sarah Lawrence prides itself on individualized education. Ninety percent of courses are seminars (maximum enrollment of 15), and if that's not personal enough, each seminar is built around biweekly one-on-one "conferences" at which each student in the course meets privately with the instructor to discuss progress, develop projects and so forth. Faculty members don't offer just grades, but a narrative evaluation for each student in each course.
This is from a story about how Sarah Lawrence College is developing a unique approach to student learning assessment. The approach is built on the premise that “It’s impossible for standardize testing to actually evaluate the real dynamic intelligence of students."  Some interesting ideas here at

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is a Focus on Academics the Answer?

How about this for an idea - emphasize academic quality by hiring more full time faculty and shrinking administration? That is what Iowa State University has done, apparently successfully:
After all, it turns out that focusing on academics helps student retention more than climbing walls, anyway. That’s the good news out of Iowa State University, which, according to the report by the Delta Costs Project at the American Institutes for Research, is the only—only—institution of higher learning in the entire country to spend the last eight years hiring full-time faculty and shrinking its administration. ISU President Steven Leath explained to the Des Moines Register that ISU wanted to "run a very lean operation and put as much into direct support of students and faculty” as possible.... 
Here is the whole story in Slate.