research

ARE SCOTT WALKER’S UNIVERSITY BUDGET CUTS A WIN FOR STUDENTS?

Should college professors teach more? Specifically, should professors at public research universities devote more time to teaching undergraduates, and less to research? In two states this, um, academic question has become a political controversy, one likely to crop up elsewhere. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican presidential candidate, has proposed a tuition freeze and […]

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Does Online Education Actually Work?

Conventional wisdom states that the future of higher education lies online. However, few studies tell us whether this is necessarily a good thing. Indeed, both the detractors and supporters of online education tend to rely on anecdotes rather than data. So a recent report by William Bowen, Matthew Chingos, Kelly Lack, and Thomas Nygren of […]

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Look What they’ve Done to U.S. History

If you doubt that leftist activists now dominate the study and teaching of U.S. history, take a look at the program for the 2013 American Historical Association conference in New Orleans. The pattern  is similar to the University of Michigan’s history department, discussed here yesterday—a heavy emphasis on race, class, and gender, with more “traditional” […]

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Regnerus and the ‘Liberal War on Science’

The ongoing controversy over University of Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus is a textbook example of how a legitimate scholarly dispute can turn into a political witch-hunt. Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at Texas’s flagship campus in Austin, published a peer-reviewed paper in June in the journal Social Science Research concluding that the adult children […]

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How ‘Money Men’ Hijacked a Famous College

Crossing the snow-covered Dartmouth green one night, I stopped, looked around, and asked, “Who owns this place, and by what right?” More than half a century later, I have still not resolved a complete answer to that question. But I can give you my short-form response: A small group of willful people, mostly money men […]

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What’s Going on Behind the Curtain? Climategate 2.0 and Scientific Integrity

Cross-posted from National Association of Scholars. Climategate, both 1 and 2, are textbook cases of gross lapses in professional ethics and scientific malfeasance.  To understand why, one must first understand what science is and how it is supposed to operate. Science is the noble pursuit of knowledge through observation, testing and experimentation.  Scientists attempt to […]

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Why Academic Gobbledygook Makes Sense

When I first began teaching political science in the late 1960s I would routinely assign articles from top professional journals to undergraduates. This is now impossible–without exception, they are incomprehensible, overflowing with often needless statistical complexity. The parallel is not the hard sciences where mathematics replaced philosophical speculation. If anything, these articles reflect a trivialized […]

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Academic Articles–Expensive and Mostly Unread

At research universities and many liberal arts colleges, too, it is universally assumed that research is an unadulterated good.  Research keeps professors fresh in their fields, makes them better teachers, and raises intellectual standards for departments.  Who would disagree? In conversations about research in my world of the humanities, though, one doesn’t often hear about one […]

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‘Cutthroat Admissions’ at Elite Colleges?

The Chronicle Review is notorious for publishing outlandish opinion pieces more in the nature of white-hot rants than well-reasoned essays. A good case in point is Professor John Quiggin’s “A Vicious Duo” (September 16 – subscriber site), is one of the most overwrought pieces I’ve read there. Quiggin, who teaches economics at the University of Queensland […]

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Bowdoin’s History

The NAS has announced that it is undertaking an intriguing case study examining “the curriculum, student activities, and campus values of Bowdoin College as a case study to learn what a contemporary liberal arts college education consists of,” with the hopes of creating “a template for how such a rigorous study could be undertaken at […]

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Do We Really Want Professors to Be Productive?

Accountability is all the rage in today’s education reform industry and at the university level, “productivity” typically means upping scholarly publishing.  The allure is simple–who can resist prodding lolling-about professors to generate more knowledge?  Unfortunately, putting the thumbscrews on idle faculty will only push universities farther to the left.  Better to pay professors for silence. […]

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‘Yes, Some Teachers Do Very Little’

A huge brouhaha has erupted over the release and interpretation of data about the faculty of the University of Texas, centering on whether a relatively few individuals are doing most of the teaching at the system’s flagship institution, UT-Austin. Two reports drew most of the fire, one by my organization, the Center for College Affordability and Productivity […]

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How Productive Do Professors Have to Be?

The firing of a controversial aide to the University of Texas system has triggered a full-blown debate over the productivity of teachers and whether “star” professors who teach few classes are really worth the cost to the public. Rick O’Donnell, dismissed on April 19 after only 49 days on the job as special adviser to […]

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What’s the Point of Academic Conferences?

At research universities in the United States, most departments in the humanities have a travel budget that supports professional activities for their faculty members.  Most of it goes to help professors attend academic conferences and deliver a paper to colleagues and attend sessions as an audience member as well.  For a department of 30 people, the amount […]

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Faculty Research and Student Success: A Tough Mix

The American Federation of Teachers has just issued a report that outlines the institutional conditions of “student success,” including the role of the faculty.  (The report itself is here.)  Much of the document is predictable.  The criticism of reigning assessments of student learning and graduation rehearse familiar arguments about “one-size-fits-all” and “not-all-learning-is-measurable” and “insufficient-funding-for-authentic-assessment.”  And, […]

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That Smug Article in the New York Review of Books

Last year, Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreyfus published Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids–And What We Can Do About It, a resounding broadside against campus policies and practices.  They berated the system for producing useless research, creating cushy working conditions, neglecting undergraduates, and reproducing elitism. Hacker and Dreyfus sometimes […]

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What Else Do Professors Do? They Teach.

Teaching periodically reaches the public’s attention, as in a recent statement by a group of scientists about the failure of research universities to train their students to be good teachers. The New York Times ran a report on a study published in Science that led its lead researcher to contend: “I think that learning is […]

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Who Pays the Hidden Cost of University Research?

Higher education in America is in financial crisis. In constant dollars, the average cost of tuition and fees at public colleges has risen almost 300 percent since 1980. Our best public research universities, like my own University of California (UC), are wracked with doubt: will they be able to continue their historic role as institutions […]

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Prof. Espenshade Runs From His Own Research

On July 12th Russell Nieli reminded readers of Minding the Campus what critics of racial preference policies (widely known by the euphemism “affirmative action”) have long known — that when university administrators talk about “diversity,” what they really mean is blacks … and to a lesser degree Hispanics. “Most elite universities,” he pointed out, seem […]

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Why the Professor Still Can’t Teach

In 1977 the great mathematician and teacher Morris Kline published an indictment of academe in a book aptly called Why the Professor Can’t Teach. Kline not only blamed “the overemphasis on research” as the “prime culprit” for the poor quality of undergraduate education, he also blamed professors—especially tenured professors—for ignoring their “moral obligations to students” […]

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Let’s Pretend This Is Research

The “Cry Wolf” project, launched by a group of academics, plans to pay for research papers useful for liberal causes. That sounds harmless, but as KC Johnson argued in his posts here on the project, it boils down to commissioning scholarly work meant to reach a pre-determined result. Before any evidence is gathered, both the […]

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The Wolfers and Bastardizing Academic Freedom

Academic freedom carries with it rights as well as responsibilities. The concept derives from the belief that academics, because of specialized training in their subject matter, have earned the right to teach their areas of expertise and to follow their research questions as the evidence dictates—free from political pressure from the government. Indeed, only through […]

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Another Dubious Academic Project?

The indispensable Erin O’Connor, writing this morning on her web site, Critical Mass, discusses an astonishing memo from Peter Dreier of Occidental College and two other progressives seeking “paid academic research” that can “serve in the battle with conservative ideas.” The project, sponsored by the Center on Policy Initiatives in San Diego, will pay fifty […]

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Reshape Universities Because of “Stereotype Threat”?

An Inside Higher Ed article yesterday by English professor Satya P. Mohanty of Cornell on “Diversity’s Next Challenges” constructs an elaborate house of cards but then inadvertently knocks the whole thing down. The piece features, in particular, an argument suggesting that “stereotype threat”—the claim that fear of being judged by a stereotype can cause minorities […]

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Degrading The Academic Vocation

By Jonathan B. Imber It is now nearly forty years since the sociologist Robert A. Nisbet published The Degradation of the Academic Dogma, followed two years later by Philip Rieff’s Fellow Teachers. Then in the late 1980s, Allan Bloom’s best-selling bombshell, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished […]

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Celebrating Academics’ Irrelevance

In early October, Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn proposed prohibiting the National Science Foundation from “wasting any federal research funding on political science projects,” citing the heavy emphasis that the funded projects had placed on quantitative research projects. Such methodology is currently much in fashion among political scientists, even though the research usually yields findings so […]

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Less Writing, More Teaching?

Years ago, assigned to cover a national meeting of sociologists for a major newspaper, I asked the convention press office to get me a copy of every paper to be delivered. The press officer looked thunderstruck but complied, handing over several hundred papers in a stack more than three feet high. I read them all […]

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How The NCAA Funds Research Into Itself

An interesting story: The NCAA has provided what Kretchmar describes as a startup grant for the advisory group and its journal. The association, he said, has no editorial review over the journal, and no controlling hand in the research or colloquiums. The NCAA is, in essence, funding a group of researchers striving to be as […]

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Think Tank Applicants

They call me in droves, recently minted PhD recipients often very talented, seeking employment at a think tank. In another more open period in our history, these same people would energically be seeking positions in the Academy. Why, after all, should they be in the think tank business? As I see it there are two […]

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Ward Churchill And The Diversity Agenda

This week, as expected, the University of Colorado regents dismissed Professor Ward Churchill from his tenured position in the Ethnic Studies Department. (A university committee had found that Churchill committed plagiarism and misused sources.) And, as expected, Churchill has filed suit, alleging First Amendment violations. The move against Churchill – who first attracted attention after […]

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