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DeVos experiment will open work-study to more private-sector jobs

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 05/21/2019 - 00:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Monday she will launch a pilot program allowing some colleges to use Federal Work-Study benefits for off-campus employment, including apprenticeships and clinical rotations.

The experiment delivers, if on a limited scale, on repeated proposals by the Trump administration to reform the work-study program and connect student aid more directly to careers.

It also marks DeVos’s first use of the department’s experimental sites authority, which allows the secretary to offer waivers to rules governing student aid programs in order to evaluate new policy ideas.

Her announcement Monday also noted that she would look to expand the number of colleges participating in the Second-Chance Pell experiment, which allows a limited number of incarcerated students to receive Pell Grants to attend college courses. A congressional ban on Pell Grants in prisons has been in place since 1994.

The work-study experiment, though, is the clearest reflection of the Trump administration’s ongoing priorities.

The federal government spends about $1 billion annually on the program, which supports student aid as a form of employment. Recent research has shown that the program has positive impacts on college completion, especially for low-income students. It may also help level the playing field in the professional world for disadvantaged students who can’t afford to take on unpaid internships.

But critics of work-study have said that the program is not well targeted to the students most in need of support and does little to ensure that jobs prepare them for careers after college. The government routes work-study funds directly to institutions using a funding formula that favors colleges based on past allocations. So money is skewed toward wealthy private colleges that have a high cost of attendance.

The Trump administration’s experiment doesn’t address funding allocations for work-study; that would require action from Congress. Instead, it would focus on helping colleges match job opportunities with students’ career goals, in large part by promoting more employment in the private sector. Those employment opportunities could include apprenticeships as well as clinical rotations and student teaching opportunities.

“For decades, the Federal Work-Study program has allowed students to support themselves while earning a college degree, but for too long, the majority of the work options students have had access to have been irrelevant to their chosen field of study,” said DeVos in a statement announcing the experiment. “That will change with this experimental site. We want all students to have access to relevant earn-and-learn experiences that will prepare them for future employment.”

The experiment would aim to measure the effectiveness of working more closely with private-sector employers and measure the impact of more flexible employment rules on student retention and completion and employment after graduation.

Almost 92 percent of Federal Work-Study funds go to on-campus employment, while another 8 percent goes to employment at local nonprofits. Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of funds go to support jobs for students at private-sector employers -- a share of total funds the Trump administration would like to see go up.

Judith Scott-Clayton, an associate professor of economics and education at Teachers College, Columbia University, said providing a direct pathway to careers has always been a mostly aspirational goal for the program.

“Everybody has always hoped for and had in their minds this vision of work-study as being a career-related thing,” she said. “In practice, most students don’t know what they want to do, and they don’t know what career relevant would look like yet.”

It’s also difficult for the federal government to regulate what career-relevant employment would mean to thousands of institutions across the country, she said.

But Scott-Clayton, whose research has examined the impact of work-study, said the program provides positive benefits to students even without a direct connection to a future career.

“They’re still getting exposed to professional work environments that could provide some really valuable soft skills,” she said. “Having a work-study job could be career relevant even if it’s not related to a student's major just by giving them that professional experience.”

Iris Palmer, a senior policy analyst at New America’s education policy program, said that the original rules for the work-study program included barriers to private-sector employment because the federal government didn’t want a student aid program to subsidize for-profit businesses. Yet keeping most jobs on campus hasn’t necessarily resulted in strong connections between student majors and careers, as recent reporting on Harvard University’s work-study program illustrated.

“But it doesn’t necessarily follow that this money being used for off-campus opportunities will be better aligned with a student’s course of study,” Palmer said.

Some students have also said that, even if their on-campus work-study jobs aren't career relevant, they provide the convenience of being near their classes and fellow students.

Kermit Kaleba, director of federal policy at the National Skills Coalition, said the group will watch closely to see how many colleges that currently receive work-study funds would attempt to expand partnerships with private-sector employers.

Expanding Second-Chance Pell

The Education Department’s new interest in exercising its experimental sites authority was underlined by the expansion of the Second-Chance Pell program. Sixty-four colleges are currently offering programs to incarcerated students receiving Pell Grants through the program. The experiment has awarded federal aid to 8,800 students in its first two academic years.

More than 200 colleges applied to the program in 2015, suggesting much broader interest in participating. The Education Department did not comment on the number of new institutions it’s seeking to add. But a press release from the department noted that adding more students and colleges would help efforts to evaluate the Second Chance program.

A Government Accountability Office report released in April found that the department hadn’t taken steps to adequately evaluate the experiment.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Enrollment Shortfalls Spread to More Colleges

The private institutions, in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, have rarely, if ever, had to worry about filling their classes.

UK & German HEIs showcase research & collaboration

The PIE News - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 09:13

UK and German universities joined forces to host an innovative showcase that shone a spotlight on the vital partnerships that exist between British and German academia.

Held at the British Embassy in Berlin as part of a collaboration between BUILA and its German counterpart DAIA, the showcase explored themes contributing to key European priorities where partners are collaborating at the cutting edge of science and technology and education.

“Universities in the UK are committed to continuing their deep-rooted academic collaborations”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool and president of Universities UK Janet Beer said that irrespective of the outcomes of Brexit, “universities in the UK are committed to continuing their deep-rooted and often ground-breaking academic collaborations with German and European academic institutions and companies”.

“Collaborative research and teaching are a key component to UK HE’s success and is something we need to work hard to protect and nurture,” she said.

The showcase demonstrated how HEIs in the UK and Germany are working together and with other European partners to develop knowledge and skills and foster the innovation needed to address some of the key issues facing Europe.

Examples of educational collaborations present at the Showcase included those between Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the University of Glasgow on a project called GET – SET – GO, and Wuppertal University which is partnering with 34 British Schools on a project called PrimA.

Deputy Secretary General at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Christian Müller added that the importance of collaborative research between Germany and the UK cannot be underestimated.

Since 2014 some 11,745 joint projects have been undertaken between Germany and the UK and over 72,000 research publications have been produced jointly between German and UK academics, many of them with support from DAAD.

“It is absolutely crucial that these research links are maintained,” he said.

The showcase took place to coincide with the British Council’s Going Global Conference.

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US continues MENA virtual exchange

The PIE News - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 06:15

US virtual exchange facilitator the Stevens Initiative has granted international nonprofit organisation and virtual exchange provider Soliya an addition round of funding, which it says will connect students in the US, Middle East, and North Africa.

The funding will be used for the Connect Global for US – MENA dialogue, which Soliya implements.

“Now more than ever, we need online platforms that facilitate constructive conversations”

This latest cash injection will enable Soliya “to exponentially grow one key program model, deepen our impact measurement efforts and better communicate the results”, according to the organisation’s CEO, Waidehi Gokhale.

Soliya also received funding from the Stevens Initiative in 2017.

“Combining the power of digital technologies and dialogue exchange can allow for the acquisition and development of seminal skills for young people as they prepare to engage within and across their communities and enter the workplaces of tomorrow,” Gokhale said.

“Now more than ever, we need online platforms that facilitate constructive conversations and collaborative global learning.”

The Connect Global: US-MENA, one of six programs through an international competition to fund virtual exchange programs in the US and the MENA region, will work in 12 US states, Washington DC, five MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories.

The exchanges will help college-aged young people gain skills they need for future careers, and establish new cross-cultural connections, according to the two facilitating organisations.

Participants will be able to discuss issues – including religion, gender, current events, social culture, media, and the environment – during the exchange in the presence of trained facilitators.

In a statement, Marie Royce, assistant secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, said the expansion will also honour the legacy of ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, whom the Initiative is named after.

As the US ambassador to Libya, Stevens was killed by extremists in Libya in September 2012.

“As bandwidths increase and platforms get more sophisticated, virtual exchanges open opportunities for international exposure and connection to hundreds of thousands – and potentially millions – of people,” Royce noted.

Including its other programs with organisations such as World Learning, Global Nomads Group, and IREX, the Stevens Initiative will reach nearly 40,000 students in 15 MENA countries and the Palestinian Territories, and 44 US states, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.

Along with funding from the US Department of State, the Stevens Initiative is supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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International students contributed €2bn to the Spanish economy – report

The PIE News - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 04:02

International students contributed an estimate of over €2bn to the Spanish economy in 2018, with language schools welcoming by far the largest cohort of students out of all sectors, a research report has found.

The research, supported by the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (part of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism) and the association EDUESPANA, found that the estimated cohort of 616,788 international students enrolled in the academic year 2017/18 contributed approximately € 2,143,631,704 to the Spanish economy.

“There is a lack of understanding of the benefits that derive from the presence of international students”

It also found that for every euro spent on an academic program, international students spent €0.86 on other sectors of the economy, and estimated that international students support 5,340 FTEs in the education sector alone.

Although, according to the report, international education is now a “major economic sector” for Spain, its benefits are not immediately understood by the wider public.

“There is a general lack of understanding and appreciation for both the economic impact and the social benefits which derive from the presence of international students, not only in Spain but probably in several other European countries,” Cristina Grasset, one of the authors of the report, told The PIE News.

“We hope the data-based evidence in our report will help spread the message, raise awareness and improve the perception of stakeholders and government agencies.”

Raising awareness on the benefit and the potential of the sector is crucial to advocate for favourable legislation and eliminate roadblocks to the development of the sector, the report pointed out.

“We need to ease the processes that non-EU students must complete in order to attend programs in Spain,” Grasset said.

“In the past, these have included long and frustrating bureaucratic procedures which have encouraged many to seek other educational destinations,” she explained, adding that there is hope new legislation, passed in 2018, will eliminate several roadblocks.

Another change needed to attract international students, said Grasset, is an increase in the number of English-taught programs.

“Our ability to attract international students is restrained by the minimal percentage of educational degrees that can be completed without a prior command of Spanish,” she said, adding that full-degree international student numbers are still growing, and their contribution will be the object of a future report.

Using a variety of sources, the present report estimated the enrolment numbers and economic contribution of international students in four sectors of the Spanish education system: Erasmus (of which Spain is the top destination), language and culture schools, business schools and US study abroad programs.

The language school sector by far welcomed the largest number of students, a total of 472,150, with a total impact of 793,102,474.

Encarnación Gutierrez of FEDELE, the Spanish Federation of Associations of Schools of Spanish as a Foreign Language, told The PIE that numbers have been increasing steadily over the past few years and that the association is focusing on advocacy and promotion.

“We are organising meetings and working as a team with other institutions to obtain facilities in the dispatching of student’s visa and to recognise our academic offers as university credits,” she said, adding that FEDELE’s agent workshops have proven very popular, with the next event taking place on September 29.

But as impressive as they are, the figures concerning the language school sector could even be conservative estimates, according to CLIC deputy director Frederic Parrilla Garreau.

He explained the data only pertains to members of FEDELE and it excludes universities and private sector schools, which don’t belong to the association.

“I wouldn’t be surprised the total number of foreign students all in all is at least 10-15% more than this,” he said.

“The problem is that that Spanish has fewer students focused on their career or business”

Interest towards Spanish is undeniably growing, he explained, as evidenced by its increasing popularity over other languages – for example, it has overtaken French in the UK.

Its charm is in no small measure aided by Spain’s warm climate, tourist attractions and friendliness, Parrilla Garreau added, in a way that is not always entirely positive for the industry.

“Lots of people study Spanish by simpatia [interest] towards the country and its people. The problem is that that Spanish has fewer students focused on their career or business – and people more focused on business, jobs, salaries, for example, would tend to study another language such as German,” he explained.

“I think Spanish will keep on growing but it needs to recreate a more solid branding connected to business and work opportunity globally,” he pointed out, adding that more government regulation is needed to block rogue providers.

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Singapore’s Cialfo raises $3m for US venture

The PIE News - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 02:39

An edtech venture from Singapore called Cialfo is described as a HE admissions startup, and it’s just raised US$3m to help it expand into the US.

The series-A funding has taken the total raised by Cialfo to $5m after its consulting side was sold in 2017 to ChangedEdu.

The round was led by DLF Venture, and money was also provided by an arm of Enterprise Singapore, called Seeds Capital. DLF is a family-owned holding company based in Luxembourg and focused on edtech and digital media.

“What convinced us about Cialfo was their ability to disrupt the market”

The product allows prospective students to research key information on global HEIs to assist with their application processes.

It also collects data on both failed and successful applications, which the company says allows it to better assist future students when advising them on courses and institutions to fit their wants and needs.

The firm currently boasts 400 global partners with most currently in Asia – though Stanley Chia, co-founder and COO, said the US was the company’s next target market.

He also highlighted the attention to customer service and customisability of the service.

“The flexibility and customizability to every school are much more rigorous [than other products],” he said.

The company currently employs 25 people, but with expansion expected in New York, Beijing and Delhi from 2020, that number is expected to grow.

François-Xavier de Mevius, principal at DLF Venture, explained why his fund was keen to invest in Cialfo.

“What convinced us about Cialfo was their ability to disrupt the (admissions) counselling market, by going back to the core: an obsessive focus on the customer.

“The entire platform is built around its users (counsellors, students and parents) and by offering 24/7 customer support, they bring average response times down from days to just hours,” he added.

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Former Ohio State doctor abused nearly 200 young men with no consequences for decades

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 00:00

A former physician, now dead, at Ohio State University sexually abused at least 177 male students, likely more, during his two decades at the institution and faced no consequences until he was briefly suspended and then retired with an honorary title.

Administrators, coaches and students were aware of Richard Strauss’s actions -- fondling athletes’ genitals, performing sex acts on them and making lewd comments during exams -- but failed to act, according to an investigative report released Friday. Even when students told officials about Strauss, who died by suicide in 2005, those reports went unheeded. Ohio State’s investigation, conducted by Seattle-based law firm Perkins Coie, describes an environment in which Strauss’s misdeeds were an “open secret” and athletes considered the abuse a form of “hazing” or a “rite of passage.”

Many see parallels between this case and other sprawling sexual abuse scandals by doctors at other universities -- Larry Nassar at Michigan State University and George Tyndall at the University of Southern Carolina. Nassar’s victims numbered in the hundreds and Michigan State settled with them for $500 million -- the largest payout related to sexual assault at an institution of higher education.

In the Strauss case, all of his victims were all young men -- men who were reluctant to come forward during the investigation, fearing, in part, the stigma around male sexual assault survivors, the report indicated. (In a separate case, men at USC have come forward alleging another physician sexually abused them.)

Trauma experts told Inside Higher Ed that the public often doesn’t take sex abuse allegations by men as seriously as women’s -- that men are expected to be able to “fight off” their perpetrator. But this stereotype reinforces men’s unwillingness to report sexual assaults -- and in this case, contributed to Strauss getting away with abuse for nearly his entire tenure. The power of these stereotypes was particularly strong given the victims were athletes.

“There are major differences in the stereotypes and assumptions made about male victims,” said Christopher Anderson, a trauma expert and member of the Board of Directors of MaleSurvivor, a nonprofit supporting male sex assault victims. “Among these, perhaps the biggest difference is the perception that any man who was abused must be weak, vulnerable, less of a man. In addition if the perpetrator is male, then toxic prejudice and homophobia can be a major stigma leading many victims to stay silent.”

Strauss began at Ohio State in 1978 as an assistant professor of sports management and began volunteering in the athletics department within months of his hiring. He rose in the ranks and eventually worked both in athletics and the student health center. As early as 1979, athletics staffers and students knew of his misconduct -- mostly lengthy and unnecessary physical exams that involved him fondling men, forcing them to have an erection, the report states. But complaints weren’t elevated outside the athletics department until 1996, following a cluster of incidents in the late '90s.

University officials twice conducted “investigations” -- the word is deliberately in quotes in the report because the inquiries did not nearly uncover the extent of Strauss’s abuse. In one case, a fencing coach reported Strauss to another official, who was dismissive of the accusations and said they were based on “unfounded rumors.” After the second investigation in 1996, Strauss was stripped of his duties in athletics and the health center but retained his professorship until his retirement in 1998, when he was granted an emeritus title, even after the university was aware of the allegations against him. The university has said it will remove the title. (The report does not name any employees discussed who are still at the university, only those who have left or died.)

Strauss opened an off-campus clinic in 1997 after failing to appeal his punishments to administrators. Ohio State had never reported him to the state medical board. He claimed to specialize in sexually transmitted diseases and urological problems, but investigators found that he continued to abuse young men who came into the clinic. The report describes the operation almost as a “free clinic.” Strauss seemed not to charge the men who came in, and when he did, the cash was kept in a lockbox.

Investigators interviewed more than 500 individuals, mostly students who were abused and former Ohio State employees. They found that 22 coaches were aware of Strauss’s actions. The report also notes that 22 of the 177 victims did not believe they had been abused, but consulting with experts, the investigators said Strauss’s exams with them went far beyond appropriate medical conduct.

Strauss’s actions tended to escalate over time. His victims said in interviews that his most egregious violations did not occur in their first encounter with Strauss, which the report said is typical of sexual abusers.

A former student reported to investigators that in his first year, during a physical, Strauss spent more than five minutes inspecting his genitals. Strauss asked the student out to dinner, and the student declined. Strauss commonly took students out to dinner and paid, the report states. When the student saw Strauss again, Strauss touched him with the intent to try to make him ejaculate, the student told investigators. During another examination, when the student had a sore throat, Strauss fondled him again -- for no discernible medical reason. And in their final encounter, Strauss performed oral sex on the student and took off his pants, which the student believed was so the student could reciprocate.

The student never reported the behavior, noting that “student athletes were generally expected to be the ‘manliest of men,’” the report states.

Strauss would shower with players, sometimes for up to 45 minutes at a time, rubbing his genitals. No other athletics staffer did so, which made athletes uncomfortable, the report states.

When his behavior was reported, it seemed not to matter. When another former student injured himself during his sophomore year, the student told another physician treating him about a prolonged examination that involved Strauss touching his genitals. The physician asked the student to repeat the story to the head team physician, and the student told investigators both men looked concerned. But neither seemed to do much with the information. Strauss called the student later that night to check in on his injury but did not bring up the student talking to his colleagues. Strauss kept his job.

After multiple students reported Strauss had abused them in the late '90s, the university investigated the allegations and chose not to allow Strauss to work in athletics or in the health center.

Debra Warner, a professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and an expert in sexual abuse, said reports likely took so long to surface because society shames men who are vulnerable. The public -- wrongly -- considers men as hunters, protectors, she said, and not those who can be the victims of sexual violence.

“To say that they have been assaulted and victimized in any way shape or form, they are afraid about what everyone will think about them, that it will impact their future and their survival,” Warner said.

Jessica Davidson, the director of End Rape on Campus, said that Ohio State now must show how it will never allow such abuse to fester or go unnoticed again.

The university’s president, Michael V. Drake, issued a letter to the campus Friday, writing that the findings were “shocking and painful to comprehend.”

“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse,” Drake wrote. “Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable -- as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members. This independent investigation was completed because of the strength and courage of survivors. We thank each of them for their willingness to share their experiences."

Ohio State currently faces three lawsuits from abuse victims.

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Fighting gender bias in student evaluations of teaching, and tenure's effect on instruction

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 00:00

Student evaluations of teaching -- which have been shown again and again to be subject to student biases, especially gender bias -- remain as controversial as ever. And two new studies of these evaluations, or SETs, are more fuel for the fire.

The first paper suggests that relatively simple changes to the language used in SETs can make a positive impact in assessments of female professors. Yet the authors warn that if these changes were widely adopted, students (and their biases) might adjust to the new system -- and the positive effect for female professors might wear off.

A second study finds that professors are seen by students as better teachers before they earn tenure. The authors say that this is not a reason to do away tenure entirely, just that increased job security inside or outside academe may come with decreased "quality of output."

Mitigating Gender Bias

The bias paper, published in PLOS ONE, cities experimental research showing that gender bias accounts for a up a 0.5-point negative effect for women on a five-point scale. And yet, it says, “there are few effective evidence-based tools for mitigating these biases.”

What if students were made aware of their potential biases, the authors wondered? While long-term reductions in student biases are beyond a simple intervention, they wrote, it may be possible to limit the immediate problem of biases in SET by “cuing students to be aware of their biases, providing motivation to not rely on them, and suggesting alternatives to their stereotypes.”

To test their idea, the authors conducted an experiment in pairs of large introductory courses in biology and American politics at Iowa State University last spring. All four sections were taught by white professors, allowing the researchers to eliminate effects from confounding racial biases. One section in each field was taught by a man and the other by a woman.

SETs at Iowa State are conducted online, from a link in students’ email. For each course in the study, students received one of two evaluation formats: the standard department format or the “treatment” evaluation. Students were randomized within courses, not across courses, to receive different evaluation formats so that professors could be compared to themselves, not other professors who may actually be better teachers.

Unlike the standard evaluation, the treatment evaluation included the following language, which the researchers expected would mitigate gender biases:

Student evaluations of teaching play an important role in the review of faculty. Your opinions influence the review of instructors that takes place every year. Iowa State University recognizes that student evaluations of teaching are often influenced by students’ unconscious and unintentional biases about the race and gender of the instructor. Women and instructors of color are systematically rated lower in their teaching evaluations than white men, even when there are no actual differences in the instruction or in what students have learned.

As you fill out the course evaluation please keep this in mind and make an effort to resist stereotypes about professors. Focus on your opinions about the content of the course (the assignments, the textbook, the in-class material) and not unrelated matters (the instructor’s appearance).

Among other questions, every student involved in the study was asked the following about their instructor, on a five-point scale:

  • Your overall rating of this instructor is?
  • What is your overall rating of the instructor’s teaching effectiveness?
  • And your overall rating of this course is?

Students were also asked about their gender, as is standard for Iowa State evaluations, allowing the researchers to examine that, as well. The authors guessed, based on existing literature, that male students would be more biased against female instructors than female students would be. The authors controlled for students' expected grades in a course.

What happened? The language seemed to have a small but significant, positive effect for female faculty members on all three questions -- and no effect for men. The answers to the overall evaluation of teaching were 0.41 points higher in the treatment condition. The difference in the means for the teaching effectiveness question were 0.30 points. For the overall evaluation of the course, the treatment condition was 0.51 points higher than the control.

Regarding the student gender hypothesis, the researchers found that the intervention had no effect on women’s evaluations of female professors. There was some evidence of an effect for male students rating female professors on overall rating of the course and the instructor, but not teaching effectiveness. A more advanced analysis reduced this effect, however.

Across courses, the effects of the evaluation language were “substantial in magnitude; as much as half a point on a five-point scale,” the paper says. “This effect is comparable with the effect size due to gender bias found in the literature. There is no evidence of a similar effect on the evaluation of male instructors. Given the outsized role SET play in the evaluation, hiring and promotion of faculty, the possibility of mitigating this amount of possible bias in evaluations is striking.”

Source: Peterson, PLOS ONE

A note of caution, however. “The implication of these results is that universities should adopt some form of this language to mitigate the gender biases in SET,” the study says, yet “we are somewhat uncertain about the broad applicability of these results.” Why? The effects observed “may be magnified by the unusual nature of the situation for the students,” meaning it’s possible that if an institution saw “widespread adoption of bias language students would be less likely to notice the language and its effects would lessen.”

Further research is needed, therefore, “to determine the most effective way to mitigate gender bias in SET on a large scale.”

Teaching and Tenure

And what about tenure’s effect on teaching -- at least students’ perceptions of it? The working paper on that topic involves 250 professors granted tenure over 11 years at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Together, the professors taught more than 6,000 courses to undergraduates and graduate students, and their many SETs of course included proxies for teaching effectiveness -- namely overall ratings for course and instructor.

All such questions are subjective and self-reported by students, the paper notes. But the authors say they looked “within instructors,” pre- and posttenure, “not across instructors,” for consistency.

Results of the instructors’ pre- and posttenure ratings show what the authors call “a small but persistent decrease” in the instructor over all and course over all score, equivalent to up to a sixth of a standard deviation.

Source: Gourley

While the results seems to show an “in-class behavioral change” in instructors after tenure, the paper says, there exist alternative explanations.

The authors were most concerned with the possibility that professors teach different courses after tenure. Yet the study’s most restrictive specification or step compared the same instructor pretenure and posttenure in the “exact same course, leaving few possible alternative explanations to a tenure mechanism.” The results are there are “qualitatively similar to the main set of results: instructors receive worse evaluations after tenure than they did prior.”

The researchers also found a statistically significant decrease in an instructor’s student-reported availability, instructor effectiveness and how much the student reported to have learned posttenure.

What Now?

David A. M. Peterson, professor of political science at Iowa State and lead author on the gender bias paper, said the biggest takeaway for higher ed is that a small, relatively easy-to-adopt intervention can produce “sizable changes” in evaluations of female faculty members.

At the same time, he said, “The concern we have is that the effects will be much smaller if the change is universally adopted.” More generally, “universities absolutely should not make this type of change and then assume that they have fixed the problem,” Peterson added.

Like many critics of student evaluations of teaching, Peterson also said SETs probably shouldn’t be used in high-stakes personnel decisions. They can be useful for “individual faculty members to get an assessment of their courses,” but are “quite problematic for comparing faculty to one another or to some abstract standard.”

Asked about possible other factors behind his findings, Patrick Gourley, assistant professor of economics at the University of New Haven, lead author of the posttenure paper, reiterated that the strength of his research design is that it’s not comparing scores across professors.

“We even take into account the possibility that professors may teach different courses after gaining tenure. Still, the negative impact exists,” he said, adding, “Why else would professors suddenly change their teaching six to eight years after starting a faculty position?”

Gourley said that it’s possible that professors have a first child or more children as soon as they get tenure and “have less time to devote to teaching.” But even that would be an indirect effect of tenure.

Tenure critics will certainly seize on this research as evidence that tenured professors are “deadwood” -- even if other research on other dimensions of faculty work contradict that.

Asked about how his findings should be interpreted, Gourley said he’s currently working toward tenure himself and that the tenure debate is “complex with many good arguments on both sides.” So his own findings should “should first be kept in context,” in that the “magnitude of our effect is small,” he said.

Gourley also noted that the finding is based on “observation of student-perceived teacher quality,” and not an “objective measure of how much a student is learning.” And while it seems likely that professors work harder on teaching while on the tenure track, given the “large benefit” of getting tenure, he said, “the effect we find represents a reversion to what would have happened had no tenure system existed in the first place.”

In other words, he explained, “perhaps the tenure system makes teachers better at the beginning of their career than they would have been otherwise.” Gourley also noted that service requirements typically increase significantly posttenure, partially counterbalancing the negative effect on teaching.

“Those caveats aside, this does need to be included as a possible cost of the tenure system, and should be viewed as one of many in the list of costs and benefits.”

Gourley found no evidence of gender bias in his study. But he said it wasn’t surprising with respect to this particular paper, in that it would imply that students “view the tenure-induced teaching change in professors to be larger in one gender than in the other.”

To the contrary, he said, most students aren’t aware of who’s tenured and who isn’t.

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Morehouse commencement speaker promises to repay debt of all graduates

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 00:00

Robert F. Smith, a billionaire who is the chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, stunned the 396 graduates he addressed at Morehouse College Sunday when he pledged to repay all their student debt.

The vast majority of Morehouse graduates borrow. While the historically black college has not figured out the exact amount that will be involved, Smith said he would pay up to $40 million to meet his pledge.

Graduates broke into cheers when Smith closed his graduation speech with the announcement. College officials standing behind Smith seemed surprised by the news.

Smith, in his speech, talked of the discrimination black people continue to face in the United States and urged the graduates to fight it -- pushing for political change and economic advancement. Smith said Morehouse graduates have an obligation to work on behalf of black people who do not have their advantages.

"You must become a community builder," he said. "You don't want to just be on the bus. You want to own it and drive it and pick up as many people as you can," he said.

He introduced the comments on his gift by saying that he was going "to put a little fuel in your bus."

Smith challenged Morehouse alumni to build on his gift. The Class of 2019 "is my class," he said. But other alumni need to help other alumni and students.

Only by doing so, he said, will the United States become a place where access to education is determined by "the fierceness of your intellect."

Earlier in his address, he urged students to work hard and to be deliberate. "Be intentional about the words you speak, how you define yourself, the people you spend time with," he said.

On social media, graduates and those with them at the time of the speech expressed joy.

Just spoke to 22-year-old @Morehouse finance major from Atlanta who had drawn up Excel spreadsheet to figure out how he would pay off $200,000 in student loans. He didn't believe it when @RFS_Vista said he would pay debt for him and his classmates. He cried at the news.

— Errin Haines Whack (@emarvelous) May 19, 2019

Many were writing that they had not known how they would repay their debt.

If the spending on repaying the debt hits $40 million, the gift would be the largest in Morehouse's history.

Politicians are also taking note, with some suggesting that this could provide a way to see what happens when talented African Americans are able to launch their careers without worrying about student loans.

Every Morehouse Class of 2019 student is getting their student debt load paid off by their commencement speaker.

This could be the start of what’s known in Econ as a ‘natural experiment.’ Follow these students & compare their life choices w their peers over the next 10-15 years. https://t.co/UM1qTJOxHf

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) May 19, 2019

Smith's promise to Morehouse graduates is in some ways the flip side of the I Have a Dream program created by the late Eugene M. Lang in 1981. Speaking at the elementary school he had once attended, he promised to pay for college for everyone there that day, as long as they finished high school and applied to a college. The idea quickly caught on and spread. It may be a sign of the times -- with student debt worrying so many new graduates -- that Smith's promise to a class was as its members were finishing college but worried about repaying student loans.

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GOP tax law included surprise tax hike for college students

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 00:00

A provision in the Republican tax law passed in 2017 could actually mean a hike in the tax bill for many low-income families with a student receiving scholarships for college, a top higher ed group warned lawmakers this month.

Scholarships or grants for nontuition expenses like room and board have traditionally been subject to the same marginal tax rate paid by parents. So low-income students could expect to pay low taxes. But the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act applies the same high marginal tax rates for those scholarships as it does for trusts and estates.

“Now these students are being taxed at the same rates as wealthy individuals,” wrote Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, in a letter to key lawmakers.

The issue, which was first reported by The New York Times, only recently began to register with college groups as the filing deadline approached for the 2018 tax period, the first since the law took effect.

Lawmakers say they’re planning to take quick action on the issue. Representative Richard Neal, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, will introduce an amendment this week to restore the previous tax rates, a spokeswoman said. Neal plans to attach the amendment to a retirement savings bill being considered by the House that has bipartisan support. That fix would apply retroactively, the spokeswoman said.

The Senate finance committee did not respond to a request for comment. But a spokesman for Senator Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the committee, told the Times that the Iowa Republican wanted to quickly reach an agreement to fix the issue.

In the run-up to the passage of the tax law in 2017, higher ed groups focused on stripping out provisions that explicitly targeted higher ed benefits. Early versions of the legislation, for example, would have eliminated tax deductions for graduate students and student borrowers.

The higher ed lobby also tried unsuccessfully to block the creation of an endowment tax hitting the wealthiest private institutions. ACE and private college leaders have backed legislation to repeal the tax on endowments.

But the change to taxes on student scholarships flew under the radar -- partly because it was so arcane.

“That’s what happens when you’re writing a very complicated bill and it gets passed very quickly,” said Steven Bloom, director of government and public affairs at ACE. “It’s inevitable that these technical problems are going to surface later.”

The tax hike for low-income families could be substantial, as Mitchell laid out in his letter to lawmakers. A two-parent household with an income of $50,000 could face an additional $1,200 tax on a full scholarship to a private university, he said. And the higher the amount of the scholarship, the larger the tax bill that would hit those families.

The changes to the so-called kiddie tax on need-based scholarships and grants don’t just affect low-income students. They also affect college athletes on full scholarship as well as Native American students receiving some tribal payments and “gold star” families receiving survivor benefits.

And the higher tax rates aren’t just a challenge for students on scholarship at private colleges. David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges, said students at two-year colleges would be taxed on the portion of their Pell Grants that helps meet living expenses.

Republicans, who controlled the House and Senate when the bill was passed in 2017, had argued the new law would achieve a long-held goal of simplifying the tax code, including the kiddie tax, which was originally created to prevent wealthy individuals from lowering their tax hit by steering income to their children.

But congressional GOP officials told the Times that higher tax rates on college scholarships were an unintended consequence.

Brian Flahaven, senior director of advocacy at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, said donors to scholarship programs expect that their contributions will go to students to actually afford college, not create bigger tax burdens for their families.

“There seems to be a recognition that, yeah, this is something that needs to be fixed,” he said.

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Another alleged case of censorship roils China studies

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 00:00

In yet another case of alleged censorship in the China studies field, a scholar says a journal editor censored his book review by requesting the deletion of an opening paragraph that contextualized the book in light of Chinese Communist Party policy toward members of the Uighur ethnic minority group in the region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups estimate that China has detained as many as one million Uighurs in camps as part of a mass “re-education” drive aimed at forcing the assimilation of Uighurs and other Muslim-majority groups.

The scholar, Timothy Grose, an assistant professor of China studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, says the requested deletions -- and the refusal over multiple months to publish the piece after he did not consent to them -- constitute an "open-and-shut" case of censorship, and he has noted that the editor in chief of the journal is on record defending Chinese government policy in Xinjiang.

The journal’s editor in chief, Han Xiaorong, a professor and head of the department of Chinese culture at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, says he did suggest the deletions but denies that his proposed edits constituted censorship. Han said the review was not published because miscommunications between him and the book review editor led to the commission of two reviews, including the review in question, that were not “directly relevant” to the journal’s theme.

The case of alleged censorship involves a new journal, China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies, published by Brill, a Dutch publisher of more than 270 journals. Grose said he was commissioned by the journal to write a review of the book Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang (University of Chicago Press), an ethnographic study of members of the majority Han ethnic group who have settled in Xinjiang, written by the anthropologist Tom Cliff.

Grose opened his review of Cliff’s book with a paragraph discussing the detention of Uighurs in "concentration re-education centers" because, he wrote, he believed Cliff’s argument "afforded much-needed clarity to the confounding situation in the region." He submitted the review Nov. 7. The next day he received an email from the book review editor saying the editorial staff had suggested a "minor change": the deletion of the first paragraph, as well as two subsequent sentences (see image of the deletions above).

“I was more confused than upset,” Grose wrote in an account he published last week on the Los Angeles Review of Books’ website ChinaChannel.org. “I spent the evening and next morning trying to make sense of this editorial decision, before responding in an email asking for clarification and expressing my concerns over censorship. The book review editor forwarded my note to the editor in chief of the journal, Han Xiaorong.”

“After waiting over a month for the editor’s response, to no avail, I sent a follow-up email in mid-December. The book review editor responded within a week and expressed serious doubt over the possibility of publishing the piece. He did not offer specific reasons behind the decision.” After three more months of silence, Grose wrote, he took to Twitter on April 5 to offer the review to another outlet. The Asia Dialogue, an online magazine published by the University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute, published it three days later.

Any book review editors want my review praising @TMJCliff's Oil & Water? A @BrillPublishing journal refused to publish it because I would not agree to delete my remarks on the mass detention of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in the region. DM me.

— Timothy Grose (@GroseTimothy) April 5, 2019

The editor in chief of the journal, Han, acknowledged in a written response to Grose’s article that he suggested the deletions, but he disputed that the suggestions constituted censorship.

“I did suggest the removal of the first paragraph as well as the first two sentences of the second paragraph of Tim’s review, because I believed the views expressed about the situation in Xinjiang were primarily of a political nature and were about a current event that was still developing,” Han wrote. “It is typical for an academic book review to start with the book rather than a political message. If censorship was my aim, I would have rejected the review immediately without revisions, because the book under review and the rest of the book review were also critical of China’s practices.”

Han also cited “miscommunications between our book review editor and me” in saying that the journal acquired two reviews for its inaugural issue “that were not directly relevant to our journal’s central theme, which is China’s historical relations with other Asian countries. This is why I did not include these two reviews in our first issue … My plan was to try to find more suitable journals for these two reviews, and, if that failed, we would consider publishing them in future issues.” Han apologized for what he said in hindsight was poor communication between Grose, the book review editor and him.

As Grose has noted, Han recently wrote an op-ed in which he defended Chinese Communist Party policies in Xinjiang on counterterrorism-related grounds. Han wrote that foreign media, government officials and scholars who criticize the Chinese government for its policies in Xinjiang “have never attempted to understand why Xinjiang is taking these unique anti-terrorism measures; they also almost never mention the positive outcomes brought about by these anti-terrorism measures.”

“In Xinjiang and all other regions under the threat of terrorism, the government and the people must face the difficult decision: whether the personal freedom of a few should be traded for everyone’s right to survive,” Han wrote (translated from Chinese). “The most basic human right is to live in an environment in which one does not have to fear for the life and safety of oneself and one’s family and friends. In order to protect this right, sometimes it is necessary to forfeit some secondary rights. In 2001, after Sept. 11, the United States immediately strengthened airport security check measures and established the Department of Homeland Security, which had the right to restrict the freedoms of certain people; this is a similar decision."

Han said via email the question of what his views on Xinjiang are and the question of whether he censored Grose are two separate issues -- and that "to make false connections between the two is a form of censorship in itself." He asked, "To trace meticulously what someone has written or spoken in order to prove that someone's guilt[y] is the worst form of censorship, isn't it?"

“My views on Xinjiang may differ from those of Tim,” Han wrote in his published response to Grose’s allegations, “but that does not mean the suggested revision of his book review and the delay of its publication were due to censorship.”

Grose said he thinks this is an "open-and shut case" of an editor deliberately censoring his review. “He [Han] incriminates himself in his response to my rendering of the events that transpired by saying, yes, initially I did delete the entire first paragraph and the first few sentences of the second paragraph because I thought they were political,” Grose said. “To me, that is the epitome of censorship when you find something political and you don’t agree with those politics and you decide not to let an individual express those ideas.”

“To me it wasn’t political at all,” Grose continued. “I’m not just a China scholar. My expertise is Xinjiang and Uighurs, and Tom Cliff’s argument is very, very relevant to what’s going on in Xinjiang. It’s about how the CCP formulates its policy, how it privileges the comforts of one group of people over the other and also how it forms Xinjiang’s relationship with the rest of China and how it continues to make this an ‘other’ place compared to the rest of China.”

Kevin Carrico, a senior lecturer in Chinese studies at Monash University, in Australia, said it seemed to him an “extremely clear-cut case of censorship … Han claims that the reference to Xinjiang’s concentration camps at the beginning of Grose’s review is 'political' and thus somehow inappropriate,” Carrico wrote in a Listserv post. “But as someone who writes a fair amount of book reviews, I’ve never encountered an editor who was resistant to linking a book review to pressing current affairs. This applies even to journals focused on history. Books are, after all, read in the context of the world as it is today, and I find it frankly impossible to read Cliff’s book without thinking about the ongoing tragedy in Xinjiang.”

Grose criticized the publisher, Brill, for the slowness of its response, and said the last communication he received from Brill prior to publication of his LA Review of Books piece last week was on April 22.

Jasmin Lange, chief of publishing at Brill, said the publisher had reached out to both Grose and Han for their views on the situation and would assess the information provided. "It was certainly not a matter of not taking this seriously; we simply had to gather all the information,” Lange said.

Lange said Brill first learned about the case on April 7 through Grose’s posting on social media and immediately contacted him. "One day later Timothy Grose published his book review elsewhere, which meant that we could not intervene in the publishing process anymore," she said over email. "During the last few weeks, we were in a process of gathering information. We have first received a report and copies of emails from Timothy. Yesterday [Thursday] we have also received a report from the editor as well as all email correspondence between him and the author. We will review this information and investigate whether our publication ethics have been breach[ed]. If our publication ethics have been breached, we will not hesitate to take any necessary action. Commercial considerations do not play a role in such an evaluation."

This is the second case involving a Brill journal and alleged censorship in the last month; in April Brill announced that it would end its partnership with a Beijing-based press after scholars reported that an entire article was removed from a Brill-affiliated journal at the request of Chinese censors. In 2017, Cambridge University Press briefly blocked access in mainland China to more than 1,000 journal articles in the prestigious journal The China Quarterly before reversing course and restoring access to the articles, which dealt with sensitive topics in China like the Cultural Revolution, Tibet, Tiananmen Square and the pro-democracy movement, and Xinjiang.

The German publisher Springer Nature has stood by its decision to block access to certain journal articles in China, saying it must comply with local rules and regulations in the countries in which it publishes. More recently it came to light that Chinese importers had stopped buying whole journals published by the English publisher Taylor & Francis due to content the government found objectionable.

Jonathan Sullivan, an associate professor at the University of Nottingham and editor of the Asia Dialogue, which ultimately published Grose's piece, said he has had his papers banned in China in the Cambridge University Press and Springer censorship incidents. "I regret that some of my work on China is not available in China, but I would be much more concerned if my work had (hypothetically) been rejected from these journals because a (hypothetical) publisher or editor deemed it to be politically expedient [with regard to] China to do so," Sullivan said.

"China is using subtle and not so subtle, direct and indirect methods to influence the information environment outside of China, but more insidious still is the intervention of actors making decisions for fear of upsetting China," Sullivan said via email. "This kind of self-censoring is a risk to the academic study of China, and there is survey evidence to show that it is emerging in China scholars’ thinking. Therefore, wherever we see attempts to curtail our freedom of inquiry and dissemination we need to push back, because we cannot allow modification of our work (by ourselves or by others) out of political expediency to become normalized."

Sullivan continued, "Tim was reviewing a book about Xinjiang and thus it made sense to provide contextualization in the opening paragraph. The unavoidable context for any contemporary piece of work about Xinjiang is the current government’s policy of systematically repressing Uighur Muslims. There is no room for doubt on this issue -- no one, not even those who seek to justify the policy on counterterror grounds, denies what is happening on the ground in Xinjiang. I have seen the (I think editor’s) argument that invoking the current situation was not relevant to the book review, given that the book does not itself deal centrally with the current policies.

"This is a spurious argument -- and especially untenable for a book review editor, because contextualization is part and parcel of reviewing. I don’t know the editor and don’t have any comment on their motivations. But when I heard about Tim’s experience, I had no qualms about publishing it on the Asia Dialogue digital platform at the University of Nottingham, which under my editorship routinely publishes pieces on issues the Chinese government deems ‘sensitive’ or unpalatable."

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