Link Roundup

Advice for new graduate students from Fontana Labs at Unfogged.

The recent Blogging For Kids With Disabilities event hasn't gotten NEARLY enough uptake, in my opinion, so please go and read (and link to) the posts now. Laura's posts about her son's severe verbal apraxia are here , here, and here. A humble query: Wouldn't a "culture of life" allot far more resources for these children and their parents?

An interesting thread about teaching and research at The Valve. Matt Greenfield asks:

I am talking to a colleague about how my semester is going. I find myself talking about “my work.” And I feel a twinge of uneasiness. If my research is “my work,” what should I call my teaching? Is it someone else’s work? Is teaching work done on behalf of someone else, or work done by another version of me?

This dissonance, as well as the question of whether or not instructors should bring their own research into the classroom, is discussed.

An excellent article about students in two-year colleges in the Chronicle. I can just see John Lovas nodding vigorously in agreement.

[W]hat I've found surprising, during my 18-year teaching career in the community-college arena, is not how many of my students aren't well prepared for college, but how many of them are. One of the best-kept secrets in higher education today is the proliferation of honors programs at two-year colleges.

Those programs are designed to accommodate students whose SAT scores would allow them to get into "prestigious" colleges, but who find themselves at a community college for any number of personal reasons.

[. . .]

For many of those students, the local community college is an attractive alternative, because of its low cost, proximity to home, or popular programs. Tuition is often two-thirds or even half what students would pay at a four-year college. And they can usually cut expenses even further by living at home.

I'm nodding too. In the class I taught this summer, which had only ten students, two or three had gone to community colleges. They cited the reasons above (proximity to home, low cost), but they also pointed out that their community colleges' career and personal counseling services far surpassed those of the University of Minnesota -- not that the U of M's are bad or anything, but there are so many more students that the counselors don't seem to have as much time to meet repeatedly with the same person. One student, referring to the community college he attended, said, "There, you could meet with someone every single day if you wanted." Anyway, just my two cents. I recommend the article highly.

Seems that this service is treading a little close for FERPA comfort. I guess it's good for enrollment and retention, though.

How'd I miss this one? A university is hiring Smarthinking to assess student essays:

In a move that may take outsourcing past traditional levels, Kentucky’s community colleges this fall have started a pilot project in which an outside company is reading and providing evaluations of student essays in freshman composition courses. The program is small to date — only 48 students are having their papers assessed in this way — but Kentucky officials are enthusiastic about the potential for expanding the effort. And the company — Smarthinking — sees this as a service it would like to offer other colleges.

“The idea is that we can take the grading burden off of professors, and free up their time to do other things, such as working with students who need extra help,” said Burck Smith, CEO of the company, which has previously focused on providing outsourced tutoring centers for colleges in which students receive assistance online.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the prospect of outsourced grading. “I’m appalled,” said Douglas Hesse, board chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. “This is abdicating something that is crucial to instruction,” said Hesse, a professor of English and director of the honors program at Illinois State University.

[. . .]

Faculty members have long complained about the “laborious grading process,” yet at the same time the system needs to find ways to educate more students without getting much more money, Cook said. Currently, class size tends not to exceed 25-30, she said, but the system would like to double or possibly quadruple that figure. “Our faculty have said that to scale up, they need more support,” she added.

Sounds kind of assembly-line to me. Lots of people have commented under the article; check it out.