Thursday, February 14, 2013

100 ideas to improve higher ed

The National Association of Scholars, a conservative-leaning organization of academics, has published what it declares to be '100 great ideas for higher ed.' I'd be interested to hear reactions. Many of them strike me as focusing on superficial matters — sure, if we instate faculty dress codes, eliminate the journalism major, and offer courses on etymology and academic freedom, then all will be well in higher education! More seriously though: Are there some good ideas here? And which of these ideas are truly awful?


  1. Eliminating numerical scores on student evaluations sounds promising to me. (Speaking as a grad student apprehensive about the possibility of fickle students thoughtlessly determining my success based on their perception of my grading leniency.)

  2. Out of 100 "great" ideas it's pretty hard to find something that isn't either: abolish {pet peeve}, require {favored discipline}, return to the 1950's (dress code, less sex), stop picking on conservatives, half-baked wackaloon idea (trustee should review the curriculum!?? Close all 2nd/3rd tier institutions, etc.)

    But beyond that I can't find much of value here beyond the following issues:
    1. importance of critical thinking/logic/foundational courses
    2. increase rigor
    3. re-examine student evaluations and grades

    I think that some way of including context for grades would be a good move both in evaluation of faculty and for evaluation of students. And so the proposals in this vein seem reasonable to me.

    There are a handful of suggestions that fit my background preferences (great books), but most don't get to any serious proposals.

    Well that's probably about a 5% success rate at best in that list.

  3. The authors claim to present 'a wide range of ideas from a wide range of contributors with a wide range of interests in higher education'. A rough count suggest that 90% of the contributors are men and only 10% women.

    Great idea 101: teach students and lecturers about (unconscious) bias.


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