Bracing for Demographic Shifts, Colleges Face Tough Trade-Offs

Chronicle of Higher Education

“Demographic projections have inspired doomsayers and daydreamers alike. The sky-is-falling contingent says the declining number of white, affluent high-school graduates will sink many tuition-dependent colleges. Meanwhile, optimistic observers predict that population shifts will compel institutions to transform themselves by embracing underrepresented students like never before.”

Undergraduate education must fundamentally change if students are to experience meaningful learning

Panel on Research Universities Sees Need for Fundamental Changes

Paul Basken

The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 28, 2012.

“Work on a long-awaited National Academies study on the future of American research universities will probably end soon, with the institutions being warned that they need to make fundamental improvements before they can even begin to hope for any substantial increase in federal financial support.

“Asking for major investments is unlikely to gain traction” in Congress, given growing public anxiety about the cost and relative value of college, James J. Duderstadt, a member of the National Academies panel that is doing the study, said at a conference this week at Rice University. Mr. Duderstadt is also a former president of the University of Michigan.

The need for improvement is most urgent at the undergraduate level, where faculty and administrators have been notoriously resistant to change, said higher-education strategists here. The aim of the two-day conference was to assess the future of research universities.”

Improving on the traditional lecture with students teaching students

How ‘Flipping’ the Classroom Can Improve the Traditional Lecture

Dan Berrett

The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 19, 2012.

“Andrew P. Martin loves it when his lectures break out in chaos.

It happens frequently, when he asks the 80 students in his evolutionary-biology class at the University of Colorado at Boulder to work in small groups to solve a problem, or when he asks them to persuade one another that the answer they arrived at before class is correct.

When they start working together, his students rarely stay in their seats, which are bolted to the floor. Instead they gather in the hallway or in the aisles, or spill toward the front of the room, where the professor typically stands.

Mr. Martin, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, drops in on the discussions, asking and answering questions, and hearing where students are stumped. “Students are effectively educating each other,” he says of the din that overtakes his room. “It means they’re in control, and not me.”

Will a classical education become an endangered species?

College at Risk 

Andrew Delbanco

The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education,February 26, 2012.

“If there’s one thing about which Americans agree these days, it’s that we can’t agree. Gridlock is the name of our game. We have no common ground.

There seems, however, to be at least one area of cordial consensus—and I don’t mean bipartisan approval of the killing of Osama bin Laden or admiration for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s courage and grace.

I mean the public discourse on education. On that subject, Republicans and Democrats speak the same language—and so, with striking uniformity, do more and more college and university leaders. “Education is how to make sure we’ve got a work force that’s productive and competitive,” said President Bush in 2004. “Countries that outteach us today,” as President Obama put it in 2009, “will outcompete us tomorrow…”

“Who graduates from college, who doesn’t, and why it matters.”

College Completion: Graduation Rates and Data for 3,800 Colleges.
“College Completion is a microsite produced by The Chronicle of Higher Education with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its goal is to share data on completion rates in American higher education in a visually stimulating way. Our hope is that, as you browse around the site, you will find your own stories in the statistics and use the tools we provide to download data files; share charts through your own presentations; and comment, start conversations, or provide tips about this important topic.

This microsite is a tool to help you navigate a complex subject: which colleges do the best job of graduating their students. You can also benchmark institutions against their peers and find all the numbers you need to figure out why some colleges succeed while others fail. The site also offers plenty of links to resources for more information, as well as past and current news coverage of this topic.”