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richde:

Mark Guzdial comments on a recent Slate article reporting results of a metastudy that (1) claims to show that deliberate practice does not account for acquisition of expertise, and (2) that the only other source must be innate factors like genetics. It would be an important finding if true, but Guzdial points out some critical flaws:

The bottom-line is that the [Slate] study did not test [the 10,000 Rule] question. They tested a weak form of the “10,000 hour rule” (that it’s just “practice,” not “deliberate practice”) and found it wanting. But their explanation, that it’s genetics, is not supported by their evidence.

Originally posted on Computing Education Blog:

A recent article in Slate (see here) suggests that practice may not lead to expertise, that the “10,000 hour rule” is wrong. The “10,000 hour rule” was popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers (see excerpt here), but really comes from an important paper by K. Anders Ericsson and colleagues, “The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.” Ericsson claimed that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice results in expert-level performance.

The Slate article is based mostly on a new meta-analysis (see here) by Macnamara, Hambrick (also a co-author on the Slate article), and Oswald which reviewed and combined studies on expertise. They found that practice always was positively correlated with better performance, but did not explain all of (or even most of) the difference in expertise between study participants. The Slate article authors suggest, then, that deliberate practice is not…

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We have talked many times about the demise of colleges, comparing higher education to other industries that believed they could resist the advance of technology.  Borders book stores, Blockbuster Video, and a whole raft of local newspapers are just the easiest examples of revered enterprises that simply went out of business. From this discussion comes an interesting essay by C21U visiting scholar Michael Haggans, who argues that campuses close all the time. Sometimes it is temporary:

Whether by snow and ice, wind, fire, flood, civil disorder or bankruptcy, you may be certain that your campus will be closed. It is just a matter of when and how long the closure will last. Even a brief closing provides a glimpse of higher education without the comfortable assumption of shared space and time – the familiar functionality of a campus.

Sometimes, institutions–like the dozens of colleges and universities near Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor–not only survive catastrophe against all odds but are the only place where communities can gather and rebuild. Sometimes they close forever:

‘Forever’ is an unstated part of every institution’s mission statement. Over the last century, hundreds have winked in and out of existence. [Westminster’s Ray Brown maintains the most comprehensive list.] A few such as Antioch College have been well known, their demise widely reported. Most are long forgotten. They close and disappear through merger, acquisition by for-profit consortiums, and from simple bankruptcy.

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cheap data collection

 

The World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the future of universities was absorbed earlier this year into several other councils–a mistake, in my view, since none of the other councils have institutional focus–but several of the white papers live on. This one on the privacy issues inherent in learning analytics generated some interest in 2012, but the big data aspects of higher education seemed like an abstraction to many council members. Over the past year it has started to loom large (see here and here, for example).  I happen to be a big fan of analytics.  Data from the 700,000 students enrolled in Georgia Tech’s Coursera MOOCs have already had an impact on the quality of residential instruction. However, one of my day jobs is cybersecurity, which has made me sensitive to new technologies that have not paid sufficient attention to security and privacy. This white paper is a note of caution.

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Ivory Tower (1)
The Ivory Tower, a 2015 Sundance Festival film by Andrew Rossi, is a dramatic and unflinching look at the spiraling cost of higher education. Rossi’s Page One: Inside the New York Times proved that Rossi can disassemble even complex enterprises, so that everyone can see the moving parts. It was a good warm-up for this effort. The similarities are striking.  Jay Hoberman said in his Village Voice Review of Page One: It’s a system at once efficient and cumbersome, ultra-modern yet quaint, that suggests nothing so much as a herd of dinosaurs, oblivious to the threat of impending extinction. And, like Page One, there is a blend of alarmism and genuine fondness for American higher education. Innovation–particularly technological innovation–plays the same role in higher education as it does in other industries that are being disrupted.  It is both the disruptor and the way to avoid disaster. If only leaders can abandon old assumptions.

Poster - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington_14

Good governance is a noble idea, but governing boards–trustees, regents, visitors–have until recently been generally regarded as entities residing outside the administrative org chart. Trustees–perhaps because they are generally not chosen from academic ranks–are regarded by faculty members as curious creatures with uncertain motives and powers. To the extent that they are regarded at all, they are given wide berth. I say “until recently” because there seems to be a growing movement to pit university administrators against their governing boards. Fanned by sensational stories about board intrigues, high-profile dismissals of college presidents, and clashes with powerful external interests, governing boards have all of a sudden become visible and controversial.

This is a happening at a time when standing outside the administrative org chart might be one of the few places to see what is really happening to an institution. The number of failed or unsustainable Institutions is rising, new technology is disrupting established business models, and the social contract with higher education is under pressure.  The American public believes that governing boards need to play a larger role, but boards–whose members are often boosters and donors–may not have the necessary skills to do that. It is a new era. Like Mr. Smith, governing boards that want to assert their power will make many people uncomfortable.  I think that discomfort is largely due to uncertainty about how governing boards want to operate in this new era. Old understandings about university governance have been crumbling, and CUNY Board Chair Benno Schmidt decided it was time to chart a new path forward.

Schmidt–a former president at Yale–and his Governance for a New Era Project has just issued a blueprint for governing boards. In the interests of full disclosure: I was a member of Benno’s project, along with sitting presidents, trustees, and other faculty members.

Our comments about the oversight responsibilities of trustees are not intended to diminish the responsibilities or powers of top institutional or academic leaders. The role of the chief executive officer is naturally crucial to the successful advancement of higher education institutions. And trustees must be able to rely on the president or chancellor in the development of policy and the operation of the institution. It is essential that chief executive officers be perceived as having trustees’ trust and confidence and that the flow of information be facilitated by the administration. Except in rare situations of crisis or in the selection of top administrators, trustees, who have final fiduciary authority, act through campus leaders who have day-to-day responsibilities for institutional management.

The signers of this document have come together to craft a bold new approach to governance— governance for a new era—recognizing that it is urgently needed if American higher education is to maintain the diversity and excellence that have for so long made it the envy of the world. We are a bipartisan group of diverse and independent leaders beholden to no organization in our participation in this governance project. Each of us might express these values in different ways, and we recognize and expect each institution to modify and adapt these principles to its own mission and culture. But the values we outline are ones that we all share and ones that we believe all trustees and all leaders in higher education must aggressively pursue, today and long into the future.

It is impossible for me to conceive of a path forward for American higher education that does not involve every component of an academic community jointly pursuing what the university’s mission. I hope the Schmidt report is read and discussed by faculty, administrators, and alumni.

This big picture explanation of higher education’s financial problem comes from EducationNews

Check it out.

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