Monthly Archives: May 2014

In defense of Trigger Warnings

Trigger warnings are in the news. College students—mostly young women—are requesting pre-emptive warnings about material that might upset them, that might, in some cases, cause symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s no surprise, then, that the backlash has begun. Writers and commenters—the majority appear to be male—are decrying this latest surrender to political correctness. Many […] … learn more→

Why change the SAT? Part 1

In times past, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT, was key to getting into higher education. Nowadays, anyone can get into college, regardless of aptitude (or interest), and so the test now is only of use for those wanting to get into a real school (there still are a few!), as opposed to the many […] … learn more→

In defense of the lecture

I shall say this without shame: I lecture in my courses. Yes, I know, in every discussion of \”flipped classes\” we are reminded that lecturing as a means of transferring basic factual information is a poor way to teach. I agree. I want my students to learn basic information before coming to my class. I […] … learn more→

Why the Disciplines still matter

These days, the term \”interdisciplinary\” is increasingly assumed to be synonymous with \”innovative.\” The popular notion seems to be that the solutions to real-world problems require the insights of cross-trained researchers, or at least interdisciplinary teams. Indeed, interdisciplinary initiatives are springing up on campuses everywhere. For example, Arizona State has reorganized its college of arts […] … learn more→

How would you respond if that happened offline?

I vividly remember my exact reaction the first time I read about Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs). It was, “They can’t be serious, can they? How on earth can anybody teach 30,000 people at once?” Since I had already developed an interest in quality control for online education, I followed every new MOOC development […] … learn more→

Why does feedback hurt sometimes?

A letter to…My PhD student after her upgradeWell you did it. You got your upgrade. But from the look on your face I could tell you thought it was a hollow victory. The professors did their job and put the boot in. I remember seeing that look in the mirror after my own viva. Why […] … learn more→

What is all the fuss about the Common Core?

When it comes to US public education, few topics engender such heated debate as a new set of maths and English standards for school children known as the Common Core. Since the final standards were released in 2010, they have been adopted by 44 states and the District of Columbia. This marks a departure from […] … learn more→

Scrap or repair English as a second language in College?

Clifford Adelman’s recent essay featured by Inside Higher Ed, “The Continued Coming of Second Language Students,” put both a smile and a frown on my face. I know that kind of display does not count as a formal or sufficient response in the field of education, so let me be more specific. I smiled because […] … learn more→