A checkup call from the top

Valuable student support measure or a bit of a gesture?

In addition to spending what must be a huge amount over the past few months on advertising in the trade press, Boston University has undertaken another big investment, according to The Boston Globe, checking up on new students:

With new students wrapping up their first month on campus, school staff and administrators, including the provost and dean of students, spent the week calling all 4,300 first-year and transfer students, an ambitious gesture designed to make them feel at home.

“It’s about community,’’ said Kenneth Elmore, the university’s dean of students. “We want students to know we’re here to help.’’

Many administrators and researchers applaud the school for reaching out to students during the pivotal first semester, a time when they are at greater risk of falling behind and dropping out. Nationally, just 57 percent of full-time students at four-year colleges graduate within six years.

‘It’s about community. We want students to know we’re here to help. . . . We tell them we’re here to help them steer their course.’

“The most productive thing you can do is focus on the early experience,’’ said John N. Gardner, the head of a North Carolina institute that works with universities to improve student retention. “If they go unnoticed and unaddressed, academic problems can become severe.’’

I do think this is quite a good idea, particularly with the low completion rates referred to here. And it is undoubtedly the case that the early experience is particularly important. However, in isolation, one ‘phone call will not be sufficient and does need to be just a part of a larger student support package. Would it work in the UK? Or would it be seen as a bit an empty gesture?

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Naming internationalisation “will not revive it”

Is internationalisation in need of revival?

Hans de Wit, who is a professor of internationalisation of higher education, has published a really interesting piece on University World News on why “naming internationalisation will not revive it”.

A recent phenomenon in the debate on the future of the internationalisation of higher education is the inclination to put new broad-based labels on it: mainstreaming, comprehensive, holistic, integrated and deep internationalisation are some of the ones we see used in recent writings and presentations.

The most common current label appears to be ‘comprehensive internationalisation’, thanks mainly to the paper with that title which past president of the Association of International Educators (NAFSA), John Hudzik, wrote this year with the subtitle ‘From concept to action’.

I saw Hudzik speak on comprehensive internationalisation at the 2011 Going Global conference earlier in 2011 and found his arguments reasonably convincing. I also wrote a piece for Times Higher Education on internationalisation and the University of Nottingham experience which set out some of the ways in which the rhetoric can be turned into reality (without using any new terminology). De Wit continues:

In Europe the term ‘mainstream(ing) internationalisation’ is becoming more common, although this is perceived less as a concept than ‘comprehensive internationalisation’. It is used to describe a process emphasising the need to position internationalisation within the core of higher education instead of keeping it as a marginal issue.

Why do we see this emergence of new labels? What do they mean and how are they used? And will they advance the debate on the future of internationalisation started by Uwe Brandenburg and me in our recent International Higher Education essay with the provocative title “The End of Internationalisation”?

These questions occurred to me after chairing a debate on “What do we mean by ‘deep internationalisation’?” at the Australia International Education Conference in Adelaide on 13 October 2011.

There are lots of terms for what we mean by internationalisation when executed at an institutional level for strategic rather than opportunistic reasons. And Professor de Wit’s reflections on the various meanings of these terms are worth considering further. He continues, setting “deep” against “comprehensive” internationalisation:

Even after the session I was not clear what our Australian colleagues meant by the term ‘deep internationalisation’ and it also seemed to me that they themselves were not very clear or convinced about it. From what I can ascertain, ‘deep’ internationalisation seems to lie somewhere between ‘comprehensive’ and ‘mainstream’.

It is a bit clearer what John Hudzik means by ‘comprehensive internationalisation’. His definition – although I read it more as a statement and action plan – reads as follows: “A commitment through action, to infuse international and comparative perspectives throughout the teaching, research and service mission of higher education”. He continues, adding values, ethos and internal and external stakeholders.

It’s an interesting article and I think de Wit is right to be suspicious of those who seek to apply labels to justify or perhaps overstate their international activities. Giving a name to a set of institutional operations or aspirations doesn’t necessarily make them more substantial or meaningful.

But what all of these names do seem to have in common is a seriousness of purpose and intent – they do represent an attempt to render internationalisation as a coherent and intelligent approach to higher education in the global era. So, whilst they may have many flaws and in some cases serve to overstate the reality of institutional operations, there is merit in seeking to describe and rationalise these activities. So, I think we are far from “the end of internationalisation.”

Tilburg University Economics Ranking

Another University Ranking You Didn’t Know You Needed

Bit of a one for the anoraks this, and certainly one of which I was, until very recently, unaware. It is, as the title suggests, a ranking of Economics departments, namely the Tilburg University Economics Ranking. It’s a pretty straightforward methodology too – they have identified a list of 36 leading journals in the fields of Econometrics, Economics and Finance and have ranked economics schools based on publications in these journals for the last five-year time period. And the results are as follows (with changes to rankings in brackets):

1. HARVARD UNIVERSITY

2. UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

3. NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

4. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY

5. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

6. [+1]STANFORD UNIVERSITY

7. [-1] MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

8. [+2] YALE UNIVERSITY

9. [-1] NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

10. [-1] UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

11. [-1] LSE

12. [+2] UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

13. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES

14. PRINCETON UNIVERSITY

15. DUKE UNIVERSITY

16. [+3] UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

17. [+1] UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

18. [-2] UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND

19. [-2] CORNELL UNIVERSITY

20. [+6] UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

And just for domestic interest the other UK placings in the Top 50 are:

22. [+3] UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

32. [+3] UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM

36. [+9] UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

41. LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL

48. [-2] UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

Fascinating, huh?

Advice for prospective students – quantity and quality

High quality advice and guidance is key for delivering access

An interesting piece by Tessa Stone in the Times Higher Education on the importance of clear, impartial and high quality advice for potential university students. I’d agree with a lot of what Tessa says:

So, the schools that already do this well will continue to give their students the advantage that sound advice and guidance makes. For those without access to such advice, the gulf will widen further. Universities provide masses of advice already, yet coverage is not universal and the market imperative risks seeing focused recruitment trump broader outreach work. This is a risk we must guard against.

You would expect someone like me, running a charity that seeks to connect, inform and inspire more people to achieve their potential through education, to argue strongly in favour of maintaining the broadest possible approach. But in my experience, most of the staff who have tirelessly delivered outreach over the past decade, much of it altruistic, also share my concern.

Silver bullets there are none, but one smart approach that some of Brightside’s university partners are taking is to provide initiatives that are relevant to a number of priorities. We provide an e-mentoring service that universities (and others) can embed into their outreach activities – making ongoing mentoring support available beyond the summer school or shadowing scheme, and generally being the thread that binds intermittent, face-to-face activities. Our university partners also see this as a way to aid retention and success and promote employability (recent graduates and local employers mentor second and third years).

This is just one example, but whatever form such collaboration takes – and however much universities may rail against yet again having to make up for problems for which they are not responsible – it is crucial that it happens. We must respond to the serious and growing need for clear, impartial information and advice about the system. If we do not, it is not clear who will.

Unfortunately, the Government’s approach seems to be largely pinned on simply providing additional information for potential students, primarily via the Key Information Set or KIS:

The problem with KIS is that is just provides more information in what is already a very crowded bazaar- it will not necessarily help applicants make sensible informed decisions (and it inevitably adds to the regulatory burden on universities, but that’s another story). The latest addition to this very busy picture was recently reported in the Observer, which noted that Which? Magazine intended to enter the market for provision of information to students. In order for applicants to make properly informed decisions there really is a need for human intervention.

Nottingham Potential, part of the University of Nottingham’s Impact Campaign, will, working in partnership with Into University, address just the issue identified by Tessa:

The University has a long tradition of working with young people, teachers, schools and colleges across Nottingham and the East Midlands to raise aspirations and support achievements.

Despite changes in funding and fee structures for the higher education sector, the University is clear about the direction and commitment needed to improve access for those who aspire, and have the ability, to pursue higher education.

Excellence in education and equality of access and opportunity are guiding principles in our strategic plan. These principles are also central to Nottingham Potential. Through it, we will create a distinct and high-profile pathway to higher education for the most deprived young people of our region.

Nottingham Potential will expand the University’s work with children of primary age, from as young as Year 2 (age 7), through the transition to secondary school and beyond, by providing a pathway that will support achievement and raise aspirations.

Nottingham Potential is unique in providing long-term support tailored to young people with educational ambitions. This can only be achieved in partnership with families, schools, teachers, community groups, and by drawing upon the extraordinary commitment and expertise shown by the University’s students and staff.

The University will deliver Nottingham Potential on our campuses and in satellite centres within three of the region’s most deprived communities. With 24 new staff strengthening teams, the number of opportunities for contact will almost double in five years, from 28,000 in 2011 to almost 50,000. This will make the University a positive and accessible presence in the lives of the region’s most deprived young people.

Nottingham Potential will make a real and lasting difference in our region. But the fundamental problem in advancing this agenda further is one of scale – there are around 3.25m secondary students in 4,500 secondary schools (non-private) in England – our universities, no matter how hard we try, are not going to reach all of them – it requires something more joined up and government-led to do that. There are no silver bullets and just providing more information is not the answer. It’s about quality AND quantity.

Nottingham Advantage

Impact Campaign: Nottingham Advantage

Another update on the Impact Campaign which has launched this week at the University of Nottingham.

This theme, Nottingham Advantage, is one which I think is particularly important. On this site you can see a nice video, fronted by Vicky Mann who heads up the Nottingham Advantage Award, all about how the University is helping our graduates who need more than academic knowledge and skills to stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive global job market.

Will you help promote the employability of our graduates?

The issue

Competition in the global employment market is fiercer than ever. Employers expect much more from prospective graduate recruits than a good degree. Taking part in extra-curricular activities encourages students to develop a range of skills, such as leadership, organisation, communication and teamwork – great preparation for the world of work and a way to stand out from the crowd.

Our solution

The Nottingham Advantage Award offers students the chance to develop the competencies, learning and evaluation skills that employers seek in graduates. Launched in 2008, the Award is voluntary and is open to students at our UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

Students choose modules, which focus on developing key attributes, such as oral and written communication, teamwork, self management and learner autonomy, problem solving and critical thinking, commercial awareness, information technology and numeracy, environmental citizenship and employability and a global perspective.

The emphasis upon reflective practice is built into all modules and allows students to develop greater self-awareness and techniques for self-improvement. Over 75% of the modules are delivered in collaboration with employers, helping students to associate academic learning with the professional context of the global employment market.

Our impact

The Nottingham Advantage Award provides formal recognition of the student’s employability skills, promoting them as flexible, adaptable employees of the future to support their transition into the global job market.

What will your Impact be?

Supporting the Nottingham Advantage Award will have a genuine impact on the success of our students in today’s fiercely competitive global job market. Do support the Impact Campaign.

Impact : Academic Excellence

The Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham – Delivering Academic Excellence

 

A previous post reported on the launch of the Impact Campaign. Now we’re into a bit more of the detail about why the campaign is important and how our academic excellence has been constantly enriched by philanthropy. Part of Impact: The Nottingham Campaign is about how we can extend our academic excellence through the funding of new academic posts that will enhance research, teaching and the transfer of knowledge.

New funding will make a tangible and lasting difference to our work. Two examples where philanthropy could enhance the academic excellence are in the creation of new Chairs – a Chair in Business History and a Chair in Jewish Studies:

Chair in Business History

The Issue

Historical case studies inform us about today’s business environment, in terms of dealing with crises (financial and otherwise), networking and environmental impact. The UK and East Midlands have many under-used sources, and the University wishes to create a dedicated resource to address this.

Our Solution

The creation of a Chair in Business History and development of a co-ordinated research group around it will provide expert leadership and momentum in drawing together and driving forward existing and new historical research and teaching at Nottingham. This will broaden our understandings of business history in a regional, national and international context.

Our Impact

Through independent and collaborative research and teaching, the Chair in Business History will drive forward new research on the history of business, and disseminate that knowledge to have an impact on understanding today’s – and the future – business environment.

 

 

Chair in Jewish Studies

The Issue

The University has consistently been a leader in the study of Christianity and Christian theology, and Islamic Studies has for more than a quarter of a century been an area of teaching and research here. Jewish Studies has had a less consistent presence. The University wishes to strengthen and ensure continuity of its teaching and research in this area.

The Solution

The creation of a Chair in Jewish Studies and the development of a co-ordinated research group around it will provide the leadership and momentum to draw together and drive forward world-class research and teaching in Jewish Studies at Nottingham.

Our Impact

By attracting a top flight scholar of Jewish Studies to a Chair in one of the UK’s best-known and most dynamic Theology and Religious Studies Departments, we will secure teaching and research in this area, and enhance the profile of Jewish Studies in Britain as a whole.

These are really important developments for the University. More details can be found here on Academic Excellence at the University of Nottingham. Please do support the Impact Campaign.

Launch of the Impact Campaign at the University of Nottingham

The Impact Campaign launches today at the University

 


 

A rather different focus here on the blog for the next few days. The University of Nottingham is launching a significant and important campaign today:

About the campaign:

By helping us to raise £150 million over the next five years you will be supporting a series of high-impact projects on the local, national and global stage.

Across five campaign themes these projects will have a positive and lasting influence on society. We want to make an impact that will touch generations. So join with us and contribute to securing an ambitious and sustainable future.

 

The campaign is key to the long term ambitions of the University in looking to deliver outstanding research outputs, impactful knowledge transfer and the best possible experience for our students. I’m enormously proud to be a supporter of the campaign and to be part of this important development at the University. It should be a great launch week.

More details can be found on the Impact campaign site.

The Three World University League Tables of 2011/12

World University League Tables 2011/12

An earlier post provided links to all of the recently published UK league tables. Now, following the publication of the THE world university rankings, we can put the three world league tables together, and in particular the UK placings, in a handy reference guide.


Here they all are:


The Times Higher World University Rankings
, including UK results.

QS World Rankings 2011 UK results

Shanghai Jiao Tong World Rankings

All your world league table needs in one handy location. Do handle with care though.

Engineers in charge?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a piece on an interesting development at Georgia Tech. The argument here is that we should deploy the skills of the engineer in running our universities in order to properly to address the problems we face:

So what if engineers tackled those problems using their reasoning skills and tested various solutions through simulations? Perhaps then we will truly design a university of the future.

That’s the basic idea behind Georgia Tech’s new Center for 21st Century Universities. The center is officially described as a “living laboratory for fundamental change in higher education,” but its director, Rich DeMillo, describes it in terms we can all understand: higher-education’s version of the Silicon Valley “garage.” DeMillo knows that concept well, having come from Hewlett-Packard, where he was chief technology officer (he’s also a former Georgia Tech dean).

Applying the garage mentality to innovation in higher ed is an intriguing concept, and as DeMillo described it to me over breakfast on Georgia Tech’s Atlanta campus Wednesday, I realized how few college leaders adopt its principles. Take, for example, a university’s strategic plan. Such documents come and go with presidents, and the proposals in every new one are rarely tested in small ways before leaders try to scale them across the campus. After all, presidents have little time to make a mark before moving on to their next job.

The details of the “living laboratory” make it look really rather interesting. However, I’m not sure that the analysis of university strategic planning is entirely valid. Nor that this is a compelling argument for having engineers in charge. After all, it does also rather suggest here that they would rather be in the “garage”.

How to create a world-class university

Is there really a recipe for creating a world-class university?

University World News carries a piece on what looks like a fascinating new publication from the World Bank on the making of world class universities. The report looks at a number of case studies, particularly from East Asia, and draws out several common characteristics of the most successful institutions.

The report is available from the World Bank here and the abstract sets out the approach:

How do you build a world-class research university from scratch? In today’s ever-faster, global economy, many countries are reflecting on the merits of building elite global universities to make their mark in world research. Recognizing that such universities are emerging as the central institutions of the 21st Century’s knowledge economies, a new book ‘The Road to Academic Excellence: The Making of World-Class Research Universities’ examines the recent experience of 11 universities in 9 countries on 4 continents that have grappled with the challenges of building successful research institutions under difficult circumstances, and synthesizes the lessons learned. This book will be essential reading for governments, tertiary education leaders, employers, and citizens, considering reforms and innovations to improve their country’s position in the global scene.

The University World News article highlights the successes of the universities in Asia and their characteristics:

Top-performing research universities share three common characteristics – a high concentration of talented academics and students, significant budgets and strategic vision and leadership, according to the authors.

“Global talent search seems to be one of the most powerful accelerating factors” towards world-class status for research universities whether they are in a poor or rich country, and whether they are small or big, said Salmi. “It is all about talent.”

According to Salmi, what distinguishes successful East Asian universities from the rest of the world is an emphasis on international staff and students.

“Both Shanghai Jiaotong University [China] and Pohang University of Science and technology [South Korea] made a strategic decision to rely principally on Chinese or Korean academics trained in the best universities in North America or Europe and, to a large extent, to recruit highly qualified foreign faculty,” he noted in the study.

But he acknowledged that new research universities face special challenges in attracting top academics and good students.

One of the most successful examples in the study, Hong Kong University of Science and technology, “pushed this logic to the extreme,” according to Salmi

“The rapid development and rise of the new university can be attributed in large part to its systematic policy of giving priority to outstanding Chinese from the diaspora for staffing the initial contingent of academics.”

This enabled the institution to become a node for disseminating global knowledge within the country and region and to contribute to global knowledge, an important characteristic of world-class institutions.

It’s perhaps not terribly surprising that you need top talent, plenty of money and some good leadership for a university to succeed. More interesting is that there seem to be only a modest number of institutions which have rapidly achieved world class status in the way described here. Maybe it’s harder to collect the ingredients and follow the recipe than it appears.

The Branch Campus Bubble?

Do branch campuses have a future?

A thoughtful piece by Philip Altbach this for Inside Higher Ed on the sustainability or otherwise of branch campuses. An earlier post on this topic covered similar ground with both pieces asking questions about how many such ventures would ultimately succeed.

Branch campuses seem to be the flavor of the month or, perhaps, the decade. Universities, mostly but not exclusively from the developed and mainly English-speaking countries, have established overseas branches worldwide — mainly in developing and emerging economies. The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education counted 162 branch campuses in 2009, with American universities accounting for 48 percent of the total. No doubt the number of branches has increased significantly since then. The Arabian Gulf has received a great deal of global attention since several countries have welcomed — and paid for — branch campuses, as part of their higher education growth strategies. For example, Education City in Doha, Qatar, currently hosts six American universities and one from Britain. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf countries have additional branch campuses of foreign universities. Singapore predates the Gulf as a higher education hub.

Altbach identifies a number of key reasons why there might be trouble ahead:

Education City Convention Centre, Doha

  • Student recruitment challenges
  • Academic and professional services staff – getting them there from the home campus
  • Funding uncertainty
  • Academic freedom concerns
  • Politics at the home campus
  • General instability and change

So, he counsels, beware, it may be just a bubble that is about to burst. Although I have to say that’s not the view at the University of Nottingham.

True Crime on Campus §15: Freshen up!


For the new arrivals

The start of the new session and the arrival of thousands of eager freshers brings with it additional challenges for our ever-responsive and capable Security Team. All of the following are freshly reported incidents from the first week or so of the new academic year here at Nottingham. Let’s hope things calm down a little.

0858 Report that a Student had collapsed at Lenton and Wortley Hall – Security attended. The Student was on her feet when Security arrived. The Student stated that she had cut her finger and fainted.

0615 Report that a duvet was taken from a Students room while the Student was asleep in Cripps Hall. Security attended – the duvet was found on the Grass outside the Hall. The Student was advised not to sleep with his room door unlocked.

2105 Report of Graffiti on a Pool Table in Cripps Hall. Security attended, Hall Management to be informed.

2305 Report of people Camping on the Sports Field adjacent to the NCSL. Security attended – the area was checked no one was found.

2315 Report of a drunken Student attempting to enter Lenton and Wortley Hall. Security attended. On arrival the Student was spoken to she was found to have been resident in the Hall last year and was so drunk she had forgotten that she lived in the City this year. A Taxi was arranged to take her to her new address.

0845 Patrol Security found a male drunk and lying in the road at the top of Keighton Hill. Officers requested an Ambulance which took the male to the QMC. The male has no connection to the University.

0215 A Student living in Raleigh Park contacted the University Security Control room to say that she was trapped in the lift at Raleigh Park. University Security Staff were able to contact the call out Staff for Raleigh Park and get them to the Student. The Student was informed that help was on the way.

1030 Report of the theft of Lead from Sherwood Hall. Security attended, Police informed.

1000 Report of a Student feeling unwell in Rutland Hall. The Student stated that he had been drunk the night before and jumped off a wall and bruised his feet which were hurting. The Student was advised to attend A+E.

0200 Report of a Student feeling unwell in Lenton and Wortley Hall. Security attended – NHS Direct were contacted who had advised no more alcohol and to drink plenty of water.

And the slightly more mundane but inescapable start of term incidents:

0830 Report of a blocked toilet – Estates Staff attended – Lanes for Drains called out.
1045 Report of a leaking sick [sic] Rutland Hall – Estates Staff attended.
1120 Report of a door not closing Lincoln Hall – Estates Staff attended.
1405 Report of a light not working Nightingale Hall – Estates Staff attended.

0030 Security provided access to Willoughby Hall for three Students who had lost their room key.
0040 Security provided access to Cavendish Hall for a Student who had lost their room key.
0130 Security provided access to Cavendish Hall for a Student who had lost their room key.
0130 Security provided access to Southwell Hall for a Student who had lost their room key.
0245 Security provided access to Cavendish Hall for a Student who was locked out of their room.
0250 Security provided access to Cavendish Hall for a Student who had lost their room key.
0300 Security provided access to Lincoln Hall for a Student who had lost their room key.
0300 Security provided access to Rutland Hall for a Student who had lost their room key.

THE World University Rankings 2012

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings are out

The last rankings of the season are now available from THE. Not yet done a comparison with last year but the top 20 looks like this:

    1 California Institute of Technology

    =2 Harvard University

    =2 Stanford University
    
4 University of Oxford
    
5 Princeton University

    6 University of Cambridge

    7 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    
8 Imperial College London

    9 University of Chicago

    10 University of California, Berkeley
    
11 Yale University

    12 Columbia University
    
13 University of California, Los Angeles

    14 Johns Hopkins University

    15 ETH Zürich
    
16 University of Pennsylvania

    17 University College London

    18 University of Michigan

    19 University of Toronto

    20 Cornell University

CalTech at number one is perhaps a surprise and, I think, the first time the have been at the top of the pile. Four UK universities in the top 20 which is a reasonably creditable result. Oxford above Cambridge, unlike the recent QS ranking.

More details of the methodology and regional and subject variations are available on the THE rankings site. Is it the ‘gold standard’ of rankings as is claimed? Time will tell.

UK rankings

As the following shows, there are 12 UK institutions in the top 100:






    4 University of Oxford
    
6 University of Cambridge
    
8 Imperial College London


    17 University College London


    36 University of Edinburgh
    

47 LSE
    

48 University of Manchester


    56 King’s College London
    

66 University of Bristol



    83 Durham University


    85 University of St Andrews


    99 University of Sussex





plus another 20 in the second 100

    101 University of Sheffield


    102 University of Glasgow
    

107 Royal Holloway
    

=121 University of York
    

=127 University of Southampton


    =127 Queen Mary
    

=131 Lancaster University


    133 University of Leeds


    140 University of Nottingham


    145 University of East Anglia


    =146 Newcastle University


    148 University of Birmingham

    149 Birkbeck
    =151 University of Aberdeen


    156 The University of Exeter
    

=157 University of Warwick
    

=164 University of Reading

    176 University of Dundee


    =181 University of Liverpool


    =197 University of Leicester

Perhaps some surprising results in there too? Plenty to keep people talking about here.

Cheating: Only a Click Away

Another plagiarism concern

Previous posts here have covered related matters including online plagiarism, plagiarism in admissions essays and a video attempting to advise students on plagiarism. A recent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at students cheating through the use of clickers.

Kevin D. Livingston, an associate professor of biology at Trinity University, in Texas, was told by students in his genetics course that other students had used clickers to cheat on homework. Instead of grading assignments individually, he had used clickers to poll students on homework questions in class. He was dismayed to learn that some students had simply shared homework answers during the clicker poll to get credit instead of actually doing the problem sets beforehand.

He also teaches an introductory-biology course in which clicker questions and attendance constitute 20 percent of the grade. He assumes there is some cheating using the devices but leaves it up to students themselves to report abuse, since cheating can nullify hard, honest studying. “I can’t spend all my energy trying to police cheating,” he says.

 

It goes on. Whilst clickers are clearly commonplace in North America I’m not sure how widespread their use is in the UK. And I’d be surprised if we have the kind of problems described here:

Mr. Bruff, the clicker expert and a fan of the devices, says the concerns about cheating are not exaggerated: He sees students boasting about it on Twitter. “I saw one where a guy took a photo with his camera of the clickers he had on his desk—his and four of his friends’—and he was basically bragging about it.” Mr. Bruff says he attends education-technology conferences throughout the country and is constantly asked how to curb abuse.

True Crime: the US campus edition

Another True Crime on Campus USA

It’s a bit like those US versions of top rated UK reality TV shows. Except it obviously isn’t. And they did it first. However, as a cursory examination of some of the highlights from this edition (featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education) will show, the UK version is much better (in my humble opinion).

Chronicle

U. OF NEVADA AT LAS VEGAS

10:19 a.m., August 30

Assist person—sick/injured. A student was referred to judicial affairs after striking a pole and themselves. Disposition: closed.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY

12:39 p.m., September 9

Trespass warning. Au Bon Pain. Officers dispatched to a report of an unwanted guest sleeping face down in a plate of food. Officers arrived, located the individual, and conducted a field interview. The individual was checked for wants/warrants with negative results. The individual was issued a trespass warning for Au Bon Pain and sent on their way. Status: closed.

U. OF SOUTHERN MAINE

1:05 a.m., September 16

Welfare check. G-13 Student Parking. Officer out in G-13C with three individuals by the woods. Subject was about to urinate and was advised not to.

I refer you to a sample of the domestic True Crime on Campus posted earlier this year. What do you reckon? Is True Crime on Campus USA better than the UK version? (Note that True Crime on Campus §15 will be along in the near future.)