“A college education […] significantly decrease[s] the chance of an officer using force.”

Carolyn posted this article (in a message to a few of us) on Facebook: Study: Educated Cops Less Likely To Use Force.

[…] Researchers have long argued that officers with a higher education tend to hold beliefs that are “less authoritarian” and less punitive, according to the study. Having a degree could also help make officers better at critical thinking and more fluent in test-taking, which is required to make rank, White said. 

[…] Using observational data gathered from two cities — one similar in size to Albuquerque — researchers found education has no effect on the probability of an officer making an arrest or of conducting a search in an encounter with a suspect. A college education does, however, significantly decrease the chance of an officer using force.

Makes me want to clamp down / get more serious about getting students to get serious about school.  Talk about important work.

“Community college grads face steeper climb to top” (but…)

Read this article in the Barometer today (OSU’s daily newspaper):

Community college grads face steeper climb to top Community college students are 14.5 percent less likely to achieve four-year degree by Rebecca Johnson

Here’s the gist of it:

The study was based on students between the ages of 17-20 who entered a community college or university with the intent of obtaining a bachelor’s degree. The study then compared graduation rates and test scores between the two groups and came to the conclusion that community college students are 14.5 percent less likely to complete a four-year degree.

The rest of the article basically offers suggestions as to what factors might be leading to this 14.5% “disadvantage”: e.g., “transfer shock,” turning instead to a certificate or technical degree, or simply getting an AA and moving into the workforce fulltime.

But… first, 14.5% is not a lot.  And second, it’s disappointing that this article doesn’t at least quickly list the many advantages of a community college education and/or the many ways in which community colleges serve different student bodies (though not at all necessarily different in academic ability). Four-year colleges and community colleges are just two different cups of tea, with different purposes and strengths. Of course, they do both serve lower-division undergrads. But otherwise, they have significant differences — with significant advantages and disadvantages each.

And so, that a certain percentage of students declare they’re aiming for a four-year degree and then don’t get one — that’s not necessarily bad. We’d have to look more closely at the data. If a student changes her mind and decides to get a certificate and technical degree, that could well have been exactly what she should have done. Definitely, I’m sure there are students who, for lack of a better word, and due to economic conditions, “settle” for a certificate or for their AA/AS instead of a BA/BS. But still, this data doesn’t mean much without looking at the bigger picture a bit more.

And I felt frustrated by the headline: “Community college grads face steeper climb to top”. I guess it’s because I know of so many hundreds (and I mean hundreds I’ve worked with myself, in the Writing Center at Yakima Valley Community College) of students who would not even HAVE a chance to climb to the “top” without starting at a community college — no matter what they did after their AA, no matter what their particular “top” (goal) was.

But, yes… of course, if a significant amount of students are having trouble moving from their AA to their BA, that’s a problem. But we’re missing the point if we think the problem is that those students started out at a community college.  I know! What I’m wanting a statistic that would show what percentage of students would not get any college degree if there were no community colleges. THAT would help balance out this picture — because that would be a very high number.

Okay, I’ll step down off my soap box. Heheh, yes, I am a big fan of community colleges, so I can get a little riled up. :)

“The Rich Get Richer – & Better Educated, Too — Rising Costs Diminish Accessbility to Higher Education”

Read this article a couple weeks ago in the Malamud Room (the student lounge of sorts in Moreland Hall (English Dept)) while I was waiting for Sara to return:

The Rich Get Richer-& Better Educated, Too — Rising Costs Diminish Accessibility to Higher Education

I find myself interested in articles like this, especially because I remember, in the early and mid 1980s when I was an undergraduate, how relatively cheap tuition was. At Cal State Fullerton, I paid $500 a semester for tuition and fees, for a full load. If I did my degree in four years (which I didn’t), it would’ve cost me only $4,000. Even in 1980s dollars, that’s significantly cheaper than what students pay today. Oh, and I had gone to a community college for lower-division courses, where tuition (in California) was free, zilch, nada. So, one, I am thankful for my education (very!). If it had cost as much as it does today, I shutter to think I might not have done it (though I hope I would have figured it out one way or the other). And, two, I think a bit more about retention of students, keeping the students we do get (especially in community colleges).

Anyway, I can’t comment too much on Fenza’s take on exactly why legislators don’t support public education as much as they did right after the war, but it sure sounds accurate to me.

The confluence of social currents that formerly helped make America literate and well educated [i.e., after the GI bill of 1944] are now eroding the foundations of our social mobility, our cultural creativity, and our economic prosperity. Downturns in state economies trigger more budget cuts to higher education. Political tenets of “smaller government” coupled with the demonization of “tax-and-spend liberalism” undermine the idealism that once inspired investments in a commonwealth and its public universities. Today’s political discourse amalgamates flattery of global corporations with hissy-fits of selfishness and fear. If a leader in Congress were to propose giving free tuition and living expenses to 5% of the U.S. population today, he or she would likely be ridiculed as a dangerous proponent of “big government” and “higher taxes.” Demagogues continue to trivialize universities as decadent playgrounds of secularism— or as gulags of oppressive liberalism. Comfortable suburbanites preach the gospel of self-reliance, “of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps,” while they forget the mighty social engineering of the New Deal, the GI Bill, and the Great Society programs that had helped make their own families flourish after the Great Depression. Although many of them are the great grandchildren of poor immigrants themselves, they resent or fear immigrants and the poor. The national spirit of generosity that made public libraries and great public universities so numerous is in retreat.

What a line: “Comfortable suburbanites preach the gospel of self-reliance…”

This graph, though, shows it without a doubt. Something is going on.

Adjuncts and Graduation Rates

At the end of my recent post on a report on California community colleges, I noted that I didn’t like its suggestion that giving CCs more flexibility to hire non-full-time faculty would help student success and retention.  Well, thankfully, I just found a report at Inside Higher Ed (via NCTE Newsletter) that shows a correlation between graduation rates and percent of non-adjunct faculty.  The higher the one, the higher the other.  Yay.

It makes sense that if part-timers are not on campus to support his/her students outside the classroom, those students will have less chance of getting over or through a difficult situation and thus will more likely end up dropping out or not doing as well or re-taking the class — as compared to students who have access to their instructors.

Of course, that would be another reason to make sure the school’s writing center is a welcoming and often-available place, too.

Adjuncts and Graduation Rates

If community colleges want to see more students graduate or finish programs, what should institutions do? Add new testing or assessment programs?

There may be a simple answer. A national analysis of graduation and program completion rates at community colleges has found that institutions with higher percentages of full-time faculty members have higher completion rates. The study was conducted by Dan Jacoby, the Harry Bridges Professor of Labor Studies at the University of Washington, whose paper on the research is forthcoming in the Journal of Higher Education.

The actual numbers vary by type of institution. But using regression analyses, Jacoby documented the relationship between full-time faculty and completion rates at community colleges with a variety of academic missions and student demographics. In an interview Friday, he said he realized that graduation rates were an imperfect measure of community colleges because so many of their students don’t seek degrees. So he looked broadly at measures of program completion, and believes that because some students do want to finish degrees, the analysis is a good measure of student success.

While the use of adjuncts is widespread and growing in all sectors of higher education, it is particularly prevalent at two-year institutions. In many cases, community colleges seek out part-timers who are professionals in various fields to teach career-related courses. But community colleges also fill many sections (a majority in some subject areas on some campuses) with part timers. Administrators frequently say that given their institutions’ enrollment growth and tight budgets, they have little choice.

Jacoby said that he hoped his research might prompt more reflection on this practice. “People need to realize that the performance of colleges is not indifferent to the use of part timers,” he said. “By having a lot of part timers, the college becomes less effective,” he said.

A former part timer himself, Jacoby stressed that he didn’t think part-time instructors were any less effective in the classroom or less intelligent than their full-time counterparts. But other realities no doubt kick in: Many adjuncts don’t have offices, aren’t on campus when they aren’t teaching, and don’t have the consistent involvement in departments that makes them able to fully help students, he said.

Keith Hoeller, co-founder of the Washington State Part-Time Faculty Association, said he thought Jacoby’s findings were quite significant. “There is a fiction that you can cut costs with lots of adjuncts,” Hoeller said. “There’s a sense that as long as you have someone in front of the classroom in class hours, everything else is fine.”

Hoeller said that an important fact to consider is that low program completion rates are expensive — to students and their families who have paid tuition and to taxpayers who have subsidized instruction. Everyone saves money if students move through the system, Hoeller said, so the current use of part timers may not actually be saving money.

The study is also a reminder, he said, that there is a middle ground between having a full-time faculty and paying adjuncts for time leading classes. He predicted that the graduation rate gap would disappear if adjuncts were paid for time on campus generally, so they could have more office hours, more time to meet with students, and be more fully part of the campuses where they teach.

“Right now adjuncts are being underutilized,” he said. “Colleges are just paying them for classroom time, while tenured faculty earn for all hours.” If colleges started paying part timers for non-classroom work, he said, “we would be happy to do equal work for equal pay.”

Scott Jaschik

The original story and user comments can be viewed online at http://insidehighered.com/news/2006/10/16/parttime.

State policy “impeding student success” at California community colleges

I came across this report on California Community Colleges which concludes that while California is successful in removing barriers so that students can enter college, it is failing when it comes to helping students complete college (whether a degree or a certificate). “Of the 60 percent [of students] who are seeking a degree or certificate, only about one-fourth succeed in transferring to a university and/or earning an associates degree or a certificate within six years” (2).

I was curious about what this report had to say because I myself attended two California community colleges (Fullerton College and Santa Barbara City College) before transferring to Cal State Fullerton. Then, as now, California charged virtually no tuition (only health fees, that kind of thing) and there was no pressure to take only courses required for my program. So I was able to switch majors a year-and-a-half into it (from Music to English) and I was able to take several courses that I didn’t need but wanted to take (like meteorology and 19th century philosophy). So I can easily see how CCC students might be tempted to meander too much (though it’s great to have the opportunity in life to meander like that.)

But what I didn’t know, until I read this report (well, skimmed it), was that California’s policies were also serving actually to hinder completion. It seems the finance system is setup so that colleges are discouraged from funding support services (like Writing Centers).

Institutional responsibility to help students succeed.
In stark contrast to CCC policies, the national trend is toward embracing a philosophy of “the institutional responsibility to help students succeed.” States participating in national demonstration projects are moving to set and communicate clear and consistent standards of college readiness, assess all incoming students and place them in appropriate classes, require early remediation of basic skills deficiencies before allowing students to pursue higher-level coursework, and help students identify program goals and pathways for meeting their goals. This commitment to student success requires a level of student support that may be precluded under current CCC policies that limit revenues and restrict or discourage certain expenditures. (13)

So hopefully California will follow this report’s suggestion and provide colleges with more flexibility with funding in order to provide more support services.

I have mixed feelings about another recommendation, though. The report discusses the state’s policies which make it so that 75% of their faculty must be full-time, and, while admitting that this policy does right to encourage a quality faculty, suggests that the state give colleges more flexibility to hire part-timers in order to meet students’ needs. Ouch, that’s exactly why there’s plague now of colleges using mostly part-timers to teach composition. Uh oh. But, come on folks, there’s got to be a better way to meet students’ needs than hiring part-timers. Especially when it comes to English, since the need for classes is going to be consistent for a long time to come, why not stick with the full-timers.

Anyway… hopefully this report will trigger mostly change for the better.

Shulock, Nancy, and Colleen Moore. Rules of the Game: How State Policy Creates Barriers to Degree Completion and Impedes Student Success in the California Community Colleges. Cal State Sacramento Institute for Higher Education & Policy, February 2007. http://www.hewlett.org/NR/rdonlyres/A4DFB403-0374-4D07-A24E-1F7619B66B22/0/Rules_of_the_Game.pdf

YVCC student stats

Got a copy of YVCC’s “Campus Update” magazine today, and I want to note its stats on YVCC students.

Division breakdown: The “Report to the Community” indicates that of the total headcount of 10,626 students, 34% are in transfer students, 44% are workforce education students, and 23% are ABE, ESL, or Continuing Education students.

I didn’t realize that worforce education students were in a majority (44%).  It’s hard to tell how many W.E.D. students we get here in the Writing Center.  If we look at our statistics, it looks like we don’t get very many (because not very many come in specifically for something they’re working on in a workforce education course).  But they may still be W.E.D. students, since many W.E.D. students have to take English.  Anyway, wow, I just didn’t realize that they were in a definite majority.  I wonder if that’s typical at community colleges.

YVCC’s ethnic breakdown is interesting, too (in that it reflects our community):  African-American 1%, Asian-American 2%, Caucasian 57%, Hispanic 37%, and Native American 3%.   [hmmm, Why couldn’t we keep it simple by saying “European-American” instead of Caucasian and “Latin-American” or “Central-and South-American” instead of Hispanic?]

Degrees/Certificates Awarded: AA Arts and Sciences 470, AA Applied Science 232, Vocational 101.  Does that mean that even though W.E.D. students are in the majority, they are dropping out at a higher rate than the Arts and Sciences students?

Ages: 18-29 69%, 30-39 16%, 40-49 10%, and 50+ 5%.

Source: Campus Update: 2006-2007 Issue II, Yakima Valley Community College, April 2007, p. 9.

“Older students fill most of the seats in CTC pre-college courses”

Isn’t this the best way to gather data!  I was posting some V-Day signs on the doors of Anthon 102 for Dodie today and found a couple of hand-outs left behind in the room.

“More than 75 percent of the students taking pre-college courses have been out of high school for 4 or more years.”  Older students = 48,442.  Recent HS graduates (within 3 years) = 14,160.

Most high school graduates head to college: 70-75% (in 2005) enter a higher ed institution within 2 years of graduating.  Enroll into Community and Technical Colleges = 37%.  Enroll out of state = 8%.  Enroll in WA Baccalaureate institutions = 21%.

“But nearly half coming to the CTC system are not prepared in math.”  Students taking pre-college math = 47%.  Students taking pre-college writing = 19%.  Students taking pre-college reading = 10%.

Source: State Board for Community & Technical Colleges, Research Report 06-5, December 2006.