Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Engagement Insights: Looking at the NSSE Data

As many at UW Tacoma know, we are / have been / will continue to be swept up in change. It's inevitable as society changes to digital; as our students now better represent the whole rather than the privileged few; as our campus leadership changes; as our faculty think about unionizing to counter the increasing hires of PT and FT lecturers, as globalization and technology change everything around us. 

Many realize we must now change our teaching to keep up and to be responsive to the students spending so much money to be here, but find they can't stay here. SO: we now have a Lower Division Task Force to examine why we lose ~50% of our first year cohorts before graduation day. To figure it out, we can't look to story or blame or if only wishes for days gone by. 

Instead, we're gathering artifacts that might provide new ways of educating lower division students. Here's one people might want to ponder: the National Survey of Student Engagement's latest report on the students' perceived experience of undergraduate education.

Some reveals: they want to be challenged with relevant, engaging work; they want more creative work; they feel more engaged and challenged with online experiences. Financial stress was common among undergraduates, particularly among first-generation, women, Black, and Hispanic students. 

Here's hoping the Task Force considers the voice of students in defining change, and rewarding the faculty willing to embrace change for the good of our students. We can yank graduation rates higher than 50-some per cent. If we're willing to change, to be uniquely UW Tacoma, to be the campus that responds to student need with thoughtful, innovative, data-driven solutions. 

If not us, who? If now now...2016 so bright, we should be wearing shades. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Let's Talk New Horizons

New Media Consortium
Every year, as if in mini-birthday celebration, I anticipate the New Media Consortium's Horizon Report. Even years when it's off, hijacked from relevancy by the futurists that often pack the democratic and process-oriented panel choosing the issues, it's a great read on the emerging technologies that will affect higher education in 1, 2-3, and 5 years.

Well, it's out and it's deeper, more thoughtful and more balanced than ever before. READ IT!

What I love about this year's report is that they took on more than technology. That crystal ball approach to bright shiny objects often seemed to ignore the reality of adaptation for those working in the trenches, in the classroom, in technology. Consultants living in the cloud can wax eloquent on how the "internet of things" will transform teaching and learning, but my campus struggles to keep bulbs lit in projectors and markers available on the white boards. Our idea of transformative practice is in finding the deep affordance in new features of the LMS, not MakerSpaces in my math course.

Why does the most referenced research in higher education always talk about students as if they all study at the Ivies, when the mass of students now work, are in debt, go to public colleges and most often, community colleges? Where are the waves of transformative technologies for them? It seems NMC tried this year, and instead of focusing solely on shiny objects out of our reach (5,10, 20 years out), they address the challenges the rest of us have long been facing - solvable, difficult and wicked challenges. 

Well worth the read. Now if they'd stop putting 12-year-olds in lipstick on the cover, as if that is the current face of the nation now going to college, I'd give them an A for effort.