Tag Archives: education

Focus on research: What we need to know about race-neutral policies

By Liliana M Garces

On Thursday, June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a race-conscious post-secondary admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered to be the swing vote, joined Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor, in a 4-3 decision that affirmed the constitutionality of the race-conscious policy and the university’s compelling interest in the educational benefits of a diverse student body.

At the same time, the decision addressed the need for institutions to continue to assess whether so-called race-neutral alternatives are available and workable, and suffice for achieving the university’s goals.

A large body of evidence shows so-called race-neutral admissions policies are not as effective for attaining racial diversity on campus. They could even exacerbate existing racial inequities.

Continue reading Focus on research: What we need to know about race-neutral policies

Focus on research: Here’s why kids fall behind in science

By Paul Morgan

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

Globally, the U.S. is at risk of declining economic competitiveness due to its continuing lower levels of educational attainment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The U.S. currently ranks 44th according to the quality of its mathematics and science education.

A “leaky STEM pipeline” – in which factors such as lower expectations, discrimination, and a lack of interest make it less likely that racial or ethnic minorities, women or those from low-income families will pursue STEM careers – makes many adults less likely to be employed in these types of positions.

Yet STEM positions are often high-paying and provide greater economic well-being and employment stability, especially as the U.S. transitions to a knowledge-based economyContinue reading Focus on research: Here’s why kids fall behind in science

Focus on research: Will the Every Child Succeeds Act allow for less qualified teachers?

By Gail L. Boldt and Bernard J. Badiali

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

On December 9, Congress passed the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, called the Every Child Succeeds Act. A replacement for the much criticized No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the reauthorization gained support from groups as diverse as The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association, The National School Boards Association, the National Governors Association and Fairtest, an organization that addresses issues related to fairness and accuracy in testing.

With such overwhelming support, it could well be argued that it must be a sound legislation. But, is it?  Continue reading Focus on research: Will the Every Child Succeeds Act allow for less qualified teachers?

Penn State Universal

It seems that no matter where you are or what happens Penn State somehow figures in the mix.

Last September I was in an automobile accident on the Pa. turnpike.  Fascinating as it was to watch the firemen disassemble my car to remove me, I could have easily passed on the experience.  I ended up with a rod in my left leg and plates and screws in my left arm.  So call me bionic.  From that point I thought it would simply be a matter of waiting the 8 to 10 weeks until I could stand on my leg and then I’d be fine.  I opted to spend the time in a nursing facility in Philadelphia connected to a major hospital where my brother-in-law is a doctor on staff.  I figured my sister and nieces and nephew were nearby and they could come visit.

Unfortunately things suddenly took a turn for the worse and it was a very good thing that the nursing facility was on the campus of a hospital.  My leg, bruised and compressed during the accident, was filled with blood and flesh-eating bacteria I don’t really remember a great deal about the time immediately after this and I wasn’t aware of how ill I was until a resident told me one evening about a month later.  He said something about the necrotizing fasciitis and I just looked at him.  He didn’t realize that I hadn’t known.

I didn’t meet my surgeon until after the initial surgery.  During the course of the nearly six months I was in the hospital, nursing facility or physical rehabilitation facility, I had many visits with the man.  Turns out he was a Penn State Hershey Medical School graduate.

If the med school is still training and putting out doctors like him, then I suggest people go out and find a Hershey Medical School graduate.  Granted, he has an internship, residency and fellowships at other medical centers under his belt, but my feeling is that the medical school probably set him on the path he’s taken.

And he is a good doctor.  For one, I’m not dead.  Necrotizing fasciitis is frequently deadly.  I also still have two legs.  While this may seem flip, it is the reality of the disease.  Amputations are often necessary to save lives.  During my hospitalization, I had about 15 surgeries to remove infected tissue and two surgeries to skin graft the wound sites.

He also arranged for 30 dives in a hyperbaric chamber, a standard treatment, when available, for necrotizing fasciitis and other large wounds.  Spending two hours a day at 2.4 atmospheres was a snap.  I just lay in a giant gerbil-like habitat tube and watched TV.  But the increased oxygen in my blood improved healing and also killed any anaerobic bacteria still left after the antibiotics.

He also acted collaboratively with infectious disease doctors, orthopedists, nutritionists and others.  I was bane of the infectious disease doctors because I’m apparently allergic to most antibiotics. While I endured six weeks of rashes and hives, he was always looking for ways to make things easier for me even if it made it more difficult for him.

But the most important thing of all was that he talked to me.  Busy as he was, seeing patients, traveling to present papers at conferences and other duties, he had time to talk to me, or to do minor surgeries in my room.  And most important of all, when he spoke to me, he looked me in the eyes and his hand often reached out and touched me.  The personal touch, something I’m thinking he probably developed as a med student at Penn State’s College of Medicine.

Do students value an easy A?

Do students typically gravitate toward college courses that are more likely to yield an “easy A, ” instead of taking more difficult classes that will make greater demands on their time without the assurance of a high grade?  Also, in their subsequent course evaluations, do students who take the so-called easy classes rate them higher and the tough ones correspondingly lower?

An interdisciplinary team of Penn State researchers, including faculty from the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Penn State World Campus, decided to find out, aiming to “help inform how we approach course preparation and teaching,” according to Lawrence Ragan, World Campus director of faculty development.

The researchers recently surveyed a group of University Park campus students to see what these students really value in their courses, including the single best predictor of how much liked or disliked a course.

A news story highlights what they found. You can download more detailed reports of their findings at the team’s Schreyer Institute site.