5 articles you should read this June

Student evaluations, diversity, and classroom techniques are among the topics covered.

June 9, 2015

Your summer is probably in full swing by now. Here are a few interesting and useful articles to read while you’re taking a break from writing, sitting on the plane on the way to a conference, or simply relaxing on the beach.

Should schools do away with student evaluations?

Student evaluations are widely disparaged. Detractors claim that they’re biased, reduce teaching to metrics, and encourage faculty to cater to students. Though there’s truth to all these statements, professor Stephen Burt writes, student evaluations are still valuable because they let students voice their opinions on classes without fear of reprisal. Evaluations, he argues, give faculty a rich source of information about their teaching that they may otherwise lack.
Slate, May 15, 2015.

Career-minded students aren’t philistines—they’re responding to economic pressures

Using the American Freshman Survey as evidence, professor Mark Bauerlain argued that students today value the life of the mind far less than they did in 1967, the year the survey was launched. But columnist Libby Nelson, taking a closer look at the survey, finds that students named jobs more than education as a key reason they were attending college as early as 1971. Students aren’t more materialistic than they were in the 1960s, she concludes; they’re simply more pragmatic. As the salary gap between college graduates and high school graduates widened, she points out, the percentage of students who said they were attending college to earn more money naturally rose.
Vox, May 13, 2015.

How to keep a class from going off the rails

Though it’s rare to lose control of a class, sometimes even experienced professors can fail to click with a certain group of students, resulting in bad feelings and disruptive behaviors. If this happens to you, try visiting your campus’s teaching and learning center for ideas, holding a mid-semester evaluation, or having an honest discussion with your students about how you’ve gotten off on the wrong foot. You can also prevent classes from turning sour by setting clear expectations and sticking to them.
Inside Higher Ed, May 26, 2015.

Increasing diversity in academia: Why socialization matters

The lack of minority faculty members in academia has created a vicious cycle: Since minority graduate students have few role models, they’re less likely to become faculty themselves, perpetuating the problem. As doctoral candidate Dian Squire points out, graduate students from underrepresented groups often aren’t socialized into the academy the way white students are, and so they lack knowledge about crucial facets of the job search. Squire suggests that faculty make the effort to talk to minority grad students about the unspoken norms of academia, and that schools host more programs aimed at preparing minority students for the profession.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2015.

This fun icebreaker helps students become more comfortable with public speaking

Icebreakers can help you and your students get to know one another as you start a new semester. Professor Stacey Peterson has a suggestion for a fun, informal icebreaker that can also work as a low-pressure public speaking assignment even your more reserved students will enjoy.
Faculty Focus, May 8, 2015.

Courtney L. Vien is an associate editor with the magazines and newsletters team at the AICPA.