CURRENT ARTICLE • October 16th collegiality

Collegiality: The Cornerstone of a University (and a Profession)

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Accepting and sharing responsibility for creating a productive work setting within the department and institution result, at least to a great extent, from how well each member of the community carries his or her own fair share of the common workload. The challenges faced by higher education institutions in the 21st century cannot be successfully mastered, nor can the efforts of dedicated professionals be sustained when the actions of a faculty member are divisive, uncompromising, and inflexible. In a similar way, it is destructive to a department’s morale and effectiveness when one or more of its members accept a significantly lower degree of responsibility for achieving a shared purpose. These elements lie at the heart of that salient, fundamental hallmark of successful interactions in academic life that is commonly called collegiality.

OTHER RECENT ARTICLES

Is Time Up for the Credit Hour? October 11

Is Time Up for the Credit Hour?

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How do we know if a student has learned enough to attain a degree or credential? Likely, the answer is currently phrased in the form of credit hours: 64 semester hours to earn an associate’s degree, 128 semester hours to earn a bachelor’s degree, and so on. But the credit hour, the most widely used currency of determining work put in toward a degree, was never intended to measure student learning at all.


To MOOC or Not to MOOC? That Is Just One of the October 9

To MOOC or Not to MOOC? That Is Just One of the Questions!

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It seems that each new day brings a barrage of articles regarding massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their successful use in education and business. Both large and small educational institutions feel compelled to respond to internal and external stakeholders about MOOC development, and for those institutions unable to partner with an organization such as Coursera or edX, there can be a number of considerations. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself as you consider MOOC development for your institution.


October 8

Seven Ways to Combat Attrition in Online Courses

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One of the biggest issues in online education is attrition. “Student retention is a noteworthy issue for higher education institutions and is closely tied to accountability,” write Melanie Shaw of Northcentral University, Scott Burrus of University of Phoenix, and Karen Ferguson of Colorado State University-Global Campus. In an article in the fall 2016 issue of the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, the trio details research they conducted to determine predictors for online higher education student attrition.


Accreditation from a Positive Leadership Perspective October 4

Accreditation from a Positive Leadership Perspective

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May we be candid for a moment? When academic administrators are alone—no faculty members or representatives of the press in sight—one of the things we complain about most bitterly is accreditation. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about regional accreditation of all our programs or specialized accreditation of individual programs, we find it a nuisance at best and a major waste of time and effort at worst. It’s not that we don’t see advantages accruing from accreditation. We do. But we find that those returns seem to be ever diminishing and certainly not worth the cost involved in the process.

Even worse, accreditation sometimes actually gets in the way of our efforts to be innovative and responsive to the needs of a new generation of students. Legislatures, governing boards, and students all want us to offer accelerated paths to an academic degree, but accrediting agencies are still mired in outdated notions such as seat time and contact hours, even as they give lip service to the importance of outcomes-based assessment and evaluation. So, if you accept a few too many AP or IB credits—or, heaven forfend, try to launch an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degree program—you’re likely to run into a brick wall of reasons why your creative solution (which everyone seems to like except the accreditors) “dilutes the integrity of the academic degree,” simply because a graduate won’t have been physically present in a classroom as long as he or she might have been 20 or 50 years ago.


chairs October 2

The Case for Chairs Working Beyond Their Departments

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Over the past two decades, the responsibilities of academic department chairs have grown in both number and complexity. The newer work for chairs has not replaced traditional duties but rather has been layered on top of them. Many of the emerging chair responsibilities are related to calls for accountability, expectations for improvement, and efforts to reform higher education. Chairs in particular have been impacted by these changes because they are the gatekeepers to disciplinary cultures and the faculty, the working units that manufacture the products of higher education. It is widely recognized that little will change without the participation and support of the faculty, and chairs are the critical people who can bring them to the table. In order to lead change of the necessary magnitude, chairs will have to become active not only with their departments and their faculty and staff, but also at the campus level and beyond where many of the ideas and models for change and improvement originate.


Academic Chair October 1

10 Things I Never Knew about Being an Academic Chair

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My professional goals have always included teaching but never administration. I tended to be a bit judgmental and suspicious of administration. However, after five years in an elementary classroom and 19 years in a university classroom, circumstances led me to take the plunge into higher education administration. Having served as a faculty member at the University of Central Arkansas for some 21 years and being an alumna there, ties of loyalty and service ran deep. It was my duty to take on this new adventure and ensure that I was doing my part to serve our faculty, promote idealistic goals of my university, and make sure that the future of higher education was in good hands. I felt that I could take all that I had learned from a faculty viewpoint and implement the best leadership strategies to be the kind of administrator that all faculty would love!


Faculty development September 27

How to Evaluate Your Faculty Development Services

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Faculty developers across the nation are working on developing methods to evaluate their services. In 2010, the 35th Annual Professional Organizational and Development Network Conference identified assessing the impact of faculty development as a key priority. It was this growing demand that spawned my interest in conducting a 2007 statewide and a 2010 nationwide investigation of faculty development evaluation practices in the U.S. This article will describe how to develop a customized evaluation plan based on your program’s structure, purpose, and desired results, based on contemporary practices discovered through this research.


select a department chair September 25

How to Select a Department Chair

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In most academic departments, chairs are elected—or at least recommended to the dean—through a vote of the faculty. At other institutions, the chair rotates among the entire full-time or tenured faculty, while at still others the upper administration appoints the chair either from among current members of the department or as the result of a national search. In cases where deans, provosts, or presidents are in a position to choose the chair of a department, what principles should guide them?