Articles about Education, 2014-2015

Obama's Proposal for Free Community Colleges    9 January 2015

President Barack Obama has proposed that community colleges be free for all students who maintain a 2.5 average and who are enrolled in vocational programs or are headed for four-year institutions.  Should Congress approve the measure, the federal government would pay three-quarters of the cost.  Many fear that university enrollment would drop. Furthermore, should the proposal become reality, it may dilute the community college experience even further, and universities would have to design more courses intended to strengthen the skills of students before they enter majors.  In the past, the underclass experience focused on broadening a student's horizons, but in recent decades, it has taken on a remedial role because high schools are failing to prepare students for higher education.  Mr. Obama's program, as admirable as it may be, will necessitate a rethinking of the college experience if the bachelor's degree is not to become further weakened.  See

Manual for Flipping a Classroom    7 January 2015

The Chronicle of Higher Education has compiled a manual for flipping a classroom that is available at  Those interested also can download it from this website by clicking here.  The manual actually is a compilation of past articles on the subject that appeared in the Chronicle.

Helicopter Teaching    6 August 2014

Steven Conn, who teaches public history at Ohio State University, is concerned about the increasing need for college students to have ever more detailed instructions from as well as constant contact with their professors instead of solving problems on their own and thinking independently.  For those of us who have resisted rubrics and still expect students to be able to conceptualize and execute a research project without instruction and feedback during every step, his article is a welcome addition to the education debate.  See

Online Foreign Language Immersion    16 May 2014

Teletandem or telecollaboration is a method of pairing students on line with their counterparts abroad so that each can learn the other’s language.  The technique is in classrooms at Virginia Commonwealth University, Northern Virginia Community College, and elsewhere.  The idea works when neither student has any command of the language of their counterpart, but that is not usually the case.  In most of the world, children begin learning English or another foreign language at an early age.  Since two speakers naturally default to the language that is easiest for communication, it is unlikely that American students will benefit from telecollaboration as much as their foreign partners.  Nevertheless, those who are disciplined have a great deal to gain from the experience.  See

Enrollments in Majors–Trends from 1970 to 2011    12 May 2014

NPR has provided an interactive graph on the numbers of students enrolled in specific majors between 1970 and 2011. History reached a low in 1984 of 1.68 percent and a high of 5.60 in 1970, and enrollment in the major stood at 2.05 percent in 2011.  The graph is based on statistics from the Digest of Educational Statistics.  See and

Proposed Florida College Textbook Law    12 April 2014

A proposed law in Florida will force college professors to use text books for three years and make it difficult to change texts.  The effort is an attempt to hold down the rising cost of texts, but it has negative repercussions on academic freedom and effective teaching.  Once adopting a book, professors will be unable to change a text without administrative approval, which reduces the ability of the professor to adopt more effective books that reflect the most recent research.  Using the same texts during the course of several years also increases the chances for students to cheat.  For all of the complications it would make for professors, the bill would have a minimum effect on keeping down the cost of texts for students because publishers frequently issue new editions, almost always at higher prices, and the older ones quickly become unavailable.  The proposed law is an example of political micromanagement of state universities that has become all too frequent.  See

How Duke University Spends Undergraduate Tuition    23 February 2014

Duke University has released information about how it spends the tuition of its undergraduates in a way that no other university has in recent years.  The $60,000 more than half of the undergraduates pay is divided as follows: 25 percent goes to faculty pay; 24 percent covers financial aid of nearly half of the students (slightly more than 10 percent of the students pay no tuition); 11 percent is for sponsored direct activity; 10 percent is for administrative support, including a million-dollar salary for its president (likely ten times the amount much of the university’s faculty is paid); 8 percent each for staff compensation and facilities; 7 percent for other needs; and 6 percent for academic support.  It is possible that other private institutions have similar patterns for allocating undergraduate tuition.  See