Higher Ed Round-up: from this week’s Houston Chronicle

Here are a few items of interest:

–Rick Casey, in his Sunday column, had an excellent discussion of the ten-percent rule, and its implications for prospective college students across the state.  Find it here.

–It’s conventional wisdom among college administrators and faculty that colleges want their students living and studying on campus. Sociologist Ruth Lopez Turley, now at Rice, is examining more closely the effects of residential living on students at a wide variety of schools, and finding the effect is not as dramatic as you might expect.  Read her interview with Jeannie Kever here.

–Another piece from Jeannie Kever, this time on Texas universities’ efforts to improve their 4-year graduation rates.  The UH CTE seems to be briefly alluded to as a “faculty led effort to improve teaching.”  Find it here.



11 Comments on “Higher Ed Round-up: from this week’s Houston Chronicle”

  1. Cathy says:

    I think Ruth’s work highlights the importance of the depth of the residential experience, not simply the act of “being in a bed” on campus. The community and support cultivated by the on-campus experience have to be atively cultivated, an undertaking I think UH is really taking seriously.

  2. Dave Mazella says:

    So what kinds of experiences do we need to provide to UH students that would help create that kind of community and support? Kever’s article made it sound like it was just a matter of the whiter, more affluent residential students performing the way we would expect them to.

  3. Cathy says:

    We’re doing a bunch of them, even if not to scale or in a completely unified way. For example, the consolidated services provision in Cougar Village is one way of centralizing access to holistic services students need. You’re right though, one easy default is to greatly restrict who gets in the door so that, in essence, it’s less relevant what the campus offers in terms of likelihood of success.

  4. Dave Mazella says:

    It sounds like it might be worthwhile bringing Ruth to speak about these issues on campus, if she hasn’t done so already. I think there would be an audience here for any ideas she might have on this issue. Maybe even host the talk in Cougar Village, and see if the students themselves had ideas about this.

  5. Martha Dunkelberger says:

    I think a variable that wasn’t covered in the Chronicle’s coverage of this work is the pull from the home environment that influences students’ decisions to persist/not. If there are younger siblings to care for, financial hardships, etc, and/or a family structure that views higher education as a luxury and therefore low priority, the pressures for the students to NOT persist is pretty pervasive.

  6. Martha Dunkelberger says:

    I’d also like to buy a beer for the woman that Rick Casey described in his Sunday column. She sounds very wise.

  7. Dave Mazella says:

    @Martha, that seems right to me about the pressures families feel, or exert, regarding college decisions. What I’m curious about is how universities could offset these. Perhaps better communication with the families?

  8. Martha Dunkelberger says:

    Good question Dave! I think communication with families could help, but so could attempts to help the parents integrate into the college culture a bit themselves. I don’t know enough about our freshmen orientation procedures, but are parents included? Do they have “sessions” learning about what it will take from their student to succeed? Do they learn with their students what “success in college” means? That’s where I would begin, I think…not sure how we could make being here with them for orientation a priority, but I’d like to see if it might work.

    • Dave Mazella says:

      I suspect that some kind of event specifically tailored for families of brand new students would help, along with explanations of what kinds of expectations we have for their children. Maybe specifically targeted family sessions about student loans and other kinds of assistance?

  9. Jim Garson says:

    But what really matters is what happens to the students when they get here. We could have everyone on campus and emotionally and financially well off and still have an intellectually stultifying environment. We can do relatively little about the family situation but we can start to create a campus where it is just presumed that intellectual growth (for its own sake) is what it is all about. The Honors College helps by providing models of excellent students for the others. But CTE can think about organizing events to help.

  10. Dave Mazella says:

    Hi Jim, I think that your point is well-taken: the intellectual environment on campus needs to reflect this notion of excellence, which should be found in both the formal classwork but also in the activities of students outside the classroom. The best schools reinforce that notion of excellence across the board. So faculty can contribute in terms of curriculum, but also in terms of events and activities for students to participate in. And I agree that the CTE could actively sponsor some of those events.

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