VIA THECB: More information on the transition to the new Core

As promised at the last Undergraduate Committee meeting–

Agnes DeFranco and Libby Barlow have passed along the following links for those of you curious about the implications of the transition to the new statewide Core:

  • Link here for the THECB page devoted to the Texas Core Curriculum.  Note also the timeline for implementation:
  • November 2011 – November 2013: Faculty develop and select courses [where we are now]
  • November 2013: Institution’s core curriculum due to Coordinating Board staff for review
  • Fall 2014: Statewide implementation of core curriculum for incoming Freshmen
  • Faculty and Administrative FAQs for those preparing the new Core Curriculum
  • Assessment Guidelines for the new Core, including

In addition to the THECB site, those interested in the assessment issues (and interested in saving themselves time while redesigning Core courses) should take a look at one or two of the following sites:

Let us know whether you find these helpful, or need additional information for implementation.




Yet another possible future for higher education?

Chris Peterson, of MIT Admissions, has a terrific piece on Ben Nelson and Larry Summers’ Minerva project, which is properly skeptical of the business model, let alone the educational vision, of such projects.

This week the tech and educational press has been buzzing about the launch of Minerva University. According to its founder, Internet entrepreneur Ben Nelson, Minerva is intended to “tap into the demand for an elite American education from the developing world’s rising middle class.” His proposition is simple and compelling: there are more smart students in the world than there are seats in Ivy League schools, and the elastic enrollment afforded by Minerva’s online format will provide an elite electronic education for those huddles masses yearning to learn.

In support of his subversive educational enterprise Nelson has mustered both heavy artillery and covering fire. The former comes from Benchmark Capital, the VC behemoth which has invested $25 million dollars to found Minerva. The latter comes from the long list of luminaries Nelson has recruited to form his advisory board, including such superstars as Larry Summers (former President of Harvard), Senator Bob Kerrey (former head of the New School), and Pat Harker (president of the University of Delaware and former dean of Wharton, Nelson’s alma mater).

I am a big believer in educational access. Education is awesome. Extending education to those who cannot presently achieve it is extra awesome.

And yet I’m troubled by the Minerva Project; specifically, by the lack of credible answers to a few questions that the painfully shallow news coverage have yet to actually address. So I’m posting them here and trying to think through what some of the answers might be.

Peterson’s take on Minerva is compelling, but what I find especially interesting is that the educational “solution” devised by Summers, Nelson, and their powerful friends perfectly reflects the economic forces we discussed last week at the forum on the future of higher ed.

Minerva represents one of the fullest crystallizations of the for-profit and privatized model of higher ed that I could think of.  Not a trace of education to be found in it.

Yet I am convinced that it will not work except as a way to ” load [Nelson’s] comparatively underleveraged international students with loans that will return an appreciable rate to his investors.”  And I don’t think that either Harvard or UH will be much threatened by this model, unless we decide, suicidally, to embrace it ourselves.



Please Fill Out Our End-of-Year Survey for CTE Faculty Workshops

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the entire CTE Board, I would like to thank all of you for participating in our faculty workshops this year, and ask that you please fill out the following survey about our workshops this past year.

It should only take about 5 minutes, and will provide us with invaluable feedback for improving our workshops in the coming year.

We also provide a comment box if you would like to suggest additional topics or make other kinds of suggestions for existing or new CTE activities and programs.

Here is the link:

If you found any of our workshops helpful for your teaching, please let your colleagues know about our programs and activities.

Thanks for your support, and see you next year,

David Mazella
Director, UH Center for Teaching Excellence

CTE Website:
CTE Blog:

VIA Inside Higher Ed: The End of Remediation?

Whether you think the idea is brilliant or foolhardy, the Connecticut state legislature is considering abolishing remediation courses from the state entirely, and moving to a model where students with additional needs receive “embedded remedial support” in their credit-bearing courses.  The idea, of course, is to get the state out of the business of paying for underprepared students’ high-school years a second or third time.  Interestingly, there is some evidence that this approach has worked, but never at the scale proposed by this initiative.  Here’s a sample of the article:

Hunter Boylan, director of the National Center for Developmental Learning, said there are at least four models of embedded remedial education that show promise. For example, he cites a program in Washington state, dubbed Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, that pairs workforce training with adult basic education and literacy courses. But that smattering of pilot programs, which includes increased student support services, are not imposed on all of the state’s colleges.

Embedded remedial courses need more “field testing,” Boylan said. “I don’t think it’s been thoroughly researched enough for an entire state to put it into practice.”

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed
I don’t know if this approach will work, but it’s pretty clear that the success rates of students in remediation are pretty dismal.  So who thinks this might be a promising approach?