Yes, I understand the institutional pressures to get students out and yes I understand that articles are where the payoff is, but I can still lament the loss of sustained attention to a single argument that used to characterize a much higher proportion of Economics dissertations. And a title such as "Essays on the Macroeconomics of Trade Flows" is singularly uninformative in helping me understand what this person might be writing about.
Yes, I sound like an old fart, but so be it. "Three Essays in Search of a Staple" has won out in the "competitive" process, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
In the old days you learned how to do in-depth research first and, once that was mastered, learned how to get it published. The almost unconnected essays are the most frustrating and not just for grumpy reasons. You sometimes might wonder if the 3 essays breeds a lack of patience, a hesitation to fight through a difficult problem and an unwillingness embrace the minutiae. All of which makes for sloppy research (I should know, mid-career time constraints [sometimes*] force me into that situation). Experience allows you to learn where you can take shortcuts and where you can't (but maybe PhD programs work on teaching that these days?).
I wrote a 3 essay dissertation that explored facets of Major League Baseball's arbitration system. I chose this format for the familiar reason: because I wanted to have nearly-publishable papers ready to help me find a job when I finished grad school (I got three from the first two full essays). I don't see anything wrong with the three essay format as long as the papers are on a fairly-narrow subject and are somehow connected.
As far as slop and the lack of patience goes, those are two qualities that need to be hunted down and mercilessly killed, in a bloody manner if need be, if one is going to get a decent product out of the dissertation research. I had an advisor who wasn't going to let me finish without fully exploring the problems at hand. It was something that I didn't always like at the time but that, looking back, I'm glad I went through.
The student newspaper described a chaotic environment in the class where the faculty members made the threat to walk out, with loud chatting among students and even paper airplanes being shot around the room. ...
I've never had law students behave remotely this badly. About the most disruptive conduct I've faced is students leaving class, presumably to go to the bathroom. One year I really lost my temper about that and told the class "If you can't hold it for the whole class, buy some Depends." As you can imagine, my evaluations that semester tanked.
Frankly, I'm not at all sure what I'd do if faced with the level of disruption that took place at Ryerson. Walking out seems like the only option. Any other ideas?
I've never had behavior that bad in any of my classes.
I used to TA for the late Walter Johnson at Mizzou. He told me something the first semester I taught for him that has stuck with me since: "It's easier to let up than to clamp down." In other words, when the first time a disruption happens, attack it as vigorously as possible to show students you mean business. So when a student is texting during class, I let that student and the rest of the class know in no uncertain terms that I don't appreciate it. It's worked well for me.
I also ban the use of laptops in my classes. In fact, the first words I say at the beginning of the semester are "Close and put away your laptops. You won't need them in this class." If a student has a laptop open, I won't start class until it's put away.
That said, I love the Depends comment. To that I give a golf clap and say "well played, professor. Well played."
Update: I had a student who was using a calculator in my last class today. But he was holding it up in front of his face, it looked like a cell phone, and he was using his thumbs to push its buttons. It looked like he was texting. Luckily, I didn't raise my voice but I reminded the students to not text during class.
While those schools spend in the neighborhood of $25.1 to $32 million, schools like Louisiana-Monroe spend just over $2.9 million on their programs. None of this is surprising to me. Spending imbalance derives from revenue imbalance which derives from demand imbalance. Ohio State has a bigger fanbase than Louisiana-Monroe and that drives the spending differential between those two schools.
But Brad correctly notes this is an apples to oranges comparison because schools like Ohio State and Texas spend a lot on everything else. So he recalculates spending on football on a per-dollar-spent-on-student-services basis using data available from the IPEDS data base. Here's Brad:
Here’s how the Top 5, and cellar dweller Louisiana-Monroe compare by the ratio of student services spending to football spending
Ohio State 2.6
Notre Dame 1.0
Louisiana-Monroe spent $8 million on student services and 43 million on football, or roughly $2.7 dollars of student service spending for every dollar of football spending. Auburn spent seventy cents on student services for every dollar spent on football. Ohio State’s football spending is actually not that big when compared to student service spending. I hope that students at Alabama and Auburn get a lot of benefit out of football, because they are not getting nearly the student services that students at, say, Louisiana-Monroe are getting.
When I saw Brad's post, I wondered how the Big XII schools (circa 2010) measured up against each other. So I gathered student service spending, instructional spending, and enrollment data for each Big XII school for the 08-09 school year from IPEDS and their football spending for the 09-10 school year from EADA. I calculated the spending per dollar spent on football for each expense category. Here's the data for student service spending.
Baylor leads the way with a whopping $5.36 dollars spent on student services for every dollar spent on its football program. This year's Baylor program is bowl-eligible for the first time as a Big XII school, so football success isn't something experienced on a regular basis for the Bears. But Baylor students get a lot spent on them in other areas of the school. A&M, CU, ISU, Mizzou, Tech, and Texas all have values over 2 while OSU, NU, and OU bring up the rear. Texas looks pretty good in comparison, but remember that Texas has a lot of undergraduates. Here is the dollar-for-dollar spending per 1000 students.
Baylor comes out on top with KSU in second. NU, UT, and OU - the historical powers - bring up the rear. Comparatively, Louisiana-Monroe spends 45 cents per 1000 undergraduates, postively Baylorish. So what Brad comments holds even more with the rest of the Big XII: "I hope that students at" every Big XII school save Baylor "get a lot of benefit out of football, because they are not getting nearly the student services that students at, say, Louisiana-Monroe are getting." Or Baylor.
I've gathered data on research and instruction spending as well as data on spending on men's basketball, but crunching that data is left for a future post.
It truly was no problem. In the past year, I've written roughly 5,000 pages of scholarly literature, most on very tight deadlines. But you won't find my name on a single paper.
I've written toward a master's degree in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. in sociology, and a handful of postgraduate credits in international diplomacy. I've worked on bachelor's degrees in hospitality, business administration, and accounting. I've written for courses in history, cinema, labor relations, pharmacology, theology, sports management, maritime security, airline services, sustainability, municipal budgeting, marketing, philosophy, ethics, Eastern religion, postmodern architecture, anthropology, literature, and public administration. I've attended three dozen online universities. I've completed 12 graduate theses of 50 pages or more. All for someone else.
You've never heard of me, but there's a good chance that you've read some of my work. I'm a hired gun, a doctor of everything, an academic mercenary. My customers are your students. I promise you that. Somebody in your classroom uses a service that you can't detect, that you can't defend against, that you may not even know exists.
The writer will earn about $66,000 this year, which is not bad for a professional writer.
I have a few quick reactions. First, it's an interesting anecdote, but it doesn't tell me how much this sort of stuff happens in higher education.
Second, much of what the writer does appears to be on the qualitative side (the writer specifically says "no math"). I have no reason to doubt that similar things happen in the quantitative fields, but it would be fairly difficult - at leat I hope it is difficult - to fake a statistical study, for example, where the student has to find or create, crunch, and interpret his own data. Is it easier to cheat in qualitative disciplines all else equal?
Third, the writer implies that some professors aren't doing their jobs. But there is other FAIL to go around. How can someone who can't write a coherent sentence get admitted into a graduate program, let alone get an undergraduate degree, in the first place? That's an administrative FAIL.
Fourth, the seminary students who cheat have a lot of 'splainin' to do. But whenever benefits exceed costs at the margin...
Fifth, what about degrees that require oral defenses of one's submitted thesis/dissertation? Surely that has to limit the opportunities for ghost writers to some degree.
All that said, it's an interesting, but somewhat lengthy read. Here are Tyler Cowen's comments. The comments there are good. Thanks to Chris Steinbach.
Owning a home may not be worth as much as you think.
For years, home ownership was touted as a safe path to
professional and financial success. Homeowners, it has long been argued,
would be able to build solid portfolios that would earn them far more than
their renting counterparts.
OK, I rewrote that, substituting stuff about owning a home vs. renting for getting a college degree. Here's the exact quote from Mary Pilon.
A college education may not be worth as much as you think.
For years, higher education was touted as a safe path to
professional and financial success. Graduates, it has long been argued,
would be able to build solid careers that would earn them far more than
their high-school educated counterparts.
She goes on to argue why the $800,000 lifetime earnings college premium mentioned in a 2002 Census report probably overstates the true average earnings premium. Pilon mentions work by Mark Scheinder who, after examining actual data and adjusting for tax payments, employment breaks, and discounting puts the number closer to $280,000.
It's always important to consider the costs of going to college in addition to the benefits. There's nothing magical about getting a college education. It's not for everybody.
But it's also important to realize that the college premium does not just measure value added by a college education. It also important to realize that people with more innate ability are also more likely to graduate from college, making a diploma in part a signal of ability.
Toilet Cleaning and Department Chairing: Volunteering a Public service
Who will do a
job that nobody wants but that someone has to do? The search for a
volunteer is modelled as a war of attrition in which everyone is
tempted to just wait for someone else to do it. We show that the
volunteer will be, ceteris paribus, the individual for whom the
benefit/cost ratio of performing the public service is the largest, the
one most impatient to consume it, or the one who stands to benefit from
it the longest.
-- B-school professors are sadists. They enjoy giving you quizzes, and
they do so fully knowing there was no possible way you could have
finished all the assigned reading last night.
-- You know you're wrong if your professor responds to your comment by asking, "And how did that work out for you?"
-- The probability that you will be cold-called about the one case you didn't have time to read last night is 100%.
I may have given you the impression that business school is more demanding than necessary. This is not correct.
Business school is as demanding as possible and on purpose. It's far
too cruel and scheduled to be otherwise, and all of it is for a very
good reason: To succeed in business school and the workplace, you need
to be an expert at time management. This skill cannot be taught, only
developed. And the best way to develop time management is to be beaten
round the head with it. Repeatedly.
Even if everyone learned the same amount in a course, those who manage their time better are very likely going to be more successful after graduation. But if we, as some people suggest, only grade on "what is learned", then grades becomes a less useful signal.
As the learning specialist working with the most academically
challenged athletes at Florida State, Brenda Monk was confronted each
year with recruits who would seem to have little chance of surviving on
a college campus. Their deficiencies were laid out in transcripts and
psycho-educational reports submitted during the admissions process.
the athletes knew exactly what they were up against. She recalls a
conversation with one such player in her office at Doak Campbell
"You might as well know right off the bat, I can't read," he told her.
"Then how are we going to get through these college classes?" she asked.
"It's easy," he responded. "You get to read to me."
Maybe I'm old fashioned, but a person who cannot read, god help him, by the time he reaches adulthood should not be in university. Reading is a skill that a person should have before they come to college, not to be taught or glossed over while in college.