Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Do bears fertilize Yellowstone?

“Most of the literature supports that argument, which is incredibly destructive because professors are dumbing down their classes for better evaluations.” -University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh

“Professors to some extent can ‘buy’ good evaluations by giving high grades, so the evaluation process is probably a major factor in grade inflation.” – Richard Vedder, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumbing down classes?

Buying good evaluations?

Why do SEOI (Student Evaluation of Instruction) results hold a disproportionate impact on whether an assistant professor achieves tenure at major universities or small colleges?

Sure there are other contributors particularly august empirical research, but student evaluations are given so much weight that some professors may be prompted to go easy on their students.

Are these students ready for the reality of a boss? Have they become, the boss?

If tenure is the Holy Grail for academics, do college professors literally sell their collective souls to drink from the golden chalice?

Will professors avoid teaching difficult classes at unpopular times (e.g., communications research at 8 am) to protect tenure?

If they knew they had to bite into the forbidden apple by sweetening an undergraduate’s grade would they do so in order to earn tenure, making it nearly impossible to be terminated?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the academic world stage right in two months and one day (who is counting?), there are thoughts that keep coming back about how to improve higher education … if that is still possible.

My sentiments are not based upon cynicism, but a realistic acknowledgement about how difficult it is too meaningfully change the culture on our campuses, particularly when the adversaries are powerful professor unions and their CBAs (collective bargaining agreements).

What Is The Purpose of College, Anyway?

“Student evaluations can be useful when they are divorced from tenure, retention and promotion evaluations.” – Former Duke University Professor Stuart Rojstaczar

Walking along faculty office hallways, your author has been repeatedly stunned by assertions that the purpose of a university is to ensure that a student succeeds in her or his chosen … major.

Is the major an end in itself? Finis? Endo Musico?

If that is true the onus is not on whether a student is preparing for a career, but how a professor teaches courses and advises these fledglings in order to simply graduate.

Faculty über alles?

Almost DailyBrett has a differing view:

The mission of a college or university should be to prepare students to land positions with full benefits – not just jobs – in their respective fields of study. The results should be a happy and lucrative professional careers.

The curricula for a Department of Communication or a School of Journalism and Mass Communication should emphasize real-world courses, which lead to a recognized profession including: Digital Journalism, Film and Public Relations.

Are parents envisioning their child prodigy with tons of theory stuck in between the ears moving back home at 22-years-young?

How about reducing the tenure impact of the Student Evaluations of Instruction (SEOIs), and instead introducing a measurement that weighs how many of a professor’s students actually land positions in their respective fields of study and build meaningful careers?

Some are entitled to dismiss the musings of Almost DailyBrett, considering that your author is retiring after four years as a tenure-track assistant professor. This writer will NOT achieve tenure. Believe it or not, there are more ways than tenure to measure a meaningful career and life.

What is more exciting is how many of my students have moved onto the professional ranks and are thriving. As the airlines instruct us: “Put on your own mask before assisting others.” These newly minted professionals can buy low and sell high with their discretionary income because they have been prepared by professional schools.

Let’s see how they are doing in their fields? How can a university measure career accomplishment?

Every university has a “development” arm in the form of alumni associations. Similar to the IRS, alumni associations without fail will always find you.

You can run, but you can’t hide from … alumni associations. Rarely does a day go by without your author receiving a communication from his two alma maters: the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon.

Practicing evolution and not revolution, let’s retain … but lower the impact of student evaluations and academic research. Let’s add into the mix how well our students are doing in landing real positions and building happy careers.

As Sheryl Crow sings, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/17/professors-and-the-students-who-grade-them/student-evaluations-offer-bad-data-that-leads-to-the-wrong-answer

https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/student-evaluations-grade-inflationdeclining-student-effort/24926

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/07/18/uo-study-finds-correlation-grade-inflation-student-course-evaluations/