Monthly Archives: July 2014

“How to Lie With Education Data, Part I”

“How to Lie With Education Data, Part 1” in The Chronicle of Higher Education demonstrates the power of data. When data and statistical information is used appropriately and presented factually, data has the influence to make significant changes in the medium for which it exists. However, it also has the ability to distort certain realities when misrepresented.

This article critiques a post, which appeared on Forbes’ site, that discusses the cost of college education and the prevalent concerns associated with student loan debt. Many are aware of the rising cost of a college education; however, many mistakenly equate the cost with its true value. Even though the post is written as a semi-satirical read, it does show the negative perception of the cost versus the value of higher education perceived by many students, former and present.

Per the critique, “Mr. Taylor exacerbates the general misunderstanding of the cost of college by excluding financial aid from his calculation of the average cost of four years of in-state tuition, fees, and other expenses at a public university. That causes him to vastly overstate the cost of college.” His reported costs of education are much higher than data accumulated by the Department of Education (DOE) as the DOE accounts for those financial aid awards. Even though the author’s self-reported data on his cost of education may be somewhat accurate, the statistics are presented in such a framework that lead the reader to perceive the cost of education with a colossal price tag with little value.

In order for one to have the opportunity to make an honest judgment, statistical claims need to contain accurate data. Such claims should also be presented with some level of transparency so the reader is aware of how it was obtained. Even though the cost of the author’s college education is equivalent to the purchase of 233 pairs of particular headphones, such a comparison is misleading and ignores the fact that an investment on such items depreciate in value immediately. The value of a college degree appreciates with time and should be presented as so.




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Filed under Methods, Practice, Statistics

Predictions for the Future of Higher Education

In ‘The Shape of Higher Ed Yet to Come’, posted to, Steven Mintz explores several predictions for the future of higher education for the next decade. Among the predictions discussed, the author suggests that higher education will see increased diversity, a more student-centered learning experience, an increase in the use of faculty-mentoring, and general changes in structure. The author also predicts a continued increased focus on technology, particularly through learning dashboards and embedded assessments.

The most crucial point made, however, is the all-encompassing drive for change in the higher education landscape. Undoubtedly, pressure for change is ongoing and picking up speed. Whether this pressure is government-driven, accreditation-driven, or simply pressure from parents and students, the landscape will continue to change and shift. As we move forward, it is crucial to be continuously re-assessing and re-examining whether or not we are doing what we must to continue to survive in an increasingly competitive environment. As we know, MOOCs, completely online programs, and hybrid programs are becoming more and more prevalent. This is one area (technology) that schools must monitor and continue to make progress in. If we do not manage to stay relevant in this arena, falling behind will be quick and swift. As the article states, there are more and more options available on a continuous basis to students looking to further their education. We must continue to look for ways to stay ahead of the curve and understand where we fit. Looking toward the future is critical in any arena, but we are at a crossroads in higher education. Today, in our industry, projecting the future may be more important than ever. All you have to do is look back just 5 years, and see how much has changed. The push for assessment goes on, and the drive for change continues.

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Filed under General Observations