Behind the News

Will coursework replace tests as learning gauge?

Universities look to papers and coursework as stronger assessments

Institutions in nine states are experimenting with using papers and coursework—instead of tests—to judge whether students are learning skills employers need.

University representatives from these states will develop standards for judging students’ critical thinking, problem solving, intercultural competence and more. These skills were determined to be what employees most value in graduates, says Carol Geary Schneider, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Colorado’s pot law trumped on campus by federal law

Despite legalization, possession, use and sale of marijuana on state campuses is forbidden

When Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in January, many people also noted a simultaneous jump—nearly 30 percent—in out-of-state student applications to the University of Colorado, Boulder. The reason, says Director of Admissions Kevin MacLennan, was not the pursuit of “higher education” but merely the fact that the state also began allowing the Common Application.

College in prison programs expanding again

Bard College leading efforts to bring instruction to inmates

Bard College doesn’t judge the success of its prison initiative by the number of students who stay out of jail. Recidivism is an extremely low bar, says Executive Director Max Kenner. “We judge by how many people are becoming middle-class taxpayers, how many people are involved in deeply meaningful ways in their communities. We think by those measures we are thriving.”

Tiers of tuition

California testing new rates for more popular courses

California has been experimenting with charging higher tuition rates for high-demand courses offered during the winter and summer. The accompanying infographic breaks down what students are paying.

Campuses fly drones for more peaceful purposes

Researchers are developing peaceful uses for unmanned, remote control quadcopters and fixed-wing aircraft

The very thought of drone aircraft makes many people uneasy. After all, drones carrying out attacks on terrorist groups and conducting police surveillance have been in the headlines recently.

Now, they are showing up on college and university campuses but, to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, “These are not the drones you are looking for.”

Defending the liberal arts

A new book celebrates the “gold standard” of learning

While details of President Obama’s college affordability proposals are not fully known, what is clear is that higher education is going under the microscope to prove its value. Add to that a growing chorus of pundits who believe that a liberal arts education is a waste of time and a relic of the past. But two college presidents argue in a new book that a liberal arts education is, in fact, crucial to not just boosting the economy but to solving many of the world’s problems.

Eyes on the prizes for career center play

One university is using incentives to engage students

“Engage with the career center” sounds a bit like “eat your vegetables” to a college student. Students know they should access career planning resources, but other options from the campus activities buffet beckon.

In surveys, graduating students from Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management raved about the faculty and facility, but not the career center, says Dean Karyl Leggio.

How campuses attract multi-million dollar donations

Even schools not matching the typical profile are getting large gifts by engaging donors in creative ways

What makes a college or university more likely to attract million-dollar gifts? It may not be surprising to learn that longer presidential tenure, the age of an institution, strong alumni networks, and national college rankings help schools win big donations.

Imported vaccine battles meningitis on U.S. campuses

CDC working with schools in need of vaccines not available domestically

The majority of students, when they enter college, have been vaccinated against meningitis, a potentially deadly bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. In fact, 37 states mandate meningitis vaccination or education before entering college, according to the Immunization Action Coalition, which is financially supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Study: Stopping out makes it harder to start college again

The more breaks a community college student takes, the less likely he or she is to ever graduate

When life gets in the way, community college students often “stop out,” meaning they put their education on hold with the intention to return and complete a degree. But the more breaks a community college student takes, the less likely he or she is to ever graduate, according to a Florida State University study.

Pages