Category Archives: Faculty issues

Call For Proposals: 2014 HETL Conference

hetl_logoI am a member of Higher Education Teaching & Learning (HETL). I review for one of its journals, and I’m active on the HETL LinkedIn discussion group. The discussion group has quickly grown to 35,000+ members from its start about four years ago. I recommend this group for all professors (the only people allowed to join).

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: 2014 HETL CONFERENCE

The International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) invites you to submit a proposal for a presentation at its 2014 International Conference, to be held in Anchorage, in partnership with the University of Alaska Anchorage, May 31 – June 2, 2014. Please submit your proposal for a presentation before the July 26, 2013 deadline – go to
https://www.hetl.org/2014-anchorage-conference-submission-form/

The conference aims to review the impacts that digital, social and mobile media and networks are having on learning environments in higher education. Both scholarly and practice reports are invited. Participants will be from the gamut of academic disciplines across the arts, sciences, and professions, as well as from other administrative and staff functions delivering and supporting new technologies and approaches to learning.

by David Albrecht


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A Skype Interview

skype-interview

Pic Credit: Opi HR Blog http://hr2012.wordpress.com

Yesterday I participated in a job interview via Skype.  When I was younger, I could never have imagined living in a world where such a thing could happen.

In a room at a middle American university, five accounting faculty members were seated at a small conference table.  I was seated at my office desk in South Carolina.  Both of us had a high def web cam on a computer.  The sound quality was excellent, at least on my end.

Their task is fairly straight forward.  They are looking for a new colleague.  So is my task, to find a new job.  At this stage in the faculty recruiting process, the ball is in their court.  They have been contacted by a number of professors.  In a process not unlike speed dating, they have a few minutes of face-to-face time to form an impression about the prospective faculty member.  If they see something they like, they will invite the job seeker to their campus for a day long interview.

I think Skype interviews are great.  Oh, I had to get past the personal doubts about the impression I was making.  However, as an important part of the job search process I don’t think Skype interviews can be beat.  I was able to watch the recruiting committee members as they asked their questions and listened to my responses.  Because of being able to watch each person, I felt much at ease.

And, they could see me.  I hope I came across well.  I dressed up for the occasion, and tried to speak in complete sentences.  I’m sure the visual aspect of the interview will help them decide whether or not I have something to offer them.

by David Albrecht

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Classic Professor Meme

Found on the web.  At least I’ll accept late papers.

by David Albrecht

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Prof Gets Sick Needs Replacement

I’ve been really sick the past few days.  Perhaps I won’t be well enough to go into school on Tuesday and teach ABC.  Accountants know this as Activity Based Costing.  Everyone else knows this as the alphabet.

I went onto the Internet and found a teacher who specializes in ABC.  Don’t you agree she is qualified?

by David Albrecht

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Dealing with the Big P

I am disorganized.  Yeah, I admit  it.

All the signs are here:  cluttered office, missed deadlines, messy living space, rumpled appearance, e-mail in-box with hundreds thousands to read.  It’s procrastination with a capital P.  Everyone procrastinates, I suppose, but daily I see hear whining and see the results daily at school.

Students start studying for something the night before or the day that it is due.  So they ask for extensions. I don’t get the grading done quickly, so I beg for student forgiveness.

To-do lists help me for a while.  Lately, I’ve been using sticky notes and putting a list on my laptop desktop.  I’d like to finish this list by tomorrow afternoon.  Think I have a chance?

Where on this list do you see my research work that is directed toward future publications?  At least I have blogging down at the bottom.

by David Albrecht

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Grading Papers

I assigned a paper for my Cost Accounting course.  Student submissions were due earlier this week.  Now I have to grade them.

In the past, I would strain my voice with anguished screaming.  Now I can just whine about grading in a blog post.

by David Albrecht

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If Students Were as Eager as These Dogs …

Sometimes I fantasize about a classroom filled with eager, happy, attentive students, lapping up everything that is said in class.

The closest I’ve ever come to such a situation is viewing the following video.  It’s about three dogs in a bar who are eager to receive what the bartender is shooting their way.

Maybe I’ll be taking a bottle of selzer to class tomorrow to see if American college students are as eager as these dogs.

by David Albrecht

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Rigor

It is part of the environment, though seldom noticed explicitly.  Sort of like air, which is rarely commented on unless there is a stench in it.

“Professor XYX is a good teacher.”  “Yes, but is XYZ rigorous?  Is there rigor in XYZ’s teaching?”

The term rigor has been used to cast doubt on XYZ’s teaching and reputation.

My personal library contains dozens of books on teaching and learning.  Not recalling the term rigor in my professional reading (except for denigrations of teachers beset by rigor mortis), my curiosity has been piqued.  Am I missing something by being unaware of rigor in the classroom?  What does rigorous teaching mean?  Am I deficient?

On to Google, but the first 20 links didn’t return anything that is obviously relevant to my questions.  On to Merriam-Webster, where rigor is defined as:

  1. a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity  b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
  2. : a tremor caused by a chill
  3. : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
  4. : strict precision : exactness <logical rigor>

Synonyms of rigor are difficult and arbitrary.

The last thing I want is for my teaching to be characterized as inflexible, severe, or cruel.  I do not want to make it difficult for students to learn.  Rigor in one’s teaching approach is to be avoided instead of embraced.

Never-the-less, the challenge of rigor is ever present.  More on this later.

by David Albrecht

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My Report on Assurance of Learning

Many of the business schools in the United States are accredited by the AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business).  Generally speaking, AACSB accreditation is dominated by larger B-schools who are able to attract doctorally trained business faculty.  I have been at AACSB schools for most of my career.

When B-schools are up for accreditation or renewal, one of the usual problem areas is assurance of learning.  An evaluation of assurance of learning addresses whether students learned what they were supposed to learn, and how well.  It is a problem area because no professor likes to do it, so most don’t.

Assurance of learning can take place at the program level or course level.  For accounting programs, many schools rely on the passage rate of their students on the CPA exam.  This of course is a very diffuse measure, as student performance on the CPA exam is affected by many factors other than what happens in a student’s recent course of study, and not necessarily by what happened in the students accounting school.

There are problems with an evaluation of assurance of learning at the course level, also.  One such problem is that learning for the long run is considered by some as a desirous goal.  But surveying students a few years after a course ends is difficult.  Perhaps because of the many problems, and because it is a lot of work, most professors do not generate an assessment of learning for their courses.  I think they should.  What follows is what I do.

I evaluate assurance of learning as I go along during a course.  My blog essay today is based on the assumption that my course is set up to teach what is supposed to be taught.  Although I’m not doing it here, evidence for this stage of the evaluation can be gathered from the course syllabus and its section on detailed course learning outcomes.

The basics of my evaluation of assurance of learning from within a course is to gather evidence of measurements (scores and/or grades) from summative tests and projects (after learning has taken place and where letter grades are assigned) to form an opinion as to whether student learning has taken place for each specific course learning objective.  Wow, that is a long sentence.

In the following report on my evaluation of assurance of learning for my recent cost accounting course, you can see how I’ve used numeric scores from each test question (or group of questions) to assess whether each course learning outcome has been satisfactorily met.

Albrecht Report on Evaluation of Assurance of Learning
for recent cost accounting test.

Of course, one might question what test question scores really mean.  Much of the time I log and count each different student answer, and list how many points were awarded for that answer.  Although I have not done it for this test (hey, I’m tired already), it is the only way of documenting what level of student performance has actually taken place on the test.  Rest assured, I have been doing it for years.  And, I don’t use multiple choice questions, only problems and questions requiring written answers.

You might ask, is all of this really necessary?  Well, such reports are in many ways like auditor work papers.  And yes, they are necessary.  But as I said, no professor likes to do it, and most professors don’t do it.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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A Hand Over Face Moment

Earlier this week I had an appointment with a top university administrator, someone several pay grades above mine.

I showed up and the receptionist was a student.  Nice touch, I thought, putting one of our fine students in an important first impression position. With a bright smile, she well represented the university.

“I’m here to meet with Dr. so-and-so, and my name is David Albrecht.”

“I know, I’m in your class.”

There are no words to explain how embarrassed I felt.  And the exposure, there was no excuse to hide behind.  Just my hand.

It was just this bright expectant student and an old fool of a professor.

Last week I wrote about my problem in learning student names.  This is much worse.  I didn’t recognize that I had ever met this student before.  Never-the-less, she had been in every class of the semester.

Was she disappointed to discover I (this caring prof who loves students) didn’t even know that she exists?  Probably.

I made a horrible impression and did not well represent the university.

A professor simply must learn every student’s face and name.

And Ally, I’m sorry,

by David Albrecht

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