Measurement education sentences to ponder

And at Utah Valley University in Orem, the school developed its own early warning system, called Stoplight, which uses academic and demographic details about students to predict their likelihood of passing specific courses; as part of the program, professors receive class lists that color-code each student as green, yellow or red.

The article, on anti-cheating software, is of interest more generally, via Michelle Dawson.

Comments

Why not white (for pass), black (for fail) and yellow (for caution)?

Didn't they just bring back death by firing squads? If only they'd do the same with polygamy...

So how does this pass the Disparate Impact test? Does anyone believe that any algorithm known to mankind won't disproportionately stigmatize Black males?

If so, what is the difference between this and an IQ test?

Good point.

Also, the general attitude of higher education institutions is that it is always the student's fault for any lack of success in course work... never the professors/instructors, curriculum, administration, facilities, etc.

The UVU reference article is primarily about student privacy, not measurement. But interestingly, the UVW spokesman makes no mention of how the University actually uses the Stoplight data for individual students. Sounds a bit like the NSA -- "Collect it All" (and figure out what to do with it later, maybe).

It usually IS the student's fault though. Not always. I can think of two classes in my entire undergraduate and graduate academic career that were so bad that all learning was self-teaching. But mostly, there seems to be an idea among students that they shouldn't have to put in any effort to learn the material, and that they shouldn't have to expend much effort to earn a good grade. If you go on Ratemyprofs and similar, they literally penalize professors' ratings for difficulty of their classes, and I've seen reviews of professors at my graduate institution that are negative solely because the professor didn't make a lower-division class an easy A/B. So yeah, I'm skeptical of student complaints in this regard.

Also, the general attitude of higher education institutions is that it is always the student’s fault for any lack of success in course work… never the professors/instructors, curriculum, administration, facilities, etc.

Good point and it would help us to get away from the bad intensives created by having our teachers testing an grading us.

"Education" sure is a universal good isn't it. Poor smart ambitious young people being beaten down by a system that isn't set up for their benefit in any real sense. This software sounds intrusive, but most of them are probably too compliant to realize that the correct way to deal with this software is to simply ignore it. Let them flag the whole test.

It is Utah Valley University (when the heck did that last part happen??? I bet it is just a masters of education and nursing or something), nobody cares about pacific islander discrimination and the demographic data is probably mostly parent income and education, which in Utah is often low anyway and surely for anyone who ends up at the state's 7th or 8th most prestigious university in north Provo.

Religion is the answer. Seriously.

Or welcome the police state.

*Mormonism is the answer.

Yes to Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham, which is completely controverted by egyptologists.

No to pesky DNA evidence which doesn't corroborate the Book of Mormon.

Just give Brother Joseph 10% of your income and your teenage daughters.

?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Joseph_Smith%27s_wives

His first 14 year old wife:

"[My father] asked me if I would be sealed to Joseph … [Smith] said to me, 'If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father's household & all of your kindred.['] This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward."

That these people bought this pile of tripe - and are now using it as some sort of cultural validation for a kind of reactionary-fascist movement - would have made Joseph very, very proud.

You're making it about ideology. It's not. Just pragmatism.

ASU students AND their Facebook friends should be creeped out.

Mild irony in that "Ms. Chao even started a petition on Change.org asking Rutgers to rescind the program. Two days later, a university spokesman told a local New Jersey newspaper that Proctortrack was not mandatory for students."

Institutions should be leveraging student academic history towards helping students succeed. I work at a community college and here we have a very wide range of student achievement. Our best students are those who just barely didn't get in to a four year university (or chose not to go for financial reasons) and our worst students struggle to pass most of their courses and usually drop out in their first year. For the most part, we know who these students are before they even come our school (High School GPA is extremely predictive of success at our school). So through an early warning system, our professors and counselors can preemptively target students for additional support.

Believe me, we understand that by profiling we risk creating self fulfilling prophecies. As educators, we understand better than most how the expectations of the teacher play a large part in how well the student learns. Which is why we have taken the time to carefully analyze the baseline performance of our students so that we can monitor their success as we institute early alert programs.

In other words; "We sorta do this too."

Wasn't there a big fuss about colleges not graduating people a while ago? Some information about aptitude, study habits or whatever would help the administration to either assist the students or not enroll them in something they aren't capable of.

When you want perfection, this is what it looks like. Someone told me a number of years ago of the parsing process at a computer technology school. The first couple months were covering the basics, then they had a few days on an obscure mainframe assembler language. A good portion of the class didn't show up the next monday. That obviously doesn't take into account the fainting flowers, so better do big data processing to come up with something that accomplishes the same thing without as many hurt feelings.

“Education” sure is a universal good isn’t it. Poor smart ambitious young people being beaten down by a system that isn’t set up for their benefit in any real sense. This software sounds intrusive, but most of them are probably too compliant to realize that the correct way to deal with this software is to simply ignore it. Let them flag the whole test.

A good smell test for this is, "will the typical low-performing student be helped or hurt by being labeled as low-performing?" I would put my money on hurt - professors will almost certainly be biased to view a student's work in a bad light if they know that the student is labeled red. That's especially true in softer subjects where grading is extremely subjective.

Stoplight is an add-on offered by Blackboard (at additional cost to the university) as part of their CMS. Students are already being monitored; Stoplight just compiles the data and generates the performance measure.

Yet another step down the 'everybody must graduate college' path. The use of this information should cause two harms,

1: Reducing the odds that the student will develop the pre-requisite level of self reliance. (If you proactively provide assistance, they are less likely to learn to look/fend for themselves)

2: Devaluing everybody else's degrees every time a student that should have failed out graduates. (Brings down the average quality and increases the supply of degrees)

Wasn't the primary point of a college education to signal a certain level of intellectual ability? (Hence why it *was* the gateway to a good job) Wouldn't providing extra help and resources to borderline students be self-defeating over the long term, thus making the motivation for this suspect? How is this information going to be used in a way that isn't tantamount to education welfare?

"... and increases the supply of degrees"
So let's be clear: rents would fall, that is the whole problem. Colleges can't be allowed to fulfill their mission, it would harm rent-seekers.
So, if colleges really succeed, it will be a failure (and a economic tragedy for rent-seekers everywhere). However, if colleges fail, rent-seekers will be undisturbed, their sheepskins will command higher prices than they would otherwise and everythink will be OK. Success is failure, failure is success. "War is peace."

"So let’s be clear: rents would fall, that is the whole problem. Colleges can’t be allowed to fulfill their mission, it would harm rent-seekers."

No. It's diluting the market with poor quality knock-offs that bear the same brand name. I get just as pissy about dojos handing out black belts to 6 year-olds for the same reason. Rent-seeking implies the (mis)use of law in order to gain an advantage over competitors. So let's be clear: You are being arrogant and presumptuous.

'If colleges really succeed'- How do you define success? Is it just pumping out more people with degrees? If so, why bother with the facsimile of an education? Just give everyone a diploma when they turn 22. Now you have 100% college graduation rates and a degree that isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Success!...right? The main point of acquiring a college degree is to demonstrate that you have the intellectual chops. Educational welfare undermines that purpose.

"If so, why bother with the facsimile of an education? Just give everyone a diploma when they turn 22."
Because this is exactly the same as people possessing the knowledge they were supposed to possess..
"Rent-seeking implies the (mis)use of law in order to gain an advantage over competitors."
For instance, concocting an excuse to restrict competition...
"Is it just pumping out more people with degrees?"
No, it is teaching people what they are supposed to know.
"I get just as pissy about dojos handing out black belts to 6 year-olds for the same reason."
Why? Because the 6 year-old can't perform the way black belts should! That is exactly why there are grades (yes, there is the grade inflation problem, but trying to get studentes to achieve the standard instead of lowering the bar is exactly the opposite of that!).
I don't remember which Marginal revolution blogger once wrote that, as a teacher, he doesn't care if a student is getting bad grades because he is taking care of his sick grandmogher (or something like that). The student must judged solely by his/her grades. The same thing applies here: I don't care how much help the student got as long as he mastered the course materials.

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