The central theme of our conversation is “Faculty Empowerment & the Changing University Environment.” This topic includes two separate but interconnected subjects that our group can relate to. First, we examined the current state of universities and the recent changes they have experienced. We explored how these changes may have impacted the administrative structure and empowered faculty members.
According to the data presented in the case study, the Universities Environment has experienced considerable transformations over the last 6 years. Factors like the dynamic workplace, economic decline, and technological advancements have prompted numerous adults to pursue higher education or return to school. Consequently, universities have had to adapt their educational structure by taking these factors into account.
Various factors contribute to the need for accommodating adult learners, including their distinct needs compared to traditional students, diverse work experiences, major news events generating interest in course-related topics, allocating more time to certain subjects, and requiring a flexible educational structure due to work schedules. Consequently, numerous online educational colleges and programs have emerged catering to adult learners, including military personnel in many cases.
The rise of online education has allowed students with busy schedules or living far away to access classes online. However, this has often led to a uniformity in courses and teaching approaches, diminishing the authority of instructors. Lorain: – Which would you prefer, being a student in a standardized class or one where the instructor has more autonomy? In recent years, there has been significant critique of the management style in universities.
The focus has been on criticizing autocratic leadership and manipulative practices that promote the leader’s ideas for organization direction. Similarly, there is a call for university leaders to empower educators. However, the current philosophy of empowerment often lacks practical examples of how principals should behave. Standardized methods are widely acknowledged as a means to earn college credit without having to enroll in courses.
Both high school students and adult learners have the chance to take exams that enable them to earn college credits prior to attending college. When deciding on an approach, such as student-centered learning or standardized methods, it is essential to assess carefully the level of empowerment and standardization offered by various methods. The issue of state and national standards, along with standardized testing, has recently garnered considerable attention in educational journals, local newspapers, and conference agendas.
Responding to calls from the media and political groups, certain school districts have implemented programs that prioritize teaching to the test in order to improve test results and raise educational standards. This initiative aims to address public concerns about the quality of education. Additionally, colleges and state universities have invested significant resources into revising or creating standards documents as a solution to the issue of unclear or insufficient educational expectations.
Universities are using commercial test preparation programs like “Scoring High” for the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) to improve students’ performance on standardized tests. These programs have been successful in boosting test scores and have received favorable feedback from parents, the public, and the media (Wiggins). The publication of test scores, including ITBS scores, in local and statewide newspapers helps with evaluating and comparing universities.
If teaching to the test proves successful in raising university test scores, we should explore transforming the entire university setting to better facilitate methods that enhance performance on these exams. If it results in higher scores, then it must be a legitimate educational method. Is this assumption accurate? According to a 2007 report by the Sloan Consortium, numerous universities reported expanding their online education programs as they provide advantages in terms of enhancing student access to education.
Online courses address multiple challenges faced by universities, including limited classroom space, instructor shortages, and conflicting course schedules. These courses enable universities to broaden the range of classes accessible to a larger student population. Moreover, students who choose online courses have the flexibility to complete assignments at their own pace. This adaptability empowers them to effectively manage their busy schedules and personalize their coursework according to their preferred learning styles. In fact, it has become increasingly common for students to enroll in online courses during summer break while residing with their parents and working summer jobs. Hence, online education has a historical precedent within this specific context.
Distance education, which became popular in the 1800s, served as a precursor to online education. It provided individuals from rural and working class backgrounds with a chance to pursue higher learning. In the past, only those who could afford yearly tuition fees and costs associated with moving could attend college. In contrast, distance education enabled students to pay for individual courses instead of an entire year’s worth, while also reducing expenses related to housing and transportation typically involved in attending a physical campus.
Distance education programs offered the same materials as campus-based colleges, delivered through mail for a lower cost than tuition. This allowed students to pursue higher education without relocating or giving up their jobs.
These programs aimed to provide everyone, regardless of personal circumstances, with access to the American dream of obtaining a higher education. Online education programs offer similar opportunities as well.
Online courses have gained popularity among individuals who are unable to commit to full-time enrollment on a college campus. This includes single or stay-at-home parents, who can conveniently complete their coursework in the evenings without needing to find childcare. The elderly can pursue education without being in a classroom with much younger students. Similarly, military personnel can continue their education while fulfilling active duty commitments. Students with disabilities can benefit from online courses as they allow them to learn at their own pace. Individuals with mental disabilities such as ADD appreciate the self-paced environment that is free of classroom distractions and anxiety-inducing deadlines. Likewise, individuals with physical disabilities find it easier to navigate an online classroom setting. Lastly, full-time employees have the opportunity to take online courses without using vacation days or disrupting their work schedule. In certain cases, employers may even invest in their employees’ continuing education if the courses directly contribute to job improvement or potential promotion.
Online education offers flexibility in scheduling and payment options, allowing students to pay for individual courses rather than a full semester. This makes it more affordable for those who cannot afford annual tuition fees.
Moreover, this flexibility enables students to work towards their college degree at their own pace by taking one or two courses at a time. It is especially beneficial when opting for online core curriculum courses.
Various universities provide online versions of frequently required courses, such as English 1102, Math 1105, and Sociology 101. These courses typically offer transferable credits. This means that if a student chooses to eventually transition to full-time on-campus classes, the credits earned from these online courses will be applied towards their degree. Consequently, students can save both time and money. Moreover, certain institutions permit students to obtain entire degrees online by paying for each course separately and studying at their own speed.
Paying for a degree program in one lump sum is often a more cost-effective option compared to yearly tuition payments. This is particularly beneficial for students who will take longer than four years to graduate or those who only require a few courses or an advanced degree/certificate for career advancement. If you were involved in university administration, how would you address the challenges associated with power and politics when transitioning from a faculty-empowered setting to one focused on standardized instruction?
The lack of compatibility between the instructor’s teaching style and the course design can result in irreconcilable differences and a lack of responsibility. Additionally, it can cause disagreements with certain aspects of the course content. In terms of teachers’ empowerment, it encompasses critical thinking, independence, citizenship, global awareness, and the recognition and respect for different perspectives. Mentoring is a key method through which educated individuals pass on their knowledge to future generations.
The importance of mentoring in the education and training of future professionals is emphasized, as it extends beyond traditional schooling and course materials. The intricate and varied dynamics of the mentor-mentee relationship have recently received increased attention. Consequently, there is now a rising body of literature examining this process and assessing its benefits and difficulties. Particularly crucial are concerns about ensuring equitable access to mentors and the detrimental effects experienced by women and minority groups lacking such opportunities for mentorship.
A mentor plays a crucial role in guiding and supporting someone’s professional growth. Both the mentor and the trainee share responsibilities in ensuring a successful mentoring process. The mentor can be a faculty adviser, a laboratory director, a fellow student, another faculty member, a wise friend, or any experienced individual. Mentors possess abundant knowledge, experience, and status, often holding authority over the trainee. Sadly, the increase in standardization in education has been unfortunate.
When teachers are required to implement these standards without considering the needs and experiences of the students, failure becomes an inevitable consequence. The decline of multicultural education is often attributed to the state standards and assessments by teachers and administrators. Standardization treats students as if they are objects on an assembly line, disregarding their emotional and intellectual development and focusing solely on their performance on standardized tests. However, some institutions have found success in using standardized tests to measure specific general education goals.
A significant concern in the field of assessment is the temptation to prioritize easily measurable objectives over more complex and important course objectives. It is crucial to prioritize the measurement of student understanding of major concepts and frameworks, as well as the development of critical thinking skills, rather than mere memorization of facts. It is essential to remain innovative in creating assessment tools and standards, as demonstrated by a presentation that measured the benefits of reading instead of posting in online threaded discussions. Faculty members also face challenges in finding a balance between imparting a broad general knowledge and delving deeply into specific subject matter. Although there is no specific test for political science, ACT’s Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) tests are widely recognized nationally and yield valuable quantitative data on student learning in areas such as reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.
Although many faculty have a negative perception or apprehension towards external assessment activities, it was suggested that assessment should be seen as a means to empower faculty. Assessment offers a constructive opportunity for faculty to have direct control over their classes by producing tangible evidence of their impact on student learning and measuring the effectiveness of different student engagement techniques. Additionally, assessment plays a crucial role in empowering students by fostering their awareness of and appreciation for their own learning progression.
To summarize, I endorse granting faculty authority over online courses due to the aforementioned reasons. Is it possible to strike a balance between standardization and empowerment? When taking into account adult learners’ opinions on this compromise, we have noticed several facts. Each adult learner will hold their own stance on whether standardization is beneficial for them. Even within our group, we reached a consensus that specific teaching methods may work well for certain individuals but not for others.
Adult learners appreciate being challenged, but they also prioritize their limited time because of work, family, and other commitments. Consequently, their commitment to education may be impacted. Adult learners generally possess distinct traits like a focus on problem-solving, having goals in mind, being self-motivated, and often skeptical of new information. Additionally, they prefer education that is pertinent to their individual requirements, provided promptly, and applicable to their present circumstances.
Adult learners typically have a distinct learning approach compared to younger learners, indicating that specific teaching methods may be more effective for adults. To find a middle ground between standardization and empowerment, administrators should set learning objectives that allow professors to teach their students knowledge, information, or skills.
The instructor has control over the material and pace of learning, as they present the course content to the students. The goal is to acquire new knowledge or skills. Our research shows that teacher empowerment indirectly impacts academic quality and performance, as many instructors feel that their professional prerogatives and talents are not being respected when empowerment is denied.