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  • richardmitnick 11:34 am on September 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Education,   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Tearing down the walls” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    UC Santa Cruz

    September 04, 2015
    Peggy Townsend

    UC Santa Cruz pioneer faculty, 1965

    Jean Langenheim, a Harvard-trained biologist who would go on to become a renowned plant ecologist, sat around a crackling campfire with a small group of undergraduate students.

    That she was the lone female faculty member in natural sciences at the new UC Santa Cruz campus was remarkable enough. But the fact Langenheim was actually teaching a class on the ecology of redwoods, not in a classroom but beneath a starry sky and under a stand of the towering trees, was even more notable.

    “I was convinced this informal atmosphere of learning in the field and the relationships students and faculty shared there often inspired life-long environmental interests,” said the now 90-year-old Langenheim.

    It was that freedom to teach in unconventional ways and engage in research among a close-knit faculty that attracted Langenheim to the Santa Cruz campus in 1966. Many of the pioneering teachers and staff who came to UC Santa Cruz between 1964 and 1967 would be drawn by the same thing.

    Born out of the vision of then-UC President Clark Kerr and Dean McHenry, a former UCLA political science professor who was named the first chancellor of the new campus, UC Santa Cruz was to be a grand experiment in education.

    It proposed knocking down the walls of a stodgy bureaucracy, encouraging innovation, and allowing students the intimacy of a small college within a large research institution.

    But it was the early staff and faculty — many of which came from places like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and even Kings College at Cambridge University — who actually carried out the plan and, in the process, established the roots of what UC Santa Cruz is today.

    “Everybody wanted to come. It was the talk of the country,” said Todd Newberry, a Stanford-trained professor of biology who arrived at the university in 1965. “How many times in your life do you get to start a university? It was going to focus on undergrads, and that’s where my heart was.”

    The campus attracted new thinkers like a horseback-riding historian from UCLA named Page Smith, the charismatic art history professor Mary Holmes, the brilliant history professor and WWII veteran William Hitchcock, and the gangly Harvard-trained Byron Stookey Jr., who would become head of academic planning for UC Santa Cruz.

    The hires were old, young, liberal, and conservative. Some came with impressive bodies of work. Other put their academic careers in jeopardy by arriving at an institution that put an emphasis on undergraduate teaching rather than on being published. They played sports with students, ate with students, invited them into their homes.

    “Well, of course it was exceptional and we knew it and a lot of people felt it,” said UC Santa Cruz pioneer History Professor John Dizikes in his oral history. “And (Cowell College founding Provost) Page Smith propagated overwhelmingly the idea shared by most of us, to a great degree, that we were now going to help with the reform of American higher education.”

    And reform they did.

    One of the first revolutionary acts of the faculty was to toss out letter grades in favor of a pass/fail system with narrative evaluations. The move was urged by Smith, who believed letter grades created a competitive situation where some students prospered at the expense of others and had no place in learning.

    Or as the flamboyant pioneer Art History Professor Jasper Rose reportedly said, “Students are not vegetables. We don’t need to grade them.”

    Nancy Pascal, who worked in the Registrar’s Office starting in 1966, remembered the faculty writing evaluations of students on “sticky labels, and then we’d get the labels and we’d paste them onto the right student’s records. Later the college staff would have to retype them, so there was this huge effort to support the narrative evaluation for students.”

    Today, many of those who gave — and received — these narrative assessments say they were one of the best parts of UC Santa Cruz, a concrete sign that teachers were actually paying attention to students.

    Besides a lack of grades, there were other indications the early faculty and staff weren’t creating your father’s university.

    There were weekly “college nights,” where faculty, staff, and students sat down to a semi-formal dinner with stimulating guest speakers like beat poet Allen Ginsberg, writer/activist Susan Sontag, writer Anaïs Nin, and jazz musician Don Ellis.

    There were thought-provoking college courses, which pressed against the boundaries of traditional teaching. Newberry co-taught a college course on death and another on the sense of place. Courses on building a house, on dreams, and on national identity were offered.

    Harry Berger, a literature professor who came to UC Santa Cruz from Yale in 1965 and went on to become a respected literary and cultural critic, also remembered Cowell’s famous core course on world civilization. The course included seminars led, not just by humanities professors, but also, in this new world of learning, by biologists, economists, political scientists, and chemists — many who found themselves in unfamiliar territory.

    “It encouraged and supported team-teaching,” Berger said of the experience. “It made it easy for people in different fields to teach together. I team-taught courses with classicists, anthropologists, and sociologists… . For me, this meant that I was not only a teacher of undergraduates but also a student of my colleagues.”

    Many of the faculty and staff found themselves improvising, inventing, and tackling assignments they’d never imagined.

    Pioneer professor of psychology and sociology Bill Domhoff organized a two-day, all-campus “culture break” during those first years. He brought in folklorist Alan Dundes, who gave a talk on the psychology of elephant jokes, and recruited an expert who spoke on drugs and creativity. There were talks on dreams, screenings of Ingmar Bergman movies, and construction of a fake beach, complete with lifeguard, on the East Field.

    “The beauty of it turned out to be that students learned to think for themselves and to be more creative,” Domhoff said of the event he dubbed “The Fantasy Festival.”

    But the times were already changing. Student protests over the Vietnam War and Civil Rights rattled the campus, and the weight of overturning old systems began to take a toll.

    Faculty discovered themselves overwhelmed by the workloads of both the colleges and what were called boards of studies. Some of the campus’s brightest teachers were denied tenure because the entrenched UC advancement system didn’t take into account the new campus’s values. Political pressures mounted. Some of the old ways crept back in.

    But one of the things that remained was UC Santa Cruz’s maverick spirit, an attitude that fostered improbable campus achievements like being the first to sequence the human genome, saving the endangered Peregrine falcon from extinction, finding new ways to peer more deeply into space, and helping to put organic food on American tables.

    “…You walk across campus now and there are all those energetic, interested young people who are finding their way in life and learning,” said Jerry Walters, a pioneering staff member whose job included the daunting task of housing 652 students after construction delays meant they had nowhere to live. “And then, there are the discoveries and other things going on (at UC Santa Cruz) that don’t just have local impact but have national and worldwide impact.”

    The man who retired as executive director of housing, dining, and childcare paused.

    “Well,” he said, “it just makes me proud.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

  • richardmitnick 7:17 am on October 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Education   

    From Carnegie Mellon: “CMU Takes Learning Science To Next Level” 

    Carnegie Mellon University logo
    Carnegie Mellon university

    A critical component of the success of The Simon Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University’s pioneering development of the field of learning science, is persuading private companies and other education institutions to share learning data.

    With $5 million in new National Science Foundation funding and partners that include MIT and Stanford, CMU is leading an effort called LearnSphere to accelerate developing and disseminating learning techniques and technologies.


    When the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC) debuted Oct. 1, 2004, it was the first time that education underwent rigorous experimentation in real classroom settings while applying the tools of data mining and machine learning on a large scale to develop cognitive models of human learning, said Ken Koedinger, a professor of psychology and human-computer interaction.

    Over the past 10 years, and with $50 million in NSF support, the PSLC has conducted over 580 studies. Students who performed their graduate research within the PSLC have helped introduced evidence-based courseware and curriculum development at major education publishers such as Kaplan and Pearson or have created independent ed-tech startups.

    Koedinger said the PSLC’s greatest legacy is the creation of DataShop, which has become the world’s largest open repository of learning data, housing hundreds of thousands of hours of student interaction with tutoring software, educational games and other online courseware.This data can be analyzed by researchers to continuously improve software learning systems and learning assessment tools.

    The goal of LearnSphere is to increase the amount of data shared by creating a distributed, rather than centralized system. Researchers will store their data on their own servers, enabling them to maintain the confidentiality of their subjects and exercise greater control over what elements of that data can be accessed by outsiders.

    “We’re trying to create a culture in which scientists will not only be cited for their research findings, but also for their datasets,” Koedinger said.

    LearnSphere also will allow data scientists to contribute new machine learning and statistical tools that researchers, course developers and instructors will be able to graphically combine to meet their scientific or practical needs.

    Another new feature of LearnSphere is incorporating data from Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Stanford and MIT are associated with Coursera and edX respectively, the two largest MOOC providers, and will be providing selected MOOC data to LearnSphere. While MOOCs have garnered much publicity, they have been plagued by high drop-out rates and have tended to benefit students who are already highly educated and self-motivated.

    Carolyn Rose of the Language Technologies Institute and Human-Computer Interaction Institute, along with colleagues at the University of Memphis, is focusing on reducing attrition by identifying warning signs that students are in danger of dropping out. The team will explore new methods, including peer assistance, to re-engage such at-risk students in the courses.

    Jessica Hammer, assistant professor in human-computer interaction and the Entertainment Technology Center, will examine how to adjust course design to account for cultural differences in learning and how and when to incorporate educational games into MOOCs.

    “Learning models based on the wide variety of datasets housed in LearnSphere will enable new forms of personalized, just-in-time support for learning,” Rose said.

    See the full article here.
    Carnegie Mellon Campus

    Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a global research university with more than 12,000 students, 95,000 alumni, and 5,000 faculty and staff.
    CMU has been a birthplace of innovation since its founding in 1900.
    Today, we are a global leader bringing groundbreaking ideas to market and creating successful startup businesses.
    Our award-winning faculty members are renowned for working closely with students to solve major scientific, technological and societal challenges. We put a strong emphasis on creating things—from art to robots. Our students are recruited by some of the world’s most innovative companies.
    We have campuses in Pittsburgh, Qatar and Silicon Valley, and degree-granting programs around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America.

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