Everything must be measured: how mimicking business taints universities

Posted in Governance and administration on August 9th, 2017 by steve

“Often, what begins as a pet-hate fades into the background irritation of life. But sometimes it gnaws away, gets under your skin and into your bones, then flares up, causing toxic shock. The term ‘neoliberalism’ has this effect on me. It is a lazy gobbet of pent-up, inarticulate hostility …” (more)

[Jonathan Wolff, Guardian, 8 August]

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Should university funding be tied to student performance?

Posted in Governance and administration on April 3rd, 2017 by steve

“Government funding for Australian universities could soon be based more on how students perform – including academic results, whether they complete uni and get a job – and less on the number of students universities manage to enrol …” (more)

[Andrew Harvey, The Conversation, 3 April]

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Why my friend’s dog will never be Professor of Economics at Oxford, and other problems with TEF

Posted in Teaching on January 20th, 2017 by steve

“I am an enthusiastic supporter of the principal drivers of the Teaching Excellence Framework. The importance of teaching isn’t always fully recognised in universities, and good higher education is about the coming together of research and teaching …” (more)

[Colette Cherry, Wonkhe, 20 January]

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‘Delusional’ to compare universities using graduate employment

Posted in Governance and administration on December 11th, 2015 by steve

UK“It is ‘delusional’ to attempt to measure the success of higher education institutions using data on graduate employment, a leading academic has warned. Employment data are set to be used to compare English universities in the teaching excellence framework, but Simon Marginson, professor of international higher education at the UCL Institute of Education, used his keynote address …” (more)

[Chris Havergal, Times Higher Education, 11 December]

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How should academics respond to the TEF?

Posted in Teaching on November 10th, 2015 by steve

UK“How should academics — the ones who actually do the teaching — respond to the plans for a Teaching Excellence Framework as outlined in the recent Green Paper? More specifically, how might we respond constructively in a way that has a chance of influencing the measures that are eventually implemented? …” (more)

[Adam Smith, Wonkhe, 10 November]

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Only 60% attend lectures and plummets across semester & week – and that’s at Harvard!

Posted in Teaching on February 11th, 2015 by steve

UK“Whenever I hear the word ‘pedagogy’ in HE, I reach for my gun. Again, institutions that have the ‘one hour lecture’ as their core ‘pedagogy’ need to have their heads examined, or at least read some basic psychology on attention, storage, practice and recall …” (more)

[Donald Clark Plan B, 11 February]

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Getting the measure of scientific achievement

Posted in Research on July 7th, 2014 by steve

“No one is talking about how these institutions are actually in the business of education and not the business of business. A lot of science comes down to measuring things. How strong was that earthquake? How far to the most distant galaxy? How old are those Neanderthal bones? …” (more)

[Dick Ahlstrom, Irish Times, 7 July]

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Metrics market

Posted in Research on June 25th, 2014 by steve

International“Measures of research impact are improving, but universities should be wary of their limits. With the FIFA World Cup well under way in Brazil and certain teams already on their way home there is much analysis of what went wrong for some and what is going right for others. In a parallel effort, marketing departments across the globe are engaged in a final push to link the events on the field with their brands and products …” (more)

[Nature, 25 June]

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The Rise of the Metric

Posted in Research, Teaching on May 9th, 2014 by steve

“As June approaches, we brace ourselves for the annual onslaught that is the Leaving Cert. We will hear all the usual arguments about how inadequate it is, how it stresses out students, how it rewards rote learning and how it reduces young people to a points score …” (more)

[educationandstuff, 9 May]


Altmetrics – Replacing the Impact Factor Is Not the Only Point

Posted in Research on January 23rd, 2014 by steve

“There are other important value metrics beyond the strength of a journal. This might come as a shock to some STEM publishers, who have flourished or floundered based on the performance of impact factor rankings published each June …” (more)

[Todd Carpenter, The Scholarly Kitchen, 23 January]

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U-Multirank and the brave new world of academia

Posted in Governance and administration on February 6th, 2013 by steve

“Last week I attended a conference run as part of the Irish EU Presidency. It had a rather obtuse name ‘Rankings and the Visibility of Quality Outcomes in the European Higher Education Area’ which for most people is an automatic soporific. The problem is that it should make most of those in academia and in other areas sit up and attend …” (more)

[Charles Larkin, Irish Business Blog, 6 February]

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What should universities do with ‘contact hours’?

Posted in Governance and administration on July 31st, 2012 by steve

“For the past few years a big search has been on to find the most useful key performance indicators with which to judge the performance of universities. So the view has been expressed by politicians and in the media that there must be some metrics which most accurately reveal the productivity of the academy …” (more)

[Ferdinand von Prondzynski, University Blog, 30 July]

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Universities to be tested to distraction

Posted in Governance and administration on February 26th, 2012 by steve

“US schools policy has been all about accountability and measurement. This has led to demoralisation among teachers and a narrowing of what education means. Now higher education is about to be subjected to the same experience …” (more)

[Diane Ravitch, University World News, 26 February]

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No tyranny of metrics: scrapped Australian plan now a revolution in research assessment in England

Posted in Research on November 3rd, 2011 by steve

“Visiting British expert David Sweeney could have star appeal for academics frustrated by the bureaucratic inflexibility of Australia’s research auditing system and metrics-based assessments blind to the social impact of their work …” (more)

[Matthew Thompson, The Conversation, 3 November]

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Higher education: not everything can be measured

Posted in Governance and administration on April 5th, 2011 by steve

“Everyone remembers ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’ attributed, perhaps wrongly, to Disraeli. Now perhaps we should expand it – ‘lies, damned lies, statistics and metrics’. Modern higher education systems are increasingly driven by numbers …” (more)

[Peter Scott, Guardian, 5 April]

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Cash and metrics

Posted in Governance and administration on December 29th, 2010 by steve

“@brianmlucey @vonprond Make everything about cash and metrics and the university is finished, except as a commercial research house.” (tweet)

[Norman Wyse, Twitter, 28 December]

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Counting collaboration

Posted in Research on October 14th, 2010 by steve

“Can metrics be designed to measure researchers’ collegiality? With scientists increasingly working together, assessing their performance is becoming ever harder. Now researchers at an American translational-medicine institute have produced a method for measuring the nebulous concept of ‘collaboration’ …” (more)

[Daniel Cressey, Nature, 13 October]

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Warning: Misusing the journal impact factor can damage your science!

Posted in Research on September 7th, 2010 by steve

“I had a bit of a rant at a Science Online London panel session on Saturday with Theo Bloom, Brian Derby, and Phil Lord which people seemed to like so it seemed worth repeating here. As usual when discussing scientific publishing the dreaded issue of the Journal Impact Factor came up. While everyone complains about metrics I’ve found that people in general seem remarkably passive when it comes to challenging their use …” (more)

[Cameron Neylon, Science in the Open, 6 September]

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Assessing Research Impact in the Social Sciences and the Humanities

Posted in Research on May 23rd, 2009 by steve

Ireland“‘If we wish to resist the mechanical imposition of standardised citation measures then we need to suggest reasonable grounds for exempting certain fields from metric assessment and propose alternatives.’ So writes Professor Tom Lodge, Assistant Dean Research AHSS, UL, in a memorandum which urges Social Sciences and Humanities researchers to publish, where possible, in formats that lend themselves to comparable, if not statistical, indications of impact …” (more)

[Aoife Geraghty, Read Around Research, 21 May]

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Indicators rather than metrics?

Posted in Teaching on May 22nd, 2009 by steve

Ireland“One of the comments I heard at the Edinburgh Colloquium the other week was ‘As we move into a “post module descriptor world” and leave over-specified learning outcomes behind …’. Interesting comment and one that perhaps could be contextualised by the fact that Universities there went through the whole modular, credit accumulation, learning outcomes, assessment grid stuff years (over a decade now) ago …” (more)

[Summa cum laude, 21 May]