Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Profiling Lander University

by Ambria Lanteigne

Lander University is a state supported four year institution in Greenwood, South Carolina.

The regional university was founded in 1872 as Williamston Female College, a private institution in Williamston, South Carolina. After the college moved to Greenwood, it was renamed in 1904 after its founder, Samuel Lander.

Men were first admitted to the college in 1943. Today the campus occupies 123 acres and has a mix of older and newer buildings. Many of the university's facilities have been upgraded or expanded in recent years.

The university enrollment is 3,000 undergraduate students, with an average class size of 22. The small class size and low student/ instructor ratio gives the institution the feel of a small private college.

Lander University has undergraduate degree programs in 60 academic areas.

Major areas of concentration and study include biology, chemistry, business administration, computer information systems, early childhood education, elementary education, special education, English, music, nursing, political science, and visual arts.

There is a dual engineering degree program with Clemson University. Lander University offers a number of pre-professional programs including pre-law, pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-pharmacy, pre-veterinary medicine, pre-physical therapy, and pre-occupational therapy. A criminal justice management degree is available as an online program.

Three Masters Degree programs are offered at Lander University. The Masters programs that can be earned are a Master of Arts in Teaching in Art Education, a Master of Education in Teaching and Learning, and a Master of Education in Montessori Education.

Lander University is the only institution in South Carolina offering undergraduate and graduate programs leading to a national certification in Montessori Education.

Students at Lander University may become involved in more than 60 clubs and organizations on campus.

Available choices include academic organizations, honor societies, fraternities, sororities, professional organizations, theater and musical groups, student government, religious organizations, social groups, and intramural sports teams.

Lander University participates in NCAA Division II athletics. Lander Bearcat teams compete in the Peach Belt Conference with teams in golf, tennis, baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, and volleyball. The Lander men's tennis teams have won 12 National Championships in their athletic division.

Lander University has an Equestrian Center that operates the Bearcat Therapeutic Riding Center. The university has an equestrian team that participates on both a club and a show level. All students are welcome to join the equestrian team, regardless of their level of riding experience.

The Monsanto Gallery at Lander University features the work of artists from around the Southeast. Special exhibitions are scheduled during the academic year. The gallery is open to the public Monday-Thursday from 1-8pm and Fridays from 10am-5pm.

Ambria Lanteigne is the General Manager at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Newberry SC Hotel. They are conveniently located at exit 76 off of I-26, about 30 minutes north of Columbia and less than an hour south of Greenville, SC.

This Newberry South Carolina hotel has outstanding amenities, including an indoor pool, whirlpool and Fitness Center. Few other Newberry South Carolina hotels can provide travelers with these perks backed by the reputable name they trust. "Stay Smart" at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites.

For more information visit: http://www.NEWBERRYSOUTHCAROLINAHOTEL.COM

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Student Skills: What to Write Down In Class

by John Steely

Many students have a difficult time taking notes in class. The instructor is going through something important, turns to the class, says "Any questions?", and all he sees are the tops of the heads of students busy writing down what they hope will be good notes.

This scenario occurs again and again, to the point where the instructor simply gets frustrated and stops looking for questions.

As a student, particularly an adult student, you need to decide what to write down and what not to write down.

The goal is to be an active member of the class, which means that not only do you want to listen and look, but you should also want to ask questions, poise different scenarios, and interact with the instructor to clarify the ideas. How can you do that if you are too busy writing down notes?

Deciding What To Write

One of the factors which make taking notes difficult is deciding what to write down and what not.

Making this decision on the fly, as the instructor is talking, is, in the opinion of the student, too difficult; so the student tries to write everything down, find she cannot keep up with the instructor, and gives up on the notion of taking good notes.

To avoid this, you need a better method of deciding what to write down. This involves looking at two factors: the textbook and the handouts (if there are any).

The first thing to do in taking good notes should be done before class. Take a look at the portions of the text the instructor is going to cover. Do not try to learn the material in the book ahead of class (although that will help), but instead note the defined terms, the key concepts which are explained in the book. Get familiar with the ideas but not bogged down in the details.

Second, when the instructor provides a handout, briefly note the contents. Many times the instructor has summarized the ideas in the text so that you do not have to.

When the instructor says or writes something on the board, compare it to the handout. Is this idea in the handout? If so, writing it down again will probably not help you.

Instead, that is time that should be spent carefully listening to the words of the instructor. Maybe you make a few notations in the margin of the handout, but mostly you are just listening.

What you should make sure to write down are any examples provided by the instructor. Write down the steps the instructor takes to complete the example. If he is using a computer program, what menu choices were made and where?

If there is a calculation involved, make sure you write down the steps used. If a wording is chosen, why were those words used? Make sure you are clear on the example problems, so that you can recreate them if needed.

Reviewing Notes

Immediately after class, review your notes. It can be helpful to do so before you and/or the instructor leave the classroom.

Make sure you are clear on everything that you wrote down, and if you have any questions, ask the instructor before she leaves. Do not just rush out, promising yourself you will review your notes later. Do a quick review right then and there.

Later, review your notes one last time. This is where you are looking for questions and confusing notations. Make a separate sheet of these questions, and bring them to the instructor before the next class.

Maybe you can communicate with the instructor over the phone, or in office hours, or through email. However you do it, have those questions written out so that when the instructor answers them, you can put the provided answers with the questions into your notebooks.

Purpose of Taking Notes

The primary purpose of notes is not to have something to read later, although that can be helpful. The primary purpose of notes is to clarify your thinking about the material of the class, so that you can apply the ideas, concepts, and methods of the class to the problems you encounter.

In other words, the purpose of notes is to allow you to solve problems, not relearn the material on your own. Focus on the problems, not the words, and you will get better results both in the class and in the outside world.

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. You can access a number of free resources he has found and made at Steely Services

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What You Think You Know About Online Learning and Why You're Wrong: Part 1

by Rachel Elizabeth Wood

Since their beginning in the 1990s a lot has changed about online schools. Test your knowledge of online schools as we look at false impressions people have had.

False impression: Online learning is just for self-motivated and well-supported, techy students

Reality: Digital learning serves all types of students. Advanced learners can use online learning to get ahead, but students that need remediation and recovery can also use e-learning. Students will difficulties such as diseases or financial circumstances also find online school to be a good solution. Because online learning can be personalized, it is an education option that can suit any student.

False Impression: Online learning is only for high school and college students

Reality: E-learning is available for all ages. Options for digital learning can include blended learning as well as online learning and are open to students of all ages.

False Impression: Only students with constant care and supervision can use online learning

Reality: Online learning can occur anywhere! At home, at schools, at satellite learning centers. For students with working parents blended learning is an option. Blended learning takes place in a physical classroom and lets the teacher use technology to teach. Students often have the option of buses to get to school. This is a solution for families that can't stay with their children during the day, but still want their students to have a personalized, digital education.

False Impression: Online students learn in isolation

Reality: High-quality online programs can give students increased interaction and individualization. Some e-learning institutions provide students with access to teachers to answer their question by chat 24/7. Some online institutions make their teachers available by online chat, email, or phone.

False Impression: Online learners have no social life

Reality: Online students can maintain meaningful friendships. Some find that because they can work at their own pace and finish early they have more time to hang out with friends. Numerous programs give students the opportunity to play sports and participate in their school district.

Don't be fooled by the false impressions you've heard about digital learning. Online institutions are an education alternative that is becoming more and more popular. Parents should learn the facts about online learning as schools begin to offer the option.

Most of the time, school districts even provide e-learning courses for free. If your student is struggling in the traditional brick-and-mortar setting you should really consider trying online school.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why are They Closing Black Schools? Foucault, Habermas and the Case of Du Bois High School

by Mark Murphy, Social Theory Applied:

(c) Nao Iizuka

Article: Felecia M. Briscoe & Muhammad A. Khalifa (2013): ‘That racism thing’: a critical race discourse analysis of a conflict over the proposed closure of a black high school, Race, Ethnicity and Education (published online in June 2013).

Research that combines Habermas and Foucault as part of its analytical/methodological framework tends to get a warm reception on this website.

And so it is with this just published paper from Felicia Briscoe and Muhammad Khalifa, who take a critical race discourse analysis approach to examine the case of Du Bois high school, a school threatened with closure.

Here’s the abstract:
Using critical race discourse analysis, this study examines descriptions of a heated controversy over the proposed closure of the only primarily black high school in a large urban city. Participants included community members and the district and school leaders who were key in the controversy. Based on Foucault’s analysis of power we looked for conflicts in the narratives of the participants in their description of the controversy. Four strands of discursive conflict emerged: the purpose of school; the relationship of school and community; communication; and the issue of racism. Taking these four strands together, the themes found in the discourse of the community members enacted an emancipatory knowledge paradigm, while the themes found in the discourse of the administrators enacted a technical-rational, instrumental paradigm of knowledge.
The abstract doesn’t explicitly state the Habermas connection, although it’s represented in the take on knowledge paradigms and also present in the analysis. It should also be noted the significance placed on neoliberalism as context for school closures:   
Under the aegis of neoliberal state policies, test scores and other numerical data have come to dominate as the criteria for evaluating the success or failure of schools. Most of the schools judged as failures by these neoliberal criteria are located in economically disadvantaged and minority-majority schools (Briscoe and de Oliver 2012). The state of Texas adopted a high-stakes testing accountability system mandated in order to receive federal funding. Based upon this neoliberal accountability system, the state has formally labeled Dubois High School as a failing school for the past five years.
The research offers much food for thought, especially around the interplay between Foucault and Habermas’ core ideas and how such interconnections might be fruitfully developed.

For all its other good qualities, the article doesn’t engage in this kind of theoretical discussion - which is a pity as the data collected would be manna from heaven for someone willing and able to join the dots between Habermas/Foucauldian conceptions of power/knowledge (usually associated with the latter but just as significant for the former).

Work for the future maybe? Any takers?

Cash In On Demand for Education from Overseas, Vince Cable Tells Universities

by Schools Improvement Net:

Universities and schools have been urged to open campuses abroad to cash in on the international demand for a British education. This is from the Evening Standard …

Business Secretary Vince Cable also announced plans to increase the number of overseas students in UK universities by 20 per cent over the next five years - an extra 90,000 students.

The plans are part of the new International Education Strategy launched today, which reveals for the first time that the UK’s education export industry is worth £17.5 billion to the economy.

Experts have warned that debates on immigration risked damaging the economically valuable recruitment of overseas students.

Research that found more than half of overseas students in the UK say they have felt “less welcome” because of policies on migration.

Universities continue to campaign to have students counted separately from headline migration figures. Mr Cable said: “Overseas students make a huge contribution to Britain.

They boost our economy, and enhance our cultural life, which is why there is no cap on the number of legitimate students who can study here.

“Thanks to our world-class universities, our network of UK alumni who are now in positions of influence around the world is impressive, opening doors that would not otherwise be possible".

"Today’s strategy will help build on this success, ensuring we continue to attract international students and promote the UK’s expertise in education.”

David Willetts, universities and science minister, said: “There are few sectors of the UK economy with the capacity to grow and generate export earnings as impressive as education".

“Our universities, colleges, awarding organisations and schools are recognised globally for their excellence. However, there is more that we can do to take advantage of this powerful reputation, and to seize the opportunities to stay ahead in the global race.”

The global education market is estimated to be worth $4.5 trillion annually. The new international education strategy is designed to ensure British schools and universities make the most of it.

As part of the new strategy an “Education is Great” campaign will be launched to promote UK education to overseas students.

More at:  Cash in on demand for education from overseas, Vince Cable tells universities

What do you see as the greatest opportunities for promoting uk education overseas, and what are the greatest threats? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

England’s Teacher Training System ‘Broken Down’

by Schools Improvement Net:

The system of planning teacher training in England has broken down and risks a future shortage of teachers, a university think tank says. This is from the BBC …

The Department for Education has switched about 9,000 teacher training places from universities to schools under its School Direct programme.

But Million+ predicts, with only 45% of places on it filled, there will be 3,000 fewer teachers trained by 2014. The government said heads were choosing “only the brightest graduates”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said the programme was “a response to what schools told us they wanted, a greater role in selecting and recruiting trainees with potential to be outstanding teachers”.

She added the programme was proving “extremely popular”. By May some 22,500 people had applied for half as many places. She added head teachers had rightly been choosey, only accepting graduates with the highest skills.

The Commons Education Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into teacher training and has just published evidence submitted to it.

In her evidence to the committee, Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million+ - a think tank that also represents newer universities - said School Direct, , which is focused around on-the-job, school-based training, had been introduced “without any robust assessment of its impact on teacher supply”.

“Ministers say that schools should lead the commissioning of teacher training, but it is clear that this will not guarantee the number of trained teachers that will be needed by schools across the country in the future.

“Universities that have run very successful programmes to enhance the expertise of prospective teachers in key specialist shortage subjects are not being allocated numbers.”

She added: “The combined impact of the new Ofsted regime under which fewer schools are being classed as outstanding, new rules which debar universities rated as good teacher training providers from having any guarantee of training numbers and the transfer of places to schools which are clearly finding it difficult to recruit suitable applicants has created a triple whammy".

“As a result the national system for planning and delivering an adequate number of qualified and trained teachers has broken down.”

More at:  England’s teacher training system ‘broken down’

Your thoughts on this report from @Million_Plus? Are they making a fair point and has something gone fundamentally wrong in moving teacher training from universities to the School Direct programme? Please let us know what you think!

Time Management Tips for Online Instructors

by Dr Bruce Johnson

Online instructors understand the need to manage their time effectively. There is much more involved than reviewing papers and participating in class discussions.

Classroom management involves continuous interactions that support students' success, and creating conditions in the classroom that are conducive to learning.

At times you may feel prepared and ready to meet the demands of a busy class and there may also be times when it feels as if you are running behind.

The key to development of an effective time management plan is finding tools and techniques that maximize productivity and minimize any potential stress or missed deadlines.

Examine Your Current Schedule

For the next class week, keep a record of your time, duties, and classroom activities.

What requirements were met ahead of schedule, on the required due date, or were late? How did you feel during the class week and at the end of the week? Did you experience stress at any time? Did you have any additional projects scheduled that were set aside for the next week? What were your strengths and areas of development?

Summarize your week by carefully examining what worked well and what did not. This is the most productive method of developing a revised time management plan.

What are Your Teaching Goals?

You can develop a time management plan that works for you if you anchor it to the goals you have established for yourself as an instructor.

For example, do you want to meet the minimum requirements necessary to facilitate your class or do you want to allocate additional time to find and share additional course materials and resources? How will you provide feedback?

Many instructors find that they are more effective if the feedback is divided up over several days during the week as a means of avoiding the last minute rush to complete it. If that is applicable for you, your teaching goal might include allocating time each day for specific duties. The overarching goal is to meet or exceed the faculty expectations.

Time Management

As you create your time management plan watch out for any daily or weekly activities that can be eliminated. If you are doing anything that might be busy work, consider how much of your time it takes and how you might minimize it.

The most common time waster is procrastination, which can be avoided if you have an organized plan for your classroom facilitation. A method of planning your time effectively is to begin your facilitation tasks early in the week.

As you schedule time for your facilitation duties each week, determine what is most important or rank your teaching goals according to the level of priority that you have assigned each one.

Projects that have required deadlines, such as feedback or instructor participation, should be given top priority each week. You can make it manageable if you plan ahead and divide up larger tasks into smaller duties.

Time management tools that can help you organize your week include a calendar, to-do list, or schedule. Some instructors prefer to use a traditional paper planner and others utilize technological tools to stay organized.

Whatever your preference may be, find something that will help you be mindful of the tasks that need to be completed so you can stay focused and meet all required deadlines. And if you discover any pockets of unexpected time, use it to review your schedule and work ahead.

Downtime for Renewal

As you develop and manage your schedule you will likely feel better prepared to meet the required facilitation duties and this in turn will reduce the potential for anxiety and stress.

One method of proactively addressing stress is to consider your overall well-being, which includes your attitude, the way you eat, the method you use to manage your time, and the amount of sleep you get. The better you feel, the more likely you can cope effectively with stressful conditions.

Another method of addressing and eliminating stress is to analyze your energy level throughout the day and consider when you are the most productive. If possible, match the time of day that you have the most energy to the most difficult tasks because they will require the most concentration and focus.

It is unlikely that you can completely eliminate stress. There are going to be times as an instructor when classroom management, deadlines, and student interactions feel manageable and other times when all of these demands become too much.

But you don't need to let it get the best of you. Learn to become proactive by recognizing signs and symptoms. Schedule downtime to allow yourself a chance to feel renewed and increase your productivity.

Be In Control of Your Time

There are many expectations and requirements in place for an online instructor. Meeting the facilitation duties and deadlines each week can be challenging at times, especially for adjunct instructors.

Develop a list that includes everything needed to be completed each week, along with any additional projects or time you want to devote to creating a meaningful learning environment.

Develop a plan that schedules or allocates a specific amount of time for each duty and stay focused on your teaching goals. You will likely feel better prepared and in control so that teaching is enjoyable and not always stressful.

Dr. Bruce Johnson has had a life-long love of learning and throughout his entire career he has been involved in many forms of adult education; including teaching, training, human resource development, career coaching, and life coaching.

Dr. J has completed a master's in Business Administration and a PhD in the field of adult education, with an emphasis in adult learning within an online classroom environment.

Presently Dr. J works as an online instructor, faculty developmental workshop facilitator, faculty mentor, and professional writer. Dr. J's first eBook, APPRECIATIVE ANDRAGOGY: TAKING the Distance Out of Distance Learning, is available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Learn more by visiting

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Becoming a High School Teacher

by Robin A Wright

High school teachers are excellent sources of knowledge for students planning on going to college or university after high school graduation. These teachers not only instruct on academics, but they teach valuable skills dealing with both education and life.

The abilities students learn in their last few years will be those they carry over into college. Study habits, self-motivation, and test taking skills are all very important in a student's first year in college.

In order to fulfill the qualifications for a high school teaching certification, individuals will need a few items. The first is a bachelor's degree. While, usually, this degree is in education, other majors are also welcome.

Those who know they will be teaching high school typically specialize in a content area, such as science or math. Secondary teacher preparation is also required, which varies from state to state. The third requirement is student teaching.

This is where potential future teachers will instruct in a relevant setting under the supervision of a certified teacher. After finishing school requirements, students will need to take a teacher competency exam given by their state.

Teachers typically work during the school year, which is 10 months long. The other two months are dedicated to a summer break. Some teachers also work during the two-month break, instructing summer school for students who need to take extra classes.

Work hours include the time students are in school, plus extra time before or after school dedicated to students, parents, and other teacher meetings. Nights and weekends are usually dedicated to grading papers and preparing lessons and assignments.

Those who are considering pursuing this career should be aware that this job could be very stressful at times. Depending on where the teachers educate, class size may be large and barely manageable. In certain areas, teaching tools such as computers, current textbooks, and other resources may not be available.

There may also be issues with disruptive, idle, or unmanageable students. Successful teachers typical possess exceptional skills in areas such as time management, critical thinking, coordination, speaking, listening, instructing, and decision-making.

As of 2012, the average wages for teachers is $55,050 annually. The bottom 10 percentile earned approximately $36,930, while the top 10 percent earned about $85,690.

Top paying states include New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California, and Alaska. States that have the highest employment level are Texas, California, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This career requires at least a bachelor's degree, along with teaching certification. Some teachers even advance a step further and earn their master's degree in order to take on more responsibility or move into a new job position. Programs to become a high school teacher are available as on-campus or online programs.

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How to Become a Kindergarten/Elementary School Teacher

by Robin A Wright

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are, with the exception of parents, the forefront for preparing young children for further schooling.

These teachers often teach the very basics, so students can continue onto more advanced schooling with a foundation in subjects such as reading and math. Students' social skills are also usually developed during this period, as well.

Those who wish to begin this career must first earn a bachelor's degree in elementary education from an accredited college or university. While some degrees may be in areas of general study, some states will require teachers to major in a specific area, such as science or math.

These specialized areas often accompany a university's teacher preparation program and require additional courses in child psychology and education. Some states will require a master's degree along with teaching certification. A license is also known as a teaching certification. While public schools require teachers be licensed, some private schools do not have this requirement.

Along with earning a degree, the majority of programs will have students complete a teacher preparation program and student teaching.

This is typically completed at a nearby school, under the supervision of a certified teacher. This is a very important part of the learning process, because students will be able to interact with children in their future job environment.

While in this field, students should have good communication, instructional, and creativity skills, as well as a fair amount of patience. Especially with small children, learning can be a difficult process, and recognizing that individuals have different abilities and learning rates.

Those interested in becoming a kindergarten or elementary school teacher should expect to work school hours, plus after school hours to meet with students or parents. A school year is approximately 10 months long, and summer break lasts about two months.

Some teachers may have an alternate schedule that allows them to work eight weeks in a row, break for one week, and have a midwinter break that lasts for five weeks.

For all teachers, weekends and evenings during the school year will typically be spent preparing lessons and grading papers (if applicable).

Those who successfully earn a bachelor's degree and begin this career will earn salary based upon where they work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May of 2010, the median annual wage of kindergarten teachers was $48,800 and $51,660 for elementary school teachers.

For kindergarten teachers, the lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,720 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,490. Elementary school teachers earned $34,390 for the lowest 10 percent and $80,140 for the top 10 percent.

Since being an elementary school teacher or kindergarten school teacher absolutely requires at least a bachelor's degree in all states, interested individuals should look for a degree program that best fits their needs.

Students may even want to consider an online degree program that will allow them flexibility with their studies. Through this option, students will complete their student teaching at an approved school within their area.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Wonderful Wonderful Pronunciations!

by Linda Kaidan

Our way of pronouncing things generally stems from our environment. What sounds do we hear when we are growing up? When we go to school we are also influenced by our peers.

So when you pronounce the word coupon, it's generally the same way your family or friends pronounce the word.

There are two common ways to say it. These are koopon and kyupon. The more elegant pronunciation is koopon and this is attributed to the fact that it is closer to the French pronunciation.

Coupon was originally a French word and was anglicised in the early 1800s according to

There are many words that have multiple pronunciations and there are commonly numerous regional differences. A typical example is the family of words including out such as about, shout, out and pout.

There is a distinct difference in Canadian pronunciation and US pronunciation and this is one of the more marked examples in language most of us normally consider to be identical continent wide.

English Language and Usage, a site for those who enjoy language issues, brings up the case of words like aged and marked which can be pronounced with either one syllable or two while preserving exactly the same meaning.

This site notes that marked with 2 syllables is only for archaic or poetic use, but somehow I missed the boat on that because I always pronounce it as mark (ed) when I want to emphasize how something is distinguished.

Homophones and heteronyms are definitions dealing with words in terms of sound, meaning and spelling. Homophones sound alike but have different meaning and spelling. An example is eye vs. I.

Heteronyms are words with the same spelling and different pronunciation and meaning. An example is "Excuse me!" as opposed to "Not another excuse!"

Words are fun to play with and talk about. Sadly, many of our regional differences in pronunciation are disappearing because of global exposure to standardized language from the media.

We've all grown up listening to TV which has homogenized our speech patterns. For the sake of diversity, let's celebrate variations in the pronunciation of coupon rather than being snobby about preference.

Twenty years from now, when our children are grown, they will hail us when they see us in town. But will we recognize their voices? Or, will they all have the same cadence and lilt as an NBC reporter?

Will their crisp pronunciation and standardized speech be so uniform that we no longer recognize the unique individuals within whom we know and love?

Perhaps we should all get out our recorders and capture a tiny bit of regional history before it disappears as completely as Native American languages and song.

Article Source:!&id=7835687

The Best Way to Learn Spanish: How Long Will It Take?

by Marie Ryan

I have heard some students say "I have been learning Spanish for three years and I still can't speak or understand it!"

Of course they don't really mean that they have been learning it non-stop for three years. They may have only had very few classes but the process has dragged on for such a long time they become frustrated and disillusioned. So what is one of the best ways to learn Spanish?


If you want to learn fast, by far the best way is to immerse yourself in the Spanish language. This could mean relocating for at least several months to Spain or another Spanish-speaking country.

In this way you will be able to pick the language up, 'in situ' and develop your language skills fast. However not everyone is able to do this.


If you are not able to take the "full immersion" route, you can sign up for a Spanish course in your area.

You may be lucky enough to live in an area where there are a lot of courses on offer and you may find it difficult to choose the right course for you. It is very important to remember when learning Spanish, or any other language, it takes time and dedication.

A lot of the "methods" or written courses for adult language learning are divided into four stages or books: Beginners, Lower Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced. Let us assume that "Advanced" would be the minimum desired goal for a student of Spanish.

"Advanced level" will usually allow a student to hold conversations and listen to and understand most of what is being said in an informal situation and probably much more. This would be good level "to get by" very well with.

It is very interesting to know that language learning methods or books are based on very precise figures.

Some "methods" for adults which are being published recently are based on the assumption that each level will take on average 100 hours to impart. This means a grand total of, on average, 400 hours of actual structured instruction to reach your end goal.

If you sign up for ONE lesson a week for the academic year of 36 weeks, it will take you approximately ELEVEN years to reach your goal. You will almost certainly give up on the way.

Methods which are divided into four levels as mentioned above calculate three hours of instruction per week will accommodate one level per year. That is THREE hours per week for 36 weeks = approximately FOUR years to reach your goal.


In my language teaching experience, I have had the best results by teaching students more hours but over a shorter period of time. For example; FIVE hours a week for 36 weeks = approximately TWO years and TWO months to reach your goal. And so the calculation goes on.

If you sign up for a more intensive language course you will have great advantages over infrequent lessons. A real advantage of the intensive course is that you will not waste so much time on "warming up" each lesson.

You will be more ready to pick up from where you left off. This will be much more efficient for both teacher and student.


Did you know that, just as teachers of English are accredited by T.E.F.L. courses, the Spanish equivalent is accredited by the E.L.E. (Espanol como lengua Extranjera). Find out if your teacher is qualified to teach.

All the above calculations are approximate and all learners are different. This article is based on my own personal experience over the years. So now you know; 'immersion' or 'intensive' is best way to learn. It's up to you to take the plunge or get intense!

by Marie Ryan

Marie writes about all things Spanish. Read more tips for learning Spanish at:

Read the first part of series: Spanish grammar for Beginners at

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Boredom Poison: Boredom Is to Integrated Learning As Cyanide Was to the Roman Emperors

by Claire A Madgwick

"Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it". 

"They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn't seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren't interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were" - John Taylor Gatto in Against School.

The dictionary describes boredom as 'the feeling of being bored by something tedious.' At six years of age my son didn't have the words to sum up his school experience, the closest that he could muster was to provide me with the description of the feeling that it evoked in him. This feeling was 'boredom'.

Furthermore he often relayed to me that he did 'nothing' during his school day. I knew this could not be entirely accurate however I sensed this was a reality for him.

In time I reached the conclusion that if he had the wisdom of experience he would have communicated something along the lines of - 'learning in school is making little sense to my life, I am therefore unable to engage in the activities being presented to me, consequently I live in this state of tedium which makes me feel bored.'

"We ask children to do for most of a day what few adults are able to do for even an hour. How many of us, attending, say, a lecture that doesn't interest us, can keep our minds from wandering? Hardly any" - John Holt in How Children Fail.

In contrast whenever my son spoke about football his eyes would light up. He would clue me in on anything that I wanted to know about the subject matter, from rules of the game to top scorers in the premiership league table.

He would press me to take him to his favourite team's matches and would spend every spare minute practising his football skills outside. When someone had some titbit of information on football he would stop and listen adding his opinion.

He would read the latest football magazine from cover to cover and save up every penny to purchase the football cards that he religiously collected. When passionate about a topic we are much less inclined toward tedium. This was one of the main reasons why we started to home educate nearly eight years ago.

Characterising our home education approach as life learning unschoolers, I recently found myself falling into the trap of providing a schooling style approach to learning during a weekly lesson with my daughter (never home schooled), and five of her friends.

With the help of another Mom we assumed the running of these science based lessons. Every child chose to attend these lessons and could leave at anytime, in other words they wished to learn about science in these lessons.

For the first six months the children seemed engaged as we followed the Usbourne Science book, working our way through basic science kitchen experiments. However in the latter months they appeared to lose enthusiasm.

As their interest waned, I lost spirit in these gatherings. Disheartened, I could hear myself coercing them to participate, even raising my voice so as to be heard over the top of their disinterested chatter.

"The biggest enemy to learning is the talking teacher" - John Holt in How Children Fail.

My instincts warned me that these lessons had lost their mojo. I found that I couldn't continue any longer, this way of learning had developed into lessons that went against everything that I had come to believe in. We held a meeting with all of us ensconced on the floor in a circle.

During this non-judgmental setting the children found a place to express their lack of connection to the science that we had been attempting. Through this dialogue a phoenix of an idea arose out from the circle, gathering form as we animatedly visualised the unexpected shape of our future science meetings.

In mock Harry Potter style we now arrive every Monday morning and symbolically enter our Room of Requirements, where each individual is working on a project that they have selected to study. A project may take one week or many months.

The boys are currently building a potato rocket launcher, one of the girl's is mastering a deeper understanding of gem stones and the remaining two girls' are building their own dolls house - complete with working solar lighting and a water fountain.

This process demonstrated to me the power of non-judgmental listening and hearing, none of us could have ever imagined this would be the outcome.

"We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way" - John Holt in Teach Your Own.

One of the main key's to the success of integrated learning is to 'do' and through the doing we learn. There is another crucial element to successfully integrated learning - the learning needs to be in 'context' for the learner.

A subject matter described as being in 'context' are those subjects which pique the learner's interest. I had reassured myself that we were 'doing' the experiments, unfortunately the lessons being explored lacked 'context' for the children.

The random experiments, grouped roughly together under themes, held no meaning in the children's lives. One of our lessons involved an experiment that demonstrated ice melting at a different rate when salt was applied to it, an interesting fact, but how does that fit in with our lives here in Africa?

In Canada this experiment would have a higher probability of being in context, particularly during winter time when driveways need to be cleared of snow with minimum effort.

Formal teaching normally approaches learning in reverse, initially teaching a 'concept' which is then followed by applying the 'doing' and the 'context' is relegated to last position and often entirely neglected. There is a hornets' nest of problems associated with this unnatural approach to learning.

The largest issue being that often the lessons taught have little relevance to the children's lives, resulting in detachment from the subject matter and ultimately boredom.

By reversing the learning experience where the children get to choose what they want to learn, they are inspired and motivated. With context firmly in place it is more likely that integrated learning is the end result.

When initially presented with a new learning experience we naturally look for prior hooks that we may have in place, we ask the question's 'Have I tried to do this, or something similar, before?' 'What was the experience like?' 'How successful was I?' 'Where did I fail? 'What did I learn?'

John Holt, in How Children Fail, believes that we learn through doing and the prerequisite to that is to be able to imagine ourselves doing the doing.

We have to picture ourselves swimming, skiing, playing a particular song on the piano, and prior to the taking of our first step when learning to walk. This leads to a trying it out period of learning, doing it, learning from our mistakes and trying again.

At this point we may need some instructions from someone who has mastered this experience previously, it makes sense for us to watch her doing what we were trying to do, and then we can try the doing ourselves.

It is important that it is the learner, not the teacher, who drives the learning process at the pace that best fits him, whilst this is in place then context remains king.

My daughter, at 5 years old, was concerned that she would be leaving behind her toys, and bed, when we explained that we were moving to a new house. With no hook for her to attach this unchartered experience, she was left with feelings of confusion and worry.

Prior to her first hook of 'the meaning of moving' was in place, if we had described to her the abstract act of moving house, it is highly likely that she would have little interest in this out of context experience.

Unfortunately this is what a schooled setting applies regularly, teaching subjects that have little context in a child's life. We may have been able to capture our daughter's interest by giving her an account of someone moving house in story form.

Possibly through identifying with the person in the story she may have become more engaged. Although I would argue that this is a whisper of the real experience.

Successful resolution of 'what it means to move house' would involve a complete understanding, in the child, of what it feels like and what it physically means to move house.

It is through the actual experience of moving, the doing of moving in context, which truly engages the integrated learner in the child, providing the full meaning behind what it means to move.

It was this 'doing of moving in context' which settled once and for all the questions that my daughter had regarding her bed and her toys accompanying her when she moved to a different house.

"When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself" - Jean Piaget.

Learning doesn't always have to involve being there physically. I've been reading aloud Harry Potter to my nine year old. Those of you who have read the books will be aware of the character Sirius, Harry Potter's godfather, who changes into a large dog at will.

In a separate discussion with my daughter, I relayed to her that there is a Star in the sky that is called Sirius and it can be found in a constellation referred to as The Great Dog.

It was a classic integrated learning moment when she made the connection, for herself, between what we had been reading about in Harry Potter and the information she had just gleaned.

Taking it one step further she commented on the cleverness of J.K. Rowling basing a character on the name of a star and connecting this character, through its actions in the book, to the name of its constellation.

Moreover she has created an additional hook to build onto in the future - what it means to create and name characters when planning to write a story.

The learning process is sacred to the individual, whatever their age. Hijacking an individual's natural learning approach is tantamount to theft and something we should guard against at all costs. When this occurs learners are left with boredom as their only line of defence.

In a learning setting where boredom is prevalent, used as a barometer, it will red flag that somewhere in the learning approach something has gone awry.

When we entrust the learning process to the learner 'context' is a given, the learner naturally selects that which holds meaning for her and the poisonous trickle of disconnected boredom is eliminated.

Claire Madgwick is a home educator, with over 12 years experience, and is learning every day. She is currently taking part in an experiential learning experiment, accompanied by her nine year old daughter.

They are producing a blog covering their weekly learning process, following an unschooling approach - for one year. You can follow their progress on or read their daily tweets @365DaysLearning

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Does Your Student Have Too Much Homework?

by Rachel Elizabeth Wood

Are you annoyed by your child constantly complaining that they have too much homework? Are you worried that your child may be overwhelmed by their enormous work load? Don't know how to respond to their complaints and cries for help? Turns out this complaint is nothing new.

The late 1990s' brought numerous stories about students and parents whose family lives were destroyed by the overwhelming amount of homework students received. Some even argued that it caused psychological damage.

The stories, although lacking hard evidence, were published in many respected publications. A national debate began on whether or not students have too much homework. Schools created homework policies, parents protested, students became confused on the true value of homework.

Among all the drama, people never realized that the articles clearly lacked facts.

A report by the Brown Center on Education Policy in 2003 ended the idea that American students were drowning under piles of homework and stated that their results reported on the contrary. The report stated that American students don't spend enough time on homework.

Average students from kindergarten to high school don't spend more than an hour a day doing homework. The report concluded that the homework load for the average student has not increased since the 1980s.

Finally, the report stated that the majority of parents are satisfied with the amount of homework their children receive. In fact, if parents were dissatisfied with their students' amount of homework it was due to the fact that they did not have enough.

School administrators and parents can rest easy. Students as a whole do not have too much homework. Teachers should focus on giving students enough homework to challenge them, but not enough to overwhelm them.

Parents can help their children by teaching them good organization and prioritization skills. Homework should be organized neatly in a folder or binder easily accessible to the student. Keeping a planner really helps students keep track of all their assignments and tests.

Last minute procrastination ends with regular review of a planner. Make sure your students make homework a priority upon arriving home. Some parents may even have to take away toys and video games until homework is done to ensure that it is completed.

With the right skills, students can flourish in school. Instead of worrying about the amount of homework your child receives, figure out how you can help ensure that it gets finished.

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Born Smart: Signs You May Have an Advanced Learner

by Rachel Elizabeth Wood

Millions of children in the U.S. are academically gifted. Advanced Learners can often get bored and fall behind their true potential in a traditional classroom. In order to avoid wasting your student's time, parents should consider online learning as an alternative.

Students can work at their own pace, a class at a time, and finish classes at the rate they determine. Enable your student to go above and beyond an average high school degree with online Advanced Placement classes. Here are some hints that your child might be gifted.

Does your student understand principles of higher learning levels?

Even exhibiting a larger vocabulary than their peers can be a sign of advanced learners. If your student quickly comprehends basic ideas and moves on to those of a grade above, they might be an advanced learner.

Is your student self-motivated?

If your student is always on the ball finishing their homework ahead of time, they may be advanced. This ability to work independently can help students move ahead of their peers.

Does your student ask why?

Naturally curious children often exhibit behaviors of advanced learners. If your student becomes fascinated by a subject or is constantly inquisitive, they may be gifted.

Is your student creative?

Creativity is a critical part in the development of a gifted student. The ability to think of original ideas illustrates a higher level of learning.

Does your student get bored in class?

Students who are ahead of their peers often lose interest in class because they already know and understand a subject.

All of these characteristics sound familiar? You may have an advanced learner on your hands. Asking yourself what should I do about it?

Parents with gifted students should choose an academic environment in which the student will have the ability to move ahead at their own pace. If advanced students are held back with children their same age, their education may be stilted.

Finding the right learning environment for your budding genius is critical to their academic success and happiness.

One option for students who are eager to get ahead is online learning. Online schools allow children to go at the pace they desire and even offer Advanced Placement courses. Your child will no longer be held back by confused peers.

To let your child reach their full potential consider enrolling in an online program. Your child will thank you for giving them an education that can finally keep up with them!

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Equality in Education: Blended Learning Trends

by Rachel Elizabeth Wood

The argument for blended learning is made stronger by the fact that education still lacks equality.

Almost 60 years ago racial segregation was struck down by the Supreme Court in the benchmark case, Brown vs. Board of Education. Although the violence of desegregation has passed, the injustice of unequal education remains.

Studies show that quality of education is highly correlated to neighborhood income levels. This proves that although monumental change was made, we still have a long way to go. Education is still the most critical civil rights issue of our time.

Digital learning provides a new solution to the age old question of education equality. Online learning students have access to high quality education at no cost.

Blended learning gives students access to hundreds of courses. These courses include college prep Advanced Placement courses and foreign language courses.

No longer would a student be unable to advance in their education because their schools lack the funding for Advanced Placement classes. Students also have access to personalized attention. Something that is not always possible in a large classroom setting.

Students can get access to great classes and great teachers - just not in a traditional school setting. We have the technology to give every student in America a high quality education.

The question is, when will America implement blended learning? The problem of unequal education can be solved almost immediately. It is time for school administrator's and district officials to take blended learning seriously and use it to fox our nation's schools.

Americans have been out raged at the state of our schools. Online and blended learning is an option for education reform that is available immediately.

To solve two problems at once, inequality and lack of quality, schools can begin to implement these programs now. Parents should ask their school leaders how they can help begin the shift from traditional classrooms to those online.

Studies show that students perform better online then they do in a classroom. This is most likely because students can work at their own pace.

When a student does not understand a subject, they can go back and try to learn it again. Students also have access to teachers online 24/7. It is time for America to implement numerous different learning opportunities.

Our government must begin an initiative to make online learning an option for those students who do not succeed in a traditional school setting. Additionally, every student will have access to quality education.

You should do whatever you can to make this education reform happen for the children of America and the future of our nation.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

How Home Tuition Prevents Your Child From Falling Behind In School

by Elen Moja

If you are a parent, the term home tuition may not be new to you. Even though some might dismiss this as an excuse for tutors to make extra money, home coaching goes a long way in ensuring your child never falls behind in his or her school.

If your child is falling behind in school, you will most likely be the last person to know. The child might be too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about his or her struggles with studies.

Nevertheless, if you observe several signs, your child will not need to ask for help because you will tell that there is a problem and take proper measures.

Signs your child is falling behind

Increased neediness

If your child is normally independent and likes to do things on his or her own, you will know there is a problem in school if he or she suddenly starts to become overly needy and dependent on you.

Avoiding the topic of school

According to child psychologists, if something is going on at school, the child will run around, fidget or do anything just to avoid any conversation about school.

Depressed or distant behavior

Yes, even children can become depressed. If you observe that the energy level of your child has gone down particularly during school time, this could be a sign of trouble.

Getting heated over nothing

If your child suddenly becomes aggressive and gets heated over small things especially during school time, then something is wrong.

How home tuition helps

Staying on top of schoolwork

The first thing a home tutor will do is to ensure that your child does all his or her school assignments. The tutor will also provide assistance where the child does not understand during these assignments.

Preventing a lax attitude during the holidays

It is true that long holidays provide a needed break for children to relax their mind but if they are not careful, they could become lax in their studies. A home tutor helps keep the child active in studies ensuring they never fall behind.

Testing and improving cognitive skills

According to top experts in child education, one of the underlying reasons that cause learning struggles for children is poor cognitive skills. They are mental tools that make up the child's IQ, including things like attention, memory, reasoning and logic. A good home tutor will be able to detect the absence of these skills and nature them to improve the child's performance.

We provide the best info about home tuition. For further details please visit the provided link.

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What Does Blended Learning Mean for the Teaching Profession?

by Rachel Elizabeth Wood

The advance of technology into the classroom and the implementation of blended learning has teachers wondering if they need to be looking for new careers.

Blended learning, however, is not meant to replace teachers with computers, but rather empower them with new possibilities.

Educational technology gives teachers more career options and better working conditions. As technology ventures into the classroom students will grow with personalized, tech-empowered learning. Consequently, teachers should evolve as well.

As teachers are challenged with increasing demands the solution to switch to individualized online learning arises. As a result, the role of the teacher is redefined and opportunities increase.

Blended learning is very beneficial to teachers. Teachers have extended time with students, the ability to reach hard to motivate kids, and eager students. Students can get access to better information and can get an education with more of a focus on deeper learning.

Today teachers are overwhelmed by a large number of students to supervise and teach. Teachers may lose track of a student who doesn't understand a subject in a classroom filled with students.

Online learning allows teachers to serve more students and make sure that each has a full understanding of the subjects being studied. Additionally, teachers have new options to teach at home.

Teachers will love the improved working conditions that blended learning brings.

Reduced isolation, collaboration opportunities, professional development, better student data, increased time efficiency, and role-differentiation are just a few of the things teacher can look forward to with blended learning.

Studies have shown that teachers spend up to $500 a year from their own pocket to buy supplies for their classroom. This unnecessary expense will be made obsolete when education shifts to online classrooms.

The digital aspect of blended learning will bring many new career opportunities for teachers. They will be able to reach more students in-person and anywhere.

Teachers can specialize in strengths and earn sustainable higher pay. They will also have the ability to develop digital skills such as content design.

As technology is become an ever more important field in the workplace, computer science teachers will have more opportunities to teach students meaningful skills. Coding and digital education are increasingly being taught to prepare students with skills that will be useful in the digital workplace.

Blended learning can be an important enabler for renewing the teaching profession and giving educators the ability to pursue new career pathways under better conditions.

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Top Ten Reasons to Study in Canada

by David G. MacDonald

1. Canada has some of the top colleges and universities in the world

According to THE (The Higher Education) magazine, Canada has the reputation for some of the finest institutes of higher education in the entire world.

2. Affordable Options

While the quality of education in Canada is amongst the highest in the world, the cost of living and tuition fees for international students are still generally lower than in other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

3. Employable Skills Once You Graduate

According to the Council of Canadian Educators, "Canada's high academic standards and rigorous quality controls mean that you'll be earning a high-quality education that will open doors for your future and benefit your career over the long term. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is globally recognized as being equivalent to those obtained from the United States or Commonwealth countries." So once obtaining a degree in Canada, you have received a degree of significant value which indicates that you possess the requisite skill in a competitive workplace.

4. Canada is a Welcoming Country

Canada recently invested ten times their usual budget to attract foreign students to Canada. This country is committed to welcoming more foreign students because of the benefit that these students bring to our country. Canada views foreign students as enriching our country in many ways, as we thrive in an environment where people from different cultures mutually benefit from coming to our country.

5. Beautiful Country

Forbes Magazine reported on July 2, 2013 that Canada was the number one ranked country for "the degree to which people trust, admire, respect and have a good feeling for a particular place or their emotional bond to the country." Canada is the second largest country in the world. It has beautiful ocean front views, glorious fresh water lakes and rivers, mountains and plains.

6. Strong Economy

According to Chris Ridell writing for the National Post, the reasons for Canada being ranked at the top of the G-7 nations is: "The World Bank labelled Canada the best place in the G7 nations to start a business, and thanks to an open immigration policy it's comparatively easy to enter the country. Add a strong banking system, growing job market, and high standard of living, and it's no wonder."

7. Respect for Human Rights

Canada prides itself on a legal and political system that promotes and provides a healthy respect for human rights founded on the principle that we are all equal.

8. Quality Environment and Safety Protection

Visitors to Canada are often struck by the cleanliness of our major cities and the pristine conditions in the country. Canada has the largest reservoir of fresh water lakes in the world. Our food and products are tested to ensure their quality and safety.

9. Diversity

Multiculturalism in Canada is the sense of an equal celebration of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds. Multiculturalism policy was officially adopted during the 1970s and 1980s by the Canadian government.

10. Quality of Life

United Nation's Human Development Index has frequently listed Canada as having the highest quality of life in the world.

So in summary, Canada offers great opportunity to foreign students wishing to pursue their dreams in a foreign and welcoming land. For more information on how to come to Canada to study, please contact the author.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

FactCheck: Does Your Entrance Score Strongly Correlate With Your Success at University?

by Gavin Moodie, RMIT University
“The fact remains there is a very strong correlation between people’s entry score at university and their success rate” - Higher Education Minister Senator Kim Carr, ABC’s 7.30, 17 July.
Correlating entry scores and success rates requires analysis of big data files from the Department of Tertiary Education and correction for other factors, such as the secondary school attended and subjects studied at university.

You also have to take account of the different distributions of entry scores and university grades. Journalist Tim Dodd explains this in his Australian Financial Review article.

He notes that entry scores are allocated on a bell curve, which means that there is a big difference between the ability of a student with an entry score of 95 and a student with 85, but a smaller difference between the ability of a student with 85 and one with 75, and a much smaller difference between students with 75 and 65.

Fortunately we don’t have to make sense of the several studies that have used different methods and found different results, for Andrew Norton from the Grattan Institute recently published a useful graph of entry scores and completion rates in The Conversation.

Norton’s chart is below. It shows successful program completions by entry score for students who started higher education in 2005. The available data stops at 2011 and Norton notes that final completion rates will be a little higher because some students who began in 2005 are still enrolled.

The rate of degree completion by ATAR. A Norton: Should higher education student numbers be capped? 2 July 2013.

There is clearly a relationship between students’ entry score and their completing their program, but whether it is “very strong” depends on one’s judgement.

If the line in the graph was horizontal there would be no relationship and if it were at an angle closer to 30 degrees there would be a perfect correlation. Norton’s interpretation, referring to Australian Tertiary Admission Ranks (ATAR, or entry scores) is:
“The chart tells a complicated story. There is a reasonably strong relationship between ATAR and completion. Ninety per cent of students who began their degrees in 2005 with ATARs of 95 or more, completed a degree by 2011. By contrast, for students with ATARs below 70 completion rates are generally clustered in a few percentage points either side of two-thirds.”
The chart also reflects findings of several other studies that the correlation between entry scores and university performance is different for different score bands.

Generally, the correlation between entry scores and university performance in these studies is very strong for students with entry scores above 80, very weak to non existent for scores between 80 and 40, and stronger but very variable for scores below 40.


The statement is somewhat true, but misleading in overstating the importance of entry scores in the middle band.


I agree with the central finding of this fact check: while there is a correlation between a person’s entry score at university and his or her success rate, Senator Carr’s statement needs more nuance.

The fact check draws mostly upon data from one study for one year (Norton, 2013), however the findings are consistent with many others.

Extensive studies by Birch and Miller in 2005 and 2006 confirmed that students’ success during their first year at university is largely influenced by their university entrance score.

A 2008 report by the Centre for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Melbourne (by Nigel Palmer, Emmaline Bexley and Richard James) also references studies with complementary findings.

At the same time, the following are also factors: the size of the school the student comes from; the weighting applied to the final exam mark versus the continuing assessment; the student-teacher ratio; and gender.

Furthermore, other studies have found that the relationship between achievement at school and university can vary by subject area and institution (see, for example Evans & Farley, 1998) - Tim Pitman.

The Conversation is fact checking political statements in the lead-up to this year’s federal election. Statements are checked by an academic with expertise in the area. A second academic expert reviews an anonymous copy of the article.

Request a check at Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Opportunities and Challenges of Establishing an International University: 5 Minute Interview With Dr Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert & Former Tertiary Education Coordinator, World Bank

As the 21st century opens, tertiary education is facing unprecedented challenges, arising from the convergent impacts of globalization. But opportunities are emerging from these challenges.

The role of education in general, and of tertiary education in particular, is now more influential than ever in the construction of knowledge economies and democratic societies.

Governments and Universities in Asia are becoming increasingly aware of the important contribution that high performance, international universities make to global competitiveness and economic growth.

There is growing recognition, in both industrial and developing countries, of the need to establish one or more world-class universities that can compete effectively with the best of the best around the world.

We caught up with Dr. Jamil Salmi, Global Tertiary Education Expert, Former Tertiary Education Coordinator, World Bank and he shared with us his thoughts on ‘The opportunities and challenges of establishing an international University.

Jamil Salmi - Global Tertiary Education Expert; Former Tertiary Education Coordinator, World Bank.
Jamil Salmi a Moroccan education economist, is a global tertiary education expert. Until January 2012, he was the World Bank’s tertiary education coordinator.

He was the principal author of the Bank’s 2002 Tertiary Education Strategy entitled “Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education”.

In the past twenty years, Mr. Salmi has provided policy advice on tertiary education reform and strategic planning to governments and university leaders in more than 70 countries all over the world.

Question: Do you think that 'internationalisation' is a priority in the education industry?

Jamil: “Internationalisation has become a necessity for any university interested in competing on the global scene, meaning that it produces graduates who can work effectively as global professionals and it conducts leading edge research. Internationalisation in higher education institutions requires both breadth and scope not just in terms of numbers and global presence, but also in the depth of its strategic partnerships and the opportunities they create for staff, students and alumni.”

Question: In your opinion, what does it mean to be an international University?

Jamil: “To be an international university is not so much about having a high proportion of international students as about transforming the curriculum to make sure that the graduates acquire the competencies needed to work anywhere in the world and the skills to be a global citizen. There are three important ingredients that must be aligned for a university to becoming ‘international’. These ingredients are abundant resources, a favorable governance structure (a strong and supportive leadership team, full management autonomy as well as academic freedom), and a concentration of talent (among both faculty and students).”

Question: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Universities in Asia?

Jamil: “In several Asian countries, the governance of higher education is still an issue. Public universities often do not have enough autonomy. It is important to allow them to manage their academic activities and administrative operations in an autonomous fashion, while providing regular information on their performance through appropriate accountability mechanisms. A second important challenge is the aging population affecting countries such as Japan, South Korea or Taiwan. This means smaller cohorts of high school graduates available to enter higher education. Universities in these countries will need to increase their continuing education activities to compensate for the decreasing student-age population.”

Question: What are your thoughts on the future opportunities for Asian higher education?

Jamil: “Higher education systems in Asia have proven very dynamic in the past two decades. The fact that most governments in the region consider higher education as an important pillar of the national innovation system is a source of opportunities. Internationalisation requires time, hard work and, importantly, not becoming complacent. It is essential, that the Universities continue to challenge itself to improve and to maintain a sense of urgency even when it experiences successes.”

Jamil Salmi, is one of the key speakers presenting at Building an International University conference, taking place on the 24th & 25th September 2013 at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, Singapore. He will be conducting a full day interactive workshop on ‘How to build an international reputation for excellence’. Key topics to be discussed include:

- Understanding the main characteristics of world-class universities and the drivers for reputation excellence (research partnerships, student mobility, international rankings etc)
- The tools to design a reputation strategy for your institution
- Utilising benchmarking exercises for reputation building

For more information, please visit our website: or contact us at:

Doctoral Examiners: Choosing Them Wisely

by Susan Carter, Doctoral Writing:

Examiners play a huge role in doctoral success; they need to be chosen wisely. Supervisors can overlook this when busy, and live to regret it, along with their hapless student.

The choice requires thought about the examiners - including their attitudes to writing - and about the student and their choices. What must be considered?

Obviously, there is level of expertise, and availability. I recommend that you think about other factors too.

Examiners are humans from planet earth: subjective even when they are professionals aiming to be fair. Avoid someone whose work the student disproves or disapproves of. Avoid someone who uses a conflicting paradigm.

And sometimes academics find it hard to suspend their own preferences and predilections. Margaret Kiley (2009) points out that “most experienced supervisors ensure that they know, or at the very least know of, the personality traits of potential examiners.”

In some cases, a crucial factor in addition to an examiner’s expertise and availability is their attitude towards linguistic fluency.

Will the potential examiner appreciate the ESL writer’s position? Might they be likely to demand prose as fluent as their own rather than good enough for the doctorate to be awarded?

Think about where student and examiner sit within the dichotomy of subjectivity/objectivity: examiners who emphatically write themselves into their own research writing are likely to hold epistemological beliefs about why this is preferable, and the same is true for those who aim to mask human agency in their own prose.

Methodological preference ought not to interfere with fair assessment, but humans tend to be comfortable with what is familiar.

Another factor is the potential examiner’s position along the sliding scale running between innovation and conservatism. Getting a reasonable match on this between student’s and examiner’s practices makes sense.

What is the potential examiner’s own writing like? Our site has talked before about writing preferences, noting that they are made individually - over-archingly, I see written defence of choice within the thesis as the primary means of safety, and of good academic practice.

As a supervisor, I know that selecting examiners can be difficult: the ideal one might be unavailable, or you may have used them recently and feel you can’t ask again so soon.

In some niche areas of research, there are simply not many experts who qualify to examine, and then you may have to weigh up how widely you are able to spread your net as you fish for examiners. Choice is bounded by the realities of academia.

My institution’s regulations are intended to deliver a squeaky clean process where no student would ever be able to influence examiners, no examiner ever inclined to bias from previous contact.

Officially, then, the Head of Department chooses, although in practice often supervisors, closer in expertise to the thesis topic, make the initial choice and pass names forward.

Because the choice of examiners is so vital, I suggest to doctoral students that as they develop a list of potential examiners as they read and discuss with supervisors why they think people on it would be good.

Students do not have anything to do with choice, but putting together a list of suggestions  can be helpful for thinking critically about their own work - and also helpful to those who are involved in choosing examiners.

Alternatively, students could list the factors that they think are important about their thesis and the choice of examiners, and raise them in a supervisory meeting, making sure that they are recorded in meeting minutes. They might include the points that I have mentioned above:
  • fluency/first language not English;
  • stance on contentious issues;
  • paradigm;
  • subjectivity/objectivity;
  • innovation versus conservatism - and there may well be other specific considerations needing to be kept in mind;
  • personality (see Kiley 2009; anecdotes might be useful).
The exercise is another way of identifying how the work sits within the discipline, and how it is likely to be received. It’s a self-reflexive means to moving into examination readiness.

Supervisors might pick up from there, better informed for the selection of examiners. Nothing is fool-proof, but careful choice reduces the risk of a mismatch.

See too:

Kiley, M (2009). ”You don’t want a smart Alec’: selecting examiners to assess doctoral dissertations’, Studies in Higher Education, vol. 34, no. 8, pp. 889-903.

Mullins, G. & Kiley, M. (2002) ‘It’s a PhD, not a Nobel Prize’: How experienced examiners assess research theses, Studies in Higher Education, 27:4, 369-386, DOI: 10.1080/0307507022000011507

Pearce, L. (2005). How to examine a thesis. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Rich Pupils ‘Twice as Likely to Attend a Top University’

by Schools Improvement Net:

Richer pupils are twice as likely to go to one of the UK’s top universities than those from the poorest homes, according to new figures published by the DfE. This is from the Telegraph …

Teenagers who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) - a key measure of poverty - are also still slightly less likely to go to any university, or to go on to work or training, the data shows.

It also reveals that white 18-year-olds are less likely to continue studying, or go on to employment or training than those from other ethnic groups.

The statistics, published by the Department for Education (DfE) give new information on the background of pupils and what they went on to do after finishing their GCSEs or A-levels.

The results show that poorer teenagers are less likely to continue their studies, whether they leave school at 16 or 18. Around 46% of FSM students went on to higher education at the age of 18 in 2010/11, compared to 48% of their non-FSM peers.

Just 4% of those eligible for free dinners went to a Russell Group university - considered among the top in the country - making them half as likely to go as their richer classmates (9% went in 2010/11). And 0.1% of FSM pupils went to Oxford or Cambridge, compared to 1% of those not on FSM.

Among 16-year-olds, more than four fifths (82%) of those claiming free dinners went on to education, employment or training, compared to nine in 10 (90%) of other pupils.

Poorer pupils were most likely to go to a further education college, the statistics show, while richer students were most likely to attend a school sixth form.

The Russell Group said its universities were ”committed to ensuring our doors are wide open” to students from all backgrounds, with the potential and ability to succeed, but added that under-achievement at school, and a lack of good advice were partly responsible for fewer poor students attending the institutions.

More at:  Rich pupils ‘twice as likely to attend a top university’

It would be interesting to know how FSM pupils perform against these criteria relative to the results they achieve. Are they, for example, less likely to go to a Russell group university just because they have on average a lower performance in GCSEs and A levels, or is their performance better or worse than these results alone would predict with other factors coming into play? What do you make of the figures? Please share in the comments or on twitter …