Monthly Archives: April 2016

Student Evals Hopelessly Stacked Against Female Profs

shutterstock_256142623_MAY2016As the semester or quarter draws to a close, it will soon be time to submit ourselves to that unique torture reserved for the college professor: student evaluations. Looked at as a means to hire, promote, or fire instructors, student evaluations of teaching (a.k.a. student opinion questionnaires) are widely used—and widely reviled by instructors as unfair and poor gauges of what really goes on in a classroom.

And not without reason. Many studies have injected doubt into the reliability of student opinion surveys as a way to measure a teacher’s worth. However, new research shows that students bring so many biases to the process that evaluations simply cannot be seen as an objective measure of teaching effectiveness at any institution, in any given department, or for any particular course. “Overall, student evaluations of teaching disadvantage female instructors. There is no evidence that this is the exception rather than the rule,” the authors wrote.[i]

“Student Evaluations of Teaching (Mostly) Do Not Measure Teaching Effectiveness” in particular found that student gender biases “prevent” opinion surveys from being fair or effective ways to measure teaching effectiveness. These biases were seen in both male and female students who gave more favorable evaluations to male instructors.

The study followed students and instructors in France and the United States and found that although male instructors consistently received higher scores, their students performed worse on final exams than students of female instructors. Moreover, those rating the male instructors higher were predominantly female.

The research also found that opinion survey results were more correlated to students’ grade expectations than actual learning and that opinion surveys were better at measuring student satisfaction and grade expectations than teaching effectiveness.

In their discussion of the data, the authors wrote a scathing condemnation of student evaluations:

The onus should be on universities that rely on student evaluations of teaching for employment decisions to provide convincing affirmative evidence that such reliance does not have disparate impact on women, underrepresented minorities, or other protected groups … student evaluations of teaching should not be used for personnel decisions.[ii]


What do you think about student evaluations? Start a conversation!

[i] Flaherty, C. (2016, January 11.) Bias against female instructors. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/01/11/new-analysis-offers-more-evidence-against-student-evaluations-teaching

[ii] Boring, A. et. al (2016, January 7.) Student evaluations of teaching (mostly) do not measure teaching effectiveness. Science Open Research. Retrieved from https://www.scienceopen.com/document/vid/818d8ec0-5908-47d8-86b4-5dc38f04b23e

Are Elite Colleges Worth the Cost? … The New Normal—Employers Check Workers’ Online Presence … Flip Phones Making a Comeback?

Are Elite Colleges Worth the Cost?

Degrees from costly, prestigious colleges pay off only in certain fields, according to new research conducted by The Wall Street Journal.

shutterstock_89675323_MAY2016The research team examined thousands of college graduates ten years after leaving school. The researchers found that in business and the liberal arts, degrees from prestigious colleges and universities resulted in higher pay. However, in STEM jobs, the school the student attended did not matter. Higher-than-average earnings for those graduates remained consistent despite the college attended.

The findings are significant because knowing that future earnings will not be affected by the student’s undergraduate degree can save parents and students thousands of dollars.

–From The Wall Street Journal

The New Normal—Employers Check Workers’ Online Presence

The casual Google search on a potential employee is a given today. However, more than 50 percent of employers take it a step further and actively search for red flags on candidates’ social media pages. Such probes into Internet identity can lead to a host of problems. Below are a few areas to constantly monitor, so that your online persona is squeaky clean:

  • Mistaken identity. If someone with the same name is mistaken for you, your reputation is the one that will take the hit.
  • Inappropriate comments. Whether made by you or your friends, unsuitable information or images that appear on your social media pages can harm your candidacy for a job.
  • Employer’s branding. Current workers are not immune to their employers’ forays into employees’ Internet presence. Any unkind comments about stakeholders, racist remarks, or provocative content may adversely affect your reputation and career.

–From The Washington Post

Flip Phones Making a Comeback?

shutterstock_269148773_MAY2016As a way to disconnect from the constant distractions of smartphones, some people are reverting to the good old days of the flip phone. Manufacturers Sony and LG have given up on the small market for the devices, but Microsoft and Samsung continue to produce the simple and inexpensive phones. Tired of smartphones’ short battery life, some users choose the low-tech devices as a way to uncouple from the digital world. Others use a sophisticated smartphone during the day but take the lighter, smaller flip phones when they go out at night.

–From The Financial Times                                                                                                           

The Career Bio—Just as Necessary as a Résumé

[Instructors: Discuss the below explanation of the Career Bio with your class. Then have them perform an analysis of an actual career bio created for LinkedIn. You can download the exercise and a key at the end of this post.]

A career bio differs from a résumé, but many say having both are key to today’s successful job search. Whereas a résumé can be both digital- and paper-based, the career bio is strictly digital and only recently came into being since since social media began its rise.

The bio, unlike the résumé, is not about your job and educational experiences. Instead, it aims to represent the real you by sculpting you as an individual brand that will help you manage your career over your lifetime. It shows your intentions and goals rather than merely stating facts and can be an excellent way to highlight your writing skills.

Experts contend that many employers skip reading a candidate’s résumé and instead view the individual’s LinkedIn Summary, the professional networking site’s version of a career bio. Consequently, the LinkedIn Summary needs to create a profile that will resonate with a potential employer.

William Arunda is a contributor to Forbes.com who writes about personal branding. He offers these pointers to create an effective LinkedIn Summary.

  1. Define your audience and purpose. Before sitting down to write, consider your potential reader and what you want her to learn about you. For example, say you are a recent graduate looking for an entry-level job in accounting. Your audience will likely be someone from human resources looking for the right combination of hard and soft skills as well as the ability to fit in and collaborate well. Your LinkedIn summary would need show that you have career goals in the accounting industry and that such a career meshes with your values and accomplishments thus far.
  1. Brainstorm to develop your content. Before you write the summary, jot down the following, allowing one sentence for each:
  • Important accomplishments. Define how you added value to an event or an organization. (I raised over $2000 to support breast cancer research.)
  • Values and passions. Give voice to the things that make you excited (I’m a die-hard techie who loves coding more than playing video games.)
  • “Superpowers.” What do you do better than anyone else? (I can organize the most chaotic situations with ease.)
  • Facts, figures, statistics. Include quantifiable points (I speak three languages or I participated as a triathlete twice.
  • What makes you stand out from your peers? (I complete my best work before 8:00 am.)
  • Name awards and accolades you’ve received and testimonials from others. (Awarded Rotary Club Scholarship.)
  1. Writing/Editing. Decide if you want to write in first (I) or third person. Then get to work.
  • Start with a hook that grabs the reader immediately. Try a question (How did the daughter of two English professors decide to become an accountant?) or a series of qualities you possess (Detail-oriented. Great communicator. A math whiz who can also write.)
  • Fill in the details, using the material you’ve put together while brainstorming.
  • End with a call to action. Tell the reader what you want him to do, and keep the whole bio under 2000 characters. (I’m ready to help a green business become even greener…and more productive.)
  • If appropriate, add images/video/documents that illustrate what you’ve written.

Your task. Read William Arunda’s bio and mark it up to show the color-coded elements below. Then with your class, discuss why his bio is effective. A key is downloadable at the end of this post.

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Values/passions
  3. Superpowers
  4. Facts, figures/ statistics
  5. Differentiation
  6. Validation

­­­­­­­­­______________________________________________________________________________________

William Arunda’s LinkedIn Summary

I had no intention of being an entrepreneur.

I was working in corporate branding for IBM/Lotus and I loved my job – cool products, amazing colleagues! And branding was “my thing.”

Then everything changed.

In July 1997, I read Tom Peters’ now-iconic Fast Company article The Brand Called You. Here were my two great passions – branding and people – joined in an exhilarating alchemy called personal branding!

Soon after reading the article, I was given the opportunity to lead the Lotus branding efforts in London/Paris – and I couldn’t pass that up. So I pursued an exciting European adventure until I could no longer ignore the pull of personal branding. I’d found my calling.

When I started Reach Personal Branding in 2001, I joined an “industry” of four firms vying for a small pool of business. A few years later (with savings spent and significant debt), Reach was the one personal branding company.

I’m known for my extreme optimism and I KNEW personal branding HAD to become relevant. I stuck it out.

Persistence paid off.

An economic downturn – with globalization, outsourcing and the birth of social media – took personal branding from relevant to essential. And Reach was there!

Today, Reach is the leader in personal branding with certified Strategists in 45 countries and pioneering products used by a million+ people. As CEO, I’m thrilled that Entrepreneur called me “the personal branding guru,” crediting Reach with turning personal branding into a global industry.

Now I routinely traverse the globe, happily delivering keynotes and workshops to organizations that want to engage, motivate, and retain their best talent. In fact, I’ve delivered more personal branding presentations to more people in more places than anyone on earth.

Key

I had no intention of being an entrepreneur.

I was working in corporate branding for IBM/Lotus and I loved my job – cool products, amazing colleagues! And branding was “my thing.”

Then everything changed.

In July 1997, I read Tom Peters’ now-iconic Fast Company article The Brand Called You. Here were my two great passions – branding and people – joined in an exhilarating alchemy called personal branding!

Soon after reading the article, I was given the opportunity to lead the Lotus branding efforts in London/Paris – and I couldn’t pass that up. So I pursued an exciting European adventure until I could no longer ignore the pull of personal branding. I’d found my calling.

When I started Reach Personal Branding in 2001, I joined an “industry” of four firms vying for a small pool of business. A few years later (with savings spent and significant debt), Reach was the one personal branding company.

I’m known for my extreme optimism and I KNEW personal branding HAD to become relevant. I stuck it out.

Persistence paid off.

An economic downturn – with globalization, outsourcing and the birth of social media – took personal branding from relevant to essential. And Reach was there!

Today, Reach is the leader in personal branding with certified Strategists in 45 countries and pioneering products used by a million+ people. As CEO, I’m thrilled that Entrepreneur called me “the personal branding guru,” crediting Reach with turning personal branding into a global industry.

Now I routinely traverse the globe, happily delivering keynotes and workshops to organizations that want to engage, motivate, and retain their best talent. In fact, I’ve delivered more personal branding presentations to more people in more places than anyone on earth.

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Career Bio Exercise

Career Bio Key