Thursday, September 18, 2008

THE PEOPLE VS JULIET
THE BAD THEN GOOD AND THEN BAD AT UTB

Yesterday Juliet Garcia participated in the reading of the Constitution. I hate lip service - there is nothing more disingenuous than lip service.

No one in their right mind believes that a university is a bad thing for the community. The problem with UTB/TSC is in its partnership arraignment. It is not a partnership arraignment in any true sense of the word. It is a myth. You can say the slave was in partnership with the slave owner, but it will not change the substance of the relationship.

Brownsville was basically told, if you want a university you will have to fund it yourself, with financial scraps coming from UT and accreditation being offered by UT so long as UT does not have to pay its fair share. Basically, such as the slave owner offered the slave a last name for the privilege of being a slave in the US instead of being a bushman in Africa, UT offered Brownsville the UT name so long as Brownsville did all of the work, and UT got the naming rights.

The racially motivated discrimination the people of Brownsville are suffering by having to fund UTB is unlike anything we have seen since the US Supreme Court declared separate but equal is constitutional in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. So when Juliet Garcia pretends to honor the Constitution it is in lip service and no more. It is a dog and pony show for those who do not know better.

Well, now the good - I have been pushing for over a year two ideas. One, assistance from the Dean of Academic Affairs in better training the professors in how to be instructors. Two, a new position wherein the task of the assistant to the Dean of Academic Affairs would be to identify the problem courses wherein the failure rate is too high, and determine the source of the problem. I can now say UTB/TSC has adopted the first of my two calls for reform. Professors will now be receiving specialized training in classroom instruction. I hope this helps. Hopefully sooner than later Juliet Garcia will see the merits in my second reform.

I have conceded in the past a lot of the problem is the students. We push too hard to force students into college before they are ready. Many students just think college is a social event where studying is optional. Many students have special needs which UTB/TSC is not addressing.
I am going to give an example of a bad course. I know of several students taking Computer Literacy. This should not be a hard course. I am told the teacher is caring. The problem is he should not be a teacher. These students basically need to learn how to use Word, Access, Power Point and Excel - it will be a challenge for some regardless of who the instructor is.

Far too many instructors have bought into the idea they are helping their students by having them buy textbooks which provide the instructor test banks with hundreds of test questions. The problem is no one checks to see if mistakes exists within the test bank questions. The students take these online quizzes and unless they are willing to inform the instructor of the problem everyone gets the question wrong although they put the correct answer.

In one take home quiz a friend told me he could not understand the questions. I asked if it was a vocabulary issue. He said no, the words as put together did not make any sense. After he took the quiz I headed out to the library at UTB to look at the ones he got wrong. As God is my witness, the questions contained English language words, but did not form any coherent question. It almost appeared as if someone maybe wrote the questions in Chinese and then used an online translator to translate the questions into English.

The instructor never checked any of this before he chose to use the program and make the students pay for it. Further, anyone who has ever had to teach themselves a computer program knows you do not even try and read the manual which comes along with the program. You read, "Power Point for Dummies." Why is this? It is because we all know computer programers lack the intellect to write the manuals at a level which makes sense to the learners.

Naturally, the Computer Science Department at UTB/TSC decided it is better to use test bank questions which have incorrect answers and questions written in an incoherent English, than require their instructors prepare their own exams. Naturally the Computer Science Department at UTB/TSC decided to use the program manuals written by Microsoft which no one understands, rather than have the students buy the Power Point, Word, Excel for Dummies books which would have been about ½ the price of the Microsoft book.

Until an outside source demands that the computer science department change they will not. This is why UTB/TSC needs someone who works with the Dean of Academic Affairs to address these problems - preferably in a diplomatic way.

Oh I nearly forgot I spend about 5 hours yesterday under one of the gazebos at UTB/TSC helping a friend study for anatomy. It was an incredible day - the breeze, the quite, the fresh air. What a great way to study. Now all they need is a hotdog vendor during the day around the three gazebos and life would have meaning again.

I wanted to post a picture, but UTB/TSC does not have a photo tour of campus on its web page.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"computer programers lack the intellect to write the manuals at a level which makes sense to the learners"

As Gomer Pyle used to say, running down the street after Barney, "Hasty generalization! Hasty generalization!"

Were you to say interest rather than intellect, I'd agree with you, which is why, in every code shop I'm aware of these days, they hire "documentation specialists" to write the manuals, many of which are perfectly adequate.

I've put two and a half kids through college and I tell you I really resent the abuse of book selection among the faculty. The world is not revolutionized enough every year to justify the turnover these folks make. I'd wondered about kickback deals, but you may be on to something--they may have to turn over books every year to have access to the ancilary products.

When they first started including such things, test banks came on disk and were highly editable. Since I'd been writing tests and test items for fifteen years at that point, they were highly useful and it didn't take much time to include the bank of questions I'd built on my own.

The last two years I was teaching, the testing tools were all online. And we had a two year window for their use.

BobbyWC said...

Stan, I concur.

Today I learned one instructor is failing 75% of his students and all they have done is have a few quizzes on WORD and Microsoft in General.

They have people in the computer lab to help the students. One student was doing a make-up quiz - he got to a question which I knew was bogus. He called over the lab techinician and the tech told the student that the question was bogus and could not be answered.

A 20 year old student I met today said to me - I do not think anyone is going to pass. I asked why - he said he got an A in computers in highschool and he is failing. He said he has been using WORD all of his life and he is completely lost and cannot understand the instructor, the textbook or the test questions.

Today I looked at the 50 questions they had to answer from a test bank. They were given 35 minutes. 10 were rules related to MLA writing - 8 where just garbled words with no meaning. at least two simply changed the question from the original question. The original question was something like how to do move the cursor to the end of the line? Answer End - but when it scored the question was How to end of page - ctrl end.

I took an Education Graduate Course 3 years ago at UTB - after we were able to prove to the instructor the online quizzes were filled with mistakes she dropped the three quizzes we already had done and stopped using the online quizzes.

This entire thing is such a joke to Juliet Garcia - if the Dean of Computer Science believed he could be fired for this he would care, but so long as he plays along with the politics he will not and cannot be held accountable.

Bobby WC