Plus Kim Carr and Stephen Parker did well this week

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Not what they paid for

“Turns out, graduating from uni isn’t enough to get a job anymore. What else do students have to do?” Evan Orlieb from Monash inquires ( @ The Conversation). Ask for their money back?

Top of the class

The Craven inquiry has discretely but definitively slammed the work of teacher educators in its comprehensive plan to save a struggling system. Committee chair Australian Catholic University VC Greg Craven and his colleagues make the problem plain in their report released this morning.

“Australians are not confident that all entrants to initial teacher education are the best fit for teaching. This includes the balance of academic skills and personal characteristics needed to be suitable for teaching.

Not all initial teacher education programs are equipping graduates with the content knowledge, evidence-based teaching strategies and skills they need to respond to different student learning needs.

Initial teacher education providers are not rigorously or consistently assessing the classroom readiness of their pre-service teachers against the Professional Standards.”

These problems, and how to address them, dominate the document. Over half the 38 recommendations require action and improvement by teacher education faculties. They include,

* “higher education providers deliver evidence-based content focused on the depth of subject knowledge and range of pedagogical approaches that enable pre-service teachers to make a positive impact on the learning of all students.

* higher education providers ensure staff delivering initial teacher education are appropriately qualified, with a proportion having contemporary school teaching experience.

* higher education providers equip all primary and secondary pre-service teachers with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of teaching literacy and numeracy. (That’s the only really weasely-worded one).Campus Morning Mail  - 728 x 210 pixels

That Professor Craven’s ACU is the second largest teacher educator in the country and his colleagues include highly regarded experts in the field, such as the University of Melbourne’s Field Rickards and Ben Jensen from the Gratten Institute, ensures deans of education cannot dismiss the report as uninformed or partisan.

The report also addresses concerns of critics who call for very high academic standards for commencing teacher education students, notably NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli.

However it specifically defies demands to use exam scores for university entry, arguing that ATARs are increasingly irrelevant given alternative entry schemes universities operate and because personal attributes are also important in assessing aptitude for teaching. And the report responds to demands that beginning teachers be intellectually gifted, proposing they are “within the top 30 per cent of the population in personal literacy and numeracy.”

The committee also calls for increased oversight instead of expenditure to ensure improvements occur (there is not one mention of any need for more money). Thus Professor Craven and his colleagues recommend; “reconstituting the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership to include accreditation of teacher ed programmes, to work with the states and territories on teacher accreditation and to “continually assess the classroom readiness of pre-service teachers throughout the duration of their program.”

Education Minister Christopher Pyne, who commissioned the report, should be pleased. It addresses real community concerns, it demonstrates the national government has a practical plan for change and it occupies very high ground if lobbies, such as the deans of education, try to attack.

Must make a nice change for him.

All up, it is as academically astute as it is politically professional – Greg Craven‘s friends, and his opponents, will have expected nothing less.

Cut to the CHasR

At ACU Professor Sandra Jones is giving a talk Tuesday week called, “Who are those CHaSR people and why are they having so much fun?” No, not that Chaser crew – this is the university Centre for Health and Social Research, which is probably much more entertaining.

Not so social media

On-line education marketing maven Karinne Joly has crunched Google web data on the channels new visitors use to access the websites of 1600 UK universities and colleges. And very interesting it is too, demonstrating the hype about desktop being dead is, well, dead. For a start 68 per cent browse via desktop, with phones following at 23 per cent and tablets accounting for the rest. The same pattern applies to engagement, 81 per cent spent an average four minutes on a university site using a desktop, with just 11 per cent taking two minutes to have a look on their phones. The tablet time was three minutes.

As for advertising; social media made for less hill, more hillock of beans. Some 44 per cent of new visitors found a site via organic search, 33 per cent got there direct and 9 per cent were referred. Just 8 per cent came from social media, 3 per cent from paid search and 1 per cent each from display advertising and emails.

Why Harry doesn’t meet Sally

John Zeleznikow from Victoria University has surveyed 120 graduates and reports that men and women (and brace yourself for the shock) want different things from on-line dating. Where women use it to vet blokes before meeting them in the flesh men see it as a time-saver. “Men appeared to see online dating as a way to skip the pick-up lines and first-date nerves,” Professor Zeleznikow says. Do they think Samantha from Sex and the City is real?

Winners of the week

Carpet strollers in the corridors of power say Kim Carr was very pleased indeed when the Senate rose on Thursday night. For a start, he was happy with support for his proposed committee inquiry on deregulation, which includes Senator Ricky Muir, now said to be firmly in the defeat not delay camp. And he was delighted with the ABC Fact Check judgement that the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments had not cut university funding by $6bn. The senator’s many friends say he is convinced that it demonstrates deregulation is not necessary to fund higher education and that a majority of crossbench senators will see this is so.

Professor Anne Kelso also did well – named as the next chief executive of the National Health and Medical Research Council. This is surely the most important job in medical research, supervising $859m in federal funding this budget year. Of course it also means she will have to explain to the authors of the 84 per cent of research applications that will not get up why they missed out.

If one is indeed known by the company one keeps Ben Sowter from ratings agency QS had a win. Not only is he holding a seminar for a course ranking product at the University of New South Wales but Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs is co-hosting a reception for the paying audience.

ANU tap into

University of Canberra VC Stephen Parker was the first vice chancellor to publicly oppose deregulation outright but now others are proposing amendments and delays he must feel less lonely. He certainly will be pleased today at a UoC seminar when policy engineers of undoubted acumen gather to discuss what is wrong with the Pyne plan. Given the now booming chorus of critics its surprising he only scheduled a day.

And what a win for University of Adelaide chancellor, Kevin Scarce! As governor of South Australia he had to be discrete but now he has a royal commission of his own on nuclear energy, a subject that interests him indeed. I wonder if he will call Uni Adelaide doctoral candidate Ben Heard, who wrote this week that nuclear power has potential for Australia.

Impossible to innoculate

Slate reports that the Pixar childcare facility in California has low vaccination rates – you don’t need an NHMRC grant to know that CGI(nfants) are light-on for veins.