Monday, March 14, 2016

ACA March 2016 General Meeting

It's amazing how quickly the semester is going by! Our meeting for March has already come and gone.

I did have some technical difficulties this time around and not all of the pictures that I took were actually captured on my phone...  I hope you all will forgive me and that my replacement photos will suffice!

All in all, it was another great meeting. Thanks to University Extension for sponsoring our breakfast!

Tacos = Good

There was also fruit! It looked something like this.

Decaf Coffee is the best! Really!

Kathleen Mabley with Texas Extended Campus kicked off the meeting. Check your email for a Qualtrics survey that her office sent out to get more feedback about advisor engagement with UEX.

Next up was Katy Redd with the Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC). She walked us through the new Thrive app for iPhones that the CMHC has developed. 

The app looked really cool! Each topic had a quote, a video of a UT student discussing a challenge, an activity, and personalized feedback. 
Everyone loves a good quote!

One of the topics you can work through on the Thrive app
Dian Rudd, also with CMHC, discussed recognizing and supporting students in crisis. I am very sorry to report that none of the pictures I took of Dian were saved on my phone! But thank you to Dian for coming to speak with us!

Elizabeth Krieg was next representing UT Staff Council. They are holding a professional development fair on March 23rd in FAC 328 from 11:30 to 1:30. Stop by to see all of the great opportunities UT has for developing professionally. 

UT Staff Council!

Sarah McKay and Cindy Gladstone recognized the recipients of our wonderful nominees for the NACADA Outstanding Advising Awards.

Outstanding Advising Program Award:  BBA Academic Advising Program – McCombs School of Business

Outstanding New Advisor Award – (Primary Role):  Thomas Fawcett, Senior Academic Advisor – College of Liberal Arts

Outstanding Advising Award - (Primary Role):  Jackie Salcedo, Undergraduate Academic Advisor, Graduate Coordinator, Course Schedule – College of Liberal Arts

We closed the meeting with kudos and announcements. Thanks to everyone for coming. See you next month!

And I hope you got to check out the great promotional materials the CMHC brought for us. They had some excellent stickers!

Kudos for this month:

From Jeff Mayo and Josephine Bibby
Thank you to everyone who attended the ACC to UT Marketplace in February! We got the opportunity to talk to over 100 ACC students who are interested in becoming Longhorns. Without the participation of UT advisors and support staff, we would not be able to reach these students and it's so appreciated!

From Tisha Monsey
Kudos to Eric Carter and the rest of the Professional Development Day team for taking PDD to a whole new level! The website and app were so useful, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to get off-campus away from work distractions to focus on professional development. You took risks and really spiced things up!

From Desiree Alva
Shout out to all of the wonderful advisors who helped make Spring Orientation a success and props to those gearing up for the next round of orientations!

From Lovelys
Big KUDOS! to the co-chairs for Professional Development Day (Eric Carter, Sarah Talley, Emily Schroeder, and Mary DeSopo), as well as the committee and volunteers who put on one of the best PDDs I've attended. Cheers!

Kudos to Veronica Vasquez, Antoinette Stanley, Richard Hogeda and Sherry Field for hosting an informal lunch discussion on retention issues. It was a very relaxed forum to begin a general discussion and to find ways to share for the benefit of all our students.

Kudos to Jay Guevara for attending the First Year Experience conference in Orlando and finding ways to share what you learned.

Kudos to the attendees of PDD who took the time to complete sessions surveys and provide constructive feedback. PDD is a great learning forum for speakers to present ideas in a safe environment and it is made better knowing that our colleagues care enough to try to help us improve for the future. Cheers!

Kudos to Kelsey for doing such a wonderful job in her role as Historian. I love your blog entries and I super-duper love the Kudos idea!

Kudos to Blake Willms - ACA Communications Coordinator - for rolling out the new ACA website to fit the university template. I look forward to your continued efforts in making our website a helpful resource for UT staff. Cheers!

From Andrea Gonzalez
A MASSIVE KUDO to the PDD committee for providing the attendees a comfortable forum to engage in thought and growth, while talking with staff we may or may not typically talk with. It takes effort to force yourselves to talk through all of the details and stamina to pull it all off. You did a great job and I appreciate it!

From Anonymous
Congratulations Ashley Clark on a great presentation at NACADA Region 7!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February 2016 News Digest

Take a look at this month's digest for great articles on current issues and conversations in higher education.

2 Keys to Success for Underprivileged Students: When to Start College, and Where to Go

A study from Drexel University found that those who started college within a semester of earning their high school diploma were 46% likely to earn a degree within 6 years, as opposed to only 15% for those who postponed matriculation.

The study also found that where the students went mattered. Only 22% of students who entered a community college earned their degree. On the other hand, graduation rates were 53% for public universities and 65% for private universities.

Demographics such as race, high school attendance, grade point average, and the level of turnover at the student’s high school also played a vital role in degree completion. The study shows that this problem requires the attention of not only higher education, but high schools as well.

Students at Philadelphia High School

 Why Do Colleges Still Use Grades?

A professor at the City University of New York, Trudy Milburn, is questioning why grades are still used to determine course performance despite widespread skepticism of the usefulness of the grading system.

Milburn argues that grades have become inflated in part due to colleges' reliance on adjunct professors who are judged partly on student evaluations. She states that having students demonstrate a certain level of mastery to pass a course would be a more accurate way of measuring the skills and knowledge a student has gained. 

On the other hand, Professor Valen Johnson at Texas A&M University argues that grades are not meaningless because they encourage students to work harder and are an easy way to compare students' performance in a course. However, he is concerned about the trend of grade inflation.

Why a Congresswoman Is Pressing Colleges to Do More on Harassment

Democratic Representative Jackie Speier is working to punish harassment by professors and researchers on campus. She was responsible for pushing legislation to reform harassment in the military and hopes to do the same on college campuses.

Often universities do not punish these perpetrators because of their academic achievement. This causes victims to feel like the system is rigged, and it leaves lifelong scarring for the victims.

Speier also believes academic institutions think they are above the law because they have their own code of conduct. She is now trying to push legislation that would end funding for professors who have committed these acts. This will hopefully cause universities to take these accusations more seriously and be more inclined to punish these professors.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier

As Big-Data Companies Come to Teaching, a Pioneer Issues a Warning

Candace M. Thille, who helped start the movement to bring big data to college classrooms, is now warning that rapid commercialization can hurt universities.

Adaptive learning is the use of a data-driven algorithm that presents students with the content they are ready to learn next. Although adaptive learning has many potential benefits for professors and students in identifying areas where they struggle, private companies are creating these systems without revealing how they work.

Thille believes that instead of commodifying this technology at such an early stage in its development, universities should be responsible for these adaptive learning systems because universities are better equipped to understand how this learning happens.
Candace Thille, an education researcher at Stanford University

Better Advising Beats Free Tuition for Improving Degree Completion, Say Experts

According to a survey of higher education experts, students are more likely to get their degrees if they have access to highly structured curricula and proactive advising than if they get free tuition for the first two years of college.

The experts also believe instructional software that adapts to students’ paces are helpful to their learning. (This is interesting in light of the article about big data above).

A quarter of the experts ranked the current state of undergraduate education as below neutral, and experts cited "institutional culture and structures" far more often than any other reason.

A Piece of UT Austin History

The Battle Oaks, at the corner of 24th and Whitis, are among the oldest trees on UT's campus. They range from 250 to 300 years old and are believed to predate the Civil War.

The trees get their name from Dr. William James Battle who was the chairman of the Faculty Building Committee in 1923. At that time, new biological laboratories were planned to be built on a site that would necessitate the destruction of the trees. However, students and faculty banned together and petitioned for the preservation of the oaks.

Today, Facilities Services takes much care in preserving these beautiful trees as well as all of the trees and plants on our campus. Look for the asset tags on each tree as a sign of the dedication that goes into making our campus a beautiful place to learn and work.

Battle Oaks on the southeast corner of 24th and Whitis Ave

An asset tag like this marks each tree on campus

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal