by Christian Perticone - Friday, May 23rd, 2014 Uncategorized

Judges lecture criminals at the time of sentencing. Bosses lecture employees on the importance of customer service. Mothers lecture small children to clean behind their ears. Many joyous experiences, it seems, occur as lectures. To this list we might add, Biology professors lecture students on the intricacies of molecular carbon bonds. Is it any wonder that Biology Professor Scott Freedman of the University of Washington wants to do away with lecturing in STEM subject area classes? Freedman is the lead author in a recent paper, Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. The study is a meta-analysis of 225 studies that report on the scores and failure rates of STEM students in both traditional lecture-based classes and […]

by Christian Perticone - Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 Collegiate Success

There are different types of bad professors. There’s the professor who’s overly controlling, who never gives students a chance to be human. Is she just mean? Does she expect no one should have a life outside of class? Then there’s the professor who doesn’t manage the class at all. His instructions are vague, and the loud students dominate the class. What about the professor who plays favorites? That professor seems to be giving a private lecture to the girl who sits in the front everyday. And, that political professor? The guy who probably hates you because of what he assumes about your dad’s political party. The professor who constantly changes the syllabus? The professor who would rather be doing research? […]

by Christian Perticone - Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 Collegiate Success

How can students earn a degree that represents real value not just on the job market, but also on the job? According to Robert Zarestky’s recent opinion piece for The Chronicle of Higher Education, “What’s at Stake with Grade Inflation?”, complicit teachers and students have compromised the true value of a college degree by accepting that good grades no longer have to reflect improved performance. Zarestky’s article recalls a utopian past where good grades still evinced a student’s ability to express clear thinking in writing. These days, he says, students pass on without improving. The blame belongs with both the system and the teacher-student relationship. However the consequences don’t hit the fan until students enter the workforce ill-equipped to demonstrate […]

by Christian Perticone - Thursday, May 16th, 2013 In The News

Everyone from educators to economists asks, “What should we teach?” The proposed answers tend to vary according to segments of the student population. Those students who are disadvantaged and underperforming need nurturing during early childhood, and life skills later on – so says the White House on the advice of people like Nobel Prize winning University of Chicago Economics Professor James Heckman. All capable students who want to serve the economy need to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Those students who are neither disadvantaged, nor STEM-inclined, apparently need to learn how to think creatively and innovatively in groups. These student segments are of course fluid; it would not be helpful for students to identify with only one group of […]

by Christian Perticone - Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 Admissions & Acceptance

It’s never been harder to gain college admission. Someone said it last year, and the year before, and… is it true? Or, more specifically, is it true most colleges report that they receive and reject more applications every year? The short answer is, yes, it’s never been tougher. According to The New York Times, schools as varied as Skidmore College (42.41% increase in applicants), St. Lawrence University (14.41% increase), and Yale University (2.81% increase) have all seen upticks in the number of applications they receive. Nevertheless, some would argue that colleges are no more selective than before. The bar hasn’t been raised, they say, there are just more applicants beneath it. A March 20th Times article, “College Admissions: The Myth […]

by Christian Perticone - Monday, April 15th, 2013 In The News

A previous post, “Who Should Take Online Classes? (They’re Free)”, didn’t exactly gush over the limitless possibilities of online learning. I didn’t mean to obscure the fact that technological innovation should excite students and teachers. (I’m no Luddite – I even encourage students to use Wikipedia as first resource.) Technology can clearly enhance classroom, study, and research experiences. Newfangled teachers, myself included, have even created Facebook pages for each of their classes. It makes sense: students are already familiar with the interface; news stories, TED talks, and other trending information seamlessly enter the classroom through the page; and, students learn to write and argue better in contexts where they are already writing and arguing.  As political activist and philosopher Angela Davis […]

by Christian Perticone - Thursday, April 11th, 2013 In The News

The face of higher education will change entirely within the next ten years? The facelift is already underway at Stanford Computer Science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng founded Coursera, which is the largest for-profit provider of free online college courses. To educate tens and hundreds of thousands of students at once, these free courses depend on innovative technology and elite professors. During her TED talk, Koller touts Coursera’s revolutionary model of massive open online courses (MOOCs) as offering a superior educational experience. She seems to believe that MOOCs will eventually come close to offering an education as personalized as one given by an individual tutor, (see the video, minute 16:40 on the “Two Sigma Problem”). I suppose it […]

by Christian Perticone - Monday, April 8th, 2013 Collegiate Success

One of my professors remarked, regarding the place of prescriptive advice in writing, ‘I’m not going to tell you what you should do. I’ve tried to strike the word “should” from my vocabulary. Whenever I say it, whatever follows often sounds dubious on reflection.’ Better, I suppose, to offer an observation and let the reader decide for herself. The same professor didn’t think much of the annual Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference. Though he never said, you shouldn’t go. He may have observed that his students often failed to learn much from the panels they attended, and that their reading and writing fell off during their conference stint. Writing happens when you’re alone in a small room […]

by Christian Perticone - Friday, March 22nd, 2013 Collegiate Success

March is a particularly fine month to be a college student. Finals are a long way off, class discussions have moved beyond the awkward phase, everyone has a few new followers on Instagram…and then there’s Spring Break. The best part of college is not even being there, right? According to the Huffington Post, Spring Break in Cancun is so good that they have to guard it with Marines. 25,000 spring breakers went to Cancun last year, and they are expecting 43,000 this year! This is a big number, so I’ll offer a point of comparison: it’s as if every man, woman, and child in my hometown suddenly took their shirts off, poured fruity drinks, and then stopped all traffic in the streets […]

by Christian Perticone - Thursday, March 14th, 2013 In The News

Your college, even if it’s not your top choice, is still the right choice. Senior Editor of business coverage at, Derek Thompson, occasionally notes the correlation between unemployment rates and level of educational attainment. In his February first article, “A Case for College: The Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s-Degree Holders Is 3.7 Percent”, he makes a brief statistical case for four-year college. Many of you already know college is a wise investment, but it’s still nice to see the numbers.  If you don’t feel like visiting his article to check out the info graphics, you can take this away: “Those who graduate from college are more likely to have a job, more likely to earn a higher wage, and more […]