JHU Press Blog

Measuring Success: An Examination of the use of Standardized Tests in College Admissions

by eea | Monday, January 22, 2018 - 12:00 PM

We conceived of this book in the spring of 2016 in response to the fragmented and incomplete state of the literature that informs debates and decisions related to college admission testing. For many students, teachers, parents, policymakers – frankly, nearly all of those immediately outside the testing industry and college admissions – the role of college admission tests remains a mystery. To supporters, standardized tests provide a neutral yardstick for measuring student potential and performance—particularly important given the varying levels of academic rigor across high schools. But detractors, including those who support test-optional policies, argue that college-entrance assessments are biased, misused, or overused.

With this in mind, we set out to assemble a comprehensive collection of new research on admissions testing from experts and practitioners on both sides of the debate, with an emphasis on methodological rigor that has too often been lacking from the discussion of such emerging practices as test-optional admissions. Beyond pure research, we also wanted to highlight the on-the-ground perspective of college enrollment officers who have changed or considered changing their testing policies.

In the 12-chapter volume that resulted, contributors provide detailed evidence that standardized test scores (especially when combined with grades) have significant...Read More

Eisenhower: Becoming the Leader of the Free World with Louis Galambos

by eea | Saturday, January 20, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Eisenhower: Becoming the Leader of the Free World

Republican presidents come in all sizes, shapes, and temperaments. They have different backgrounds, different careers, and different ways of dealing with the crises they inevitably face during their time in the White House. Dwight “Ike”Eisenhower (1953-1961) was the only one since 1900 to have been a lifetime professional soldier and the only one to become the unchallenged leader of the free world – that is, the non-communist half of the world.

After spending many years editing Ike’s papers, I thought I knew everything I could possibly know about the man. So I set out to write a book based on what I had learned by editing and co-editing sixteen hefty volumes of his correspondence, memoranda, diary entries, and other papers. Since our editorial project had focused exclusively on the years since 1941, when the United States entered WWII, I started my research by looking into Ike’s early life and career. I was surprised by what I found.

You too may be a bit surprised if you follow my trail to Ike’s family in Texas, where he was born in 1890, and to Abilene, Kansas, where...Read More

How to Run a College: A Practical Guide for Trustees, Faculty, Administrators and Policymakers with Brian Mitchell

by eea | Friday, January 19, 2018 - 12:00 PM

How to Run a College: A Practical Guide for Trustees, Faculty, Administrators and Policymakers

Colleges are confusing, bewildering and complex places with storied traditions, antiquated governance practices, and competing constituencies. Even worse, however, is that many of the key leadership groups – especially trustees but including faculty and senior staff – are ill equipped to advise and govern a college. The end result is an erosion of good will among key stakeholders, often leading to institutional inertia, and in the extreme, debilitating chaos. These glaring internal inefficiencies, communication breakdowns, and the overriding sense of cultural inertia on many campuses are also set against a backdrop of changing consumer preferences, high sticker prices, declining demand, massive tuition discounting, aging infrastructure, technological and pedagogical alternatives, and state and federal political pressure.

That having been said, the American residential college is the foundation upon which other higher education sectors are based, including modern research universities, especially at the undergraduate level. It can be resilient under able leadership. In this book, we offer an optimistic assessment based upon frank and stark conclusions about what colleges must do – and not do – to remain relevant in the 21...Read More

How "Unrepentant Nazis" became "Our Germans" - With Brian Crim

by eea | Monday, January 15, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Wernher von Braun’s rocket team’s journey from captivity in Germany to their brilliant “second act” with the US Army and eventually NASA began with a series of debriefings with the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) in a ski chalet near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Upper Bavaria. One of the interrogators assigned to the rocket team was thirty-two-year-old Second Lieutenant Walter Jessel. Jessel had explicit instructions from Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force to sort out, in Jessel’s words, “Nazi hangers-on and enforcers from technical staff in order to bring the latter to the US.” Jessel and his fellow officers faced a difficult task distinguishing between esteemed scientists responsible for revolutionary military technology and those who were either expendable or so tainted by accusations of war crimes that employing them was simply impossible. As candid as Jessel’s military screening report reads, his diary entries from that week in June are even more frank: “The team consists of rocket enthusiasts, engineering college graduates, professors, all unrepentant Nazis aware of their bargaining power with the Americans.” Jessel noted that German army personnel attached to the team understood “that their chances of going to the US are smaller than those of technicians. To improve these chances, they sing.”...Read More

How University Boards Work

by eea | Friday, January 12, 2018 - 12:00 PM

In How University Boards Work I argue that there should be greater alignment between the following elements in university and college plans in order to achieve optimal effectiveness:

*Criteria for board membership and the goals and strategies of the institution;

*Criteria for evaluation of the board and its leadership compared to the goals and strategies of the institutions

*Criteria for presidential selection and assessment and the mission of the institution;

*Criteria for the selection and nurturing of faculty compared to the mission and goals of the institution:

*Rewards of release time, promotion, tenure, sabbaticals, etc. and the goals for student success;

*Fulfillment of the institution’s mission and the design of General Education programs and major areas of study;

*Criteria for defining excellence in courses of study and the expectations of the institution;

*Goals for fundraising and the priorities expressed in the institution’s mission statement;

*Budgeting for institutional financial aid (tuition discounting) and the mission of the institution;

*Priorities for athletics and the mission for academic study:

*Design of classroom spaces and the philosophy of teaching:...Read More

Unnecessary Complications: A Discussion of the Tragedy of Obstetric Fistula

by eea | Thursday, January 11, 2018 - 12:00 PM

Tears for My Sisters: The Tragedy of Obstetric Fistula

L. Lewis Wall, MD, DPhil

Selina Okin Kim Conner Professor in Arts and Sciences

Professor of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, School of Medicine

Washington University in St. Louis

An obstetric fistula is a catastrophic childbirth injury in which the tissues that normally separate the bladder and the vagina are destroyed by prolonged obstructed labor. This leaves the afflicted woman hopelessly incontinent for the rest of her life, unless she can find a surgeon who can repair her injuries. Most women who develop obstetric fistulas are out of luck, because the resources to prevent and to treat them are both scarce and unevenly distributed around the world. Obstetric fistulas occur among the world’s destitute populations, not among the rich. People in the Western world are usually astonished to learn that such injuries are even possible , much less that they occur with alarming frequency among the world’s poorest women.

Childbirth in resource-rich countries like the United States is safer than at any time...Read More

Teaching Topology: A Preview of Shaun Ault's "Understanding Topology"

by eea | Wednesday, January 10, 2018 - 12:00 PM

As an educator and research mathematician, I feel that my primary job is to share my knowledge and expertise, to shed light on difficult concepts, and to encourage students to continue discovering beyond what’s presented in the classroom. When I began work on the textbook, Understanding Topology: A Practical Introduction , it was with these aims in mind. Above all, I wanted this textbook to sample a wide range of topics that fall under the broad category of topology while remaining rigorous enough for students to understand how mathematicians to do real mathematics. I wanted students to encounter new and wonderfully strange topological spaces and have the tools in hand to analyze them. Furthermore, I wanted students to see how this very abstract field of mathematics could be useful to other areas of math and science.

Understanding Topology began life as stack of messy lecture notes that I had prepared for an undergraduate course in Topology at Valdosta State University. The lectures were based on material cobbled together from a variety of sources, including The Knot Book by Colin Adams, Beginning Topology by Sue Goodman, A Combinatorial Introduction to Topology by Michael Henle, The...Read More

Finishing the Blog Turned Book with Carolyn Thomas

by eea | Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - 12:03 PM

A Woman's Guide to Living with Heart Disease : my Blog-turned-Book!

By Carolyn Thomas

With a splendid sigh of relief, I hit the ‘submit’ button and sent off the completed draft manuscript of A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Diseas e”, the book I’d been writing for most of 2016. I sat back and waited for a response from JHUP.

And waited. And waited.

My anticipation ended within a week via return email from then JHUP Executive Editor Jackie Wehmueller. She loved it! Even the introductory preface I’d written was described as “a masterpiece”.

The next step: the entire 10-chapter draft manuscript needed to be evaluated by JHUP internal reviewers. Since a heart attack had forced my retirement after almost four decades working in public relations, I wasn’t used to writing for anybody else but my Heart Sisters blog readers. But now I not only sent the finished product to Jackie, but the manuscript would need one more lengthy go-round from a JHUP cardiologist, the Editorial Advisory Committee, and finally the Faculty Board....Read More

Curiosity is Key: How to Inspire Kids to Engage in Their Education with Kevin Bell

by eea | Thursday, December 21, 2017 - 12:00 PM

“My students aren’t engaging with my materials because, well that’s what they do, or don’t do. What’s the golden (tech) bullet to engage my students? Artificial Intelligence?, The Internet of Things?, Blockchain?, Next Generation LMS-s?, Virtual Reality?, Augmented Reality?” – (head explodes)…

All of the above are viable technologies worthy of our attention and exploration. One or more of them may even radically affect higher education. It’s also certain that one or more of them will take a humbled seat on the bench alongside Second Life, QR codes and MySpace; the hope of relaunch as a cool retro / Old School tool their only solace.

Effective technology, digital content or new means of tech facilitated interactivity can accentuate good teaching and a good student experience. The key word in that sentence though; definitely “ accentuate .” In 25 years in higher ed, while I have never seen poor teaching made good by virtue of a flicked switch, I have seen many lame implementations that started with the phrase, “just show me which button to press.” A frighteningly frequent conversation twixt bored instructor and stressed (and also a bit bored) Instructional Designer.

So here you go: a cool,...Read More

Challenging His Teacher’s Racism: Was Huck William James?

by eea | Sunday, December 17, 2017 - 12:00 PM

In his youth, William James tried on a range of career possibilities. In the 1860s, his attention was focused on a career in science. He had spent his childhood in a host of schools on both sides of the North Atlantic guided by his father, Henry James, Senior, who promoted experiential learning and familiarity with natural facts for his five children. The elder James had high hopes for a “scientific career for Willy,” his oldest son. Like his father, Willy James had an appetite for the natural facts of scientific investigation and a reflective temperament. Henry James noticed the growing authority of science in this era, and hoped that his eldest son would train in science to give more respectability to his own idealistic belief that all the natural facts of our empirical world are mere shadows pointing to higher spiritual truths, which he hoped would help shed society of selfishness.

This was the picture of science William James brought to his first scientific training as a chemistry student starting in September of 1861 at the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University. His chemistry teacher, Charles Eliot would become the university’s president eight years later. As president, he...Read More