I am a fan of Richard Arum and Jospia Roksa’s first book, Academically Adrift, which examined predictors of growth in critical thinking skills during the first two years of college. In their new book, Aspiring Adults Adrift, Arum and Roksa follow the same cohort of students into the first couple of years after graduation.
Since I last wrote about the UNC athletic/academic scandal in May 2014, we’ve had an intense summer and fall of revelations and reactions. Most visibly, the independent investigation by Kenneth Wainstein was released in November, touching off a whole new round of discussion, hand-wringing, and finger-pointing. We also learned some important additional information from the report: much of it quite embarrassing, some of it minorly reassuring. In this post I want to offer some thoughts on the report and many of the side conversations. I’m sure there will be more to say in comments and future posts as well!
“We’ve frankly got enough psychologists and sociologists and political science majors and journalists. With all due respect to journalism, we’ve got enough. We have way too many,” McCrory said to laughter from the audience.
He said we have too many lawyers too, adding that some mechanics are making more than lawyers.
“And journalists, did I say journalists?” he said for emphasis.
My favorite neocon friend/mentor/correspondent wrote me to ask:
What say you to your Governor about this? In fact, he is always partly right. In fact, your Univeristy [sic] Entitled Ones are always more wrong than right.
Here’s my answer:
If you are one of the twelve people who follow me on Twitter or one of the three people who follow the RSS feed for my website (Hi, mom!), you’ll know that I’ve been tracking the sociology job market this year. My method is pretty crude. I download all the job postings to the ASA Job Bank each month and count which ones have variations of the phrases “tenure track” and “assistant professor.”
As of the end of November, here’s what my monthly count of advertised tenure-track sociology jobs looks like:
By my count, 329 advertisements have been posted for these types of positions so far this year. This is up 5% from where we were last year, up 15% from 2010, and up a whopping 73% from 2009. That said, this year is down 8% from 2008, a year that was a horrible market according to a 2009 ASA study.
In prior years, about 80% of jobs that were going to be listed were posted by the end of November. Based on that, I estimate that we’ll come in at about 410 jobs this year, which is 15 jobs less than my forecast based on July, for those who care about that sort of thing.
My best guess is that this is about how many jobs we can expect to see posted in the coming years. I doubt we’ll see a surge in money for hiring in the social sciences given the current political and economic climate.
The New York Times links to a story from the Chronicle of Higher Ed about a professor of business law and ethics at the University of Houston who felt that her TAs were overburdened with essays to grade, and therefore decided to outsource grading to a firm called EduMetry.
EduMetry assessors in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and other countries grade and give feedback on exams and including writing assignments. According to the Chronicle article, “The company argues that professors freed from grading papers can spend more time teaching and doing research.”
Who can argue with more time for doing research … but isn’t grading integral to figuring out what students need in planning lectures and seminars? I wonder if the undergraduates feel they’re getting value for their tuition with outsourced grading? I can’t help but envision a slippery slope … outsourced faculty?
If anyone works or teaches at a school that outsources grades, I’m curious about the administrative process for approving outsourcing. Was there a debate and what was it like?
I’d appreciate your dropping comments if you have thoughts, suggestions or links relevant to good strategies for taking and organizing your “literature” notes. I’m working with my advisees on this, and I have to say that my own procedures have been ad hoc and often unsatisfactory. I have the index card files from my notes taken in the 1970s that are useless now. I (as many) have tended to do ad hoc literature reviews for particular papers, but find that I have failed to keep or organize good notes that I can return to for a subsequent project, so I either rely on the lit review from the past proposal/paper I wrote, or have to start over. I often will remember something I’ve read but not be able to remember the citation or enough information to find it again. I have zillions of poorly-organized photocopies made in the 1980s and zillions of poorly-organized PDFs saved since the mid-1990s. So I thought I’d put this out to the scatterbrains to see if you have good suggestions, ideas. We’re talking meta-suggestions for how to think about the problem, as well as tools or techniques. It’s how to get the work done now for this project plus how to be able to access the work again three years or ten years from now.
There have been several posts lately about public sociology and the tenure process, including newsocprof and thepublicandtheprivate and, most recently RadioFreeNewport. All are written by young scholars. The general tone of these remarks is either to worry about the impact of public sociology on getting tenure, or to decry older sociologists who tell younger sociologists to focus on getting tenure before getting heavily involved in public sociology. So another view seems helpful. I say this as someone who did not do public sociology until later in my career, well after I had tenure. These younger writers are ignoring the central point that tenure protects you when you do public sociology. Continue reading “tenure and public sociology”
I have received journal review requests from three different journals within the past 18 hours! In February I turned down four because I had not gotten done the previous four I said yes to before Christmas. Seems like somebody out there is not doing their share, or I am on everyone’s A list. Just saying.
It’s that time of year. People are considering job changes and everyone who moves from one tenured job to another needs external letters. In this game, the request for letters comes only after the department has made a hiring decision: the letters are for the an extra-departmental review at the college level. I am being asked for letters on a few weeks notice, just as I had to ask other people for them when I did my bit as chair. I am looking at several requests as I write this. Some of these are from obscure branch campuses I’ve never heard of that are asking for detailed analytic evaluations of the contributions and national influence of the candidates, for God’s sake. Others are for extremely senior people who hardly need me to buttress their claim to fame. I have three choices: spend significant time working up a good detailed letter being sure to explain why everybody is a star, write a superficial positive letter that is at risk of being coded as reserved (i.e. negative), especially for the non-stars, or decline to write and definitely be coded as negative, again, especially for the non-stars. This is idiocy. It is bad enough that we have to do this for promotion to tenure, but does anybody believe that the external letters provide one iota of information that could not be obtained from reading the cv and the person’s publications? The department wants to know whether the person is a lunatic, but that they find out from gossip or phone calls. I don’t mind altruism and doing things for the collective good and the welfare of other scholars, but I do resent wasting my time for the benefit of bureaucratic nonsense. Not only are they asking me to read their watch for them, they are asking me to write several pages of well-crafted prose about what it says and do it for free.
Pardon my making an executive decision here, but it seems that the “what to wear to an interview” thread that got started in the comments on a prior post should get its own line. Here is the original question: One grad student told me that her adviser said not to wear black at a jobtalk, Continue reading “interview clothes”
The cost of higher education has far outstripped the cost of living. In the late 1960s, my tuition at an elite private school was $2400 a year, the equivalent of $12,381 in today’s dollars. Tuition today at that same elite school is $33,000. (Room & board is extra.) I’ve read reports that say that on a percentage basis, the cost of public colleges and universities has risen even faster.
At the same time, financial aid is down. Continue reading “why does college cost so much?”