Editorial

 Vyhmeister, Shawna

 


Course Outlines and Assessment in Higher Education: An Analysis of AIIAS Course Description Contents 2001-2004 
Perry, Graeme H.

Perception of Faculty Participation in Academy
Governance in the Central Luzon Conference, Philippines 

Bairegee, Robert B. and Gaikwad, Samuel M.


The Performance of Trilogy Functions of Higher
Education of Selected NOCEI-member HEIs in the CALABARZON Provinces  

Nasution, Eric Y.

Writing with Integrity 
Vyhmeister, Shawna L.

Analysis of Some Influences on Literacy as Observed by Facilitators of Literary in Cambodia
Scott, Timothy

 


Asian Universities: HIstorical Perspective and
Contemporary Challenges

Altbach,P. & Umakoshi, T.
Reviewed by Frederick R. Oberholster

TPublic Health: Power, Empowerment and Professional Practice by Glenn Laverack
Laverack, G.
Reviewed by Gina S. Siapco

The Engaging Leader: Wining with Today's
Free Agent Workforce
DGubman, ED. 
Reviewed by Ryan Rey Ybanez

    

EDITORIAL

A critical role for Higher Education Institutions is to attain relevance for the communities in which they are located. On the one hand, academia has total freedom to explore esoteric questions, some of which may eventually make life more meaningful. On the other hand, education is supported by people who want to see results, and this usually means something tangible, practical, measurable, or profitable. This tension has haunted ivy-covered laboratories worldwide: must researchers study what they are paid to study, or what will bring in funding, or are they free to learn the things that are important to them? And what, exactly, must they teach their students: what they value, or what will get the student a better job? How should faculty work together with administration? Are they free to give input and change the face of the institution they work in, or is their job merely to provide content knowledge to students? What about the students? Are they more prepared to study than they used to be?

These are just a few of the questions that persist within higher education today. This issue attempts to address concerns like these in a small way. Knowing that understanding the questions is the first step to finding the answers, this issue is dedicated to exploring the following current themes being discussed within higher education in the Asia-Pacific region today.

1. What are We Really Teaching? There is a lot of rhetoric nowadays about teaching having shifted from the professor being the “sage on the stage” to the new approach, which is the “guide on the side.” As usual, however, when we look into classrooms to see what changes have actually been made (see for example Goodlad, 1983; Stone 1999/2000), we find less has changed than we thought. Course outlines are the traditional indicator in academia of what is actually taught in a course. They give the student the details needed about assignments, assessment, rules, readings, and the like. Within an institution, many rules can be presumed to be the same for every class. Course descriptions are published in the academic Bulletin. School-wide Attendance and Plagiarism policies are published. Some schools, like the one studied, even have a standardized template offered as an attempt to provide some uniformity to course outlines from a school. But what can be learned from an analysis of all the course outlines in a school? What does it tell us about what we teach and how we teach it? Perry’s study of AIIAS course outlines shares perspectives on constructive alignment of curriculum elements in higher education, and the potential impact on effectiveness and satisfaction.

2. Faculty Participation in School Governance. The idea of both student and faculty participation in thinking about what and how one should learn is not new, but in recent years the voices urging this sort of participation have become stronger and more insistent. Research results continue to mount in favor of the results yielded by more participative styles of management. Bairagee’s primary study explores the attitudes of both high school faculty and principals toward current and ideal levels of faculty participation.

3. Balancing Research, Teaching, and Service. While teaching is very much valued in higher education, every professor knows about the “publish or perish” rule that applies to every tenure-track position in academia. Recent literature (see for example Robertson & Bond, 2005) suggests that it is impossible to conceive of teaching without research, since they are in essence two aspects of learning, and each requires input from the other, somewhat like inhaling requires exhaling. While most colleges expect professors to publish research, fewer seem to be involved with service, and real-life, practical learning activities that touch real people. This aspect of learning, while important, appears to be even more neglected than research. Nasution’s primary study collects data on schools in the community closest to AIIAS which seeks to determine their institutional profile concerning the balance of these three important aspects of learning. This seems to be a juggling act, and not many schools are able to accomplish good teaching at the same time as they are involved in research and in community service. Balance seems to be an art we have yet to master.

4. Improving Writing Skills. In her academic essay, Writing with Integrity, Vyhmeister discusses the concerns about poor student writing which are being raised worldwide. She briefly reviews the problems, then explores the results that poor writing skills can bring, including weakness in critical thinking, a poor grasp of concepts, and overemphasis on facts and memorizing. The rest of the article is dedicated to exploring possible solutions for improving writing skills. These could be used by students to improve their own writing, or by teachers, to help the students in their classes improve their writing ability.

5. What about Literacy? Illiteracy is a bigger problem than most of us would like to admit. While some parts of the world like many of the former Russian republics, southern South America, and even China (males) have literacy rates at 95% or higher, much of Southern Asia falls to 60% or less. India has a literacy rate of only 50% for women. Much of Africa has overall literacy rates of 50%, with some countries as low as only 20% (see UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2006; University of Pennsylvania, 1999). Literacy has a positive correlation with survival. In the Philippines, for example, it has been found that when a mother has completed primary school, her children’s risk of mortality is cut in half (The National Literacy Trust, 2006). Scott’s article on literacy education brings the issue into clearer focus. Writing from Cambodia, a country which is struggling with achieving literacy, he has collected primary data from national literacy workers as to who their students are, why they study (or why they quit), and what the literacy teachers feel they need in order to teach better.

While these topics do not begin to cover all the important educational issues facing higher education today, it is both timely, and vital to discuss these important concerns. The next step is to consider what each of us can do about these problems individually, as well as institutionally. Hopefully this issue of InFo will serve as a springboard to generate further ideas, discussions, and research about the critical issues which face higher education, both in the Asia-Pacific region, and around the world.

References

Goodlad, J. I. (1983). What some schools and classrooms teach. Educational Leadership, 40(7), 8-19. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.

The National Literacy Trust. (2006). Building a literate nation: Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/database/stats/
keystatsadult
. html#Intcomp

Robertson, J., & Bond, C. (2005). The research/teaching relation: A view from the edge. Higher Education, 50(3), 509-535. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.

Stone, S. J. (1999/2000). A conversation with John Goodlad. Childhood Education, 75(5), 264-268.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Literacy and Non Formal Education Section. (2006, September). Adult (15+) literacy rates and illiterate population by country and by gender. Retrieved from http://www.uis.unesco.org/ev. php?URL_ID=5204&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL _SECTION=201

University of Pennsylvania. Graduate School of Education. International Literacy Explorer. (1999). Statistics on literacy. Retrieved from http:// literacy.org/explorer/regsworld.html

 

Shawna Vyhmeister, PhD
Editor, Info Journal
Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies
Silang, Cavite , Philippines