Phi Kappa Phi Forum

The quarterly journal of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Each issue treats a single theme and field, providing a forum for discussion of social and scientific issues in a variety of fields of interest. Authors include scholars, experts from the privat

Articles from Vol. 84, No. 4, Fall

Academic Standards and Grade Inflation: Easily Forgotten Structural Aspects of the Equation
In recent decades, higher education has undergone significant organizational transformations that affect grades, perhaps as profoundly as does the individual teacher who most often gets the blame for inflating them and for presumably lowering academic...
A Connecticut Yankee Fifty Years Later
In my previous columns, I focused on two topics that have fascinated me for some time: the development of American music and the importance of contemporary music. Part of my interest in these topics stems from my work studying the composer Charles...
Adjunct and Temporary Faculty-Advantageous or Detrimental?
Adjunct faculty are an enormous benefit to any college and/or university. They allow for higher enrollments at the school while still keeping the class sizes low. They also save the college money. Adjuncts are paid less than full-time faculty because...
Adjunct Faculty: A Crisis of Justice in Higher Education
When I began teaching on a tenure track almost thirty-five years ago, an adjunct instructor was someone who on rare occasions was employed as a temporary replacement or as an outside specialist to assist in a special course or program. Adjuncts might...
Adventures in the Academic Marketplace
When I entered graduate school, I faced a dilemma that those of us who have decided to take higher degrees in the liberal arts increasingly seem to face. "Do this because you love it," counseled one adviser, "Not because you expect to get a job." As...
A Helpful Tenure Process
Throughout American universities, many assistant professors live in fear because decisions about the granting of tenure sometimes seem arbitrary and unfair. Despite some flagrant problems, the process of tenure review at every university is designed...
A New Role for Emeritus Faculty
Since Bismarck retired his soldiers of labor at age sixty-five during the Franco-Prussian War, age sixty-five has seemingly become the arbitrary age that marks a life passage and separates workers from non-workers. This "retirement" age has become...
A Note from the Editor
EXCITING CHANGES IN STORE FOR THE FORUM Normally this note begins with a look at what is coming up in the issue. However, some changes have been approved for the Forum at the recent Phi Kappa Phi Board of Directors meeting that open new possibilities...
Athletics and Academics: The Soul of Culture
I have been a Boston Red Sox fan since childhood, partly because when I was a fifth-grader I played second base for a summer-league team called the Red Sox, but mainly because since childhood I have admired Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter, who...
Athletics on Campus: Refocusing on Academic Outcomes
The place of athletics within the university has long been a topic of debate. Historically, advocates for athletic programs on college campuses have argued that athletics are educational for participants; athletics provide a source of entertainment...
Beyond the Dunce Cap: "What's My Grade?"
It's 2:30 p.m. on report-card day. An air of fatalism pervades my homeroom as students wait to receive the chit of paper on which their semester grades are printed. There are no surprises; students have already been informed of their grades by all...
College Athletics: Reconnecting Academic Values in College Athletics
Creating an atmosphere where intercollegiate athletics is congruent with the academic mission is the ethical and practical quandary that universities face today. The hypocrisy of the current system is difficult to overlook when many of the athletes,...
Educating Generation Zzz
Although it will take a decade or so for the current generation to visit the campuses of higher education, the Academy must be prepared for Generation Z. Unlike Generation X, who had a self-motivated mission to find their inner voices, Generation Z...
Effective Teaching Strategies in Higher Education
Research about the learning process has demonstrated that learning occurs when students are actively engaged, have opportunities for interaction with others, are presented with challenging situations or questions that require critical thinking skills,...
Employing Adjunct Faculty from an HR Perspective
In many states there is an ongoing controversy regarding the large number of college classes being taught by adjunct faculty. A review of individual personnel data reports in institutions of higher education frequently reveals that the number of part-time...
Establishing a Supportive Culture through Mentorship
Establishing a culture supportive of educator development is imperative for the future of higher education. One method for establishing this culture is the use of faculty mentorship. Successful faculty mentorship has been shown to positively effect...
Finding a Higher Education Position Where Teaching Comes First
My community college is in the throes of hiring new faculty. Each spring as we complete this process, I am struck again by the realization that many qualified applicants simply have no idea what teaching at the community college (also labeled a two-year...
Fulfilling the Public-Service Mission in Higher Education: 21st Century Challenges
Engagement. Community Service. Civic Responsibility. Service Learning. Outreach. Extension. Today there are more nuanced terms that apply to the public-service mission of higher education than ever before. Some believe that this renewed interest in...
Hello, out There ... Is Anybody Thinking?
I am troubled. Only some of our students are thinking, and only a few are thinking outside the box. Many seem to regard inquiry or speculation as an extra, relatively unimportant and pointless learning experience. The majority seem to view discourse...
Higher Education for What?
The most common response that the question posed in the title elicits, at least in my experience, is "to get a good job." My experience is not limited to only the developing world, where good (whatever that means) jobs are difficult to get, generally...
How Shall We Learn? How Shall We Live?
I have always been interested in manners. My parents hailed from Eastern Europe, and although uneducated, they cared very much about training my brother and me in proper, respectful behavior. I have brought this experience from my home as a child to...
Investing and Fear
This is not the age of safety. This is the age of confusion, doubt, and fear. Many who begin to invest, quit. This is a genuine tragedy; worse yet, it is an unnecessary tragedy. After all, the investors who quit and those who continue share a broad...
Is General Education Higher Education?
When the time comes for students to choose a course or instructors to create a syllabus, they find that their academic freedom is quite circumscribed: there are requirements to fulfill and guidelines to follow. This restriction is particularly evident...
"I Think I Can, I Think I Can": If Only I Could Think
I teach freshman composition at a community college in Nashville, Tennessee. My goal is to teach students just entering college how to write better ("Better than what?" I often ask when students write a comparative without the initial component of...
It's a Brave New Online World
Three years ago I made a decision that would change my entire outlook on college teaching. I told my chairperson that I would develop the first online class to be offered by our communication department. I had been using web-enhanced components in...
Meet the New Community College Student
Like many Phi Kappa Phi members, when I think of my freshman year in college I recall an eighteen-year-old packed off to a public four-year college to spend a few carefree years studying, partying, and growing up. But this image of the typical student...
Mentoring: More Efficiency Needed
At every turn in the road, higher education is confronted by challenges. Basically, the number and type of challenges have not changed over the years. Higher education is called on to find innovative means for addressing the challenges of finance,...
"Most Pressing Issue in Higher Education": Drawing out the Voices
In traditional college and university classrooms, where lecturing still dominates as a mode of delivery, students tend to be passive receivers of the teacher's language. Even after more than a quarter century of the "writing across the curriculum"...
Permatemps: Ghosts of Academic Present and Future
People tell me that I look like a professor, and not just because I'm near-sighted and bearded. I look the part on paper, too: a PhD from a Big Ten institution, an Ivy League post-doc, several national awards (including a Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship)....
Philosophical Limits: A Question of Ethics*
Unfettered investigation is the realm of philosophy. Among the many goals of a college-level introduction to philosophy is to allow students to question even their most tightly held beliefs, to doubt what they had before considered indubitable. Over...
Race, Authority, and the Brown vs. the Topeka Board of Education Decision
It is daunting to reflect upon the jubilee anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown decision, especially if you were a direct beneficiary of its educational mandate for equal public education for all. I was born four years after Brown; six years later,...
Reading and Writing-Do We All Have To?
I remember very well the day I realized that I could read. I not only remember the day, I also remember the time and the place. I was walking home from first grade, rounding the corner on my block, and passing the cleaner's store that I had passed...
Reaping the Whirlwind: Challenges for Professors in the Era of Distance Education
We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.--Charles F. Kettering, 1949 Many academics would jump at a faculty position paying $90,000--especially if the job never required them to leave...
Revolution 101: Shared Governance at the University of North Alabama
In 2000, the morale on the University of North Alabama campus was at an all-time low. The faculty had no confidence in the administration. The administration had no trust in the faculty. The staff was equally unhappy about working conditions and decision-making,...
Should Young People Delay College?: A Modest Proposal
Almost a decade of teaching in a college environment--as a graduate assistant at two Big Ten universities and an instructor at a community college--plus my own undergraduate status as a returning adult student allow me to make two broad observations...
Student Evaluations of Instruction
A month or so after each semester ends, a sealed brown envelope stamped "Confidential" in bright red ink arrives in my school mail slot. I am embarrassed to admit that at the sight of it, my heart pounds. Oh no, I think, student evaluations are here....
Technology's Assault on Privacy
Technology has steadily eroded our privacy. As a prime example, our most personal possession, our DNA, is being used against us. Even before a child is born; its parents can ascertain its sex and do a DNA analysis for genetic defects. According to...
Tenure and Tenure Review
I recently received what is Central Florida Community College's (CFCC) equivalent to tenure, a continuing contract. This gave me a sense of security, but the reality is that CFCC could choose not to "continue" my contract. The idea that the college...
The Academic Responsibility of Academic Freedom
INTRODUCTION The term "academic freedom" has become a mantra so commonly, and erroneously, used that it is rendered almost meaningless (Bellack). Most assume that it is a well-defined concept; however, in reality it is more philosophic than legal...
The Accidental Adjunct
Strange glances were coming my way. Slowly, I set up my materials at the lone teacher's desk in front of the classroom. Nervousness hit my stomach. Could I really do this? Could I really teach a graduate level college class? Someone in the back of...
The Athletics Business Model
The major problem with the modern university is that it seems to have forgotten why it exists. As a result much of its activities have but questionable educational or scholarly merit. Just look at the obvious example of intercollegiate athletics....
"The Interdependence of the Peoples and Nations of the Earth": Beyond the Political-Correctness Debates
As we wend our ways through the twenty-first century, the global imperatives of terrorism, climate change, and civil strife will impel the academy well beyond the demands of the 1960s' calls for relevance and the 1990s' political-correctness debates....
The Metacurriculum: Guarding the Golden Apples of University Culture
The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, recently oversaw curricular changes that sparked much debate in the academic community. Many other universities are following his example of reexamining the relevance of their official curricula...
The Part-Timer Next Door
As I write, I do not know whether I will be part-time, full-time, or no-time in any particular semester. If you ask the personnel department, they will say that I am not an employee of the university at all, but they say that before every semester....
The Professorship: Just a Job-Or a Higher Calling?
I have found that teaching, tutoring, mentoring, advising, helping, and advancing the students' academic and economic interests is what matters ultimately. Foremost, be a student's professor; be a mensch! I believe that committee service benefiting...
The Public Role of the University Professor
According to the contract that governs my professional life at Roger Williams University (RWU), I must teach four courses each semester, hold four office hours, serve on at least one academic committee (if asked), advise up to twenty-five students,...
The Real World of Adjunct and Temporary Faculty in Higher Education
A number of years ago, I saw a small ad in the American Marketing Association (AMA) newsletter looking for members of the pharmaceutical-business community who were qualified to serve as adjunct faculty to staff a new Pharmaceutical Executive MBA program....
The Student as Client
Grade inflation is a complicated phenomenon driven by many factors--student competition for college and graduate school admission, the necessity of scholarships to fund college education at all levels, and professors' quests for good student evaluations,...
To Essay or Not to Essay?
I hate essay exams. Always have. As a student, I never felt that I had the time or presence of mind to develop what I really wanted to say, show what I really knew. As a teacher, I see too many students (especially, but not limited to, freshmen) who...
Undergraduate Writing Skills; or, Whatever Happened to Basic Grammar?
I have been teaching in the University of Maryland's Freshman Writing Program for approximately four years. The course covered by the Freshman Writing Program, "Introduction to Academic Writing," is a required course for all undergraduates, although...
What about Administration?
Because of unique responsibilities of the professoriate that relate to instruction, curricula, scholarship, promotion and tenure, academic standards, and policies that affect faculty, among others, it is often easier to avoid or sidestep many issues....
What Can We Learn from the Student Athlete?
I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with student athletes at the college level; as a group, I have found them to be engaging, conscientious, and eager to learn. Because of the student athletes' determination to excel, their...
When I Was Young, an A Was an A: Grade Inflation in Higher Education
People often criticize elementary and secondary schools for their low standards and elevated grades. Political candidates use higher standards in education as a platform for their campaign; yet institutions of higher education cannot deny the statistics:...
Where Is the Honor?
A student in a sophomore literature class bought a term paper through the internet. A senior turned in another student's lab report with his name on it. A freshman history student used text messages on her cell phone to get test answers from her friend...
While Enrollments Climb Rapidly, Available Seats Decline Dramatically!
In 1987 the total enrollment in institutions of higher education was 12.7 million. By 1999 the figure jumped 17 percent to 14.8 million! And by 2012 the figure should reach 17.7 million enrolled. That is a 19.6 percent increase over 1999 and a whopping...
Whom Do I Blame?
No kidding, I mean it. Whom do I blame? I teach upper-division and graduate courses, and I am constantly confronted with students who cannot spell, who do not or will not read, and whose math skills are simply appalling. I spend a whole lot of time...
Would Isaac Newton Read Harry Potter?
At the beginning of the next semester, walk into your classroom and ask your students, "How many of you have read, or knows someone who has read, a Harry Potter novel?" Everyone will raise a hand. Then ask: "How long did it take?" The responses are...
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