Why the regional Title IX proposal needs tweaking, but shows promise

Right now, campuses across the country are responding in broadly disparate manners to student allegations of sexual assault. The lack of consistency from campus to campus, and even from case to case within campus systems, deters many victims and frustrates accused individuals. Victims, accused students, and colleges and universities could benefit from greater consistency and transparency in Title IX compliance in cases of sexual assault.

Title IX, which prohibits discriminatory practices, has been regulated by the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Most colleges and universities established misconduct codes to forbid “discrimination” which was considered to occur where a student was victimized by sexual assault or sexual harassment.

In those “codes,” procedures were established to investigate and adjudicate where a student was accused of sexually assaulting or harassing another student. Recently the OCR has been under pressure to revise its various regulations to accommodate criticism that the regulations do not provide sufficient due process for the accused in those misconduct codes.

Regional Title IX Centers

In response, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has proposed a system of Regional Centers where “professionally-trained experts handle Title IX investigations and adjudications” that are referred to them by participating schools. This is a promising idea. The Regional Centers would act independently of campuses, and would therefore be more insulated from social and political pressures, and the resultant biases that can shape these processes.

However, there are some issues with the plan as it stands.

For example, in order to be eligible for referral, the incident has to “rise to a criminal level.” The problem with this standard is that not only does it create a redundancy with the criminal justice system, it creates potential conflicts with that system.

The criminal justice system in the Regional Center’s jurisdiction may reach a different conclusion than that Regional Center in a particular case, and that could undermine confidence in the Regional Center’s procedures, especially in the scenario where the justice system applies a “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard and convicts, but the Regional Center applies a lower evidentiary standard and does not make a finding that the accused violated the applicable code of conduct. This would mar public faith in the Regional Center adjudication system.

The other issue is putting the responsibility to schools to decide – applying state law, presumably – when behavior “rises to a criminal level” such that it should be referred. Colleges are having enough trouble interpreting Title IX. They should not be tasked with interpreting state criminal law in order to interpret Title IX and ensure that they are complying with it, and Title IX compliance should not vary from state to state. Importing state criminal law needlessly complicates an already complex system.

(Next page: The challenge of adjudicating campus sexual assaults)


Academic research fueling impressive gains for economy, industry survey shows

An annual survey of 195 universities, hospitals and other research institutions nationwide shows that more than ever, academic research is fueling impressive gains for local, state and national economies, with the formation of a record 1,024 startup companies in 2016, according to findings in the Association of University Technology Managers’ (AUTM) 2016 Annual Licensing ActivitySurvey.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • The number of invention disclosures–a direct measure of institutional impact on innovation–has been on the rise the past five years, reaching 25,825 in 2016.
  • 16,487 new U.S. patent applications were filed, a gain of nearly 3.4 percent, and 7,021 U.S. patents were issued in 2016, up 5.1 percent, as research institutions invest and protect intellectual property arising from academic research.
  • A record 1,024 startups were formed, making a direct impact on local economies, with more than 73 percent of the new businesses remaining in their institution’s home state.
  • Consumers and businesses benefited from 800 new products.

Every year, universities around the globe develop inventions–more than 380,000 in the last 26 years–that have real-world, sometimes life-changing, applications. These innovations are licensed by university technology transfer offices to companies for commercialization, and are the genesis of thousands of new companies, resulting in both benefits to society and solid economic wins.

During a 20-year period, academic patents and the subsequent licensing to industry bolstered U.S. industry gross output by up to $1.33 trillion, U.S. GDP by up to $591 billion, and supported up to 4.3 million person years of employment, according to an independent study commissioned by AUTM and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). The report, “The Economic Contribution of University/Nonprofit Inventions in the United States: 1996-2015,” was released in June.

The 2016 Licensing Survey also revealed impressive double-digit gains in several areas including a 33.6 percent increase in new, non-U.S. patent applications, which AUTM President Mary Albertson says reflects a more international approach to the protection of intellectual property.

“While academic technology transfer in the U.S. continues to be emulated worldwide, the global nature of commercialization is reflected in this dramatic increase in non-U.S. patent applications by U.S. entities,” Albertson said. “There are many reasons, including a wider dissemination of U.S. inventions worldwide and a desire for stronger patent rights outside the United States because of recent anti-patent case law and legislation.”

About the Survey
The AUTM Licensing Activity Survey gathered data on a broad sample of U.S. research institutions including 165 universities, 29 hospitals and one technology transfer firm. The report has been conducted annually by AUTM for the past 26 years and is available on the AUTM website. Also available is AUTM’s newly-released 2017 infographic on driving the innovation economy.

About AUTM
The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) is a nonprofit leader in educating, developing, promoting and inspiring technology transfer practitioners throughout their careers to support the development of innovations that change the world. AUTM’s global community of 3,200 members represents businesses and government organizations, and more than 350 universities, research institutions and teaching hospitals. To learn more about AUTM, visit www.autm.net.


Why combining assessments and LMS technology is essential

Assessments are more than just measuring how well students are doing in particular subjects in school, and they can actually improve student learning. In fact, frequent assessments can have a positive impact on a student’s education from kindergarten through college. While this may make some educators cringe, the reality is that test-enhanced learning, or testing as an aid to learning, has evidence of effectiveness dating back nearly 100 years (Roediger III, McDaniel, & McDermott, 2006).

Testing can help students better retain and recall what they studied, not only for the final exam, but as part of their overall educational development. This is the “testing effect,” or the phenomenon where taking a quiz can enhance later retention of studied materials, and its effectiveness has been demonstrated many times over. Students who take quizzes shortly after they study show better performance on a final test relative to students who only study without taking a practice quiz, even when no feedback is given on the quiz (Roediger III, McDaniel, & McDermott, 2006).

The testing effect, also known as retrieval practice, practice testing, or test-enhanced learning, needs a place in today’s modern learning. It can be implemented in modern learning management system (LMS) and assessment management system (AMS) technologies, like Gauge, to help improve student learning, from their first day in kindergarten to their last day of earning a university degree.

The Testing Effect and LMS Technology

Researchers from the University of Delaware tested the impact of enabling quizzes through LMSs in a series of university-level courses. The university used Canvas, an LMS in the K12 and higher education space, in an effort to enhance student learning by simultaneously decreasing their anxiety and increasing retention of important material. Testing the use of Canvas quizzes in seven online courses and five hybrid courses, the researchers designed quizzes for each student and for each quiz attempt.

Through this study, the researchers found that students who used the quizzes on Canvas:

  1. Improved their metacognitive accuracy though multiple quiz attempts and earned higher scores on subsequent attempts
  2.  Invested additional time between quiz attempts to better master the assigned materials
  3. Reduced test anxiety and stress by being able to choose the place and time of taking the quiz

As this study shows, LMS platforms, combined with quizzes, can help students achieve. Though the positive impacts of quizzing have already been established over decades of research, the benefits can be even further improved with the enabling features and settings of modern educational technology.

Quizzing in LMS’ to Improve Student Learning

Though quizzing using available edtech platforms clearly gives students an advantage, there are specific ways to deliver quizzes that can better optimize the experience.


The longer the delay after learning a subject, the worse students will perform on quizzes. Giving a quiz immediately after learning new materials can halt the forgetting process and improve comprehension, which ultimately boosts final test performance (Spitzer, 1939Roediger III & Karpick, 2006Agarwal, Karpicke, Kang, Roediger, & McDermott, 2008Chan, McDermott, & Roediger, 2006). With LMS platforms set up for immediate administration of quizzes, students can have quizzes available to them directly after they consume course content.

Quizzes in Reading Materials

Compelling research shows that following up text reading with quiz questions improves comprehension, retention and final test performance, more so than questions that appear in advance of materials or interspersed throughout the materials (Chan, McDermott, & Roediger, 2006). Educators can require students to access material and then take  short comprehension check quizzes on the LMS of choice.

Fill-in-the-Blank Questions

Students who answer fill-in-the-blank or short answer questions instead of multiple choice scantrons are better able to retain materials over the long-term and master topics come final test time (Glover, 1989Kang, McDermott, & Roediger, 2007). Instead of creating simple bubble quizzes, educators can design short-answer quiz questions. Using their LMS, they can also be notified when students complete a quiz and require feedback on answers.


Giving even one quiz in class can produce significant gains relative to giving no quizzes at all. Administering frequent short quizzes only improves learning more (Bangert-Drowns, Kulik & Kulik, 1991). Educators can make in-class quizzes easier by allowing students to use their mobile device or laptop to access the LMS platform to quickly complete quizzes.

There are many advantages to leveraging educational technology, and educators can particularly use it to enhance the quizzing experience for their students. By augmenting the “testing effect,” learning can not only be assessed, but improved in the K-12 and higher education spaces.


7 ways studying abroad helps students land sought-after jobs

Studying abroad can lead to significant increases in critical 21st century workplace skills, according to a new survey from IIE.

IIE’s study, Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects, investigates the connection between study abroad programs and the development of skills that contribute to employment and career development in today’s workforce.

The survey looked at what specific features of study abroad programs contribute to career success, in order to help educators better develop programs that prepare students for the global workforce.

IIE developed a specific list of 15 soft and hard skills drawn from those identified as most-wanted by 21st century employers, and then explored their link to studying abroad.

Based on the survey responses from more than 4,500 U.S. college and university alumni at various stages of their careers, as well as in-depth interviews, the report offers evidence that studying abroad helps students develop and grow certain skills that translate to positive employment gains.

(Next page: 7 findings about studying abroad)


The top skills career-minded students need in today’s digital workforce

For soon-to-be college graduates, it’s a tough job market out there–in many fields, perhaps the most competitive ever. To stand out from their peers, tomorrow’s grads will need to show that they have the skill sets that businesses value most. [Read: “World-renowned futurist Michio Kaku: This is what higher ed should be teaching students right now.“]

Here are four of the skills that top the wish lists of many major employers:

1. Critical Thinking Skills

Once seen as merely “nice to have,” critical thinking skills have emerged as a flat-out necessity in today’s knowledge-based economy. By 2020, critical thinking will be the number two most important skill set to demonstrate on the job (second only to complex problem-solving).

This should not come as a surprise in the digitized workplace: future careers will require workers to analyze vast amounts of data quickly, and be able to apply their analysis to practical problems. Highlighting the ability to think critically right off the bat will help students develop from post-grad new hires to valued decision-makers.

Unfortunately, this is an area where many millennials struggle: our recent survey found that only 36 percent of recent college graduates believe they are very well-trained in critical thinking.

2. Business Communications Skills

By themselves, critical thinking skills can only carry you so far; workers also need to be able to explain their analyses in a cogent fashion to their peers and managers. In fact, good business communications skills can help teams work together more easily and contribute, potentially, to the company’s long-term health.

By contrast, poor communications can result in deep inefficiencies and fan the flames of misunderstanding. In the digital workforce, communications take place over so many different media: phone, email, chat applications like Slack or Google Hangouts, social media, and (arguably the most important) face-to-face communication. Being a skilled communicator means being able to adapt to each of these modes of conversation, and knowing when each is most appropriate.

Employees who are able to express themselves clearly in the workplace will be seen as valuable assets by their teams, which is a key to advancement.

(Next page: 2 more critical skills for the digital workforce)


College placement and prep exams to get more secure online proctoring

McGraw-Hill Education, a learning science company, and ProctorU, an online proctoring company, today announced the launch of a new partnership that will enable higher education institutions to deliver digital ALEKS Placement, Preparation and Learning (ALEKS PPL) exams with ProctorU’s secure remote proctoring system. Through the partnership, customers will be able to access both ALEKS PPL and ProctorU services through a discounted bundle package.

ALEKS PPL is an adaptive placement solution that has helped colleges to assess and prepare incoming students in math and helps them lower failure rates and increase retention.

Built based on learning science theory, ALEKS PPL assesses what students already know and what they are ready to learn next, and, based on their performance on the assessment, provides students with the opportunity to improve their placement scores through an individualized, adaptive learning path in the ALEKS Prep and Learning Module. For more information about ALEKS PPL, visit www.aleks.com/ppl.

By using ProctorU’s service, colleges will be able to ensure a level of validity to ALEKS PPL assessments that would otherwise come from having a live human proctor. Participating colleges and universities will be able to choose from several ProctorU packages with their ALEKS PPL subscription, including ProctorU Live, a service through which a live ProctorU proctor connects with each student via webcam during an exam, monitoring the test-taker’s screen throughout the entirety of the examination.

“By pairing these two highly innovative and fully research-backed learning solutions, we are now offering our college and university partners the very best in math placement assessment,” said Bill Okun, president of Higher Education at McGraw-Hill Education. “Research shows a strong correlation between proctored exams and student success, but many of our customers simply do not have the bandwidth to provide in-person proctoring services. As more assessment happens online and off-campus, institutions are looking for ways to ensure the integrity of student scores.”

“As the online education space continues to evolve, institutions are faced with the challenge of maintaining integrity and a consistent experience in assessments,” said Scott McFarland, CEO of ProctorU. “ProctorU increases access to online learning while ensuring exam integrity and accountability for any test-taker using only a computer and a webcam. Our digital solutions are designed to address the most common challenges to the academic integrity of online programs.”


Hundreds of colleges and universities to offer students more value for their course materials

Cengage, an education and technology company, continues to partner with hundreds of colleges and universities across the US to offer students more value for their course materials. The model, called Cengage Inclusive Access, can save students up to 55 percent and ensures they have access to digital course materials on the first day of class. For the fall 2017 semester, more than 140,000 students are benefitting from the model.

“Immediate engagement with course resources on the first day of the class sets the foundation for a successful semester. This is a more streamlined, student-friendly and cost-effective approach to connecting students with learning material,” said Dr. Jenny Billings, chair of Study Skills, Developmental Reading and English (DRE), and Curriculum English at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “Since launching the initiative three years ago in the liberal arts division, it has expanded to multiple areas of the college and is used in more than fifty courses.”

Dr. Billings, a Cengage faculty partner, noted a 17-point increase in retention after implementing the Inclusive Access model, bringing the DRE completion rate up to 84.5 percent in just two years. Across all campuses of Indiana University, the Inclusive Access model saved nearly 20,000 students a total of more than $1.3 million off print list prices over the 2016-2017 academic year.

“Students should never be forced to choose between the results they want and the price they can afford,” said Lori Hales, SVP, Institutional Learning Solutions, Cengage. “Immediate engagement in course materials leads to improved outcomes, which builds confident learners. Confidence gives students momentum and motivation to continue their academic journey and realize their education and life goals.”

The Cengage Inclusive Access model delivers content directly to an institution’s Learning Management System (LMS), or other preferred channel. Cengage works closely with an institution’s leadership, along with the local channel partner, to develop a model unique to their needs and creates a more streamlined process.

Over the past nine months, the number of schools partnering with Cengage has more than doubled to over 275. To learn more about the Cengage Inclusive Access model, visit: http://www.cengage.com/inclusiveaccess.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


6 characteristics of an innovative university

Just like 2016’s improvement trends, academic program creation and evaluation was top-of-mind with institutions. However, this year colleges and universities looked to diversify their program portfolios, either through offering online or blended learning offerings, through offering micro-credentials, or by placing their bets on emerging programs.

This is just one of the trends highlighted in Hanover Research’s 2017 Industry Trend Report, which studies the impact of these improvement trends across the 800 research projects commissioned by over 300 higher education clients (Hanover’s client list includes Georgetown University, Gonzaga, Johns Hopkins, Texas A&M, and Wake Forest to name a few). Hanover’s research work spans all institutional type—four-year, community college, business schools, law schools—as well as departments like marketing, academic affairs and finance/operations.

What’s also noteworthy this year is that Hanover has gone a step further in identifying the overarching improvement trend of academic program creation and review by including a list of the top high-growth and emerging programs in higher ed at the moment.

“Facing declining enrollments and reductions in funding across key academic offerings, higher education institutions diversified their program offerings, experimenting with new teaching methods, and emphasizing the value in higher education to key external stakeholders,” states the report.

Here are 6 improvement trends for 2017 highlighted in the report based on college and university research projects:

1. The top priority for every institution is to expand and align their program portfolios to meet student and industry demandOver 50 percent of Hanover’s higher ed projects in the past year focused on the creation or review of academic programs. Within this broad category, 77 percent of requests related to New Program Development, as institutions requested Hanover’s expertise in performing scans for high-demand degrees or more targeted evaluations of the feasibility of specific programs. Common programs of interest included: Master of Social Work, all degrees related to nursing, and all degrees related to nutrition/food science.

Copyright: Hanover Research

2. Institutions explored alternative delivery formatsNearly 1 in 5 New Program Development projects either focused specifically on identifying high-demand programs that could be delivered in online formats, or included investigations of traditional, distance, and blended offerings.

3. Law schools sought to bolster their recruiting and marketing strategies: Recruiting and marketing strategies accounted for 50 percent of law schools research requests and 34 percent of business school requests in 2016.

(Next page: 3 more improvement trends; a high-demand program list)


New learner analytics software helps 15 percent more students earn degrees

A UK education technology business recently hit US colleges and universities after a three-year trial of its pioneering analysis and monitoring software. The pilot project, at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, has demonstrated marked improvements in students’ academic performance, with over 15 per cent more of their students now achieving top class degrees.

UK-based Solutionpath, founded in 2012, has developed a software product called StREAM which measures and analyses student digital ‘engagement’, accurately identifying students who are at risk of early withdrawal from their course, or of under-achieving academically.

The software launched in the US at the EDUCAUSE Annual conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 31.

The firm has already met with several US colleges and universities and has announced it will embark on initial data analysis and verification projects, and Beta testing of their enhanced US software package early in 2018.

The company’s analytics software monitors and assesses high frequency digital interactions logged each time a student ‘engages’ with the university or college in carrying out their day-to-day activities such as using the LMS, the library system, or attending a lecture, alongside data on academic progress.

The resulting analytics enable universities to identify students at academic risk at a much earlier stage so that staff can intervene and offer the help and support required, which in UK trials has been up to 20 weeks in advance of an individual students withdrawal.

Solutionpath has been working with Nottingham Trent University for the past three years, trialling and developing the system with undergraduates. The software is particularly valuable in the first year of students’ degree courses, one of the most common times for problems to arise in the transition from high school to university

David Woolley, head of schools, colleges and community outreach at Nottingham Trent University, said: “There’s a very clear association between students using the StREAM software, and their academic success when compared to their peers who were not using it.”

“We saw some impressive results: in 2015-16 over 65 per cent of students who used the Solutionpath software achieved a 2:1 or first class degree compared to just under 50 per cent of students who did not use StREAM,” he continued. “Students who used it more often were even more successful, with 72 per cent of those who logged in ten or more times scoring a 2:1 or first.”

Howard Hall, CEO and co-founder of Solutionpath, said: “While the analytics that StREAM delivers are highly complex, as the trial with Nottingham Trent has shown, the benefits for both students and universities of using big data in this way are beautifully simple. Dropping out of university or under-achieving in their degree can be a personal disaster for a young person and extremely worrying for their family, and for the university the loss of course fee revenues involved is significant too.”

“Our analytics not only help prevent a student reaching these crisis points where they no longer feel they can continue with their studies, but also help keep students engaged and motivated to achieve the best academic outcomes they can,” he explained.

“We need to ensure we find the right US college and university collaboration partners whom we can invest in to help us enter the US higher education market, as we are adding more features and functionality to the software specifically to meet the needs of the US market, but already the feedback has been fantastic and we are excited about our 2018 launch here,” concluded Mr Hall.

Solutionpath is currently working with 11 universities in the UK and Australia.

Material from a press release was used in this report.


5 innovative strategies to support non-traditional students

Non-traditional students are one of higher education’s fastest-growing groups, and with data indicating that most of these students feel unsupported, institutions are stepping up strategies to help at-risk non-traditional students meet their academic goals.

A Barnes & Noble College report reveals that non-traditional students who do not participate in extra-curricular activities, who spend minimal time on campus, who pay for school independently, and who have a negative experience with a school support system or service are more likely to be at risk of not graduating.

A previous Barnes and Noble College study of nearly 800 non-traditional students as a whole revealed that nearly twice as many non-traditional students are at risk of dropping out when compared to traditional peers.

The report notes that the number of non-traditional students is projected to increase more than twice as fast as traditional students from 2012 to 2022, according to the CLASP Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. And because non-traditional students are among the fastest-growing student groups, this means schools face retention challenges.

Only 37 percent of at-risk students said they feel confident they will accomplish their educational goals, and 33 percent of those at risk participate in extra-curricular activities, compared to 62 percent of non-traditional students who are not at risk of not graduating.

The at-risk group spends less time on campus–10 hours per week compared to the 16 hours per week that non-traditional on-track students spend on campus.

(Next page: 5 strategies to support at-risk, non-traditional students)