Sunday, September 8, 2013

More on that Administration Course, 8000 level



A Deeper Look At An Administration Course

By Professor Doom

To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

1.     Examine the factors to consider when creating a research study that affect the effectiveness of your data entry and analysis.

2.     Examine the use of archival data and standardized instruments for measuring and understanding learning.

3.     Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of using pre-established, standardized survey instruments in research studies.

4.     Discuss the differences between validity and reliability in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.


--Two months into the normal semester, the course half over, and we start to see some actual skill development. The actual assignments don’t quite reach toward the level of these skills.    


     Last time around, I discussed the first two weeks of the semester, which set the standards for how an 8000 level course for a Ph.D. in administration goes. Again, this is the most difficult, most challenging material an administrator will ever need deal with.

     After weeks of this course format, I’ve long since adapted to reading the assignments first, then reading the exactly appropriate passages from the reading assignment. There’s no testing on the material, so information I’ve glossed over or missed completely won’t be an issue—courses in this program have no prerequisites, so even if I planned to take others, information missed here will be irrelevant. There’s no reason to believe administrators even know this meager material, which still never requires more than an hour of reading a week, and still I never need demonstrate in a way that doesn’t let me just look up the information if I want to.


Me: “In these forms, you’ve confused the words ‘average’ and ‘consensus.’ They don’t mean the same thing.”

Administrator: “Yes, they do.”

Me: “No, they don’t. It’s why none of your numbers are adding up like they’re supposed to, and why what you’re doing doesn’t adhere to policy. If you’d just check that dictionary on your shelf, you can see for yourself these words have different meanings, and then we can fix this easily…”

Administrator: “I’m not going to argue with you.”

Me: “…”

--conversation with an Administrative Ph.D.-holding administrator.


     In addition to being brief, the reading is never technical in this book. New terms are introduced; if I had to demonstrate actually knowing these terms, I’d have to study a little, but it’s clear that I won’t need that level of knowledge, administrators don’t need to know the meanings of the words they use.     

     The normal distribution, the key concept of statistics, finally gets a mention in the book, even a picture of the bell curve, and some z-scores…no real work is done with it however, and the students, researchers, in the course will gain no more understanding of the normal distribution than what anyone might gain from glancing at a graph of the bell curve. The chapter exercises for the section with this minimal discussion, for example, are three questions, none of which address key concepts in statistics-based research.


  Administrator:    “We’ve compiled the data from the tests that many of you gave up a week of classes for last semester so we could administer them. Unfortunately, all we have is the average. Other colleges have bell curves for their tests; we expect if we give the tests for another five to ten years, we’ll be able to do the same.”


----We really did give up a week of class time so that students could struggle with some weird competency tests. Unfortunately, nobody on campus knew what to do with the data…and that includes all the Math Education majors attempting to teach statistics. I can’t begin to explain the colossal incompetence here on many levels; the story was passed on to me after I’d left the institution, or I would have helped…I got tired of being told my work in statistics was of no value or relevance to my profession.



     While the book has some discussion of bias and other concepts, it’s very clear this research methods course isn’t really going to go over precise details of the statistics one might use in, well, research. All that the book wants from the student is to discuss some things, and that’s all the course seems to want as well.

     The SPSS book  has a 30 page reading assignment: the student is to read how to create a data file, graphs, and charts. Certainly, these are basic skills of considerable use to a researcher…the student is once again on his own for learning this, and once again will never be tested.


Project Name: Criminal Justice writer needed
Project Description:
Hey I have a weekly assignment in police admin and its usually in narrative format, they are usually 500 words, I also have a discussion due weekly on 
various of “law enforcement” topics… they are usually 150 words.. they are fairly easy but the teacher has been killing me because of grammar and spelling 
issues.. If your interested in this let me know.. and let me what you charge..
 
Here is an example of last weeks discussion..
Do you believe chain of command is important in a police agency? Would a private employer organizational structure work in law enforcement? Why or why not?


---student requesting “help”  for a Criminology online course. I sometimes see requests for a writer to make weekly posts, for pay, to a message board. I didn’t understand what those were about until I registered for this course, which requires such weekly postings. Not only can you hire someone to write your papers, you can hire someone to pose as you in the online course. I’d take this opportunity to warn employers to trash resumes with online degrees, but they already know this…instead I’ll take this opportunity to warn my readers not to pay for such degrees under any legitimate circumstances.


     The course assignments for the 7th and 8th weeks of the course are slightly more involved than the first week, but only slightly. First, use a database to find examples of reliable and valid instruments created in the last five years, and, of course, discuss them. This, admittedly, takes some time, and a scholar should be able to use a database; note that the course itself doesn’t really address this, merely assigns it.


Why is it important to understand the difference between validity and reliability?


--question from a course assignment for this 8000 level course. This is an advanced graduate question, apparently. Why is it important to understand the difference in meaning between any two different words? Seriously. It wouldn’t surprise me if many folks could answer this well enough without even looking up the words. On the other hand, consider this question:


Find the following, if it exists. If it doesn’t, explain why.


                                   x4   -  y4

 Lim                           ----------

(x,y)--> (0,0)            x2   +   y2


--question from the first week of a 2nd year mathematics course I’m teaching as of this writing. I doubt most folks can answer this in detail without having already taken the first year of mathematics courses. I certainly understand people might call this useless knowledge that doesn’t apply to everyday life…but at least it’s knowledge. Why does an 8th year Administration course require so much less than a 2nd year course in most every other discipline?


     So, I’m two months into the semester, and still not spending more time on this course than what I would by simply sitting at a desk, or learning anything that takes any real effort to understand. There is more to the course than reading simplistic essays and having brain-dead discussions on a board, however. There are two papers to write, and an actual statistics assignment. Once those are done, I’ll have passed through the most advanced material that my bosses have ever seen. Maybe I’ve just been faking it, or think I know more than I do, so these assignments should help me to see that I’m wrong about how simple this all is.

     We’ll be going over those critical assignments in detail next time. Until then, what if this course, that I took at an accredited school, and I remind the reader I’ve worked “with” Ph.D. graduates from this school, really is representative of what passes for higher education in Education and Administration? If true, it would mean that the leaders of our system of education literally have no knowledge or skills relating to their positions. Does that go far enough to explain why the decisions made in education always seem to be the most incompetent and corrupt decisions possible?


Think about it.