February 21, 2006
Which majors are smartest?
Interesting post at Political Calculations using the results of 20 years of standardized tests to compare the intelligence of individuals in various disciplines.
Overall, the results generally follow what common sense would predict - engineers do exceptionally well in demonstrating math proficiency but below average in verbal skills (at least on the GRE!) Conversely, we see the opposite pattern for English majors on the same tests, which we would also expect! Overall, the best performances were turned in by
those with degrees in philosophy.
Majors included in the results are biology, business, chemistry, education, engineering, english, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology.
Summers Resigns as Harvard President
Lawrence Summers has resigned as president of Harvard University--he will step down at the end of the 2005/06 academic year.
His tenure at Harvard has been controversial--his comments last year that gender differences between the sexes might explain why there are fewer women n science and math resulted in a vote of no confidence from the faculty. Just this past weekend, the former dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Peter Ellison, gave an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe in which he said Summers should resign. Ellison also gave an example of other remarks made by Summers which concerned him.
Over lunch not long after Summers took over the presidency in 2001, Ellison said, Summers suggested that some funds should be moved from a sociology program to the Kennedy School, home to many economists and political scientists. ''President Summers asked me, didn't I agree that, in general, economists are smarter than political scientists, and political scientists are smarter than sociologists?" Ellison said. ''To which I laughed nervously and didn't reply."
February 16, 2006
Support the SIPP
The Budget of the United States Government for FY07 does not include funding for the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). According to a fact sheet created by the Center for Economic Policy Research, "the SIPP is the only large-scale survey that provides information about the effectiveness of welfare reform, Medicaid, unemployment insurance and other income-support programs".
The CEPR has a sign-on Letter to researchers who are concerned about access to this data.
More information on the SIPP can be found from the Census Bureau website.
February 14, 2006
101 Most Dangerous Academics in America
An article in Inside Higher Ed covers the mixed reaction a new book by David Horowitz is receiving. The book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, is intended, Horowitz says, to expose the "political corruption" of higher education. A coalition of faculty, student and civil liberty groups calling itself "Free Exchange on Campus" has released a statement condemning the list. Organizations in the coalition include the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Campus Progress, Center for Campus Free Speech, and the United States Student Association.
Here's a list of the 101 by college/university
January 20, 2006
Literacy of College Students
The American Institutes for Research (AIR) have released the results of a study of literacy among college students. While some students are graduating with only basic skills, the AIR study found there is no difference between the quantitative literacy of today's graduates compared with previous generations, and that current graduates generally are superior to previous graduates when it comes to other forms of literacy needed to comprehend documents and prose. Other findings from the study include:
- Twenty percent of U.S. college students completing 4-year degrees – and 30 percent of students earning 2-year degrees – have only basic quantitative literacy skills, meaning they are unable to estimate if their car has enough gasoline to get to the next gas station or calculate the total cost of ordering office supplies
- The average literacy of White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian students in 4-year colleges is significantly higher than that of adults in the same racial and ethnic groups in the nation.
- Among college students, there are no significant differences in the average prose, document, and quantitative literacy of men and women –
- There are no significant differences in the literacy of students graduating from public and private institutions. Additionally, there are no differences in the skills of part-time and full-time students. Generally, there is no relationship between literacy and the length of time it takes to earn a degree, or between literacy and an academic major.
- The literacy levels of college students are directly related to the education of their parents: children whose parents graduated college or attended graduate school have higher literacy than students whose parents did not graduate high school or stopped after receiving a high school diploma or GED.
- Among students in 4-year colleges, document and quantitative literacy is highest for students who plan to earn a professional degree (e.g., law, medicine, or dentistry).