Monday, May 21, 2007

Grzyb wants to talk ratings

Gerry Grzyb is trying to get the COLS list to discuss our low ratings in USNews & World Reports. In order to generate interest (I hope) he suggests we should go back to 4/4 loads to lower our class-sizes and hence, do better in the ratings. Here are his posts:

Since the subject was so clearly in mind the past few days, here's is a link to excerpts from a book entitled The Professor's Guide To Getting Good Grades In College: link

I could only wish that our incoming students understood all of what is contained therein before first plopping down in our classroom seats.

I came across the link while browsing the US News site after quickly perusing the latest ed. of their college guide at the Pick 'N' Save. Do we really suck as bad as the ratings suggest? Among the top 100 institutions of our type in the Midwest, you'll see La Crosse, Eau Claire, Platteville, Green Bay, Whitewater, Stevens Point, and River Falls (I may have missed others--I had to check out before the frozen vegetables started thawing). In the "third tier" (not a good place to be), the only UW campuses seem to be Superior and Oshkosh (at this point you should be saying SUPERIOR??? WE'RE ALONE IN THE BASEMENT WITH SUPERIOR????). Maybe this has been brought up before, but given US News' criteria and weightings, what exactly brings us to this far-from-superior-yet-close-to-Superior position?

And his own follow up:

Ron Hardy tipped me off to recent articles in the Chronicle regarding the US News ratings (thanks Ron!). One common feeling about the ratings seems to be similar to how many feel about the SOS scores, or the brother who thinks he's a chicken in Woody's joke at the end of Annie Hall. The ratings are flawed, even deeply flawed. We're not at all sure if they measure the right things in the right way. But, dammit, they're all we've got and besides, we need the eggs! So perhaps we do have to be at least somewhat concerned about the fact that we're down in the Great Unranked Third Tier with Superior.

Here's just one issue, but it may be one of the most important. The Chronicle notes how class size is a big factor in the US News ratings. As I recall, most departments "paid for" reduced teaching loads with larger classes. If that's the case, and our classes are now significantly bigger, have we "bit ourselves on the butt" by trying to pay for something worthwhile with money we really didn't have? I know the issue is perhaps the most sensitive one on this campus, but I have the feeling that one of these days a business-oriented regent is going to look a little closer at us after seeing the ratings, and raise the same question.

No comments: