Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Deliverology Renamed by CSU ... But It Still Smells the Same

See also "Chancellor Wants to Speed Graduation But Doesn't Want to Spend More Money on Instruction, Even When Offered the Money"

This is a copy of a comment I just left at the Poly Post Newspaper's website in response to the below-mentioned article. My comment has been very slightly edited for purposes of this site.

I am rather astonished that Provost Martin denBoer is cited in today's (February 10, 2010) Poly Post story (“CSU system launches ‘Deliverology’-based graduation initiative,”) as stating: "Deliverology is a more sarcastic term."

Since Sir Michael Barber was invited by the Chancellor as an outside consultant on teaching and learning (a subject, by the way, that Barber has no direct experience with as a teacher since he isn't a teacher), why would his hosts describe the term that Barber himself invented and uses to describe his own system as "sarcastic"? Certainly Barber doesn't think it's sarcastic. He uses the term without any hint of irony and says it and writes about it, one must presume, with a straight face.

Does our administration think that they will make the program sound more legitimate by calling it "ACE" (Advising, Curriculum and Engagement)?

Between 2003 and 2006 I served on Cal Poly Pomona’s Enrollment Management Advisory Council Executive Committee and as Faculty Co-Chair of the Academic Quality and Support Subcommittee. I reported to President Ortiz and Provost Morales in 2006 that graduation rates for male enrollees within six years of entrance of CPP was in the low 30 percentile. I was shocked to find that the figure was so low. This oral report of mine about the graduation rates was part of my larger analysis of the results of an EMAC survey that I played a leading role in initiating and writing in which our subcommittee attempted to determine what was standing in the way of students' graduation.

The results of the survey indicated that the two most often-cited reasons were both related to the fact that students couldn't get the courses that they needed. Several of the other people within EMAC were convinced, despite what the survey said, that the main reason was that students were frittering away their time and taking courses they didn't need or refusing to take courses that they could take because they didn’t want to inconvenience themselves schedule-wise. This opinion was contrary to the survey findings and was based on anecdotal data alone.

Ortiz and Morales didn't even blink at my report. Morales described it as "interesting." President Ortiz's response was to suggest that we have more online classes.

A hint of the real agenda at work here behind their attempt to impose “Deliverology” upon the CSU is the administration’s talk of loosening up graduation requirements ("There will be more flexibility with skipping classes for a speedier graduation for certain students..."). The only way you can accelerate graduation rates in a time when faculty ranks are being sharply reduced, programs and departments and classes cut, and so on, is to make a degree easier to get – and therefore less valuable. Deliverology treats education as if teaching and learning could be reduced to the assembly production of widgets. Thus, its name: Deliverology. It’s aptly named. Education isn’t something you can just deliver. It is, and has always been, a relationship between human beings, between mentor and mentee. It is, and has always been, something that required effort to attain. Teaching is an art and a craft. It’s not something that you can package, reproduce like Xerox, and sell to the highest bidder. An education is not something that you are simply handed. Deliverology is a hoax, whether you call it ACE or you call it by its real name.

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