Friday Woody Guthrie blogging

by Chris Bertram on September 5, 2008

Jim Henley “writes”: :

bq. Oh by the way: “Country First” is a fascist idea. There ought to be a fairly large number of people, things and groups that are more important to you than your “country.”

Well, as a Brit, I oughtn’t to intrude, but I can report that within seconds of reading Jim’s post, a certain Woody Guthrie song was going through my head …..

Bonuses at Kent State

by Harry on September 5, 2008

A Chronicle story, annoyingly behind a paywall, here. The gist:

Kent State University is trying a new and unusual tactic to improve its
status, retention rate, and fund raising—paying cash bonuses to
faculty members if the university exceeds its goals in those areas.
The bonuses are built into a contract, approved last month, that covers
864 full-time, tenure-track faculty members who teach and do research on
the university’s eight campuses. Proposed by Lester A. Lefton, Kent
State’s president, the “success bonus pool” will be divided among
faculty members if the Ohio institution improves retention rates for
first-year students and increases the research dollars it generates and
the private money raised through its foundation.

To key things. The bonuses don’t replace regular pay, and merit increases. Nor does it look as if they will be unequally distributed: it seems that the plan is to distribute them equally among the faculty. The faculty reps seem happy enough with this, as they would be. There’s no word about whether the academic staff and adjuncts are included in the plan; and I just assume that the rest of the workforce, many of whom have the kinds of interactions with students that make a big difference to whether they stay or dont stay, are not included, but I’d like to learn that I’m wrong about that.

Research ethics

by Chris Bertram on September 5, 2008

Oh how times change! I rather doubt that “a piece of 1958 research on how children behave when locked in fridges”: would make it past a modern university ethics committee!

bq. Using a specially designed enclosure, 201 children 2 to 5 years of age took part in tests in which six devices were used, including two developed in the course of this experiment as the result of observation of behavior. Success in escaping was dependent on the device, a child’s age and size and his behavior. It was also influenced by the educational level of the parents, a higher rate of success being associated with fewer years of education attained by mother and father combined. Three major types of behavior were observed: (1) inaction, with no effort or only slight effort to get out (24%); (2) purposeful effort to escape (39%); (3) violent action both directed toward escape and undirected (37%). Some of the children made no outcry (6% of the 2-year-olds and 50% of the 5-year-olds). Not all children pushed. When tested with devices where pushing was appropriate, 61% used this technique. Some children had curious twisting and twining movements of the fingers or clenching of the hands. When presented with a gadget that could be grasped, some (18%) pulled, a few (9%) pushed, but 40% tried to turn it like a doorknob. Time of confinement in the enclosure was short for most children. Three-fourths released themselves or were released in less than 3 minutes; one-fourth in less than 10 seconds. Of those who let themselves out, one-half did so in less than 10 seconds. One-third of the children emerged unruffled, about half were upset but could be comforted easily, and a small group (11%) required some help to become calm.

I’ll bet they did.

H/t Zoe D.