Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Numerophila: He Focuses More on Numbers Than People

In my PsychologyToday.com article today, I tell the life story of a person who preferred numbers to people.


Matthew Cory said...

Iain McGilchrist is the best on the split-brain syndrome we have in our culture but numbers are revealing. For instance, you push community colleges but have no empirical evidence that they are any better than four-year universities. They are sucking government money and not training people for the real world:

"About 6 in 10 community college students are assigned to remedial classes. Credits earned in those classes generally do not count toward graduation, although most students pay tuition for them. Even more problematic, remedial education is a black hole from which comparatively few students ever emerge. Only 25 percent of students in remedial classes will eventually earn a degree from a community college or transfer to a four-year college, research has found."

Another study from Harvard had this to conclude: "students who initially begin at a community college were 14.5 percent less likely to complete a bachelor's degree within nine years." It turns out that "[n]ationwide, barely more than a third of community-college enrollees emerge with a certificate or degree within six years." Community colleges are not up to 21st-century standards, according to their own reports.

"Cross national data show no association between the increases in human capital attributable to rising educational attainment of the labor force and the rate of growth of output per worker. This implies the association of educational capital growth with conventional measures of TFP is large, strongly statistically significant, and negative. " - Lant Pritchett (World Bank & Kennedy School of Government)

"[N]either the increase nor the initial level of higher education is found to have a statistically significant relationship with growth rates both in the OECD and worldwide. This result is robust to numerous different specifications." - Craig Holmes (Oxford University)

I have more troubling statistics here. Learn to read studies or go home!

Marty Nemko said...

The problem with most of your data is that it confuses correlation with causation. The pool of students that attend community college is less intelligent, less driven, has less family connections and is more likely to have family and other problems that interfere with school and life success. Therefore, of course, they're going to do worse than other college students.

And Richard Vedder and I are absolutely on the same page that we're sending too many kids to college. Indeed, we've appeared on NPR together to make that point.

But because it is so difficult to assign causation, one must rely on logic to evaluate whether the community college enterprise is a wise alternative for some of said students. Fact is that at the community college, faculty is hired almost exclusively based on their ability to teach, unlike at universities, where research is key--and that, despite universities' protestations to the contrary, is inimical to good teaching. Also class size is smaller and costs lower, which increases student persistence although, of course, not as great as it would be if its students were more academically oriented.

That brings me to another point of agreement with Vedder and probably you. I believe that many such students would more wisely, post-high school, enter an apprenticeship program, in which they'd learn mainly by doing but supplementing with some community college courses. Also, working informally at the elbow of an ethical but successful entrepreneur or joining the military are underrated options.

Having taken the time to respond extensively to your email including the insulting "Learn to read studies or go home," I am taking the liberty here of inviting you to Google me so you can see that I do know how to read studies but having spent a lifetime in that world, I know not only to read them but evaluate them.


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