Curricular Efficiency:  Improving the Recurring Decisions that Drive Average Class Size

Posted by Steve Probst on Sep 6, 2021 3:15:00 PM

Businessman standing in front of opened doors and making decision

Average class size is one of the primary factors driving cost per Student Credit Hour (SCH).  But average class size is a bit of an over-simplification:  in my home office, my dog and I together have an average of three legs, but that doesn’t really represent either of us very well.

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Academic Program Economics, class size


What Drives Curricular Efficiency?

Posted by Steve Probst on Aug 4, 2021 1:22:36 PM

Digital composite of Highlighted bones of man about to race

Academic leaders routinely make decisions about course offerings, course scheduling, staffing, releases, and other topics that drive curricular efficiency.  However, Deans and Chairs often lack convenient access to accurate data about instructional costs.  As a result, many have limited, and sometimes incorrect, intuition about instructional economics.  Asking them to make good decisions without access to sufficient relevant information is bound to lead to less-than-ideal results.

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, program planning


Envisioning Alternative Course and Program Portfolios

Posted by William F. Massy on Apr 6, 2021 3:43:44 PM

Future on Pocket Watch Face with Close View of Watch Mechanism. Time Concept. Vintage Effect.The importance of envisioning future course and program portfolios will be familiar to readers of my recent blogs.  Provosts, deans, and others responsible for academic resourcing invest time and money to get better data on their portfolios:  e.g., by using Gray Associates’ Program Economics Platform (PEP).  These data help them identify strategies for improvement, which is especially important given the current Covid-19 disruptions.  We are pleased to introduce PEP+, our new predictive model for envisioning the consequences of changing a school’s lineup of courses and programs, just in time to help mitigate these disruptions. 

Topics: Higher Education, Curricular Efficiency, Predictive Analytics, Academic Program Economics


Escaping the Academic Equality Quagmire

Posted by William F. Massy on Nov 24, 2020 11:01:48 AM

Escaping the Program Equality Quagmire

Stuck in the mud

Academic programs, and the courses that deliver their content, are not of equal importance.  The implications of this came home to me recently when, in a webinar on academic resourcing, a participant objected that provosts and deans should not “put their thumbs on the scale” by considering program importance when deciding admission targets and departmental budgets.  “All programs and courses are of equal importance,” the participant asserted. “Providing their quality is good, all should have equal access to funding.”

Topics: Programs, College Courses, Program Economics, Curricular Efficiency


Revolution in AR

Posted by William F. Massy on Sep 22, 2020 1:17:53 PM

It’s Time for a Revolution in Academic Resourcing

The Best of Times...The Worst of Times — Carol McLeod Ministries | Find Joy  in Your Everyday Life

 

This new academic year is unlike any other.  Colleges and universities are coping with nasty deficits and cash flow problems, but the probable long-term disruptions are even more worrisome.  Never in my half-century of close involvement with academic resourcing have I seen such threats to the operating and financial sustainability of so many institutions.  As Charles Dickens said, it is the worst of times.

Topics: Programs, Academic Programs, Program Economics, Curricular Efficiency, Academic Resourcing


How to Boost Student Engagement—Even Online

Posted by William F. Massy on Jul 29, 2020 12:56:47 PM

 

 
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The recent New York Times op-ed about how to make online courses more engaging got me thinking about course redesign generally, especially as it applies in the current COVID-driven environment. Readers may recall my blogs on pruning unneeded courses and rebalancing program portfolios. When done well, these actions can allow the institution to cut costs and boost revenues while minimizing the adverse impacts on student learning and faculty workloads. As noted in the “rebalancing” blog, they fall into the set of four such actions shown at the right. Course redesign is element 3 of this action set.

Topics: Program Economics, Curricular Efficiency, Online Courses


Money Problems? Look to Your Academic Portfolios.

Posted by William F. Massy on Jun 17, 2020 12:53:20 PM

 

 

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What college or university doesn’t have money problems these days?  We’ve seen such problems before but this time they’re deeper and more acute.  In the “good old days,” such as the stagflation of the 1970s and the economic recessions of the 80s, 90s, and 2008, the solutions involved a grab-bag of common-sense actions based on relatively crude information. These include:  cutting fixed percentages of cost from administrative and support services, pressing upwards on class sizes and teaching loads, substituting adjunct for regular faculty wherever possible, and hacking away at small classes.  In today’s environment, however, the sufficiency of these actions seems doubtful because of the depth of the money problems and because the low-hanging fruit already has been depleted by years of belt-tightening.

Topics: Program Margin, Academic Programs, Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics


How to Dislodge Course and Program Proliferation

Posted by William F. Massy on May 5, 2020 11:10:34 AM

Dislodging Events A Potential Curb on Course and Program Proliferation

Steve Probst’s recent blog on curricular efficiency reminded me how serious the course and Dense forestprogram proliferation problem has become for America’s colleges and universities. For example, my forthcoming book reports that:

“Many programs persist beyond what should have been their sell-by dates. In one dataset reported by Bob Zemsky, for example, a daunting 48 percent of programs turned out ten or fewer graduates per year and collectively accounted for only 7 percent of all degrees granted . Bob puts the matter succinctly: “We [colleges] give students what they want. Most colleges can’t afford to do so without understanding why they can’t.” This doesn’t mean all low-enrollment programs should go on trial, but campuses do need serious and well-informed conversations on the matter” (p. 6).

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics, Course Costs


Data in a Time of Quarantine

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Apr 22, 2020 10:07:50 AM

How To Gauge Shifts in Student Demand and Employment Caused by the Pandemic

Just as the novel coronavirus has disrupted our lives, it is changing the societal context for higher education. More specifically, the programs students want and whether they want to take them online or on-campus have undergone massive changes, as have job options for interns Close up of businesswoman holding graphs in handand graduates. Colleges need data on “what just happened” so they can correctly understand and respond to their new context.

Traditional data on higher education and employment won’t help much in the short term. IPEDS data on 2020 enrollment and completions will not be published until 2021 or 2022. The same is true for BLS data on employment by Standard Occupation Code.

Topics: Curricular Efficiency, Current Data, Student Demand, Data


Cutting Academic Cost: If You Must, Here's How

Posted by Robert Gray Atkins on Apr 14, 2020 11:32:01 AM

Cutting Academic Costs and Improving Curricular Efficiency
If You Must, Here’s How

COVID-19 will require deep cost cuts at many colleges, or they simply won’t survive. It is unpleasant, even disturbing work. But like all work, it can be done well or badly, quickly or slowly. Bad cuts unnecessarily damage the mission and people. Bad cuts drag on and undermine Screen Shot 2020-04-14 at 11.19.29 AMmorale and confidence in leadership. They are usually the result of short-sighted thinking, incomplete or erroneous information and data, bad information, and lack of courage. Good cuts use sound data and robust, fast processes to create a leaner, financially sustainable, mission-centered institution. Here’s how.

Topics: Program Margin, Curricular Efficiency, Course Costs