Back in March, the UH Board of Regents were presented a report on faculty “productivity,” presented in the context of looking for ways to cut costs. The report and its findings were then featured by the Star-Advertiser (“UH officials look into productivity, Student-to-faculty ratios and class sizes are among factors studied in a new report“).
Here’s the lead paragraph from the S-A:
Nearly 20 percent of undergraduate courses at UH-Manoa have fewer than 10 students, says a new University of Hawaii report prepared as part of a push to find long-term opportunities for bringing down the cost of educating students.
The report backed up this and other findings with fancy charts and graphs.
But it turns out this key finding was, well, just wrong. It was based on faulty data which the UH administration overlooked because they failed to consult with faculty in the course of their research. Instead, Linda Johnsrud, UH executive vice president for academic affairs. sent the report directly to the Board of Regents. It was only when the Manoa Faculty Senate was finally able to examine the underlying data that errors were quickly spotted.
In May 2013, the Faculty Senate adopted a resolution “in response to the flawed report” citing specific errors.
The resolution asked UH system administrators “to publicly acknowledge the deficiencies already recognized in the report and to correct the final report, with the involvement of the Manoa administration and Manoa faculty….”
The resolution noted several errors relating to average class size at Manoa.
• Some classes can be taken for credit in more than one department. These cross-listed classes were double counted, each appearing as separate. In fact represent a single class with one instructor, but were treated by the report as separate classes, each with fewer students and its own instructor.
• Outreach College courses, which are administered and funded through a separate system, were included.
• Courses that are designed for small enrollment, including internships, field experiences, directed readings, music and arts were listed.
•Courses that many faculty teach above and beyond their normal course loads were also listed.
I’ve heard the actual number of small classes could be as low as 4-5 percent, but haven’t seen the numbers to back that up.
According to minutes of the September 16, 2013 meeting of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, “the incorrect slide” in the “Cost of Education” presentation made earlier to the Board of Regents “has been deleted.”
What isn’t yet clear is whether the regents have been informed of the error, or if it has otherwise been publicly acknowledged, as requested by the Senate resolution.
And I also wonder whether the Star-Advertiser will find an occasion to note the error, which was reported so prominently in its March 23 story.