I’m cynically amused by the protests coming from professors at the University of Texas at Austin.
The University of Texas at Austin this week became one of the most prestigious research institutions to join a faculty rebellion against Academic Analytics, a data company that promises to identify low-performing professors.
UT-Austin’s Faculty Council voted on Monday to approve a resolution recommending that the university make no use of Academic Analytics, especially concerning promotions, tenure, salaries, curriculum, and other faculty issues.
As with previous faculty protests of the company at Georgetown and Rutgers Universities, UT-Austin faculty members cited concerns about the accuracy of Academic Analytics’ data, the lack of opportunities for professors to correct errors, and the inappropriateness of numerical rankings for making complex decisions about people and education.
There’s more at the link.
The protest sounds great, doesn’t it? – that is, until you look at what Academic Analytics actually does, the data it gathers, and how it enables administrators to examine every professor and lecturer in comparison with others in their field nationwide. The company asserts:
The Academic Analytics Database (AAD) includes information on over 270,000 faculty members associated with more than 9,000 Ph.D. programs and 10,000 departments at more than 385 universities in the United States and abroad. These data are structured so that they can be used to enable comparisons at a discipline-by-discipline level as well as overall university performance. The data include the primary areas of scholarly research accomplishment…
. . .
Academic Analytics accurate and comprehensive database is accessible through our unique online Portal. The portal offers more than 40 different tables, charts, and data cutting tools facilitating rapid answers to common questions that our data can help solve, as well as unique visualizations that provide an opportunity for the discovery of previously unrecognized data, trends, patterns, and centers of strength and weakness at your university.
Again, more at the link.
Gee! You mean, professors can now have their actual job-related performance measured accurately in comparison to the requirements of their positions, and the performance of their peers in universities and colleges across America? Why would they object to that, I wonder . . . NOT!!!
I think we all know why the academics are upset at being accurately assessed. They can’t get away with “fudge factors” any more. They might even have to stop fashionable, politically correct protests and other extracurricular activities, and get down to the business of teaching – which is, after all, the reason they were employed in the first place. Clearly, as far as they’re concerned, accountability is very low on their list of priorities – but for people like you and I, forced to pay exorbitant fees to study under them, it’s rather more important.
In fact, why don’t we ask Academic Analytics to make available public profiles of every professor in their database? It might help prospective students, and/or their parents, choose professors who best meet our needs – and boycott those who don’t, and the institutions that employ them. Wouldn’t that just set the cat among the academic pigeons?