[IPAC-List] differential validity? Fake Degrees

Mitch Stein Mitch.Stein at state.tn.us
Thu Mar 19 09:34:31 EDT 2009

To me its not just the fake, unaccredited diploma mills which are the problem. I taught a few statistics courses in an MBA program at one of these schools that have set up shop all over the country, and finally quit, feeling that the place was little better than a diploma mill. Maybe it was just that one campus. I was teaching both basic and advanced stat courses, but I was not allowed to give tests (everything was writing papers about their life experience) and not allowed to use or require any math! Duh!

Having previously taught stat to grad students at a major university, I was not prepared for the culture I encountered. When it came to writing papers about a third of the students were functionally illiterate (and these were supposed to all be college grads) and could not write a coherent English sentence. Students were used to getting all of their "class participation points" even when they didn't come to class, and they were even more shocked when it became clear I actually expected them to read the textbook, actually graded their papers, and filed complaints of plagiarism when multiple students turned in identical papers (in one case, the guilty student even forgot to take the author's name off the paper and replace it with her own...twice). Part of the problem was the lax standards other faculty used, who seemed to be more concerned with being popular than expecting students to learn anything. If it had been just me, one might think I was just some hard teacher, but my department chair experienced the same thing and we both quit in disgust at about the same time.


Mitchell Stein, PhD
Human Resources Research Psychologist
TN Dept. of Human Resources
(615) 532-8069

>>> "Dennis Doverspike " <dd1 at uakron.edu> 2009/03/18 10:31 pm >>>

And sometimes an education is not an education at all.

A couple of years ago there was a GAO report on the number of fake degrees
among high ranking executives in the federal government. I do not know if
any further reports were ever released or if there was any final reporting
of data.

Does anyone have any current information on the prevelance of fake degrees?

Anyway, for Mark, I was wondering if this was a problem in Canada as well
and if there was any data?

Dennis Doverspike, Ph.D., ABPP
Professor of Psychology
Director, Center for Organizational Research
Senior Fellow of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology
Psychology Department
University of Akron
Akron, Ohio 44325-4301
330-972-8372 (Office)
330-972-5174 (Office Fax)
ddoverspike at uakron.edu

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-----Original Message-----
From: ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org [mailto:ipac-list-bounces at ipacweb.org]
On Behalf Of Mark Hammer
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:38 PM
To: IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
Subject: Re: [IPAC-List] differential validity?

I guess I didn't convey it right the first time.

Education is:
1) An accomplishment
2) A qualification
3) A marker of socio-cognitive attributes
4) A marker of socio-historical factors (not quite as many folks in their
80's with Masters degrees even though they've had more time to get one than
30 year-olds)
5) A marker of cultural factors (compare post-secondary rates in Angola vs
6) A marker of access routes and all demographic and socio-economic factors
leafing to access

If it was ONLY a marker of socio-cognitive attributes (and I'm one of those
fools who thinks of intelligence as intrinsically social), and an
accomplishment, then there should be no differential validity. The trouble
is that education is all of those other things too, such that it CAN be
telling a very different story about identifiable group A vs B.

Case in point: Some 20 years ago, working on my doctoral research in adult
cognition, I sat back for a moment and realized that proper matching of my
senior/retiree group and college group for education would involve much more
than simply saying that the 20-30 year-olds had 18.3 yrs of education and
the 60-80 year-olds had 18.7 (or whatever it was). After all, just exactly
how many young women in the 1930's went to university and completed not one
but two degrees? Heck, how many folks in general went that far? So, I
figured I'd get some census data for the two birth cohorts, construct a
regression slope, and calculate how similar or different each age group was
from the other based on the residualized education scores. In other words,
how much closer to the *typical attainment* for their birth cohort was group
A than group B? If they both reflected their birth cohort equivalently,
then they were "matched" on education.

Unfortunately, the analysis never came to fruition. The data provided me by
Statistics Canada was simply not optimized for the analysis I wished to do
(you would think they could have anticipated my needs in 1906! Harumph!!).
Then there was the small matter of WWII during which data collection on men
was poor because they were often somewhere else, and immediately after which
the national average was altered by the huge influx of immigrants from
Europe. But then that's pretty much the exception that illustrates the
rule, isn't it? People *get* education and are *able* to get education for
different reasons. I'm pretty confident that educational attainment within
demographic group predicts the way you think it ought to, because of #3
above, but I am equally confident that the same attainment can easily mean
something different at time A or for group A than it does at time B or for
group B.

Mark Hammer
IPAC-List at ipacweb.org

IPAC-List at ipacweb.org

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