A Capella Ph.D and a tenure.

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by chrisjm18, Feb 23, 2019.

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  1. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Active Member

    For those who like to say a for-profit educated Ph.D. will never get tenure, Dr. Sparkman-Key has debunked that myth.

    No, she wasn't already in the position and used the doctorate to meet accreditation standards. She was hired as a tenure track assistant professor in 2012 after receiving her Ph.D. in Human Services from Capella University that same year. She received tenure in December 2018 and was promoted to associate professor. She is also the assistant chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services. She has over 16 peer reviewed journal publications.

    https://www.odu.edu/directory/people/n/nsparkma#profiletab=3
     
  2. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    She also has some grants and conference presentations. She is well qualified for her position.
     
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  3. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Qualified? On paper, absolutely. But not necessarily popular with her students:

    http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=1827384

    As for her holding tenure with a Capella Ph.D., remember the key disclaimer I have made for every rule of thumb: To every rule there is an exception. But that doesn't change the general applicability of a rule of thumb.

    You'll also find professors out there with their terminal degrees from Argosy. But in light of recent threads about Argosy, would I want to earn one of their degrees? Hardly. You will also likely find professors with a NA terminal degree or other for-profit degree rather that one that is RA and non-profit. Does that justify going for either? Those who think it does, after reading some of these threads, deserve what they will get stuck with.
     
  4. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    That can be a poor metric by which to measure a faculty member. It appears she is indeed popular with her students. From the bio Chris linked to, we can find these honors she received relative to her "popularity" with students:
    • 2017: Shining Star Award, Student Engagement (SEES)
    • 2016: Shining Star Award, Student Engagement (SEES)
    • 2016: Provost Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor, Old Dominion University
    • 2016: Shining Star Award, Student Engagement (SEES)
    • 2015: Most Inspiring Faculty, Old Dominion University
    • 2015: Most Inspiring Faculty, Old Dominion University
    • 2015: Shining Star Award, Student Engagement (SEES)
     
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  5. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Active Member

    Dlbb,

    Thanks for that update. I think the fact that she's the department's assistant chair also speaks volume.
     
    dlbb likes this.
  6. RFValve

    RFValve Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the posting. Good for her, she most likely earned the position with hard work. I am sure that a lot of Capella PhD graduates are highly qualified. However, one must be cautious in particular for fields where accreditation such as APA or AACSB is required. I believe the Capella PhD is a good option for someone already working in academia in just needs a PhD for advancement or someone interested in working in a CC or small University where the MS is the requirement and the PhD is the ice on the cake.
     
  7. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    She had a tenure-track position, and so would have likely been hired on her research and/or demonstrated research capability. We do not know the details of her background at that time, nor the hiring needs and available pool of applicants. Of course if there is a large pool of qualified applicants, it may be more challenging to stand out. She had the right degree for the position and met the research criteria.

    Dr. Sparkman-Key's credentials are likely more impressive than the vast majority of users on this forum, due to her commitment to scholarship, as evinced by her many peer reviewed publications, and her excellence in and out of the classroom with students, as demonstrated by her many honors. It is not where you get the degree, but what you do with it. Some people may come from a non-profit environment and have few if any peer reviewed publications, and Dr. Sparkman-Key will have them beat every time.
     
  8. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Well-Known Member

    My university had some profs who did research into how well Ratemyprofessors matched up with internal student ratings of instruction. In fact, I was one of the many who took part in the research. It actually correlated pretty closely, so I'm not sure RMP is necessarily worthless or a poor metric. My student reviews at the uni where I work very closely match up with RMP, within about a tenth of a percentage point.

    So, if she's getting roasted on RMP, it's probably accurate. I also have personal experience with internal faculty awards. They are generally utter crap, worthless drivel, based on how well you market yourself to others within the department and college. I have never--and I mean NEVER--seen a faculty-granted award for "teaching excellence" that was not based, at bottom, on your research production and how well you play political games within the department and college. They typically have nothing whatsoever to do with how well you actually teach, because no faculty member ever drops in to watch you lecture--EVER. I have received exactly one teaching award in 15 years, even though I consistently have the highest (or at least 95th percentile) teaching ratings versus the other 100 profs in my biz school, and that was voted on by students, NOT profs. I have seen person after person who was absolutely hated by students, who sucked at teaching, win "teacher of the year" awards not because they could teach their way out of a wet paper bag, but because they were well-connected, sat on all the right committees, did rocking good research, and sucked up to the dean. Trust me, I don't care how many Shining Star awards she won, unless they were voted on by students (which they may have been, I don't know), they are NOT about teaching. Been there, done that.

    Am I bitter? Yes, absolutely. Do I have justification? Yes, absolutely.
     
    sanantone likes this.
  9. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    It can also take one or two bad apples to repeatedly post nonsense to the site because they think she is boring, too strict, too much rigor, etc. It could be jealous colleagues. It could even be racially motivated or misogynistic. Note she is not an older female, so I could see how some might react poorly, if those are indeed even from students, who do not like to be told what to do by a person of color who is female and younger. When there are that many bad ones, it does make one wonder about their validity, especially given the awards. There could be a correlation, but not. I think yours makes an interesting anecdote for your university, but I would not read into it here. More likely than not she as nominated by other faculty and voted by other faculty. By the way, more so than the shining star award, I was more interested in the undergraduate research mentor and most inspiring faculty awards. The former came from the Provost's office, which is all the more likely it is well-deserved. She even takes the initiative to work with undergraduates outside the classroom and evidently helps them excel. Absent actual student surveys, I think I will stick with the idea she has shown excellence in classroom as demonstrated by the awards.
     
  10. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    Around here a tenured position is an indication of success, so Dr S by virtue of being tenured is successful. I am not sure if we can generalize her successes to every PhD graduate of Capella. However, I see every accredited PhD holder as a success, because earning a PhD is its own success.
     
  11. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    Agreed. That success would be tied to her publications, grants, conference presentations, and excellence in the classroom. It's what she did with her career once that degree was conferred that allowed her to gain tenure.
     
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I agree. This is true of Capella but it is also true of every other school in the world. I'm sure there are graduates of Harvard that are complete failures. We (some of us) have a tendency on this board to over-generalize. The idea that all Capella grads will become tenured faculty is silly as is the idea that all for-profit schools are somehow evil, inferior or otherwise disdainful. Each grad (or school) is taken on it's merits. What works for one may not work for another.
     
  13. FTFaculty

    FTFaculty Well-Known Member

    Her problem isn't too much rigor. A 3.7 is high, but it's by no means outrageously so. A 2.8 for quality sucks, though. That's probably 20th percentile or so. I have a 4.7 and I'm not the highest even in my own department. If she were in my department with those ratings, she'd be about 18th out of 20 of us. Just sayin.

    My provosts office doesn't know jack squat what goes on at ground level. They are CLUELESS. I just learned the bitter truth of this recently.
     
  14. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Active Member

    Example: Dr. Amy Bishop (Harvard Ph.D.). She failed to gain tenure at the University of Alabama at Huntsville because of her lack of publication. Her dissertation was also described as being subpar and unworthy of a Ph.D. She also received poor evaluations from a Harvard Medical School professor and resigned to avoid being dismissed. So yea, we have good and bad coming out of every school. For those who don't know who Amy Bishop is, Google the UAH 2010 Shooting.
     
  15. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    Read more than I wanted to, thanks for the point in that direction. Where there is smoke, there is often fire. It didn't have to, and they usually don't, end in murder but if we discount what happened with her brother there was a long history of erratic unstable behavior indicating issues. Counting what happened with her brother, this would have been over many years before. Tried to steal a car and threatened other people with the shotgun that supposedly had discharged accidentally? Sure. But it is ok she went on to do great things in her field, wait a minute, never mind.

    To get back on topic, yeah.... Harvard and inadequacy, it happens.
     
  16. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    Her student evaluations are not available for public viewing. Surely you don't think ratemyprofessor are comparable to student evaluations?! Unwanted rigor could make some students lash out on RMP; that was where I was coming from.
     
  17. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    You must have missed the post above, though you seemed to have replied to it, with that exact assertion from FTFaculty.
     
  18. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    I think you may be lost.
     
  19. JBjunior

    JBjunior Active Member

    FTFaculty said this, "My university had some profs who did research into how well Ratemyprofessors matched up with internal student ratings of instruction. In fact, I was one of the many who took part in the research. It actually correlated pretty closely, so I'm not sure RMP is necessarily worthless or a poor metric. My student reviews at the uni where I work very closely match up with RMP, within about a tenth of a percentage point.
    So, if she's getting roasted on RMP, it's probably accurate."

    You said, "Her student evaluations are not available for public viewing. Surely you don't think ratemyprofessor are comparable to student evaluations?!"

    The question has already been answered. Are you found now?
     
  20. dlbb

    dlbb Active Member

    I was aware of his shared anecdote. I was politely trying to impress upon him and others my incredulity at speaking of those RMP numbers as if they bore any weight, since they do not. It seemed as if he were comparing her RMP to his own student evaluation numbers, although even that is not clear. The two are not comparable. He may have been comparing his and her RMP figures, but in either case there exists no validation for RMP and as such they are not reliable.
     

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