What we’re reading

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This week, we have two pieces from the New York Times analyzing the current nature of higher education. In “Are College Lectures Unfair?“, Annie Murphy Paul discusses factors that affect students of various backgrounds differently. Why is it that lecture courses tend to disadvantage minority students? Do more engaging courses actually affect participation rates and performance? In “Teaching Slavery to Reluctant Listeners,”Edward Baptist, professor of history at Cornell, writes about his experience teaching American history with a changing student demographic. These two articles provide some interesting thoughts to ponder as we start the new semester.

Last Friday, federal health officials announced that they would be stopping a study focusing on the appropriate target level for blood pressure more than a year before its intended end date. Why? Because the evidence was already conclusive. The study tested the effect of reducing systolic blood pressure to below 120–levels significantly lower than federal guidelines currently advise. The results? Lowering blood pressure to such levels reduced the risks of individuals having heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, and dying.

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