Showing posts from February, 2009

Assessment of test two in SC 130 Physical Science

Due to staff development day, test two in SC 130 Physical Science will function as the comprehensive midterm examination. An item analysis of the questions asked was regrouped by whether the question asked for a response that was purely a memory recall item, a mathematical calculation (which may require recall of a formula), an inference from data presented, an explanation of a system presented in class, or an explanation of a system not presented in class but explainable by the science presented in class. Test questions were all short answer, no multiple choice, no matching, nor true false questions were involved.

For 32 students (with two absent on test day), the following percentage of the 32 students answered the type specified correctly:
memory recall item: 73%
mathematical calculation: 42%
inference from data presented: 32%
explanation of a system presented in class: 47%
explanation of a system not presented in class: 16%

As had been found in the past, students perform best on r…

Gymnosperm presenations in ethnobotany

Yuleen covers teak. To the left is a poster on the life cycle of an angiosperm.

Marcy explains the many uses of cloves.

New tools arrived for pulling back the carpet of razor grass in the garden. A Collin's axe - a doll's best friend?

Physci rolling marbles

Laboratory six was a practical laboratory. The students were presented with a simple system. Their task was to measure the two variables and then write a report on the nature of the mathematical relationship between the variables. They were also tasked with determining if the system is a predictable system.

The students explored the relationship between the mass of a marble and the distance the marble rolls on a ruler track when released from a ramp of constant height h. Three marble sizes were used, plus BBs for a fourth sphere size. The tracks proved too short for the taws. Above a taw is in motion on the track.

Massing the marbles.

The tracks are aluminum rulers from a local office supply store.

Social media usage by students revisited

An initial survey at the start of the term suggested that 83% of the students in MS 150 Statistics were using a social networking site. In that survey many students included sites from the broader definition of social media sites such as on line email sites. As a result I decided to resurvey using the term "social media."

I had also found that some students had opted not to answer the first survey due to fear of repercussions - students understand that there is a climate of disapprobation at the college in regards social media use by students. Since the first survey, the students have learned that I am engaging in finding educational applications of social media by joining a social media service.

As I noted in my blog, given the atmosphere of disapproval surrounding social media the college, I felt like I had "gone over to the dark side." My students, however, were now aware that I too was using social media. Seventy-four percent noted that they wanted faculty in soc…

Escaping the silo

At present each social networking site is its own silo, you cannot invite friends who are on other social networking sites. Thus there are students at the college with five, six, even seven social networking site presences in order to keep up with all of their friends. The solution is a way to trade identities between sites, and FaceBook has taken a strong step in this direction by teaming up with OpenId. I ran off to apply for my own OpenID, only to learn that I already had one due to this very blog. So instead of "Let my people go" maybe the new rallying call will be "Let my friends roam!"

Physical science, ethnobotany

Physical science explored the heat conductivity of common hardware store bought materials. The thermometers were the only off-island item used in this laboratory.

The ethnobotany class visited the Pohnpei State Botanic Garden at Pwunso. Here the class posed for a class picture in front of a painted gum tree, Eucalyptus deglupta.

Field trips are a fun way to learn!

The professor expounds on a gymnosperm found only in the garden. The tree is thought to be a kauri pine, Agathis robusta.

Christmas in February

When packages arrive by slow boat, Christmas gifts from family abroad can arrive in February.

Social networking, privacy concerns, students, and elders

Social networking sites represent an unprecedented threat to the privacy (PDF) the students at the college. On the order of 83% of our students actively use social networking sites, sharing deeply personal information with friends in what is falsely perceived to be a private world. In the United States 93% of all students use social networking sites with 63% logging in daily, suggesting 83% may be an underestimate. The reality is that their personal data is being held by corporations motivated by marketing opportunities, data that is being used by the social networking site and third parties in way the social networking site user would never imagine.

The lesser of the privacy concerns is actually the corporation which owns the the social networking site (SNS). A far more subtle but vastly more serious privacy issue exists in SNS space: hugs, kisses, penguins, superpokes, flowers, and causes. Welcome to another brave new world with its own language and terminology.

SNS users can send ot…


Merlyn Maheta Kilafwasru visits and joins the Sunday church goers.

Pohnpei Ladies Club Fun Run

The Pohnpei Ladies Club fun run featured a first for Pohnpei running: two routes. For the walkers a roughly three kilometer jaunt up Kaselehlie to Elenieng, down to the Nett estuary past Pohnpei campus, northwest along the waterfront to Mesenieng, and back up to Spanish wall ball field. The runners went up Kaselehlie turning right headed for Mapusi on the weather station hill bypass. A right onto the circumferential road and then forking left up into Dolihner towards the Dolihner water tank. A left back down to Pohnpei Island Central School and then a straight shot back to Spanish wall ball field over weather station hill.

The new route was a refreshing change and is a favorite route of mine. Topping weather station hill one can see clear to the finish line, something not possible on a Palm Terrace start-finish run. Seeing the runners out in front strung out along Kaselehlie is both exhilarating and self-challenging. This also makes the final 500 meters all downhill and straight. At le…

Odd Portents

The sign generated a healthy debate. The security gate latching mechanism had failed. Technically the office was open. As a practical matter transactions were difficult. At a literal level, the gate was closed. Academics have all the linguistic fun in life.

The next morning dawned dark and stormy, windy February tropical rains. In the early hours of the morning the sun shot through a hole over Twemwentwemwensikir ridgeline and fastened a double rainbow onto a shaft of rain falling to the west of campus.

Later the students puzzled over how marbles know how many marbles hit the head of a line. Marbles in equals marbles out. Speed in equal speed out. But how do the marbles know what to do? Consider this from their perspective. At one point one group concluded that marbles can see but not hear. A few students trotted out words that they had heard in science, force being a favorite. None could define quite what a force was and how that ensured marbles in equaled marbles out.

One marble was la…

Working in the cloud: Google Docs

"My hard drive crashed and I lost all my email addresses. I've lost my all contacts with my friends," says a colleague to me.

Why were your friends on a hard drive? Keep your friends in the cloud.

"I came to your office, but you were not there," says a statistics student.

Why didn't you check where I was? My location updates are in the cloud.

"Do you have any pictures from that celebration?" asks a friend.

Of course, I keep those in the cloud.

"My home work is on my flash drive. I left the drive at home. Can I turn in the homework tomorrow?" asks a physical science student.

Why are your documents on physical media? Work on them and store them in the cloud. Google docs is a maturing office suite on line that is fairly functional even on limited bandwidth. Working only across a dial-up low bandwidth modem, 24 kbps, I was still able to put together a spreadsheet using data from an activity in physical science today.

When Google docs opens you first…

Assessment: Preliminary item analysis data for statistics and physical science test one

MS 150 Statistics

Test one this term was substantively similar to test one last term permitting a term-on-term item analysis of student performance (fall 2008 versus spring 2009). Overall there was no change in performance as measured by an item analysis. There were, however, changes in performance within specific topic areas. The number correct (corr) refers to the number of students getting that item correct. The fall term had 45 students taking test one, this term the course has 57 students who took test one.

IsqSpring 2009corrperc
Fall 2008
number correct
percchanget0121level of measurement330.58
250.560.02t0122sample size540.95

Post-kava exercise recovery

In an earlier completely non-scientific study of my post-kava (Piper methysticum) exercise recovery as measured by minutes of running I determined that I needed six days before my average running duration returned to my long term average. That study included 154 days. I recently updated the data. With 217 consecutive days in the data set, recovery now appears to be even longer at seven days.

As noted in the original study, this inveighs against the concept that a once-a-week kava (called sakau here on Pohnpei) recovers his or her physical endurance within a couple days. This also suggests my own estimate of a four day recovery underestimates the impact of kavalactones.