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Showing posts from December, 2012

Ethnobotanical review session

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Over the early years of ethnobotany I struggled to construct a final examination that felt aligned to the course and the material in the course. A few years ago an expert in tropical plants visited the campus and asked to tour the garden. With physical science and mathematics being my stronger backgrounds, I was looking forward to learning more about the plants in the garden.


Arnald makes notes.

When we entered the garden the expert began rattling off Latin binomials for the plants, they seemed to know the plants of the garden, or so it would have seemed to someone who did not know the correct names. Whatever plants the expert was naming, if indeed they were actual plants, not one was single correct identification.

I gently and meekly asked in each instance, "Uh, isn't this Clerodendrum inerme? Premna obtusifolia? Senna alata?"

Risenta

"Oh, yes, of course!" said the expert. For every single plant. We did not cross paths again after that walk in the garden. I…

Data Exploration Exercise in Statistics class

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Over the years I have learned that when given data and asked to calculate the minimum, maximum, mode, median, mean, standard deviation, standard error of the mean, t-critical for an alpha of five percent, a margin of the error for the mean, and a confidence interval, the students are generally capable of doing so. For example, when asked to calculate the mean for a set of 20 data values, 74 of 78 students were able to successfully do so on the final examination fall term 2012. The four who failed to correctly calculate the mean appeared to have data entry errors and not a fundamental inability to calculate that value.

When given simply raw data and asked to determine the most appropriate analysis, the students have more difficulty. The basis of this judgment is based in part on student projects that the students completed during previous terms. The students gathered data of their choosing and analyzed that data. Over a number of years the projects indicated difficulty with understandi…

Site Swap Notation

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Merlihse

Stravinsky

MaryHellan

Merry-Jean

Rose Ann Pama

Daisy Elias, Alexander Chong in the background

Eugene Taulung

Joana Ramsin, back after giving birth to Filfred, spelling unknown to this author.

Joana

Floral Litmus solutions

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Stravinsky

Ashley

Dareen, Tulpe, and LoriAnn

Rose Ann

Gunwick, Trishia

Keithann, Trishia

Joana Ramsin

Judy Ligohr

Jo Soswe

Jimboy

Common core, measurement, and valuing what other people think

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In the late 1980s I took a curriculum development course at the University of Illinois where we learned to build curriculum based on student learning outcomes. Elementary and secondary education teachers were being taught to measure learning.

The collegiate system would eventually drink from the cup that they were passing out to their future teachers and work on basing measurement on learning. There was always a subtle factory/business model metaphor underneath student learning outcomes: General Motors produces a measurable output called cars, McDonalds can count the number of hamburgers sold. Education wanted their own measurable outcomes, billboard one-liners and sound bites that said "850,000 learning outcomes achieved to date."

One of the leaders in assessment at this college for eight years was Jonathan Gourlay, chair of the language and literature division. Both he and I shared a keen interest in assessment and measurement. I like nothing better than a p…

Ethnobotanical ceremony

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As a capstone learning experience in SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany, the course wraps up each term by actively engaging in observational ethnobotany in the field. The students journey on a field trip to observe a ceremony in a which a plant is at the center of a cultural ceremony.


For some of the students the experience is familiar, for others the experience is that of being dropped into an exotic, distant, and mysterious land. Nathaniel, front left, is familiar with the ceremony. Behind him Jane Rose knows some of the rudiments but not the details. Further back Risenta, Nadya, and Jacky of Chuuk and the Mortlocks know little to nothing about the formal sakau ceremony. Center back is Ezerin of Yap, he too is unfamiliar. At the picnic table is Delphina of Kosrae, Jaynice, Rose Ann, Masumy, Reliann, and JB. 

Our host for the evening was Soumas en kousapw Palikir, Soulik Hilario Jack. He is reading the 1978 tiahk en Pohnpei document that I share with the host each term.


Julane and Ivenglynn, Shal…