Showing posts from May, 2013

FaceBook unsourced photo autotag suggestions

Many Micronesians live and word abroad and while digital cameras are increasingly common in the home islands, few are taking pictures of everyone and anyone with the intent of sharing to the diaspora. As a result I frequently get requests from non-friends to tag images I have posted to FaceBook. On the photo tag request page those appear in the form "John Carrot tagged Jane Cucumber" with Confirm and Ignore buttons. Thus I was puzzled when I saw the following.
Facebook user? Facebook user who? Rather than Confirm or Ignore, I went to the image.

An apparently anonymous tag request? My presumption is that FaceBook facial recognition bots are now making tag requests, although an alternative hypothesis would be that one can set one's privacy in such a way as to block your own identity when tagging a photo. Although the former hypothesis seems more reasonable, all three tags are on a scanned picture from 1994 and all three are correct, including the profile view. That a bot…

Engrade impact on course average in MS 150 Statistics

The use of Engrade during the spring 2013 term represented the first significant change in the way I handle and calculate grades in over two decades. I knew going into the experiment that I would lose some of the idiosyncratic choices I have made over the years.

A year earlier I had experimented with Jupiter Grades but abandoned the effort when paywalls prevented student log on capability. During that trial run I learned that I would probably have to be flexible, willing to change the way I grade. I was keenly aware that my participation points based on attendance were going to be a casualty of any on line grading system.

I also knew, however, that an on line grading system would be more transparent to the students. They would have continuous access to all of the details of their grades.

I knew that my one point per day of attendance, a way of rewarding those with regular attendance, was having an impact on grades in MS 150 Statistics. Fall 2012 41 attendance days represented 13.3% of…

Ohava takes the heat, humidity, and grease

After an academic year of running in the saturating humidity of the marine rainy tropics sharing an air space with a kitchen, the Ohava unit was found to be spotless inside.

Spring cleaning usually means cleaning out the insides of the computer, including removing a coating of vaporized cooking oil from the interior surfaces. The Ohava, however, has no fans, not even for the power supply. The inside was immaculately clean.

Pohnpei has day time temperatures of thirty Celsius year round and a humidity that ranges by day from 80% to 100%. At night the temperatures fall to around 26 Celsius and the humidity is almost always 100%. There is salt in the air along with the byproducts of cooking. The unit sits next to an open louver style window, no air conditioning is used ever.

The machine sees daily use even in the heat of the day. I suspect that one of the keys to its cool running is the use of the lightweight Lubuntu variant of Ubuntu.

I remain convinced that there are significant total c…

Writing improvement in physical science

When I took over and redesigned SC 130 Physical Science in 2007 I had two focuses. The dual focuses were to put mathematics and writing into the core of the course. By building laboratories around mathematical models and having students write up the results of those laboratories in reports marked for content, grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion, both goals were simultaneously achieved. A previous report looked at improvement in mathematical graphical analysis skills, this report looks at the improvement in writing.

The course includes 15 laboratories. Odd numbered laboratories include a full write-up with grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion being marked. The exception is that laboratory 15 is not turned-in, so laboratory 14 is done as a full write-up laboratory. All errors of grammar and vocabulary are marked on all full-write ups. Re-committing the same errors leads to lower subsequent scores, providing incentive for the students to find and remedy errors in t…

Numeric information in graphic forms skills pre-post assessment

The second general education program learning outcome which SC 130 Physical Science addresses is "3.2 Students will be able to present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms." The twenty-eight students in physical science spring 2013 were given six questions which focused on this outcome as skills pre-assessment at the start of the term. The same six questions were included on the final examination.

Note that every student in the course has had a mathematics course at the college, with 22 of the 28 having had MS 100 College Algebra or a higher level of mathematics.

A box plot of student scores out of six possible for the pre-assessment and post-assessment shows a strong improvement in performance.

From the pre-assessment to the post-assessment the median rose from two to four out of six possible, the mean rose from 2.19 to 4.54 out of six possible. Both the difference in the medians and the difference in the means is statistically significant.

The six questions …

Engrade term end anatomy of student grade

At the end of the term many students want to know how they earned the grade that they received in a course. Engrade provides detailed information on a student's marks in the Grade Details view.

The Grades Detail view, however, does not includes scores from Engrade quizzes. These can be viewed however by clicking on the "Print" button in the upper right corner.

The print tab also provides a venue to do a more detailed forensic analysis of a student's grade. While the Grade Details view cannot be copied and pasted in a meaningful way into a spreadsheet, carefully selecting the table below the second row in the print tab does generate a table that can be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet for further analysis.

In the spreadsheet above I have re-ordered the data by date. The data being used is for a different student than the first two images. An additional column that reflects the actual possible was added. Note that if a grade is left blank (null) in Engrade, then En…

Twitter fades into irrelevance as bots eat its own users

A bot has suspended my Twitter account without citing a specific reason. The account does not appear to have been compromised. Unable to access the original statistics, I cannot determine if there was some issue related to the ratio of followers to following. I received a automated email, two actually, that provided no further information. I thought about it a while and realized that I really do not use Twitter. My primary social media vehicle remains FaceBook, with Google+ a distant second in terms of social media connectivity. I happen to tweet only because my blogs tweet, which may be the heart of the issue: I tweet without logging in. Which means Twitter cannot advertise to me. I suspect that is at the core of why I was suspended, a tweets to log in ratio that was too high. Either way, Twitter has remained irrelevant to my connectivity and continues to be irrelevant, so no big loss.

While I know Twitter is cited as being important in the Arab spring, I still have trouble understan…

Engrade student reactions and comments

This term marked the first term in which I have utilized an on line, student accessible grade book and course support package. The web site I used,, is a market leader and free for faculty and students. I ended the term by asking the students to write up their reactions to, comments about, and recommendations for future use of Seventy-seven students were surveyed in my MS 150 Statistics and SC 130 Physical science course. The students have been using Engrade since the second week of class this spring term.

The comments that the seventy-seven students made fell into ten broad categories. The students found engrade to be informative, felt that all faculty should use engrade, facilitated communication between students and faculty, was easy to use, helped students track missing work, encouraged students to work harder, made on line work submission easier, facilitated inter-student communication, was of benefit to shy students, and provided well liked on line qui…

Ethnobotanical gardening last day of class

The last day of SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany is spent in the ethnobotanical garden. I always enjoy this class. I tend to wander around cleaning up around the plants while the students ask questions in preparation for the final examination. Above I clean around the Cymbopogon citratus.

Most of the questions concern the Latin binomial for the plants in the garden. Above Joey whacks weeds with a machete.

Some of the questions concern local names for the plants. I am fairly capable in Pohnpeian and Kosraean, but as for the Chuukese and Yapese names, well there I tend to be rather weak.

Jasper is a one man grass-leveling machine.

I did not have the camera, so many of the pictures I found in the camera after class were FaceBook poses. Virginia Fredrick and Sallyann Andrew.

Falcataria moluccana on the far left, Gardenia jasminoides left center. Terson, Joey, Jasper, Chenniva behind me.

Cheryl and Karmi

Another FaceBook pose in between the Gardenia Jasminoides.

Liked and disliked laboratories

Laboratories are at the core of the SC 130 Physical Science. While in-class tests and quizzes provide information on academic achievement, how the students react affectively to these laboratories is also important in the course design.

The course is not listed as a requirement by any major at the college, thus the course most frequently serves students taking the course to satisfy their general education science with laboratory requirement. The students are not planning a career in science and likely contain a larger percentage of students for whom science is not attractive as a subject of study. A goal of mine is to open up the thinking of the students. My best hope is that through the course the students will come to have an interest in science, see that even simple topics can be interesting, and gain an appreciation of how science is done.

As an affective learning domain study, students were asked to choose their favorite laboratory and provide comments on why that laboratory was t…