Showing posts from December, 2013

CourseSites associated with decline in physical science laboratory completion rate

SC 130 Physical Science saw a term long drop in the completion rate for laboratory reports fall 2013. The cause of this drop is not solely due to technology, although CourseSites was used for the first time in the course. No student failed to turn in all laboratories. In other words, students were functionally able to access and use CourseSites for submitting laboratories.

Spring 2013 the average submission rate was 93% . This fell to 79% fall 2013.

With the exception of laboratory one, turn-in rates for fall 2013 were below spring 2013.

Up through spring 2013 laboratory reports were handed in as hard copies or sent via email and then printed out. The laboratory reports were marked and returned to the students the following week. There is the possibility that the act of returning the laboratory helped remind students that another laboratory was due. Another possibility is that the physicality of a hard copy provided some form of stimulus to handing in laboratory reports.

Many students…

Engrade administrative stub data at a glance December 2013

A glance at a few "dashboard" metrics for the end of the fall 2013 term in Engrade. Twenty-two instructors served 862 students in 61 classes.

Engrade was first used spring 2013. Including summer 2013, this is the third term of Engrade usage. Note that at least one instructor was still not setting the term to 2013 GP3 and thus there is data under the default 2013-2014 GP3. While summer terms see stronger academic performances by the students, fall 2013 saw a return to the essentially the same performance distribution as spring 2013. Note that the green bars are students above 80%, yellow is 60 to 79%, and the red segments are below 60%.

Engrade encodes capital P for present, capital A for absent, and capital T for tardy (late). Engrade's attendance screen is case sensitive. While Engrade encodes for P, A, T, faculty are not constrained to use P, A, and T. The result is a wide range of attendance choices and notes. The capital E, for example, is used by this author to deno…

Numeric information in graphic forms skills pre-post assessment

Underneath the focus on physical systems, SC 130 Physical Science is built on a foundation of connecting physical systems to their mathematical models and communicating the results in writing. Laboratory exercises lead to the writing of a full laboratory report that is marked for content, syntax, grammar, vocabulary, organization, and cohesion.

The majority of the laboratories investigate systems that involve a linear mathematical relationship. Reports include xy scatter graphs, best fit linear trend lines, slope, and y-intercept analysis. The course outline includes the learning outcome, "Students will generate mathematical models for physical science systems." This serves a general education program learning outcome, "Present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms."

As a way of measuring progress against these two learning outcomes fall 2013, I gave a nine question pre-assessment in August 2013 and then included the same material on the final examinat…

Open data exploration

When given data and asked to make a specific statistical calculation, the students in MS 150 Statistics answer correctly an average 80% of the time based on the final examination. Three-quarters of the students exceed a 70% correct answer rate. For simpler statistics such as calculating a median, mode, or mean, the success rate climbs to 94%. Calculating a 95% confidence interval for the mean has a lower 56% success rate. In general, the students can make requested statistical calculations.

When presented with data and asked questions about the data, the students are far less successful. When not specifically told what to calculate, the students flounder and flail. Only 9 of 78 (12%) of the students generate and cite the appropriate statistical analysis to support their answers. Another 13% generate statistics that provide some relevant support for their answer. The remaining 75% generally cite irrelevant statistics or use an analysis wholly inappropriate to the data.

This schism betw…

Cultural ceremony at term end in ethnobotany

Sakau enters the nahs and the branches are cut.

The menindei issues directives

Initially the students were not correctly arranged in the nahs. I rearranged the students until the class conformed to the culture and tradition of the nahs. Tilson, Ursula, Marino, Leonard, Parkey.

The young men at the back were moved down into chairs. Once sakau is present in the nahs, even for a class demonstration, the full force of the rules of the nahs are invoked. Gyrone knows where to sit, Jeff and Michael are less certain.

Sukusuk underway

Ursula and Parkey were still down when I captured this image.

Parkey and Ursula are now up on women's platform. This is unusual for Clinton - in Yap women cannot be seated above men. This is equally unusual for Parkey - in Chuuk women cannot be seated in such an arrangement as she is relative to Clinton. Merlihse and Lucretia Mae are also on the platform, legs crossed as per protocol.

Ursula now up on the platform behind Ryan.

Tracy Tom, Jamie Thozes, and Je…

Site Swap Notation

Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow noted that the remembering mind rates experiences using a peak-end rule. Although I had not known this particular fact when I designed laboratory 15 five years ago, I had always shared George M. Cohan's belief that one should "always leave them laughing when you say goodbye."

Ivy Gean 

A class that ends on a pleasant activity makes for better memories looking back on the course. SC 130 Physical Science Laboratory 15 is both fun and yet is also a chance to introduce an mathematical model that is very different.

Laboratory fifteen in physical science sought to push the boundaries on the mathematical box for the students. In laboratory one a quote from Freeman Dyson was used to start a journey through the mathematical models that explain physical systems. Dyson calculated how an electron ought to behave. Later someone went into a laboratory and the electron behaved as predicted by the mathematical model.

In laboratory two a l…