Showing posts from August, 2019

iNaturalist introduction in ethnobotany class

One of the challenges within iNaturalist for student use of the platform is that students have a reputation for posting what are deemed by some iNaturalists as low quality observations. These observations often get posted in large numbers as students strive to meet some quota artificially set by a well-intentioned teacher. The observations also often get posted either as "unknown organisms" or, when identified, identified incorrectly. Many cultivated plants get posted incorrectly as wild plants due to the platform providing a green tag that says "Research Grade" only on wild plants. Some teachers mistakenly require students to obtain a specified number of RG observations. This may result in students teaming up to validate each others incorrect identifications in order to obtain the RG designation. The students then often "vanish" from the platform after the "assignment" by the teacher, leaving for identifiers on iNaturalist the task of cleaning …

Linear motion

This term I pre-announced the week prior that the class would meet on the LRC-F2 sidewalk on Monday, not in A101. I did not pre-mark the sidewalk. I handed back quiz 014 from Friday along with a hard copy of the answers.

I brought along poster pad and wrote out some sample workings of the problems. This was the first term I brought a poster pad, and this would prove fortuitous later in the period.

With the class spread out along the length of the F2 sidewalk, I segued from slope as density to the question of what would happen if time were plotted against distance for an object moving through time and space? What physical entity would the slope be?

I then marked off the sidewalk during class, rather than ahead of class. This solved to a large extent the slow procession from A101 that has, in the past, forced the pre-marking of the sidewalk ahead of class. One student noted that the result of a graph of time versus distance would be velocity.

I then made the RipStik run and recorded the…

Banana patch photo album

Fall 2019 the term start ethnogardening exercises were reduced from two to one. I went up early and dug some of the plants out of the weeds from the "garden" to the southeast of the gym, I also trimmed the plants at the front corner of the college. This change was done to make more room in the schedule for working with iNaturalist.

A wire that may have been used to pull up structures on the other side of the fence runs from the fence to...

...this tree.

 Sheeron, with hat for the task at hand.
Marissa battles Clidemia hirta
The banana patch is actually a Clidemia hirta patch. The invasive weed has taken over.

Clidemia hirta everywhere, Luckyleen in the background


Eve Sophie, Tori Ann

Mars and Murrie

For a seventh term the MS 150 Statistics course began with a problem solving open data exploration leading to a presentation. The exercise effectively flips the role of the students from that of being students in a class to that of being statisticians reporting on their statistical findings. This shift allows the instructor to begin the second week of class by saying, "I know you already know how to calculate statistics and make charts..." This gives the students an early sense of success and a sense that they can succeed in the course.

Students starting work on their MMs
For fifteen years the statistics course started with gathering data on body metrics and then launching into a lecture driven course. In 2008 I added statistics projects to the lecture and test mix in an attempt to both increase student engagement with statistics and to integrate more writing into the course. The statistics projects did not result in increased student engagement with statistics.

In 2013 the e…

Pre-assessment on graphical mathematics skills among physical science students

A pre-assessment in mathematics skills was administered to 18 students in SC 130 Physical Science on the first day of class. The students were unaware of the pre-assessment and thus were taking the pre-assessment without any preparation. The 18 students had all completed MS 100 College Algebra, MS 101 Algebra and Trigonometry, or MS 150 Statistics. The level of the mathematics on the pre-assessment was material found in high school algebra one.

Highest math class taken
Although the strong majority of the students who reported taking a mathematics course reported having had a college level mathematics course, overall performance on the pre-assessment was weak.

Performance by item on the pre-assessment n = 18
Calculations of slope and intercept were unusually low against historic performance levels. Students showed skill only in plotting points. Note that students did better on calculating a y-value given an x-value and calculating an x-value given a y-value than they did on the preceding…

Technology training for faculty at the Chuuk campus

Monday morning opened with my presenting an overview of what I term the three levels of Schoology. My intent is a broad overview of some of the many capabilities of Schoology. I am also reflecting my own experience with Schoology, my own path through the package. I began using Schoology essentially as a replacement for a spreadsheet based gradebook. My initial interest was only in tracking grades and attendance. I spent a term working at that level.

The following term I started to pilot, to experiment, with making assignments from within Schoology. Over the next few terms I would integrate online tests and other materials into my courses in Schoology. I would also adopt the use of custom rubrics to mark assignments.

After a couple years of use I added the tracking of student learning outcomes, what I term a level three use of Schoology.

In the afternoon I sat down with individual faculty, one-on-one, helping them set up their gradebook setup and showing them how to add grade columns t…


These are random notes directed only at myself, notes that provide reminders of how things went and where things might be improved. Continuous improvement requires continuous documentation of what happened.

The morning started off well enough, with Sebastian warming up the crowd. The morning would, however, continue on with on the order of three hours of information overload. In faculty workshops the faculty have learned that our students, who are working in a second language, cannot absorb information over a three hour long session.

The next day I had the opportunity to ask a student some questions on areas that were covered in the morning session, but the student was unable to answer those questions. Too much information delivered in a manner that did not well fit the learning style and capacities of the audience.

The format also did not provide a comfort zone for many of the students to ask questions. The next day I fielded a number of questions - there is a need to deliver some in…