grading feedback

I’m finally done with grading. Well almost done. I’m still dealing with grade appeals. So what’s on my mind is some suggestions about grading, and I may write several posts on this theme. It is important to give students feedback along the way about what your records show for them, especially if the grade depends heavily on lots of small things like daily attendance or homework. Even for test scores and such it is good to let the students see what your records show. The fact is, we sometimes make mistakes in recording grades. A system that assumes you never make a mistake is a bad system. If a student is going to challenge the accuracy of your records, you’d like that to happen in a timely fashion, not after grades have been submitted. And you shouldn’t be happy about students getting the wrong grade just because they didn’t challenge you. One way to give students feedback is your school’s on-line grading system. I don’t use ours because the interface is slow, clunky, inflexible and cannot handle the way I grade. Instead, I find it easy to use Word and Excel for this.

If you are part of the Microsoft/Windows world, you can easily generate grade reports for your students using Excel (or Access), Word, and Outlook. This is easy to learn to do and produces very high student satisfaction. Here are the basics. Continue reading “grading feedback”

brave, cute, or self-destructive?

After all their hard work last year to call the world’s attention to how evil Scott Walker is, Madison’s teaching assistants have declined to support Scott Walker’s opponent in the recall election. They don’t like the person nominated to run against him. Awhile back, in the primary, they also declined to support the person the other unions were endorsing who lost to this guy they are now declining to support.

Example response from a soon-to-be-celebrating pro-Walker Wisconsin blogger that highlights sociology here.

asa baseball 2nd chance

Did you miss your chance to order tickets for the ASA baseball game? Maybe you didn’t know about your trip schedule, or you didn’t want to take a chance on missing Just Desserts. Perhaps you were so excited about THE HUB that you couldn’t dream of walking away from the beating heart of technology information. It’s okay; we understand. But, alas! Here is another chance for you. I am ordering another batch of tickets, and if we act now we can all get seats together.

The game is Friday, August 17 at 6:40pm. We can walk there from the conference center. Tickets will cost you $18. What are you waiting for? Email me if you want a ticket:

fox/msnbc parity

A study making the rounds from the Farleigh Dickinson University polling outfit is headlined “What you know depends on what you watch.” It’s a national version of the same group’s earlier study of New Jersey residents, both of which purport to show that

exposure to partisan sources, such as Fox News and MSNBC, has a negative impact on people’s current events knowledge

compared not just to viewers of high-knowledge sources like the Sunday morning talk shows, NPR, and the Daily Show, but even to non-viewers.

Color me skeptical. According to data from Pew, which my colleague Neal Caren thoughtfully pulled out and sent to me, the difference in education between Fox and MSNBC viewers is quite substantial (fully 83% of MSNBC viewers have at least some college, compared to 60% of Fox News viewers). The FDU study

control[s] for the effects of partisanship, age, education and gender, all factors, which commonly predict vote choice.

which means, if I understand correctly, that MSNBC viewers start out smarter and stay that way, while Fox News viewers start out dumber and get a little dumber by watching Fox. (I’ve asked the FDU outfit for the raw data to see if I can model this alternative hypothesis but haven’t heard back yet.)

This all plays into the nice narrative that MSNBC and Fox are the same beast on different sides of the aisle, a claim that reproduces the dueling-viewpoints view of American politics and avoids the obligation to evaluate the actual content of the two. I suspect that a dispassionate consideration of MSNBC and Fox would reveal differences in the degree of factual (mis)information, insinuation, and misleading claims.

verifying results

Lisa Wade recently made me aware that a group of psychologists have decided to try and verify the results of every article written in three journals in 2008. I think this is a great idea. And the likelihood that the results can be replicated look pretty unlikely. As the Chronicle piece I’ve linked to points out,

Recently, a scientist named C. Glenn Begley attempted to replicate 53 cancer studies he deemed landmark publications. He could only replicate six. Six! Last December I interviewed Christopher Chabris about his paper titled “Most Reported Genetic Associations with General Intelligence Are Probably False Positives.” Most!”

If only 6 out of 53 cancer studies can be replicated, I shudder what to think what the social science data will say (in part because there is so much more noise in a lot of our research design).  Continue reading “verifying results”

tea worthy

The Tea Party movement claims the mantle of Revolutionary forefathers to fight for liberty against the despotism of a distant ruler. They take their name from the Boston Tea Partiers who protested Britain’s taxation of Americans without representation in Parliament; a Parliament whose members nevertheless asserted power over the colonies “…in all cases whatsoever”.

If this is the mantle they wish to claim, I have a fight worthy of these modern-day Samuel Adamses: revolt against the despotism that subjects women in Washington, D.C. to laws created by an Arizonian.

Continue reading “tea worthy”

ego-networks on twitter

Neal Caren of UNC Chapel Hill has written up a handy guide to deriving the ego-networks of Twitter users as part of his series of tutorials on text analysis for social scientists. Neal uses my twitter account as his starting point, so you may find some familiar names in the network. I recommend the whole series, but of course, “Two Degrees of Tina Fetner” is my favorite.