Efficient teaching: frequent assessments

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If your teaching is at least modestly informed by the scholarship of teaching and learning (and, I dare suggest, it should be), then you are probably aware that frequent assessments are a good thing. Students learn better when they have more opportunities to find out if they’re learning what is being taught.

But — as Meg Duffy pointed out last week — some teaching practices are effective but may not be sustainable because they might just require so much work from professors. This resonated with a lot of people. A lot of us apparently feel a genuine tradeoff between our capacity to teach effectively and the amount of time that we are expected to invest into teaching each of our courses. Continue reading

Please focus more on inclusion so that diversity recruitment efforts can work

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I realize that recruiting students from underrepresented groups in STEM is not the most popular broader impact when scientists are actually implementing federally funded research projects. That said, I see a lot of folks putting so much time and effort to recruit minority students. And folks working to provide opportunities to minority students. Continue reading

What’s going to be on the exam?

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Do you love it when students waste office hours with questions that don’t help them learn? Do you want to cultivate anxious emails from students sent at 3 in the morning? Do you want your students to wager their grades by guessing what you think is the most important material?

Then don’t tell your students what is going to be on the exam.

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Competition for the “best” REU applicants is outrageous

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On a Friday in mid-March, a student in my department was notified that they were just accepted into an NSF-funded REU program. (For more about REUs, here’s an earlier post.) It’s program with a fair amount of prestige, but definitely not in the highest tier among the folks who keep track of status. Which is everybody, of course.

They were told they needed to accept or decline by Monday. Continue reading

Recommended reads #125

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This case study of search committees demonstrates how downright sexist conduct is pervasive in academic job searches.

When it comes to time management in academia, here is some highly condensed wisdom.

It’s well established that student evaluations of teaching performance are gender biased. Based on that fact, then, here’s an intriguing question: Are they illegal? Continue reading

When the book reps visit

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A couple weeks ago, the students in our department bought lunch for the faculty. It was a nice catered takeout box. I had the Mediterranean Veggie. It reminded me of the time that the students bought us all bagels and coffee, for the departmental office.

But, these meals had a miserable aftertaste. Our students didn’t buy these meals for us out of gratitude. Every student was required to chip in a full day’s wages just for these sandwiches. These meals were brought to us by book reps, who are schmoozing us so that we will choose their textbook. Continue reading

Things I wish other people blogged about

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I make a point to post at least once a week. Sometimes the blog posts are full essays, sometimes they’re just a less ordered collection of thoughts, such as this one.

One of the reasons I helped start Rapid Ecology is that I wanted to see a much broader range of voices in this medium. I think it’s great to get a casual perspective from people other than you, and I think in his field, we need more voices. So, I’m thrilled that it’s taken off so well.

I write about a range of issues here, but there are also a lot of things that I choose to not write about here, because it’s not a fit for the site or because it’s not a fit for my own experience. But there are so many things that I’d love to see other people share. For example: Continue reading

Sizing up competing peer review models

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Is peer review broken? No, it’s not. The “stuff is broken” is overused so much that it now just sounds like hyperbole.

Can we improve peer review? Yes. The review process takes longer than some people like. And yes, editors can have a hard time finding reviewers. And there are conflicts of interest and bias baked into the process. So, yes, we can make peer review better.

As a scientific community, we don’t even agree on a single model of peer review. Some journals are doing it differently than others. I’ll briefly describe some peer review models, and then I’ll give you my take. Continue reading

Recommended reads #124

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Why I stopped writing on my student’s papers.

Four very practical solutions to make conferences less difficult for scientists who are bringing babies and small children, brought to you by Rebecca Calisi and a Working Group of Mothers in Science. Are you part of an organizing committee? Please heed.

The case for inclusive teaching

The blog The Novice Professor has a lot of great stuff, it’s definitely one to watch. And the author routinely shares great stuff about learning and teaching on twitter. Continue reading

Powerful truths about sexual harassment

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Today, the House Committee on Science had a hearing about sexual harassment. The whole thing is worth your time, but holy moly there were two moments in particular, 6 minutes of your time, that I feel compelled to share:

First, Dr. Kate Clancy delivered testimony on what sexual harassment is, and how deep and pervasive the problem is, and how our academic culture allows it to persist. The entire testimony is filled with mic-drops and moments of searing truth, I can’t even pick a few pull-quotes because the whole thing is golden:

 

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When you are asked to review a paper that you’ve already reviewed for another journal

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This situation can be a bit of a conundrum if you haven’t dealt with it.

Let’s say you review a manuscript for the Journal of Scientific Stuff. Ultimately, that paper ends up getting rejected by JSS. Some time goes past, and you are asked to review what appears to be the same manuscript, by the editor of Proceedings of Scientific Stuff.

What to do? Continue reading

Recommended reads #122

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This is wonderful: NSF is now requiring awardee institutions to report findings of sexual harassment by personnel on NSF grants, and to report when individuals are placed on leave related to an investigation. And they are prepared to take serious measures in response. Here’s the NSF statement, and related stories published by Nature and The New Republic. (How bout rounding up a few PIs and your Title IX coordinator, and schedule a meeting with the person in charge of post-award at your university, to make specific plans for implementing this, including the reporting mechanisms and training that NSF expects.)

In favor of “slow teaching.”

Intellectual property law 101 for academics Continue reading

When the trash gets passed

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The term “passing the trash” is commonly used to describe when sexually abusive K-12 teachers and priests get quietly shifted to new schools and parishes, where they assault more people.

We also use this term in higher ed, when professors who commit sexual misconduct are allowed to slink out of their universities with the approving silence of their administration, only to harm more students in their new jobs. Continue reading

If you love teaching, a research university might be perfect for you

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“I like teaching, and I didn’t want the same stress-packed life as the professors in my PhD program, so a faculty position at a teaching-focused university is a good fit for me.”

I’ve heard something like this more times than I can possibly count from grad students, postdocs, and professors. It’s something that I used to say myself. But now I think this statement is built on two big fallacies. Continue reading