Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Racial, Gender Bias in Mentoring

Heard on NPR Morning Edition today: the depressing results of a study done by Katherine Milkman of the Wharton School of Business and two others. The researchers emailed 6,548 faculty mentors at  258 schools pretending to be students aspiring to earn a PhD. All potential advisors received the same message; only the name of the sender was changed. NPR says the names were all different. The messages said in part "I really admire your work, would you have some time to meet?" Names were purposely chosen to distribute across racial and ethnic identities. All that was measured was how often the profs wrote back agreeing to meet with the students.

Women and minorities were less likely to get responses, relative to caucasian males, and less likely to get positive responses. Caucasian males obtained access 26% more often. Remember, the text of the messages was identical. NPR says the letters were "impeccably written."

Perhaps the most distressing results were that that the gender of the professor had no effect, according to NPR, and that the business professors discriminated the most in favor of white male names like "Brad Anderson."

Evidence Of Racial, Gender Biases Found In Faculty Mentoring [ audio].

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hybrid Pedagogy

Earlier today I stumbled onto hybrid pedagogy, a website for the eponymous open access journal, while reading a post from Rebecca Schuman, a blogger at Slate who covers education. The director, Jesse Stommel, is an assistant professor at UW-Madison. Give their site a whirl if you're into hybrid learning and pedagogy.

Text Set for NSA Mass Surveillance

Text Sets are a tool teachers can use to scaffold instruction for struggling learners. They generally focus on one topic or theme and are a very useful tool for improving comprehension and literacy. Text sets popped into my head when I found this article about the NSA and its mass surveillance. The author does not use the term "text set," but that is what he's proposing to provide context for the journalistic coverage of the NSA following the revelations by Edward Snowden last summer.

Anyone familiar with the Snowden/NSA story has no doubt read an article in which a journalist has compared the NSA to Big Brother in George Orwell's novel "1984." It's a metaphor with legs (is that a meta-metaphor?). Mr. Berlatsky points out that 1984 is not a book that paints the most relevant picture of the current government-sanctioned surveillance of the citizenry. He argues that other works do. He even goes so far as to say that 1984 can "enslave thought." I think he may be referring to the phenomenon of journalists who repeat what other journalists have already tweeted or written, even after a statement has been found to be unsupported by the facts. On The Media is all over this case.

On to the text set, culled from the article. A caveat: this text set might not be appropriate for scaffolding.

to which I would add these nonfiction works:

Viola, Wisconsin!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Your Inner Fish

It begins in the city of Chicago, with a room full of human cadavers.

That's how the story begins.

We are descended from fish. It's a scientific fact supported by mountains of evidence. Much of the evidence is written in our bodies. I'm talking about evolution, of course. There's a fascinating look at your inner fish hosted on It's a three-part video series hosted by Dr. Neil Shubin. I'm watching it via the PBS app on an apple TV. You can watch it on your computer in the web browser, or with the PBS app on a tablet.

Dr. Shubin discovered tiktaalik rosea on Ellesmere Island. Tiktaalik is a creationist's nightmare. He wrote a book about it, and now he's doing this great series on PBS. I can't wait to see episodes 2 and 3.

added 4/20/2014: Your Inner Fish passes the Bechdel Test. There are female scientists in this documentary, in one of the scenes we have two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Also, there are some great visualizations, like when Dr. Shubin is standing on some devonian river sediments on Ellesmere Island and we watch as it is transformed into a stream bed teeming with life some 380 million years in the past. I could see how video like this would be great in a classroom teaching evolution or geology. The website for Your Inner Fish even has a classroom guide. This is a great resource for science teaching.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Gratuitous Food Blogging

The pizza has landed. I make the dough with a 50/50 mix of bread flour and whole wheat (Pillsbury, usually).

Friday, April 4, 2014

Flipped Learning Guidelines

The Flipped Learning Network (FLN) has announced [pdf] a formal definition of the term "flipped learning" on March 12, 2014, Two things immediately catch my attention here.  First, they do not say "flipped classroom." The other attention-getter is who is the FLN? It is interesting that they do not use the more common "flipped classroom" term. They take care to draw a distinction between flipped learning and the flipped classroom. Until I chanced upon this announcement, I was unaware of any controversy or distinction that involved a definition of the concept.

If you are unfamiliar with the flipped classroom concept, head over to youtube and do a search. Their are many videos on this topic.

The FLN bill themselves as a group of experienced flipped learning educators. Their website is attractive and well-organized. Aaron Sams is at the top of their board members page. I believe he is the creator of the flipped learning model of instruction.

The flipped learning definition is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, from the non-profit Creative Commons organization. Whoever the FLN is, they are clearly interested in openly sharing their ideas and standards. This is commendable. They do not want others creating derivative works of their standard, so they want to keep control of it. They also do not want others deriving works and selling them for profit.  Having looked and worked in the education field, I cannot help but notice all the for-profit enterprises (ETS, MetaMetrics, textbook publishers, Pearson Education, Charter Schools, ad infinitum). But, as I scrutinize the FLN website, I notice ads at the bottom of the page. There's Pearson, Sophia Learning, Cisco, Adobe, etc. This non-profit organization has some deep-pocketed corporations backing them.

A tip of the hat to Casting out Nines, a blog that posted on this new definition.