Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BBC threatens to cancel World's longest-running science show

The Sky At Night

A day of great sadness if this is true, but at least it's make room in the schedules for more ... reality TV shows :-(

Water Damage


Not really surprised about this. It's what happens when technology becomes a black box and is elevated to the shaman level. Reminds me of what happens with pedagogy and what happens when people use VLEs. To test my theory, I plan to start the rumour that Blackboard makes students waterproof so we can hold lectures outside all year long.

Sky News:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#FutureLearn: the beta has landed

FutureLearn Today I received my invitation to the new FutureLearn beta (apologies to those not "lucky" enough to be selected). Courses are rolling out over the next few months. I've signed up for my first offering, and you can rest assured you'll read all about it right here when it starts next month.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Education researchers - tell us why we should care about your data

People bang on to me about research evidence and educational practice. When you present them with published evidence, they often don't want to hear it, but when you consider the quality of the data, or at least, the presentation of the data in most education research, perhaps it's not surprising. This paper is a very clear exposition of how to improve this woeful situation. If you are reviewer or an editor for education research, please read this and think about your responsibilities.

The Other Half of the Story: Effect Size Analysis in Quantitative Research. (2013) CBE-Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 345-351
Abstract: Statistical significance testing is the cornerstone of quantitative research, but studies that fail to report measures of effect size are potentially missing a robust part of the analysis. We provide a rationale for why effect size measures should be included in quantitative discipline-based education research. Examples from both biological and educational research demonstrate the utility of effect size for evaluating practical significance. We also provide details about some effect size indices that are paired with common statistical significance tests used in educational research and offer general suggestions for interpreting effect size measures. Finally, we discuss some inherent limitations of effect size measures and provide further recommendations about reporting confidence intervals.

"In education research, statistical significance testing has received valid criticisms, primarily because the numerical outcome of the test is often promoted while the equally important issue of practical significance is ignored. As a consequence, complete reliance on statistical significance testing limits understanding and applicability of research findings in education practice. Therefore, authors and referees are increasingly calling for the use of statistical tools that supplement traditionally performed tests for statistical significance. One such tool is the confidence interval, which provides an estimate of the magnitude of the effect and quantifies the uncertainly around this estimate. A similarly useful statistical tool is the effect size, which measures the strength of a treatment response or relationship between variables. By quantifying the magnitude of the difference between groups or the relationship among variables, effect size provides a scale-free measure that reflects the practical meaningfulness of the difference or the relationship among variables."

Effect size

"Our intent is to emphasize that no single statistic is sufficient for describing the strength of relationships among variables or evaluating the practical significance of quantitative findings. Therefore, measures of effect size, including confidence interval reporting, should be used thoughtfully and in concert with significance testing to interpret findings. Already common in such fields as medical and psychological research due to the real-world ramifications of the findings, the inclusion of effect size reporting in results sections is similarly important in educational literature."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Google+ post embedding

Testing if the new feature of being able to embed posts from Google+ works or not. Seems to be a bit sporadic for me:

Incomes in America from The Economist

Friday, September 13, 2013

Living in the past?

Books The great office move looms ever closer and I'm faced with some tough decisions - keep or chuck?

Although in some ways I'm looking forward to being (but not to moving) into my new office, it is slightly smaller than my present office, and so I feel an obligation to free myself of some of the cruft that has accumulated in the past 10 years since I last moved. But there is one thing that is bothering me.

On a high shelf lurk all my undergraduate textbooks, my beloved Stanier, my trusty Lehninger, my loathed/hated/feared Strickberger. They are museum pieces, scientifically outdated and cast adrift on a sea of Wikipedia. Although I haven't cracked the covers in more than 20 years, they are part of me, part of a past which, unlike offices, cannot change. But they're heavy and they're in the bloody way.

I can retrieve all the information they contain in seconds from the Internet, but what about all those long nights of studying that they represent? I don't want to lose that past, but I'm not unduly sentimental and I don't want to live in a museum.

So what do I do?

Students love email, so get over it and use the evidence #darksocial

Email "Students were asked what their single preferred method of formal communication was and were given the options of Email, Twitter, Facebook or Moodle. Although many respondents are happy to use SNSs [social networks] to communicate, Email still carries the most weight as the single preferred method for formal teacher–student communication (60%, n=25), followed by Moodle and Twitter (both with 14%, n=6) and Facebook (12%, n=5). All respondents in the 25–34 age category preferred email to other methods."

Hashtags and retweets: using Twitter to aid Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning. Research in Learning Technology 2013, 21: 19692 -
Since the evolution of Web 2.0, or the Social Web, the way in which users interact with/on the Internet has seen a massive paradigm shift. Web 2.0 tools and technologies have completely changed the dynamics of the Internet, enabling users to create content; be it text, photographs or video; and furthermore share and collaborate across massive geographic boundaries. As part of this revolution, arguably the most significant tools have been those employing social media. This research project set out to investigate student’s attitudes, perceptions and activity toward the use of Twitter in supporting learning and teaching. In so doing, this paper touches on a number of current debates in higher education, such as the role (and perceived rise) of informal learning; and debates around Digital Natives/Immigrants vs. Digital Residents/Visitors. In presenting early research findings, the author considers the 3Cs of Twitter (T3c): Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning. Data suggests that students cannot be classed as Digital Natives purely on age and suggests a rethinking of categorisations is necessary. Furthermore, the data suggests students are developing their own personal learning environments (PLEs) based on user choice. Those students who voluntarily engaged with Twitter during this study positively evaluated the tool for use within learning and teaching.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Citing Wikipedia in Academic Work

"... if the Professor has a more nuanced view that Wikipedia should not be cited "as a source" by university students then I agree completely! I think the same thing about citing Britannica or any other encyclopedia. Citing an encyclopedia for an academic paper at the University level is not appropriate - you aren't 12 years old any more, it's time to step up your game and do research in original sources. So the real question is: what is the right way for University students to use Wikipedia? It's great for getting yourself oriented on a topic. It is important that students understand our strengths and weaknesses. If we say "the neutrality of this article has been disputed" or "this section does not cite any sources" - believe us! Dig deeper! Once you've read a few relevant Wikipedia entries on a topic, you should be well armed to start digging in to primary materials."
Jimmy Wales, 2012

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Gender bias and gender differences in peer assessment

Women get higher marks than men, but marking does not differ between males and females.

Sex does not matter: gender bias and gender differences in peer assessments of contributions to group work. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 02 Sep 2013 doi: 10.1080/02602938.2013.830282
This paper considers the possibility of gender bias in peer ratings for contributions to team assignments, as measured by an online self-and-peer assessment tool. The research was conducted to determine whether peer assessment led to reliable and fair marking outcomes. The methodology of Falchikov and Magin was followed in order to test their finding that gender has no discernable impact on peer ratings. Data from over 1500 participants at two universities enrolled in four different degree programmes were analysed. The research indicates an absence of gender bias in six case studies. The research also found that women received significantly higher ratings than men.