Thursday, April 24, 2014
I’m not sure how to express fifteen years in metric, so I’ll just say, I love you, honey.
You can tell TG about the French Revolutionary calendar(http://www.webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-french.html): not only did it provide a metric day -- 10 hours of 100 minutes with 100 seconds each -- but it renamed the months, and replaced weeks with 10 day "Decades", with the 10th day as a day of rest. It might have caught on had Napoleon not abolished it after about 15 years.
The metric system doesn't really have anything except seconds, and once you decide on that you are stuck with the structure of an 86400 second day because a "day" is tied to astronomical events. (The French system required changing the length of a second to fit their scheme.) And astrophysics doesn't even have a single "year" or "day". Check out siderial and tropical years!
The liberal arts education in my past forces me to tell you that all of those 60s are a relic of the Sumerian base 60 number system that became the basis for everything involving angles (which includes time) when trigonometry and astronomical navigation got invented in that region. 60 and 12 are really convenient because they are exactly divisible by so many factors (2,3,4,5,6) that you can do a lot of things without fractions. I don't know if the French calendar with 360 regular days and 5 (or 6) "extra" days goes back to those early ideas, but 360 is a much nicer number than 365. It might have caught on if they had had bowl games on those 5 or 6 extra days.
PS - Any serious geek should know that all time is measured from January 1, 1970 in Greenwich. (Unix time.)
But, like Schuman, I know this won't happen. The time commitment alone would be huge and no university is likely to pay for that extra load.
If we go with non-anonymous evaluations, I'd love to see them correlated with grades. I'll bet many of those outliers will correlate with low scores.
How they are written does matter. You can mitigate to some extent bias based on you design and use the instrument.
And yes you need to know what you are looking for but that requires training. Experience is great but bias training when looking at evaluations is vital by everyone who looks at them.
Also, narratives should be used for assessment purposes by the instructor not for evaluation.
To properly read them requires understanding the course itself. It also means knowing how to code narrative statements. It is rare anyone can do both since they are typically either not content experts or not trained to properly code.
On evals...I'd second Anon at 5:42 AM. The structure and content of the eval matters. Where I was before retirement, we had an elaborate set of goals for our courses, but never asked about then on the evals. I kept asking about that, suggesting that we really did need to ask. For example, one of our major objectives was to enable students to work well in teams/groups. We did not ask to what extern team/group work was used in class or anything about the effectiveness of it. It can be hard to make up for stupidly developed and structured evaluation instruments.
And we did change the hours, creating standard time to bring more order to the system. We put exactly the same number of seconds into one "day" even though the time between one noon and the next one varies significantly over the year.
I'm glad I read Dean Dad's musings on the Schuman piece before I read the actual piece. If I had read her piece before, I would have been put off by the tone, especially the implicit claim that she's a very good teacher and criticisms of her teaching must be based on something other than the quality of her teaching. She didn't actually say that, but it seems very much in between the lines, and to the extent that I'm right and not being too sensitive, the tone feeds into the narrative that academics just don't like criticism.
Or, maybe, is the idea that skills transfer between disciplines, people should try new things, etc?
People are weird. We want educated people without providing educations.
I guess if you try and fit everything nicely into a day then the next big earthquake might change the fit.
I read this book to my daughter and I really enjoyed it - "The Terrible Truth about Time"
In it here's a short history of John Harrison and the Longitude Prize.
A version of that story was dramatized in the series "Longitude"
Which was really fascinating for the science and the politics of science. But that's more for adults - sailors get shown being hung for keeping a reckoning of where they are.