Monthly Archives: December 2014

Class Test 4

This went well. A class average of 80% among those who showed.

Altogether, 18 students got an A, including 8 with 100% (on my ask-28-questions-grade-out-of-25 algorithm – again, no one got everything right). The remaining students: A-, 37; B+, 24; B, 16; B-, 17; C+, 12; C, 7; D, 33; Fails, 10; no shows (imagine not even trying!), 12.

elephantThe only disappointing question was one revealing that half the class were asleep (or absent) when I talked about cancer rates in elephants and blue whales. They have less cancer than humans even though they have more cells, more cell replication and so more mutation potential. It stands to reason, then, that elephants and whales must have methods for controlling cancer we don’t. If we could work out what they are, we might be able to use them to control cancer in humans.

I also slightly worry that I went on about the dangers of generalizing from an anecdote so much during the semester that the entire class completely dismisses anecdotes as evidence of anything. That’s an over reaction. Anecdotes can mean something: the first person to get cancer from smoking was an anecdote. The second was another anecdote, the third another….  You just have to be super cautious about drawing conclusions from them. But don’t dismiss them altogether. If someone keeps a cell phone in their bra and gets breast cancer, that could mean something…

Both those questions were suggested by students (I give extra credit for suggesting exam questions I use). There was also a question in a previous test suggested by a student which most of the class got wrong. I wonder if the students are better at testing each other’s deep understanding than I am. They might be. Perhaps students learn to get on my wave length rather than to deeply understand the material. Multiple wave length’s might stretch them better. Interesting thought.

Final blog grades, 2014

The final blog grade is the best grade a student gets in the three blog periods.

The breakdown is A, 3; A-, 26, B+, 16; B, 31; B-, 37; C+, 35; C, 23; D, 9, Fail, 4.

So just 16% of the class got an A of some sort. Disappointing I think. Not sure how to get the class to achieve more. I gave extra credit for outstanding posts to just one student (use the Contributions page to check out Abigail Kennedy’s October posts).

Blog Period 3, 2014

Overall, the graders were disappointed in this blog period: with a couple of exceptions, nothing really special happened. I guess the good bloggers had done their stuff in the previous blog periods and so were happy to stick with those earlier grades (I take the best of the three blog periods). Anyhow, just over half the students participated in the third blog period. The average grade was 65% for those who did anything, or 76% for those who did enough score >60%.

The distribution: No students got an A. Two students got A-,  6 B+, 8 B, 16 B-, 20 C+, 13, C-, 14 D, and 24 fails. The fails are people who did something, but only just.

The graders and I enjoyed The Evolution of Social Learning: A Darwinian Approach, a very lucid post on a challenging topic  and Yogurt and Diabetes. Fun too are the Benefits of Giving, and Cell phones drag down your GPA. The latter made me wonder about the wisdom of my actively encouraging cell phone use in the class with the Comment Wall and the cell phone polls…. Hopefully it is really a correlation does not equal causation thing. It’s gotta be reverse causation – or third variables……surely? Someone should do the experiment.