Incredibly, the average grade, grade distribution and proportion of the class who did nothing was almost the same as for the First Blog Period. Fifty students did nothing and another 18 did too little to pass, 38% of the class. Last time it was 40%. The average grade among those who did enough to pass was 79%; last time it was 78%. The grade distribution was almost the same: D, 16 students; C, 20; C+, 28; B-, 22; B-, 22; B, 21, B+, 6; A-, 12, A, 3. So on the face of it, not much grounds for celebration.
On the other hand, closer inspection shows that many students are strategizing. Most of the folk who did well last time did nothing this time – under my best-score-of-three-blog-periods algorithm, they must have decided they were happy enough with their score from last time. And a lot of those that did nothing last time have come in to the game for the first time. A few of those new entrants did really well, but most did not. How could they? It was their first time trying. Among the ones who were doing things for the second time, many had taken on board the comments on the graders and really lifted their performance. That was hugely gratifying and makes the heroic efforts of the graders to give quality feedback on the work of over 140 students in less than a week all worth it. Sadly, there are some students who did not much improve from their performance last time (or got worse). Some of those will complain, and I will likely look into it and just wonder whether they read the feedback from last time, or studied examples of good practice, or took advice from the TAs. Or whether we graded too generously last time.
Speaking of examples of good practice, try Flu vaccines – yes or no? (answer: yes), Are girls better students? (the answer is a very thought yes [and that more guys should come to my review sessions]), Can positive thinking cure you? (the answer is a very thoughtful no), or indeed any of Abigail Kennedy’s outstanding October blogs.
Among many other great pieces, I recommend the following.
Does wealth cause peanut allergies?
Are blonds more desirable? (here, Anna James reports a study she did herself)
Do Brita filters help or harm? (impressive use of state government records)
Can your nose fix your spine?
Is touching human?
Soft skills to pay the bills?
Are diet sodas really the better choice? (I liked this because in class we discussed sugary sodas, which increasingly do not look good for you. Turns out that might apply to all soda. A strong argument for beer, I reckon [when you turn 21])
Does money buy happiness?
Is Facebook bad for your GPA? (answer, yes but it makes you smarter…)
Does cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?
Are more people born on Valentines day and fewer on Halloween (answer yes.)
There was some brave stuff too. Try Born Gay, Female Drivers, and Sociopaths. And I want some of these toe-nibbling fish.