61 - Report on Important New Affirmative Action Study
62 - The Millennial Generation
63 - On-line Multiple Choice Questions with Rationale Answer Statements- An Interesting Use of the WWW.
64 - Email Mentors for Women in Engineering, Sciences - Mentornet Update (9/21/98)
65 - Twelve Suggestions for Optimizing Academic Career Success
66 - More Help with Saying "No."
67 - Asking the Right Questions in Class
68 - The 25 Greatest Astronomical Findings of All Time
69 - How Graduate Students and Faculty Miscommunicate
70 - The Urgency of Engineering Education Reform
Tomorrow's Professor - Msg. #61 REPORT ON IMPORTANT NEW
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION STUDY
Below is an excerpted version of an important article that appeared in the September 9, 1998 New York Times, on the impact of affirmative action policies at 28 of the nation's top colleges and universities. The article is by Ethan Broner. Let me know if you want an e-mail version of the full article which runs about 2,000 words.
UP NEXT: The Millenial Generation
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IMPORTANT NEW AFFIRMATIVE ACTION STUDY
A major new study of the records and experiences of tens of thousands of students over 20 years at the some of the nation's top colleges and universities concludes that their affirmative action policies created the backbone of the black middle class and taught white classmates the value of integration.
The study which challenges much of the conservative
affirmative action, is to be released Wednesday by Princeton University Press in a book titled "The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions." It was written by two former Ivy League presidents, William Bowen of Princeton University, an economist, and Derek Bok of Harvard University, a political scientist.
Examining grades, test scores, choice of major,
graduation rates, careers and attitudes of 45,000 students at 28 of the
most selective schools, the authors say that although they are both advocates
of race-conscious admissions policies, they wanted to test the assumptions
underlying such policies.
The Bowen-Bok study limits itself to the practice
admissions in elite higher education; that is, to considering the race of applicants to be a critical factor in whether they should be admitted, as important as, say, their region of origin or their extracurricular activities.
The study begins by documenting the problem clearly: blacks who enter elite institutions do so with lower test scores and grades than those of whites. And as they work their way through liberal arts colleges like Yale and Princeton and state schools like the Universities of Michigan and North Carolina, black students receive lower grades and graduate at a lower rate.
But after graduation, the survey found, these students achieve notable successes. They earn advanced degrees at rates identical to those of their white classmates. They are even slightly more likely than whites from the same institutions to obtain professional degrees in law, business and medicine. And they become more active than their white classmates in civic and community activities.
The authors call black graduates of elite institutions "the backbone of the emergent black middle class" and say that their influence extends well beyond the workplace. "They can serve as strong threads in a fabric that binds their own community together and binds those communities into the larger social fabric as well."
One of the most striking findings is how much an elite college education serves as a pathway to success for all races. Blacks who graduate from elite colleges earn 70 percent to 85 percent more than do black graduates generally.
Blacks and whites report fairly substantial social interaction at college, which they say helped them relate to members of different racial groups later in life. Finally, the more selective the college, the more likely were blacks who attended it to graduate, obtain advanced degrees and earn high salaries.
The authors' focus on selective universities illustrates
what they consider an often-ignored point: the debate over race-conscious
admissions is relevant only to about 25 percent of American universities.
The rest take all or nearly all who apply.
Bowen and Bok say in their book that a "race-neutral" admissions policy would be disastrous for American society, reducing black percentages at top schools to less than 2 percent from the current 7 percent.
As an illustration of what that would mean, they constructed a rough profile of 700 black students admitted in 1976 under race-conscious policies. Of the 700, 225 obtained professional degrees or doctorates; 70 are now medical doctors, 60 are lawyers, 125 are business executives and more than 300 are civic leaders. Their average annual earnings are $71,000.
A more troubling question, the authors acknowledge, regards the white students whom these black students displaced. Would society have been better off if they had attended instead of the blacks?
"That is the central question," the authors write,
"and it cannot be
answered by data alone." It is a clash of "principle versus principle, not principle versus expediency." They come down firmly on the side of admitting the blacks, saying that society needs them because of the scarcity of black professionals.
But they added a statistical argument and illustrated it with an analogy to parking spaces for handicapped drivers drawn from a forthcoming article by Thomas J. Kane. "Eliminating the reserved space would have only a minuscule effect on parking options for non-disabled drivers," Kane writes. "But the sight of the open space will frustrate many passing motorists who are looking for a space. Many are likely to believe that they would now be parked if the space were not reserved."
Bowen and Bok point out that if more than half of the blacks accepted at selective colleges had been rejected, the probability of acceptance for another white applicant would rise only 2 percent, to 27 percent from 25 percent.
In other words, like handicapped parking spaces,
race-conscious admission, policies have a major impact on the minority
group in question whereas eliminating them would only marginally help members
of the majority community.
Generally, the authors say, their findings offer robust support for the way in which selective colleges have engaged in admissions procedures, examining merit in a broad context and assessing both the needs of the institution and the society.
"If you ask what bothers the public about these admission policies, it is probably the sense that there is some unfairness here," Bok said. "I have two responses. One is that there is a tendency to equate fairness with high school grades and scores that is not well-founded in terms of admissions practices. Second, fairness is something that really has to be defined in terms of what the institution is legitimately trying to accomplish.
"In the case of universities and colleges, race
turns out to be very
relevant because we are interested in what students can teach one another and race is a part of that in an increasingly diverse society.
Well-prepared minorities have a special leadership role because there have been so few in the past. So what is fair involves the question of the purpose of a university. And, ultimately that question is not soluble with data."
Tomorrowís Professor - Msg. #62 THE MILLENNIAL
In March of this year I posted a message (#9) describing some the waystoday's freshmen look at the world and how different it is from the world of us "older" folks. Here is an updated list (minus the items that also appeared in message #9) provided by Sherry Nelson Reichert, Community & High School Outreach, South Seattle Community College.
UP NEXT: Biology Problem Sets and the WWW - The Use of Rationale Statements to Complement Multiple Choice Answers
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THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION
This September, a whole new batch of freshmen will walk onto college campuses in all parts of the country. Did you know . . .
* Most were born in 1980.
* There has only been one Pope. They can only really remember one president.
*They were 11 when the Soviet Union broke apart, and do not remember the Cold War.
* They have never feared a nuclear war. "The Day After" is a pill to them, not a movie.
* They have only known one Germany.
* They are either too young to remember the Space shuttle blowing up ...or it is their first collective television memory. Tienanmen Square means nothing to them.
* They do not know who Moammar Qadafi is.
* They never had a polio shot, and likely, do not know what it is.
* Bottle caps have not only always been screw off, but have always been plastic.
* They have no idea what a pull top can looks like.
* They have never owned a record player.
* They have likely never played Pac Man, and have never heard of Pong.
* Star Wars looks fake and the special effects are pathetic.
* There have always been Red M&M's, and Blue ones are not new. What do you mean there used to be beige ones?
* They have always had an answering machine.
* They have always had cable.
* The Tonight Show has always been with Jay Leno.
* They have no idea when or why Jordache jeans were cool.
* Popcorn has always been cooked in a microwave.
* They have never seen and remember a game that included the St. Louis football Cardinals, the Baltimore Colts, the Minnesota North Stars, the Kansas City Kings, the New Orleans Jazz, the Minnesota Lakers, the Atlanta Flames or the Denver Rockies (NHL hockey, that is).
* They do not consider the Colorado Rockies, the
Florida Marlins, The
Florida Panthers, the Ottawa Senators, the San Jose Sharks, or the Tampa Bay Lightning expansion teams.
* They have never seen Larry Bird play, and Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar is a
* They never took a swim and thought about Jaws.
* The Vietnam War is as ancient history to them as WWI, WWII or even the Civil War.
* They have no idea that Americans were ever held hostage in Iran.
* They can't imagine what hard contact lenses are.
* They don't know who Mork was or where he was from.
* They never heard the terms "Where's the beef?" or "de plane, de plane!".
* They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who J.R. is.
* The Cosby Show, The Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, The Love Boat, Miami Vice, WKRP in Cincinnati and Taxi are shows they have never seen.
* They cannot remember the Cardinals ever winning a World Series or even being in one.
* Kansas, Chicago, Boston, America, and Alabama are places, not musical groups.
* McDonald's food never came in Styrofoam containers.
* The Titanic was found? They thought we
always knew where it was.
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. #63 ON-LINE MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS WITH RATIONNALE ANSWER STATEMENTS - AN INTERESTING USE OF THE WWW.
Here is an edited version of an article in the
Stanford, "Speaking of
Computers," Issue #48, 9/21/98 on an interesting use of rationale
statements to complement multiple choice problem sets in an introductory biology class at Stanford. The application has turned out to be so popular that it is being made available universtity-wide in January, 1999. Further information, including the complete article can be found at: (http://rits.stanford.edu/ritspub/).
Please let me know if you are familiar with any
related kinds of
approaches that we can share with all subscribers.
UP NEXT: E-mail Mentors for Women In Engineering, Sciences - MentorNet Update
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ON-LINE MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS WITH RATIONNALE ANSWER STATEMENTS - AN INTERESTING USE OF THE WWW.
"Biology Problem Sets and the WWW - The Use of Rationale Statements to Complement Multiple Choice Answers"
In Spring Quarter, 1998, the Stanford Program in Human Biology and the Stanford Learning Lab experimented with using the World Wide Web to submit weekly problem sets. The process involved an unusual element - students were we required to submit rationales for each of their multiple choice answers, and these written responses were also evaluated.
The course, The Human Organism, involved two faculty members Russell Fernald and Craig Heller), five course assistants, and 208 students.
Multiple choice problem sets were made available to students via the Web at the end of each week's lectures. Within a short time, they were graded by computer and the correct answers were posted on the Web.
In addition to selecting a multiple choice answer to each question in the problem set, students were required to submit short "rationales" explaining their answers. These rationales were sorted so that the teaching team could, for example, explore the rationales provided for frequently-missed questions. According to Professor Heller, "Even though this was a large course, the faculty could give some students direct feedback each week, and that greatly stimulated higher performance levels by the students."
The use of on-line problem sets enabled students and teachers alike to receive rapid feedback on student thought processes. Working together to think about and discuss the problem sets was welcomed and encouraged, but students were responsible for submitting their own responses to each problem set. Because problem set results were available on Monday morning and sorted by section, the course assistants could tailor their sections to cover the concepts that seemed to give students the most difficulty. They could even know beforehand which students needed extra help.
As Larry Leifer, Director of the Stanford Learning Lab and Professor of Mechanical Engineering, explained,
"The on-line homework submission protocol developed
for Human Biology expresses two important rules-of-thumb in learning activity:
nothing is more important for the student than rapid feedback on their
work; and for the professor, nothing is more important than the rationale
for why students do what they do. Now they both get it.
Student reactions to the required inclusion of rationales was mixed (e.g., "The rationale was a pain to do, but I can see how they help"). Three-fourths of the students felt that they spent more time thinking about the problems because they had to provide rationales.
Faculty and course assistant response to the use of on-line problem sets was very enthusiastic. As Professor Fernald put it: "We were all quite surprised at how well this approach worked! We had an up-to-date record of how the students were doing at every step along the way. Trying to 'push the envelope' can be very difficult, but it's very rewarding."
"One of the most powerful aspects of the rationale part of the Q&A was that we could 'see' the students' knowledge base," Professor Fernald said. "We learned what and how they thought about questions; this insight into the students' starting point was a first for us and ultimately very useful."
For More Information:
(1) A more complete version of the above article
can be found at:
(2) To see a student's view of the corrected problems
or a course
assistant's view of frequently-missed questions and class histograms, see: http://sll.stanford.edu/highlights/humbio/.
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. #64 E-MAIL MENTORS FOR
WOMEN IN ENGINEERING, SCIENCES - MENTORNET UPDATE (9/21/98)
Here is an update, provided by Dr. Carol Muller,
to posting #16
(4/13/98) on MentorNet, a national electronic industrial mentoring network for women in engineering and science. As you will note, the number of participating colleges and universities has increased significantly, but there is certainly more work to be done to reach MentorNet's goal of linkng 5,000 female students with female and male mentors by its fifth year of operation.
UP NEXT: Twelve Suggestions for Optimizing Academic Career Success
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E-MAIL MENTORS FOR WOMEN IN ENGINEERING, SCIENCES - MENTORNET UPDATE (9/21/98)
MentorNet, the national electronic industrial
for women in engineering and science, has begun to launch its second cohort of matched pairs of students and mentors. We expect to match 500 undergraduate and graduate women studying engineering and related science fields with mentors in industry for a structured mentoring relationship to last at least one academic year. (See press release below.) We are continuing to develop and test "best practices" in electronic mentoring, to set a standard for such endeavors, and may host a meeting in 1999 of others working on electronic mentoring for various target populations.
Our revised web site this year contains a lot more information to help respond to the many requests we have had for information about MentorNet, its program and organization. We have enhanced the training sites for students and mentors, and have added posters in PDF and Word formats and text messages to assist university, corporate, and professional society representatives in student and mentor recruitment. Student and mentor applications have been substantially revised based on last year's experience, and we expect to be able to make closer matches this year between students and mentors as a result.
New this year to MentorNet are :
University of Arizona,
University of California-Davis, and
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign.
Continuing from last year are:
San Jose State,
Stevens Institute of Technology,
University of Texas-Austin,
University of Virginia, and
the University of Washington.
We are very pleased to announce that WEPAN has received a one-year, $106,900 grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) to help support MentorNet's further development this year. This grant will fund the salary and benefits for our mentoring specialist, and some of the costs of evaluation, travel, and dissemination.
MentorNet organizers have found that there is no shortage of students who want mentors, but there is a shortage of qualified mentors.
"Mentors who can't take the time involved to set up and travel to meetings an a face-to-face mentoring arrangement may just spend 15-20 minutes a week on email. It's convenient, efficient, and effective. Geographic distance between a mentor and a student is not important," said Dr. Carol Muller executive director of MentorNet.
MentorNet's goal is to link 5,000 female students with female and male mentors by its fifth year of operation so there is plenty of opportunity to get involved.
For further information contact: Carol Muller,
email@example.com. URL: http://www.mentornet.net/
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. #65 TWELVE SUGGESTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING ACADEMIC CAREER SUCCESS
The material below is taken from a chapter, "Lessons Learned Along the Way: Twelve Suggestions for Optimizing Career Success," by Arthur Bedeian, appearing in an excellent book, Rhythms of Academic Life: Personal Accounts of Careers in Academia, P.J. Frost and M. Susan Taylor, editors, SAGE Publications, 1996. [Available from Amazon.com, ISBN 0803972636, $31.95] The book deals primarily with issues in management and industrial engineering academic fields for faculty at Research universities, however, it has much good advice for all of us in higher education. Bedeian is a professor of management, and chairman, Department of Management, at Louisiana State University. Let me know if you want a hard copy of the full chapter.
UP NEXT: More Help Wtih Saying "No."
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TWELVE SUGGESTIONS FOR OPTIMIZING ACADEMIC CAREER SUCCESS
1. HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
"It has been frequently observed that developing a successful career is much like riding a train. Both require having your ticket punched along the way. Getting a quick start, [particularly with research and publications] or hitting the ground running can do much to ensure that the journey from assistant, to associate, to full-professor proceeds in a timely fashion, as oneís ticket is properly punched at all the appropriate stations."
2. LOCATE THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE
"The pedigree of the institution from which you graduated may be helpful in obtaining a desired position, it is of little value in keeping such a position."
"Demonstrate independent scholarly ability and make sure you have publications that go well beyond your dissertation."
"A sustained level of performance is critical to success - the best predictor of future performance is past performance."
3. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
"If I were asked to name the most important factor in a successful career, my answer would unhesitatingly be locating with colleagues one can work with that is, having a critical mass of colleagues involved in researching, writing, and publishing."
4. PUBLISH, PUBLISH, PUBLISH
"In economic analogy, publications are the major currency of the realmÖPublications means visibility, esteem, and career mobility."
5. BE PROACTIVE
"The aspiring scholar bent on a successful career must quickly appreciate that no individual has enough time to dispense effort endlessly to all comers without regard to the ultimate consequences. Given my previous emphasis on earning academic currency, my comments at this point are directed primarily at the individualís proactive management of workload so that he or she can transcend the immediate environment and establish a cosmopolitan role identity."
6. DO DIFFERENT THINGS
"Academics should do different things at different points in their careers."
"[Beginning faculty] need to provide early evidence of their teaching competence and scholarly abilities, both being prerequisites of promotion and tenureÖ.Stay away from writing textbooks early on."
"Over time [faculty] are capable of making different contributions to the academic enterprise. Ö Senior faculty are also more likely to be in a better position to divert time from their research to pursue research grants, accept administrative appointments, and become involved in such activities as faculty governance."
7. ACHIEVE ACADEMIC CREDIBILITY
" Those that go into administration should carry with them a measure of academic credibility. This is especially important because it avoids situations in which deans or department chairs demand that faculty members do things (e.g., conduct research, publish, secure grants) that the administrators have not done and perhaps could not do themselves."
8. TAKE QUANTUM LEAPS
"At least two moves are typically required to maximize a career. The first involves that all-important initial academic appointment; the second is the seemingly mandatory quantum leap to secure a named professorship or endowed chair. Why the second more often than not requires a move from one institution to another is a conundrum. A partial answer might involve a second observation: An individualís academic accomplishments are almost invariably honored more by others than by those at his or her own institution."
9. BALANCE WORK AND FAMILY
"In my salad days, I could routinely spend 14-16 hours a day locked in my study revising a textbook. The burnout that ultimately resulted, and the death of a well-known contemporary, actually found dead at his desk, occasioned a simple question: Did I want to spend the rest of my life writing textbooks? My answer was no.
10. CONTINUE YOUR EDUCATION
"Perhaps the smartest decision I have made in my entire career involved "going back to school." I enrolled in my first multivariate statistics course while I was a faculty member at Auburn. I spent a sabbatical taking a course in research design. To this day, I take methodological notes on every journal to which I subscribeÖ.Be forewarned: When one submits to the temptation to jump from a research reportís abstract to its conclusion, bypassing the methods section, it is time to go back to school."
11. BECOME INVOLVED IN THE ASSOCIATIONS
"The career benefits of professional association involvement extend well beyond those provided by formal paper sessions. Interacting with other in oneís discipline is not only a means of establishing a professional identity, but a way to find points of reference for oneís career."
12. HAVE FUN!
"Putting aside my earlier comment on the need
for a song work ethic, having fun (at work and play) requires that one
not take oneís career too seriously. There will always be conflicts
and trade-offs. No matter how sharp one is, there is always someone
sharper. And the more career success one enjoys, the harder it is
to reach the next level of achievement. In the end, when that last
lecture is given and that last manuscript is in the mail, one must define
career success for oneself, and oneís own personal happiness. Good
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. #66 MORE HELP WITH SAYING
It's not a bad thing that most of us work in places
where it's more of
problem to get people to say "no" than to say "yes." Yet, saying "no" in
the right way to things we don't want or need to do so we can say "yes" to
what is really important, is a challenge all of us face. Here are some
suggestions on how to say "no" taken from the Introduction of the, Success
Guide for Knox Faculty, 2nd edition, August, 1998, p.5. Copies of the
complete guide are available for $5.00 by writing to Professor Penny S.
Gold, Box 45, Knox College, Galesburg, IL 61401.
UP NEXT: Asking the Right Questions in Class
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MORE HELP WITH SAYING "NO."
"That sounds interesting, but can I call you back
tomorrow? I need a
little time to think about it before I decide."
"I'm sorry, but I've just got too many other commitments right now."
"I'd love to help, but I really don't have time
for a formal commitment.
Maybe we could just talk once or twice."
"I'm afraid I'm not the best person to help you
with this. Have you
thought about asking _______?
"Say no. Not all the time, of course.
The College can't function, much
less thrive, without each of us contributing in a variety of ways to its
sustenance and to the ongoing innovation that makes this an interesting and
satisfying place in which to work. But you will be asked to do many more
things than you can do. When asked, get in the habit of saying that you
need a day to think about it - even if you're pretty sure you want to say
yes. And then take the time to figure out if this is something that:
(a) you have the talent or skill for,
(b) you have a strong interest in or commitment to, and
(c) will help you connect up with other people in the College you're
interested in working with.
"What keeps us from saying no? The pressures
are somewhat different for
untenured and tenured. Untenured faculty may be concerned that one has please tenured faculty, the College administration, and students at every
turn. Tenured faculty sometimes think the College's welfare demands that
we do everything we possible can. Yes, the health and welfare of the
College depend on each one of us contributing beyond our teaching and
research to the service of the institution. But the institution will be
best served by having faculty who contribute out of commitment and interest in the ways best suited to each. It's not well served by having faculty worked to a frazzle doing tasks beyond us, or whose value we're not sure of. (A less common problem at Knox, but still existent, is people who don't say "yes" enough, which makes life even harder for people who have trouble saying "no.")"
FINALLY, KEEP IN MIND THAT IT IS A LOT EASIER TO SAY "NO" TO THINGS YOU DON'T WANT TO DO IF YOU HAVE ALREADY SAID "YES" TO THINGS YOU DO WANT TO DO.
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. # 67 ASKING THE RIGHT
QUESTIONS IN CLASS
Kenneth Solomon, professor and department head
of the BioResource &
Agricultureal Engineering Department at CalPoly, San Luis Obispo, has
called my attention to a very interesting web site, "Effective Teaching in
Agriculture and Life Sciences," at http://www.ais.msstate.edu/TALS/ It was developed as a joint project (funded by the USDA) between Mississippi State University, North Carolina Stste University and New Mexico State University.
The site has a wealth of information on all aspects
of effective teaching
and learning. Topics include:
1-Developing Higher-Order Thinking Skills
2-Improving Presentation/Classroom Skills
3-Motivating Students to Learn
4-Using the WWW in Instruction
6-Research on Effective Teaching
8-Alternatives to Lecturing
10-Issues in Higher Education
12-Preparing and Using Visuals
13-Course Planning and Development
14-Designing and Evaluating Student Assignments
15-Diversity and Related Issues
Below is a sample from Unit 2 - Improving Presentation/Classroom Skills, Module D - Questioning.
UP NEXT: The 25 Greatest Astronomical Findings of All Time
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ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS IN CLASS
"Effective Teaching in Agriculture and Life Sciences," Unit 2 Improving Presentation/Classroom Skills
Module D -Questioning
Teachers should be liberal in their use of questions
Numerous research studies have found a correlation between questioning and
student learning. Questions serve a variety of purposes:
* They can be used to ascertain what students
know prior to
* They can be used to determine if students have learned
what has been taught
* They can be used to gain attention
* They provide variation while teaching
* They can be directed at problem students to get the student back on task
* They cause students to think
Using questions while teaching is a desirable behavior.
Levels of Questions: Questions are typically divided
into two levels: Higher
Order and Lower Order. The higher order questions call for responses from students that require synthesis, analysis and evaluation. Lower order questions require students to provide answers that demonstrate basic
knowledge and comprehension (see Unit 1 Developing Higher-Order Thinking Skills for a review of the levels of the cognitive domain). It is desirable to ask both higher order and lower order questions. Research finds professors tend to ask only lower order questions.
Types of Questions: There are several systems for classifying questions. One system classifies questions as convergent or divergent. Convergent questions have a single or limited number of correct answers. Convergent questions typically involve the recall of facts or application of knowledge to a specific situation. Examples of convergent questions are:
What is the chemical formula
What are signs of nitrogen deficiency in plants?
Which breeds of livestock would be best adapted for South Texas?
In some classification schemes, convergent questions
are called closed
Divergent questions have many correct answers
or even unknown answers. They are often used to get students to think or
solve problems. Examples of
Divergent questions are:
What do you think will happen to family farms
over the next ten years If you were the Secretary of Agriculture, what
three things would you do first?
For an agribusiness to be successful, what business principles must be
Teachers typically asked convergent questions
five times more often than
they ask divergent questions. Both types of questions are valuable in the
classroom. In some classification schemes, divergent questions are called
A probing question is one in which the teacher
asks the student to provide
additional information, clarify a response or justify an answer. Teachers
should get into the practice of asking probing questions as this causes students to develop higher order thinking skills. Even if a student response to a question is correct, it is appropriate to follow-up with a probing question.
One teaching skill not discussed in Module A of
this lesson is cueing. When a student is asked a question and cannot respond,
it is ok to provide a hint
or clue to help the student. This is called cueing.
Steps in Asking Questions
There is a correct way and incorrect way to ask a question. A novice teacher may throw out a question or two to the class, get no response, and then decide not to use questioning as a part of the teaching repertoire. The problem was in the way the question was asked. In using questions the following sequence is recommended:
1.Ask the question. The question should be clearly
stated and correctly
phrased. If all you get are blank looks after asking a question, it may be
because the question is poorly worded. When teachers come up with questions on the spur of the moment, they may not be the greatest example of precise wording. It isn't a bad idea to write down 2-3 questions you might want to ask and place those in your lecture notes.
2.Pause. After the question is asked, the teacher
should pause for several
seconds. This allows time for students to formulate a response. The longer
the pause, the better the response will be. Research shows the average
pause time after a question is asked is eight-tenths of a second. This is
inadequate. Research shows the quality of the response is improved if more
time is allowed for students to think after a question is asked.
3.Call on a student by name. There are two things
that generally happen
when a teacher asks a question, but doesn't call on a specific student to
A. No one will respond. Broadcast questions such
as "Does anybody know..." or "Who knows..." rarely invoke a response; especially
early in the semester. After rapport has been established, a professor
may be able to
ask this type of question. A specific student should be called on to answer the question.
B. One or two students may dominate the class
if no one is called on to
respond. Every time a question is posed, the same couple of students will
answer. This is not desirable.
There are some people who are reluctant to call
on a student by name
because they might embarrass the student if the student doesn't answer the
question correctly. As long as the professor doesn't lambaste the student
for not knowing the answer and makes it a habit to call on all students in
the class as a matter of course instead of singling out a few, this isn't a
The reason the questioning process starts with
stating the question instead
of identifying a student to answer is because this will cause all the
students to have to think of the answer. If the teacher calls on a student
and then asks the question, the other students tend to relax.
4.Acknowledge the answer, probe or redirect the
question. The manner in
which the teacher reacts to a student response to a question depends up the
time available and the goals trying to be accomplished. The simplest
response is to say "That is correct" or "That isn't quite right" or
something to that effect. The student response should beacknowledged but a
master teacher will build upon the student response whether it correct or
incorrect. A master teacher will probe further (Why do you believe that to
be true? Are you sure? Why did you respond that way?) or redirect the question to another student (Do you agree? What do you think?). The question may be redirected to 3-4 other students. Even if the original response was correct, it is not a bad idea to bounce the same question off of several students. Probing and redirecting the question promotes a deeper level of understanding and thinking.
5.State the correct response. Before a question
is left, the teacher should
emphasize the correct answer.
Tomorrowís professor msg. #68 THE 25 GREATEST ASTRONOMICAL FINDINGS OF ALL TIME
No matter what your interests are in science or engineering, or any other area for that matter, the list below should prove of value to you and your students. I've often thought that if I could somehow be teleported back to say ancient Greece, and could bring only one "thing" in my house with me that wasn't a book or other written document, it would be my 100 year-old 6" refracting telescope.
UP NEXT: How Graduate Students and Faculty Miscommunicate
---------------------------- 445 words --------------------------
THE 25 GREATEST ASTRONOMICAL FINDINGS OF ALL TIME
In chronological order.
Expanded from PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE, The American
Physics, September 22, 1998. [Annotations are added by KASTN.]
The Korean-American Science and Technology News,
Issue 98-36 (No. 169), October 7, 1998.
The editors of Astronomy magazine (October 1998)
25 GREATEST ASTRONOMICAL FINDINGS of all time, as follows:
01. 1543: Copernicus' De Revolutionibus
sets forth the heliocentric system.
[ED. Copernicuss De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium
(On the revolutions of the celestial bodies) set forth
planetary motions based on the assumption that Earth and
other planets revolve around the sun. On May 24 of that
year, Nicolas Copernicus, Polish astronomer, died.]
02. 1610: Galileo's observations of the
phases of Venus,
Jupiter's moons, and craters on the moon.
03. 1675: An accurate measurement of the
speed of light.
[ED. Ole Roemer, Danish astronomer and a monk, made
the first meaningful measurement of the speed of light,
obtaining a value that is about 80% of its known value.]
04. 1687: Newton's Principia
05. 1761: A transit of Venus suggests Venus
has an atmosphere.
[ED. Since orbits of the planets are in virtually the same
plane, Venus (and Mercury) can be seen as a dot passing in
front of the sun. Such an event is called a transit.
In the 1761 transit of Venus, it was discovered that Venus
had an atmosphere.]
06. 1780: Discovery of Uranus.
[ED. Uranus was discovered on March 13 by William Herschel.]
07. 1796: The nebular hypothesis
[ED. The nebular hypothesis, that the solar system evolved
from a condensing cloud of gas, was first put forth by
Pierre-Simon Laplace in his Explanation of the system of
08. 1801: Discovery of the first asteroid.
[ED. By Giuseppe Piazzi.]
09. 1834-38: Southern Hemisphere celestial
[ED. Begun in 1834 by John Frederick Herschel.]
10. 1838: The use of parallax for finding a star's
11. 1846: Discovery of Neptune.
[ED. On September 23 of that year, Johann Galle discovered
the planet Neptune.]
12. 1864: Spectroscopic proof that nebulae are
[ED. By Sir William Huggins.]
13. 1890: Scheme for classifying star types
14. 1908: Cometary explosion over Siberia
15. 1912: Cepheid-variable period-luminosity relationship
[ED. This turned out to be the key to unlocking the
distances to galaxies outside the Milky Way.]
16. 1913: The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for
how stars age.
17. 1918: Studies of globular clusters help to
18. 1923: Recognition of galaxies beyond our own
19: 1930: Discovery of Pluto
20. 1931-32: The advent of radio astronomy
21. 1963: Discovery of quasars
22. 1965-67: The cosmic microwave background
[ED. Arno Penzias and Robert Wison accidentally find the
remnants of the Big Bang.]
23. 1967: Discovery of pulsars
[ED. Jocelyn Bell discovered the first pulsar, CP 1919, in July;
her supervisor Anthony Hewish was given a share of the 1974
Nobel Prize for this feat, but Bell was not so recognized.]
24. Early 1990s: Supermassive black holes
25. 1992: Discovery of extrasolar planets
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. #69 HOW GRADUATE STUDENTS AND FACULTY MISCOMMUNICATE
The following list on the ways graduate students and faculty miscommunicate by Roderick M. Kramer and Joanne Martin, both professors at Stanford University, rings all too true, at least from my experience. How about you?
UP NEXT: The Urgency of Engineering Education Reform
----------------------- 376 words----------------------
HOW GRADUATE STUDENTS AND FACULTY MISCOMMUNICATE
By Roderick M.
Kramer and Joanne Martin*
WHAT FACULTY SAY/WHAT FACULTY REALLY MEAN
* I understand why this is late./No I don't
* Take your time./Do it now.
* Call me if you have any questions./Try to find me.
* The ideas are good./The methods stink.
* Interesting methods./The ideas stink.
* The results are interesting./The theory is terrible.
* This is a good first draft./This really needs a lot of work.
* You might want to do a literature search./This study was done about 100 years ago.
* I'm looking forward to reading this latest draft of you dissertation./How many is that anyhow?
* This is really a nice piece of independent, scholarly work./Gee, I wish I were a coauthor.
* I could use your help analyzing these data./I can't make heads or tails out of this mess.
* I think we are getting close to a final draft./You've got a long way to go.
* You might want to think through some of the implications./Why haven't you done so?
* I'm glad you brought me up to date on your dissertation./Where have you been since last September?
* That's a reasonable interpretation of these
data./It's a lot better than mine.
WHAT STUDENTS SAY/WHAT STUDENTS REALLY MEAN
* Here's my draft; it's still a little rough./I wrote it last night.
*Do you happen to know anything about this topic?/Give me the citations so I don't have to do a literature search.
* What do you think of the theory?/The results stink.
* What do you think of the data?/The theory stinks.
* That's a good point that I didn't think of./I have no idea what you're talking about.
* That's a REALLY good point./You have no idea what I'm talking about.
* These are really good suggestions./What a pain.
*The I transformed the data using acceptable multivariate techniques./I go rid of the outliner.
* Support for the main hypotheses was week./Support was nonexistent.
* I misunderstood your comment./I thought we agreed on this.
* I guess I didn't reason that way./If you think
it through, it doesn't
* I guess I wasn't clear aboutÖ./Didn't you read it?
* If you sign off so I can just file it, I'll
make the changes right
away./See you same time next year.
* "Transitions and Turning Points in Faculty-Doctoral
Relationships," in Rhythms of Academic Life: Personal Accounts of Careers in Academia, Peter Frost and Susan Taylor, editors, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA 1996, Table 18.1, p. 178.
Tomorrowís Professor Msg. #70 THE URGENCY OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION REFORM
The following notes are from James Lau, professor of civil engineering at Texas A&M University. They are his summary of an article by Wm. A. Wulf, professor of computer science at the University of Virginia on the urgency of engineering education reform. The notes are well worth reading by scientists as well as engineers. Note in particular how he contrasts the roles of faculty in these two professions.
UP NEXT: Generation X vs the Millennial Generation - A More Serious Look
------------------------ 779 words -----------------------
THE URGENCY OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION REFORM
Wm. A. Wulf, The Bent, Tau Beta Pi, Fall 1998, pp. 21-23.
Summary Notes by James. T. P. Yao,
"... Science is analytic - it strives to understand
nature, what is.
Engineering is synthetic - it strives to create what can be, but it is
constrained by nature, by cost, by concerns of safety, reliability,
environmental impact, manufacturability, maintainability and many other such 'ilities.' ... "
"... Growing global competition and the subsequent
industry, the shift from defense to civilian work, the use of new materials and biological processes, and the explosion of information technology - both as part of the process of engineering and as part of its product - have dramatically and irreversibly changed how engineers work. If anything, the pace of this change is accelerating. ... I think it is only a slight exaggeration to say that our students are being prepared to practice engineering in a world that existed when we were trained a generation or two ago. They are not being prepared for the 21st century.
"... Most obviously, we need to focus on curriculum,
diversity. ... We need to question whether the B.S. should be the first
professional degree. We need to scrutinize the current system of rewards for faculty. We need to consider seriously the need for formalized lifelong learning, and the importance of technology literacy in the general population."
"Most professions (e.g., business, law, medicine)
do not consider the
bachelor's degree a professional degree. Engineering does. Doing so is a misrepresentation, both to the student and employer. ..."
"The new fundamentals include information technology
(IT), which will be embedded in virtually every product and process in
the future. ... Discrete mathematics, not continuous mathematics, is the
underpinning of IT. Biological materials and processes are a bit behind
IT in their impact on engineering, but they are closing fast. ... In addition,
the modern engineer must design under constraints that include global cultural
and business contexts, ... We can't just add these new elements to a curriculum
that's already too full, especially we still claim that the baccalaureate
is a professional degree. We have to look critically at the current cherished
fundamentals and either displace them or find ways to cover them much more
"... Recall that my definition of engineering is design under constraint. I believe the process of design is a synthetic, highly creative activity. Can you think of any other creative field on campus where the faculty are not expected to practice or perform? ... Can you imagine a medical school where the faculty was prohibited from practicing medicine? Yet, this is just the situation we have in engineering."
"Engineering faculty are, for the most part, judged by criteria similar to the science faculty and the practice of engineering is not one of those criteria. The faculty reward system recognizes teaching, research, and service to the profession, but it does not give the same status to delivering a marketable product or process, or designing an enduring piece of the nation's infrastructure. Of course, what you measure is what you get.
For the most part, our faculty are superb 'engineering scientists," but they are not necessarily folks who know a lot about the practice of engineering. ... I am criticizing a system that prevents us from enriching faculty with a complementary set of experiences and talents. But to close the loop, the current faculty are the folks with the largest say in the engineering curriculum. Given this, it should not be a big surprise that industry leaders have been increasingly vocal about their discontent with engineering graduates."
"... As a creative field, without diversity, engineering cannot take advantage of life experiences that bear directly on good engineering design. ... The situation is simply unacceptable to industries that need diversity among their engineers in order to compete in a global market. ..."
"... The notion of lifelong learning has not been part of the engineering culture, either among individual engineers or at engineering schools. ... I am especially concerned that continuing education, with some exceptions, is mostly relegated to non-top-tier schools and, increasingly, to for-profit organizations. ..."
"... An understanding of the larger 'innovation engine,' the process by which an understanding of nature is converted into what can be - into a better, richer life - is critical. Engineering schools have not traditionally provided courses for liberal arts majors, but, in my view, they must. ..."
"We have studied engineering education reform to death. While there are differences between the reports I cited earlier and with my remarks here, the differences are not great. Let's get on with it! It is urgent that we do so!"
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