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Comment I agree - for large lectures (Score 1) 804

I had that same idea when I was an undergrad (in the USA). The course outcome should be important, and if I can gain the skills/knowledge without attending, then why require me to attend? When I started teaching underclassmen as a grad student, I even instituted an attendance-optional policy.

But then I became a professor and had the luxury of teaching small upper-level and graduate courses. My belief that the instructor was not the source of all knowledge was reinforced, but so was the understanding that *real* learning happened between students. When a student did not attend our discussions, they deprived us all of their point of view.

So, for large lectures, I agree with you. Use the Western Governors University model (sell assessment and certification/accreditation, not instruction). But for small, meaningful classes, I still require attendance.

Comment ACC was right! (Score 4, Interesting) 115

In 2001, ACC pointed out the odd coincidence between the ring of Saturn being only 4 million years old, and the time when the Monolith appeared on Earth. Hmmmmmm.

BTW - The book has the large monolith at Saturn, not Jupiter. Kubrick was worried about the FX it would take to portray the rings on film, so they changed it to Jupiter.

Comment Re:Count me in (Score 2, Insightful) 703

The Best Thing Ever was when some Bush-administration lackey took Colbert seriously enough to invite him to speak at the 2006 White House Correspondents' dinner.

That speech made Colbert forever one of my personal heroes.

You might want to brush up on the history of the White House Correspondents' Association's dinner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_House_Correspondents'_Association . Yakov Smirnoff was the speaker in 1988.

The content of Colbert's speech may have surprised some, but taking him "seriously" would have disqualified him from being considered as the speaker.

Comment Re:Geeze (Score 2, Interesting) 357

Local news: Hydrogen fueling facility explodes on [street]. No word yet on damage or casualties. In other news, please tune in to the end of our broadcast to find out how [common household product] could be KILLING YOUR FAMILY.

I live in Rochester, you insensitive clod...

Actually, you're dead on. The 10 o'clock news said the explosion was near Scott St., and then proceeded with (I kid you not) a story about a four-year-old who wore too many Silly Bands for too long and had sore skin because of it.

Comment Re:Depends who you thnk teachers work for (Score 4, Interesting) 629

It would be nice to hope that this was the first step in recognising that (indirectly) real people pay for and therefore employ teachers. These real people would like to think the primary role of teachers is to impart knowledge, skills and abilities to the children in their charge.

I'm a prof in a school of ed, but my background is in psych, not ed. I've noticed that many teachers (and those teachers who go on to become profs of education) do not feel that imparting "knowledge, skills and abilities" is their major goal. Rather, as I see it, they envision teachers as replacing the home, family, and parents as the conduit of social morals.

Comment Re:RTFA before commenting (Score 1) 629

Standardized tests are one measurement, but not the only or best one... just the cheapest and the easiest for politicians and lazy reporters to spout about.

"Best" would imply some set of criteria, right? If inexpensive, consistent, apparently-easy-to-understand, and status-quo are part of your criteria, then couldn't standardized tests be the "best"? While the states place far too much confidence in the results (e.g. they do not even report the students' scores in error bands), they may be justified in their selection of standardized tests as a method of assessment.

Many (most) states use tests that are far below industry standards. But we shouldn't besmirch all standardized tests because the state chooses poorly.

Comment Re:I say test the teachers (Score 2, Interesting) 629

Test the teachers on the material they are teaching.

James Popham, a prof. ameritus at UCLA, wrote that if we want to know something about someone, we measure that something in that someone. To measure something in the students and then draw a conclusion about the teacher is "a second-step inference." He pointed out that current psychometric theory (see the AERa, APA, NCME 1999 Standards for psychological and educational testing) only deal with first-step inferences.

Note that the LA Time analysis used value-added methods, which have not been fully vetted in the psychometric literature. Especially, the degree to which measurement error (which is operationalized slightly differently in psychometrics than in other fields) interacted with value-added methods has not been established. Given that the false-result rate on New York State's tests are around 5% (which is probably close to CA's), I doubt you can rely on them as much as this analysis has.

Comment Re:Validity (Score 1) 571

I'm a research psychologist who specializes in testing and assessment, and asking "is this test valid?" is exactly the right response to this article.

I hope you're referring to the test being valid as a shorthand way of communicating with non-psychologists. The latest Standards for Psychological and Educational Testing (AERA, APA, NCME, 1999), Chapter 1, explain quite clearly that tests are not valid or invalid, nor are the test's results. It is the inferences we draw from test results that can be more-or-less valid. This, of course, follows from Messick's (1995) work and is a derivation (or, rather an evolution) of classical validity, which was overseen by Cronbach.

Comment Re:Labeling (Score 4, Insightful) 228

Also, right now, ASD clumps together symptoms even though they may have different etiologies. Having a biological test for a trait correlated with autism may help tease out the degree to which different conditions result in the same symptoms. When children test negative, but still exhibit ASD, we know there is another pathway to the condition that may be better served through different treatment.

This could be HUGE.

Comment Re:Bad idea in the first place (Score 4, Interesting) 44

Especially when there are already laws against the behavior in question and these laws already put the onus on the companies. (This isn't original to me, but I'm too lazy to look up the original reference.)

It works like this: If Person A pretends to be me and gets something without paying for it, that's fraud, not "ID theft." But with fraud, I'm not the victim, whoever accepted the fraudulent credentials is.

Over the last 15 years we've seen a new crime called, "ID theft" wherein the victim is no longer the entity with the power to impede the crime, the victim is a third party. That way credit-granting agencies can ignore the warning signs, and then bill the wrong person for the transaction.

If we stopped talking about "ID theft" and just went back to fraud, the companies would already have the motivation to tighten their ID checks.

Comment Re:Rather a Poor Metric (Score 1) 659

The latest standards from AERA, APA, NCME require test publishers (which includes surveys, self-report tools, etc.) to collect evidence to support the interpretations they claim can be made of the test results. That doesn't mean they all do, and instruments developed by researchers for their own research usually lack that evidence. Whether or not a test has such evidence largely determines its quality. Higher-end (expensive) tests like Student Self-concept Scale will pay for the research to support it.

The whole subfield of supporting certain interpretations of test results is called "test validity," which is slightly different from either logical validity or scientific validity. The popular model is based on the work of Lee Cronbach, but the most advanced model (which is canonized in the latest standards) came from the work of Samuel Messick. The Wikipedia articles reflect this duality with "Validity (Statistics)" describing Cronbach's view, and Test Validity describing Messick's.

To answer your question, correlation has been an enormous part of validity, to the point that a correlation coefficient has been called a "validity coefficient," though this terminology is falling out of favor. (As a graduate student, I was humbled by an established leader in the field when he dismissed my correlations with, "You can get anything to correlate.") Correlation is an important tool, but it's a first step.

Some studies do ask other people to verify someone's self-rating, and some scales (e.g. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale) have others (informants) fill out ratings on the examinee. The examinee never even sees the test (though the examiner must have their or their legal guardian's permission).

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