Decision Analytics and Teacher Qualifications

Disclaimers: This a post about statistics versus decision analytics, not a prescription for improving the educational system in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter). tl;dr. The genesis of today’s post is a blog entry I read on Spartan Ideas titled “Is Michigan Turning Away Good Teachers?” (Spartan Ideas is a “metablog”, curated …

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Florentine Chronicle (1537)

  Florentine Chronicle (1537) Born in the late 13th century in Florence, Giovanni Villani was a notable Italian statesman and diplomat, remembered today for recording the history of Florence in his Nuova Cronica, or New Chronicles. Our 16th century reprint of Villani’s Florentine chronicle features contemporary marginal annotations on nearly every page, marking important lines and …

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Blogging Bioarchaeology: Open Access Publication Now Available!

I’m happy to announce that my journal article with Kristina Killgrove (poweredbyosteons.org) on blogging bioarchaeology has finally published! It is featured in a special Internet Archaeology issue that was created by Colleen Morgan and Judith Winters. You can read the full open access article online here: Bones, Bodies, and Blogs: Outreach and Engagement in Bioarchaeology Meyers …

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American teens are losing their religion

Fig 2. Percentage of American adolescents endorsing “none” for religious affiliation, 1966–2014. From Twenge et al. (2015) Generational and Time Period Differences in American Adolescents’ Religious Orientation, 1966–2014, PLoS ONE. Press release \o/ – See more at: http://pleiotropy.fieldofscience.com/2015/05/american-teens-are-losing-their-religion.html#sthash.0354hveO.dpuf Tweet

Erdös with a non-kosher side of Bacon

Paul Erdös was a prolific and important mathematician. He also had hundreds of collaborators from around the world who coauthored papers with him. Years ago, Casper Goffman explained an idea, called the Erdös number, that describes the “collaborative distance” between Erdös and someone else, where that distance is defined by the smallest number of steps based …

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A Wild Weekend

My wife Madeleine and I had a wild Memorial-day weekend. Late Saturday afternoon, a dog found a baby squirrel, perhaps 5 or 6 weeks old, and chased it through our fence. The poor squirrel appeared to be in shock—its back was wet; it had probably been mouthed by the dog—but otherwise unharmed. We tried putting …

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John Nash, dead at 86

The original title of this post was For this you won a Nobel (Memorial) Prize? But see sad news at bottom. A Beautiful Mind: Nash went to see von Neumann a few days after he passed his generals? He wanted, he had told the secretary cockily, to discuss an idea that might be of interest …

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The Real Thing

Blogging again this week from Schiphol. It seems I’ve missed two of the great denouements of the decade. One would be David Letterman and the other would be Don Draper. Of Dave I could say that his decision to drop watermelons from great heights back in the 1980s was my inspiration to get into food …

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Tiny Things that Live in Little Bottles

As I mentioned in my previous post, it can be a fun challenge to explain your scientific research to people who aren’t scientists. A week or so ago I came across a website that challenges you to explain something complicated using only the thousand most commonly used words. So here’s my effort about our long-term evolution experiment with E. …

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Ioannidis at MSU

These videos are from an interview I did with John Ioannidis when he visited Michigan State earlier this month. The whole thing (29 min) and more short clips are available here. Is 85% of NIH funding wasted? Early candidate gene studies rarely replicated, but GWAS hits do. The flyer for his talk: Tweet

Creativity & Teaching, new article in TCRecord

How do exemplary teachers incorporate creativity in their teaching? For her dissertation study, Dr. Danah Henriksen interviewed several National Teacher of the Year award winners (and finalists), to better understand their beliefs, interests, and practices involving creative teaching. Analysis of the data help us identify key themes of how these teachers approach the creative process, …

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Department of Justice Proposes Legislation to Empower Tribal Governments in Selecting Polling Places

Today the Department of Justice proposed legislation that would require states or localities whose territory includes part or all of an Indian reservation, an Alaska Native village, or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by the tribal government.  “The Department of Justice is deeply committed to ensuring that …

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Fifty years of twin studies

The most interesting aspect of these results is that for many traits there is no detectable non-additivity. That is, gene-gene interactions seem to be insignificant, and a simple linear genetic architecture is consistent with the results. Meta-analysis of the heritability of human traits based on fifty years of twin studies Nature Genetics (2015) doi:10.1038/ng.3285 Despite …

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Running into Roosevelt

On my weekly visit to the MSU Libraries new book shelf, I’ve been running into books that in some way or another bring up Franklin Roosevelt and his presidency. One of my more recent finds is Professor Scott Myers-Lipton’s Ending Extreme Inequality: An Economic Bill of Rights to Eliminate Poverty (Paradigm Publishers, 2015). Myers-Lipton looks …

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Imperial exams and human capital

The dangers of rent seeking and the educational signaling trap. Although the imperial examinations were probably g loaded (and hence supplied the bureaucracy with talented administrators for hundreds of years), it would have been better to examine candidates on useful knowledge, which every participant would then acquire to some degree. See also Les Grandes Ecoles …

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Is Michigan Turning Away Good Teachers?

In late 2013, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) announced changes to the examination prospective teachers are required to pass in order to obtain a Michigan teaching certificate. Specifically, the difficulty of the Professional Readiness Examination (PRE), which is considered a test of the basic skills a teacher needs to be effective, was set at …

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Blatteropoly: The ESPN Documentary

Exquisitely timed for release just ahead of the May 29th FIFA presidential election, ESPN aired an excellent E60 documentary on Sepp Blatter’s governance of world football. Jeremy Schaap’s piercing investigation deftly uses on-camera interviews with whistleblower Phaedra Almajid, ex-FIFA men like Giorgio Tognoni, Swiss government officials, and others to probe the murky bid process that …

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What do teachers and researchers discuss on Twitter at science education conferences?

Comparing discussions on Twitter from two science education conferences My friend recommended an article by Sherin (2013), which got me interested in a simple natural language processing (NLP) technique. I had used TAGs to archive Tweets from the NARST conference and became interested in comparing the tweets from that conference, which consists primarily of presentations …

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Feelings of Rejection

This is a quick (?) recap of an answer I posted on a support forum earlier today. I will couch it in terms somewhat specific to CPLEX, but with minor tweaks it should apply to other mixed-integer programming solvers as well. It is possible to “warm start” CPLEX (and, I’m pretty sure, at least some …

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Badges Redux

It’s 5:37 as I write this. Getting late in the day for a blog this Sunday in May. And I’m tired. … Tired of playing the game… Ain’t it a shame? I’m soo tired….Dammit I’m exhausted! Those are about the only lyrics I feel good about quoting from Madeline Kahn’s send-up of Marlene Dietrich. I’ve …

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New – Tomorrow’s Battlefield: US Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa (Nick Turse)

With the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) boasting a 25% expansion in FY 2014 to 674 operations in Africa, (2015 AFRICOM Posture Statement),  Nick Turse’s new book,  Tomorrow’s Battlefield: US Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa (Haymarket, 2015,) is a timely survey of the nature and rationales for this explosion of AFRICOM’s military training, equipping, …

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Juve and Me

[iOS users click here to listen.] Juventus, the Old Lady of Italian football, is in the Champions League final for the first time since 2003. In an interview I did a year ago with Austin Long for the Soccer Nomad podcast, I explain how I came to support the bianconeri in the mid-1970s despite being …

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House Subcommittee on Indian Affairs Memo on Fee-to-Trust and Important Context

Today, the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs is conducting a hearing entitled: “Inadequate Standards for Trust Land Acquisition in the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.” In advance of the hearing, the Majority Staff circulated a memo calling the fee-to-trust provisions of the Indian Reorganization Act into question. Felix Cohen has described …

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New kids on the blockchain

WSJ reports on institutional interest in blockchain technologies. WSJ: Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. is testing a new use of the technology that underpins the digital currency bitcoin, in a bid to transform the trading of shares in private companies. The experiment joins a slew of financial-industry forays into bitcoin-related technology. If the effort is deemed …

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Vocabulary Builder

I spent a good hour and a half this morning struggling over a blog for the Oxford University Press website, and now I’m pooped. I don’t even know whether they will take it, so I feel like I’m letting both of my regular readers for the Thornapple blog down. I’m sworn off of my usual …

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Our Kids and Coming Apart

Nick Lemann reviews Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam. At the descriptive level, Putnam’s conclusions seem very similar to those of Charles Murray in Coming Apart. Of course, description is much easier to obtain than causality. NYBooks: … By the logic of the book, access to social capital ought to …

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Sparks of Eternity at FDG

We recently showed the prototype of Sparks of Eternity at the Foundation of Digital Games conference. Sparks of Eternity: Episode 1 – Breakthrough is a custom, collaboratively designed game between the Games for Entertainment and Learning (GEL) Lab at Michigan State University and the Frankel Jewish Academy. The goal of the collaboration is to create …

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Michigan Lakefront Property Owner Survey

We are conducting a study of lakeshore properties that is important for informing shoreline and fisheries management approaches this summer. This study is part of an effort to learn how people who own or lease shoreline properties make decisions regarding shoreline and aquatic plants on their properties. The results will be used by lake and …

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