Public data and digital research ethics

The Verge recently posted an article that highlights some of the ethical dilemmas involved in collecting publicly-available data for research purposes. The article begins by describing the work of a researcher working on facial recognition of people before and after hormone replacement therapy: On YouTube, he found a treasure trove. Individuals undergoing HRT often document their progress …

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How to be an effective acting director, chair or dean — Part II (essay)

Last week, Inside Higher Ed published an essay of mine describing my experience as an interim dean. It covered several practical, task-oriented topics: identifying one’s core mission for the interim period, allaying colleagues’ fears, acquiring reliable information and triaging the issues that land in your inbox. But leading a college that includes a department of theater helped me recognize …

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Lessons from the field

As glamorous and thrilling as fieldwork might sound, no field season is complete without a few tales, typically funnier after the fact. Here’s my attempt to impart some humor and share lessons learned after the emotional trauma subsided. Lesson #1: Try new things but acknowledge your limits The second day of our trip, I was …

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A day in the field

3:00 a.m. My alarm goes off. I open my eyes and see the Heilongjiang sun starting to rise. I close my eyes just for a minute more… (Editor’s note – China, while geographically spanning five time zones, follows only one for unity. That means far eastern locales like Heilongjiang see daybreak early.) 3:15 a.m. My …

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#JALTCALL2017 Virtual Plenary | Design thinking: Going from practice to theory and theory to practice

It was an honor to be a virtual plenary at the JALTCALL 2017 conference last night. JALTCALL is a Special Interest Groups (SIG) of JALT (Japan Association for Language Teaching) for educators and researchers who share an interest in digital technology and language learning. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it in person – but we were able to coordinate …

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Comprehensive Exams, Candidacy Exams and the Job Market: More than the Life of the Mind

The article below is a re-post from the Spring 2017 American Sociological Association Sociology of Development newsletter (see the pdf here: https://sociologyofdevelopment.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/spring-2017-socdev-newsletter-4-11.pdf). The newness of the sub-field of sociology of development means it shares some things in common with an interdisciplinary field such as science and technology studies, namely, dispersed resources, disputes about the canonical …

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School Voucher Programs

An introduction to school voucher programs: School voucher systems are one of the leading topics of debate in education policy. A school voucher system offers state funds for financial assistance to parents who want to send their child to another school district or a private school. Oftentimes, legislatures will set parameters on who is able …

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Thank you UGS200H!

It’s hard to believe another semester is in the books! Over the 2016-17 academic year, I had the pleasure of working with 10 amazing undergraduates (along with Jeff & Bill) in UGS200H. UGS 200H = Undergraduate Honors Research Seminar. This was my first opportunity to co-facilitate a freshman research seminar and work with undergraduates, and …

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Welcome Back Student Loan Servicers!

Over forty million Americans owe over $1.3 trillion in federal student loans. According to one study, student loan defaults average about 3,000 per day. And each year the federal government spends about $800 million to collect on that debt, principally by contracting with a “patchwork” of private student loan servicers. This is big business for …

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When Research Gets Misused

There’s a comic that illustrates a phenomenon known all too well by researchers – the tendency for the complex findings of rigorous studies to be boiled down to facile comments about what is or is not true. Press releases and the media seek to pull complex findings together into sound bites that can impact a …

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New publication: Using TPACK to Analyze Technological Understanding in Teachers’ Digital Teaching Portfolios

Over the past four years, I’ve participated in research projects on a few different topics, but most of them can be grouped into the broad category of “digital educational research.” As I like to put it, this involves exploring how digital technologies afford not only new spaces for teaching and learning but also new ways …

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Michigan Schools Face Uncertain Futures

January 20th, 2017 marked a pivotal day for the future of thirty-eight schools across the state of Michigan. Parents received letters from the Michigan State School Reform/Redesign Office (SRO) that spelled out dire consequences for their children’s schools.  The SRO announced publicly that these thirty-eight schools had been identified as chronically low achieving and had …

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To Teach and Delight

The last two weeks of March this year brought sadness twice over to the College of Arts & Letters. On March 18, 2017, we lost Anna Norris, a beloved professor of French Literature who taught at Michigan State University for 18 years. On March 30, 2017, we lost Jim Seaton, an eloquent advocate for the …

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Ratings Revelations from the First Batch of State ESSA Plans

     Although the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) rolls back federal education mandates to allow states more authority over their accountability systems, it nonetheless requires that the Secretary of Education approve each state’s accountability plan to be implemented in the 2017-18 school year. Under an Obama Administration policy, states (and Washington, DC) could submit their …

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New York Takes the Lead

  At the end of last week the New York state legislature passed a state budget, which will include tuition-free college at the state’s public colleges and universities. The plan is to phase in the program by first waiving tuition for students from families with incomes up to $100,000 during the initial year, up to …

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Implications of the Next Generation Science Standards for Students, Teachers, and Teacher Education

The recent rollout of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) has paved the way for revised K-12 curricula, the redesign of course sequences, and the piloting of assessments tied to more challenging academic goals. While the notion of using standards to cohere elements of the science-learning infrastructure together seems promising, the document cannot fix the …

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Saying ‘YES’ to Teaching

Relative to other college graduates, teachers prefer to work close to their hometowns. One study found that teachers typically work about 13 miles away from where they attended high school as opposed to college graduates in other fields, who move about 54 miles away from where they grew up. These geographical preferences can create problems …

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And with that I’ll take both good and bad questions…

When scientists give talks/seminars/colloquia/presentations/speeches/lectures/lessons/defenses/instructions, questions are welcomed, and (probably to give themselves time to think), they often start by stating that that is a good question. What they don’t do is designate a question as dumb or stupid, because that’s offensive, and scientists are frail like quails when it comes to their intellects. “Good” questions: …

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Dialog 2017

Too busy to take many photos, but here are a few. First one is of a conversation between Tyler Cowen and Peter Thiel. Dialog is an biannual 2-day thought retreat, gathering 150 global leaders to discuss how to change the world. Dialog was created in 2006 to bring together global leaders across industries to discuss …

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The Plight of Adjunct Faculty

  While reading about the state of the adjunct teaching force on college campuses recently, I began to see some parallels between college adjuncts and early childhood teachers. Just a few weeks ago I discussed the deplorable amount of money that early childhood teachers bring home, leading to a large portion of them to depend …

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