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October 20, 2011

It's not just semantics

Today I wrote the following to a colleague

You may want to clarify your statement that a response to your survey "is both confidential and anonymous." If it is confidential, it is not anonymous because at least one person knows who wrote what responses, it's just that they are not telling. If it is anonymous there is no need for confidentiality because no one other that the subject knows what responses they wrote.

So my question is is the survey anonymous or confidential?

Haven't gotten a response yet --can't wait to see what it will be.

October 09, 2011

A blast from the past that is still an issue

When daughter Kathryn was in fifth grade, her teacher went on and on to me and Tom (aka husband and father) about how good she was in language arts. After Tom said, we think she is very good in math as well, the teacher said- oh yes, it's just when a girl is as good as Kathryn in language arts, that's what I think of.

This was not a bad teacher- but her view of Kathryn was limited about what girls are supposed to be like. In that class Kathryn got praise and enrichment opportunities in language arts. Again this wasn't bad, but it was also limiting. This story gains importance when it is tied into the dreaded tracking decisions because teacher perceptions of what students are (and aren't) good at are an important component of tracking decisions.

October 08, 2011

Do a good deed and maybe get some cookies

We're on a mission to find out as much as we can about how to better design, implement, and assess the quality of evaluations of projects and programs targeting specific under-represented groups. This includes women, people with different types of disabilities, and people from different racial/ethnic groups.

We are developing a guide and tip sheets that will be available in print, and even better, in interactive formats. In order to keep this from being a completely overwhelming mission, we are focusing on projects and programs tied to STEM workforce development at the post high school level.

We can’t do this without you:
• If you would like to discuss issues of doing evaluations with diverse populations I would love to speak with you
• If you have any resources you think could help, please send them on to me
• If there is research you think we should read, please send me the citations or links
• If you would like to review early drafts of the guide and tip sheets, let me know.

We would also like to see some good (and bad) examples of STEM workforce evaluations done with diverse populations. The good ones will be credited and we promise the bad ones will be anonymous.

You can help with any (or all) of these tasks by contacting me at 978-448-5402 or Campbell@campbell-kibler.com.

Do any of this and you will get our thanks, credit, a copy of the final materials, and three of you will be randomly selected to receive multiple dozens of my famous chocolate chip cookies.

* Many thanks to the National Science Foundation for funding this effort.

October 07, 2011

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

I can't believe I forgot that it is Ada Lovelace Day . You know- the day you share your story about a woman — whether an engineer, a scientist, a technologist or mathematician — who has inspired you to become who you are today.

So let me tell you about Shirley McBay. Shirley got her PhD in Mathematics from the University of Georgia in 1966. Not bad for a young African American woman born in Bambridge GA. After working at Spelman College and the National Science Foundation and spending 10 years as Dean of students at MIT, Shirley became president of the Quality Education for Minorities Network (QEM).

QEM is "dedicated to improving the education of African Americans, Alaska Natives, American Indians, Mexican Americans, and Puerto Ricans. Millions of dollars, now spent for remedial purposes, could be made available for the educational benefit of all children and youth by improving the quality of education available to the groups targeted by QEM. Quality education for minorities improves the quality of education for all."

I pretty much do whatever Shirley tells me to because:
1) she knows what needs to be done and she will make sure it gets done
2) no one, and I mean no one, forces her to back off
3) her "tough love" approach with young STEM faculty in minority serving institutions works
4) anyone who tries to "snow" her (this is a family friendly blog so I'm not saying bs) gets their head handed to them
5) she recognizes people who are making a difference and supports them in every way she can
6) she is making a difference.

I'm happy to be a member of the Shirley McBay Fan Club and even happier than she is a part of my life.

PS You do remember who Ada Lovelace is right?

October 01, 2011

Ask for evidence

Last month the UK based charity, Sense About Science, launched a new campaign, called, yes you guessed it, Ask for evidence. They want consumers, voters and patients to "demand evidence for scientific and medical claims to counter a tide of misinformation."

They have some really good examples of "evidence hunting" including this scary one from Rhys Hunter:

I recently came across a miracle cure product being advertised on a Crohn’s disease support forum. This didn’t ring true for me, so I researched it on the internet and found a US Food Drug Agency warning stating ‘The product, when used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health.’ I went back to the forum to warn others about it. I was then kicked off the forum. I reported it to my local Trading Standards who passed the complaint on to the Food Standards Agency. They sent the complaint to the European Commission. The World Health Organisation also became involved and warned about it. The Food Standards Agency banned it in the UK and helped get the UK-based sellers shut down.

Do you think we could get this started in the US as well?