Links for 2012-03-09

  • Still not as bad as Division I revenue sports § Unqualified Offerings

    Still, at the end of the day, there’s at least some notion of accountability and standards behind the assessment movement. I don’t think it’s been a very effective effort at accountability and standards, but somebody somewhere was clearly pushing for standards. However, I haven’t heard a peep about assessment in more than a year. I have, however, heard all about graduation rates. Now, they swear up and down that they want to raise standards while raising graduation rates, and they’ve even put token money toward pilot projects that will supposedly improve both, to give some plausible deniability, but I think it’s obvious where the political momentum is. Say what you will about the tenets of outcomes assessment, dude, at least it’s an ethos. When you want to throw their buzzwords back at them, you can always say something about learning outcomes to justify having some sort of standard. But that is gone. The political momentum has shifted to just getting people out the door.

  • What single quality predicts a good doctor? | Unofficial Prognosis, Scientific American Blog Network

    She and her colleagues read reviews of third and fourth year medical students in their clinical clerkships, written by supervising physicians. They noted words that suggested humane behavior, such as “caring” and “warm.” They then looked to see if there was any connection between positive descriptors and coursework taken prior to medical school. Surprisingly, there was. Medical students viewed as more humane took on more coursework in college – but not just in the humanities. The more classes students took, period – in the humanities or in the sciences – the nicer they were described. But why? What does taking a lot of classes have to do with being compassionate? According to Dr. Fitzgerald, there is a single trait underlying both the desire to learn in the classroom and to be empathetic on the wards.

  • Making Light: O Shipmates Come Rally

    Today is the 150th anniversary of one of the most important battles in Naval history. Not just US history, world naval history. I’m talking about the Battle of Hampton Roads, 08 March 1862: CSS Virginia (plus support vessels) vs. USS Cumberland, USS Congress, USS St. Lawrence, USS Roanoke, and USS Minnesota, plus support vessels.

  • If You Love a Flower Found on a Star « Galileo’s Pendulum

    In my Ph.D. defense presentation, I quoted from just one book: The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The quotation I used wasn’t picked for scientific content–the story isn’t known for scientific accuracy, after all–but I was thinking about the setting when I wrote Monday’s post about Dactyl, an asteroid moonlet only a 1.6 kilometers (about 1 mile) across. After all, the Little Prince lives on an asteroid the size of a house, known as B-612. The asteroid is home to three volcanoes and a flower, which (incidentally to today’s post) the Prince falls in love with. He later visits other asteroids, which are drawn as similar in size. The book isn’t science fiction: it’s more a melancholy semi-philosophical fantasy, ostensibly for children, though I imagine adults love and appreciate it even more. In other words, it’s unfair to do what I’m about to do: look at what it would take for an asteroid the size of a house to have Earthlike gravity…