Academia

Category archives for Academia

Just How Idiotic Are GPAs?

Yesterday’s quick rant had the slightly clickbait-y title “GPAs are Idiotic,” because, well, I’m trying to get people to read the blog, y’know. It’s a little hyperbolic, though, and wasn’t founded in anything but a vague intuition that the crude digitization step involved in going from numerical course averages to letter grades then back to…

GPA’s Are Idiotic

I was thinking about something only tangentially related to grading, when it struck me that the way we go about generating student grade point averages is the kind of mind-bogglingly stupid system that requires lots of smart people working together to produce. Two very different groups of smart people, with very different ways of looking…

STEM Gender Gaps and Draft Dodging

It’s always a pleasure to see former students doing well, and to that end, we invited one of my former thesis students, Mike Mastroianni, class of 2007, to give a colloquium talk last week in the department. Mike went to physics grad school for a couple of years after graduation, but decided he was more…

Fermi Pipeline Problems

There was some Twitter chatter the other night about a new arxiv paper called The Gender Breakdown of the Applicant Pool for Tenure-Track Faculty Positions at a Sample of North American Research Astronomy Programs: The demographics of the field of Astronomy, and the gender balance in particular, is an important active area of investigation. A…

As previously mentioned, SteelyKid has started to get into pop music. In addition to the songs in that post, she’s very fond of Katy Perry’s “Roar,” like every other pre-teen girl in the country, and also this Taylor Swift song: I’ve seen a bunch of people rave about this, but honestly, I found it pretty…

Back on Thursday when I was waiting to be annoyed by a speech, one of the ways I passed time was reading stuff on my phone, which included This Grantland piece about Charles Barkley and “advanced stats”. In it, Bryan Curtis makes the argument that while Barkley’s recent comments disparaging statistical tools seem at first…

Yesterday was Founders Day at Union, celebrating the 220th anniversary of the granting of a charter for the college. The name of the event always carries a sort of British-boarding-school air for me, and never fails to earworm me with a very particular rugby song, but really it’s just one of those formal-procession-and-big-speaker events that…

Paige Brown Jarreau, who blogs at From the Lab Bench is in the throes of writing her dissertation about science blogging, and plowing through a lot of interview data. She’s sharing some of the process on the blog, and a lot more on Twitter, where it’s prompted a good deal of discussion. One of the…

The Problem with Percentages

A sort of follow-up to last week’s post about the STEM “pipeline”. In discussions on Twitter sparked by the study I talked about last week, I’ve seen a bunch of re-shares of different versions of this graph of the percentage of women earning undergrad degrees in physics: You can clearly see that after a fairly…

Social Media Are Social

I didn’t see this before yesterday’s post about Twitter, but over at SciLogs, Kirk Englehardt gets evangelical, offering a very chipper list of “Ten Reasons for Academic Researchers to Use Social Media.” I’ll just put the item headers here, though each of these has a more complete description, with links to lots of other stuff:…