There is a bunch of interesting stuff to read on the subject of teaching, learning, and being part of an academic department right now. Here are a few links I think deserve your attention:
- Inside Higher Ed reports on a new study (PDF) whose results suggest that married grad students may do better than single grad students at completing their Ph.D.s, publishing while in school, and landing tenure-track jobs. Interestingly, the advantage is greater for married male graduate students than for married female graduate students, and domestic partnership seem to confer less advantage here than marriages. I haven't pored over the study yet, but I'd be interested to see how much difference it makes if one's spouse or partner is also a graduate student (versus an official "member of the workforce" or fulltime help-mate).
- Also from Inside Higher Ed, a brief description of an intriguing freshman seminar (PDF) at Emory University aimed at helping students learn how to think like a scientist:
The course consists of five modules. Each module is taught by a grad student who presents his own research, guiding students through the research process, from designing studies to defending results. For the final, students must write and defend a proposed project.
The project is not only successful for the students, but benefits grad students, who learn how to teach. "These teacher-scholars enrich their own understanding of their projects and come to understand the larger context of their own research," said Lynn. Lynn said that Emory receives more than 70 applications from grad students to join the program each year, but picks only 5.
I think a course like this has a lot of promise, not only for educating the freshmen, but for cultivating excellent science educators.
- Speaking of cultivating excellent science educators, the science ed. crowd will love THE FILTER, the new site that aims to bring together cool media to help communicate science without dryness. As site curator David Ng puts it,
It's about us educators finding and presenting things that don't necessarily educate (there's lots of good stuff out there that already does that), but rather works in the context of providing that chuckle, a transition point, or a much needed break in the dryness that can develop during the act of communicating science.
And we hope you use this stuff - because as educators of note, we know it happens to work. And that's a good thing, right? Seriously now: Who's going to argue for the world needing a little more awe and respect for the sciences?
Check it out!
- Finally, read Rob Knop's account of his attempt to get his department to seriously examine the climate it creates for its female students, and his reflections on the reactions this elicited. This is a hard issue to handle -- changing a culture always is -- but it's nice to know that people like Rob think that poking that hornets' nest is important enough to risk being stung.
Let me know if there are other academia or education stories I ought to be following.
UPDATE: As Bill points out in the comments, Rob's post has been removed. The conversation at Cosmic Variance has some excerpts, plus the usual intelligent discussion.