The Unfairness of Measuring Teaching Performance – Revisited

A women of a minority group teaching at a whiteboard
A survey of student evaluations of teaching shows that men rate higher.

Last year I posted an article on The Unfairness of Measuring Teaching Performance concerning anonymous student comments that said that the teacher was “too old” [1]. An article published on the online site Phys.org [2] found that male teachers were most likely to be evaluated the highest by students and female teachers from a non-English background the lowest. Further, the bias showed up most in student surveys in Science and Business and was largely absent from students surveys from Engineering and other disciplines.

This study was based upon 500,000 student surveys of teaching at the University of NSW, Sydney between 2010 and 2016. It involved more than 3000 teachers over 2000 courses. across 5 Faculties.

In my previous article, I strongly supported teaching surveys as a tool for professional teacher development using tailored questions that are teacher selectable. It was my belief that problems arise because of

… the impersonal nature of the survey, as well as the fact that it is exclusively university, administered, that is the heart of the problem.

Continue reading “The Unfairness of Measuring Teaching Performance – Revisited”

Menindee Lakes Fish Kill

Fish Kill at Lake Menindee 7 Jan 2019.
Fish Kill at Menindee Lakes. 7 January 2019 by Debbie Newell.

The fish kills on the Darling River and at Menindee Lakes in Western NSW have been getting a lot of media attention and feelings are running hot within Australia and overseas. Politicians, both NSW State and Federal, have been running for cover, blaming the severe drought, rather than water mismanagement.

While I’d like to lambast politicians for their failings, in this case, it’s not going to achieve much. The problems with the Darling River are already so serious that political failings are becoming our responsibilities; once the consequences and recovery costs flow through the economy. There’s not the time for a blame game. As things stand, we can’t rely on our leaders to work for the health of the Murray-Darling Basin without bringing public pressure to bear. Lack of action on a leadership level calls out for more grass-roots action. However, being able to exert public pressure requires an educated cross-section of the public with a consensus direction on what needs to be done.

For the above public educational reasons, I’m requesting support for the development of a Fishkill 2 learning module which is based upon Fishkill that ran successfully with 1st-year Natural Resource Science students at the Queensland University of Technology  (QUT) for nearly a decade (2000-8). Fishkill 2 needs to be developed from the now antiquated original Fishkill as a community-based project, using new source material, an accessible online format and an expansion of the learning modules and scenarios to include lessons gained from the Menindee Lakes Fishkill.

Support Fish Kill ver. 2 Citizen Science Project

Help me fundraise to support a community version of the Fish Kill online eLearning Module that is sleek, modern and independently-sourced (suggested: multiples of $25).

$25.00

Continue reading “Menindee Lakes Fish Kill”

The Dossier: Highlights 2018

When I started writing the Dossier at the end of July, I was still dealing with issues around job loss and finding a new direction. I wrote about some of this in the article: Job Loss and Sense of Purpose, getting that off my chest was a positive step forward for me. I’d like to thank Jo Stanley for her kind reply: my post was a response to a newspaper article that she had written about similar events in her own life.

I started to gain some sense of purpose which I wrote about with An Epiphany or Two, of Sorts which is primarily an appeal for online learning systems to be more personalised. The observation was that the area of online learning is dominated by institutionally-centralised learning management systems (LMSs) that suit a formal learning setting but aren’t necessarily well-suited to more personal and decentralised learning. In August requested support to get such a project off the ground This request is reproduced again below.


Support me in Developing a Device-centric Personal Learning System.

Develop and build the components of a personal learning system using Django for the back-end and Electron for multi-platform front-end support. Support is requested, in the first instance, for community-based proof of concept.

$25.00

Continue reading “The Dossier: Highlights 2018”

Remembering Henry Moseley (1887-1915)

sunset-field-poppy-sun-priroda

The 11th of November 2018 at 11 am is being remembered solemnly all the over the world as the centenary of the armistice of World War I. In the memory of recent generations, this conflict was the most dreadful that could be imagined. The casus belli was the most senseless. Nevertheless, the sacrifices made by so many, in the name of the political and personal freedoms, that we currently enjoy, were the noblest.

In viewing some of the coverage on TV and in the newspaper, many commentators were remembering notable individuals who lost their lives in that awful conflict. The person that I’d most like to remember this day is the British physicist Henry G. J. Moseley who left his work at Manchester University to volunteer for the Royal Engineers of the British Army.

Continue reading “Remembering Henry Moseley (1887-1915)”

An Epiphany, or Two, of Sorts

The conversion of St Paul, artwork by Luca Giordiano.
The Conversion of Saint Paul by Luca Giordano (1690), Museum of Fine Arts of Nancy.

Has anyone else noticed that nobody really has ideas anymore? It somehow seems too pedestrian to have a mere “idea” when you can have an “epiphany” instead. I heard this on Breakfast TV this last week: “you know I’ve had an epiphany, of sorts.”  Was that you Karl Stefanovic? But epiphany on its own seems too grandiose, so as if to compensate, you add the comma and “of sorts” as an afterthought. Curious! But I caught myself saying the same thing this morning.

You see I’ve had an “epiphany, of sorts” as well. My “new” Chromebook reminded me of an “epiphany, of sorts” that I had way back, in around 2006, about Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). I’ve just connected this epiphany with a new “epiphany, of sorts” that I had this morning, about how great Chromebooks would be for personalized education. OK, this is getting ridiculous, I’ll just go back to having ideas from this point. Certainly, there was no heavenly trumpet or the presence of angels associated with having the idea. But I did have that ah-ha! experience of connecting ideas over 12-years apart.

Continue reading “An Epiphany, or Two, of Sorts”