Also this week: the future is here, where’s my
flying car jet pack scientific breakthrough that was predicted 10 years ago? Also also: Mark McPeek vs. grade inflation, Spider manfish, and more!
The University of Illinois released the results of a survey they did on racial microaggressions. The numbers are not good. They report:
Over half of participants (51 percent) reported experiences of stereotyping in the classroom. About a third (27 percent) of the students of color reported feeling that their contributions in different learning contexts were minimized and that they were made to feel inferior because of the way they spoke. Additionally, a quarter (25 percent) of students of color reported feeling that they were not taken seriously in class because of their race.
The “Students of Color Tell Their Stories” section is really worth reading to get an idea of the microaggressions students experiences and the impacts they have. There’s a whole section on microaggressions associated with group work, which is something that many DE readers probably use in their classes. This section begins with:
Egregious racial microaggressions occurred when students were asked to form a team for a group project. Though not usually explicit, racial exclusion appears to shape group formation. African American and Latino/a students found it most problematic to be invited into a group or to find partners because of the perceived operation of negative racial stereotypes about intelligence and work ethic. Moreover, Asian students felt this occurred more often if the project involved much writing, because they were viewed as foreigners unable to speak or write well in English.
Finally, the study reports that ~8% of students have considered dropping out because of the racial microaggressions. That is entirely too many. I am really glad Illinois is having this conversation, and I’ve been involved in similar conversations at Michigan. Clearly more conversations are needed.
Here’s a very interesting piece on the push by some geologists–specifically, some stratigraphers–to officially declare the Anthropocene a new geological epoch, complete with a golden spike driven into the earth to mark its beginning. Hits on the interplay of science and politics, how the reward structure of science shapes its direction, and much more. Click through already, it’s the most thoughtful and insightful thing I’ve read in weeks. Although not being a geologist myself, I have a limited ability to evaluate it independently. If we have any geologists among our readers, I hope you’ll comment.
Former Am Nat EiC (among other claims to fame) Mark McPeek with the first in his series of meaty posts on grade inflation at US universities and what can be done about it. Go read them all if you care about this issue in the slightest. Whether you agree or disagree with him, Mark’s put a lot of thought and background research into this; he’s got an answer for every argument used to justify grade inflation. And he’s walking the walk, not just talking the talk–he’s working to get his own university (Dartmouth) to change its grading policies. (ht to commenter “slimysculpin”)
Following on from the previous one, Mark’s whole blog is varied and interesting, and he’s ramped up the posting frequency this year after a long hiatus. He posts about everything from ecology to science policy to building a really nice model of the HMS Beagle. Check it out.
Ten years ago Scientific American identified a bunch of candidates for the next big thing in applied science. Their crystal ball turned out to be rather cloudy. Which probably says more about how hard it is to predict this stuff than about them.
You’d never guess it from complaints on social media, but peer reviewers mostly are good at their jobs and mostly improve papers. Stephen Heard brings the reasonableness. And as a commenter over there notes, you know who those rare “crazy” reviewers are? Us. Related old post of mine here.
Wait, there are catfish that can CLIMB 3 METERS UP SHEER ROCK WALLS??!! WTF, evolution? Which raises the question: what superpowers would you get if a radioactive climbing catfish bit you? Catfishman, Catfishman, does whatever a catfish can… 🙂 (ht my dad)