Also this week: why academics teach as they do, ecological theory vs. economic theory, Rowan Barrett vs. Rowan Barrett, and more.
Reasons academics fail to change their teaching to more effective approaches include 1) wanting to get good student evaluations, 2) a fear of embarrassing themselves front of the class, 3) following “gut feelings” about what makes for effective teaching (even when it is contradicted by evidence), 4) being more inclined to try something new they came up with on their own rather than to use something others have already demonstrated to be effective. (Jeremy adds: here are the results of our big reader poll on how often readers lecture and why they do so. tl;dr: instructors lecture for many reasons, most of them good, or at least understandable.)
The ASN newsletter has a report of a meeting between NSF and the scientific societies that convene the annual Evolution meeting regarding the cancellation of the DDIG program last month (For background, see Meghan’s post from back when the cancellation was first announced). The key points from the meeting:
- The DDIG program is not coming back.
- The societies cannot take over or replace the DDIG program, either financially or administratively. They already spend as much as they can on grad student support, it would be both illegal and administratively infeasible for them to disburse or administer government funds, and raising money from private sources for a society-run replacement for the DDIG program would be both difficult and set an uncomfortable precedent.
- The societies are continuing to advocate to, and work with, NSF regarding student support. (Aside: this last bullet isn’t just boilerplate. DDIG isn’t coming back, but there’s a lot of ongoing discussion among stakeholders about new and different ways NSF could support grad students.)
Sticking with ASN, they are asking for people to complete a survey on how conference organizers can better deal with harassment and other issues that arise at conferences. There were some reports of harassment and other unprofessional behavior at social events at the recent Evolution meeting in Portland.
Popular science writers on the popular science books that most inspired them. (ht Marginal Revolution)
Population ecologist-turned-“cliodynamicist” Peter Turchin reviews Dani Rodrik’s Economic Rules. Good accessible discussion of the value of theory and what makes for good theory (in economics, or in ecology). (ht @noahpinion)
This week in Sentences That Read Oddly To Evolutionary Biologists, from an article about Canadian high school basketball player RJ Barrett:
Barrett is the son of Rowan Barrett, a Canadian basketball standout who played with Steve Nash in the 2000 Olympics and currently serves as Nash’s assistant GM on the senior national team.
Am I the only person who read that and thought “Wow, how does Rowan Barrett find the time to oversee the Canadian national basketball team on top of running his lab?” 😉
This week in #overlyhonestsupplementarymaterial, I found this quote in the readme file for an online supplement to a recent ecology paper:
Problems? You know where to find us, at least for a while. We do want these scripts to be useable by our readers so please do email us if you have a problem, but if we’re dead by now (Dryad is going to outlive us all, right?) you’re on your own.
And finally, this week in animals attending scientific conferences. 😉
While I have not read the Rodrik ‘economic theory book’ Turchin’s review suggests it quite worthwhile . Peter is , as expected, pretty + on theory…in econ or ecology.
BUT, there are other takes on the usefulness of classic economic theory. See particularly Richard Bookstaber,[ https://www.amazon.com/End-Theory-Financial-Economics-Interaction/dp/0691169012%5D for a more critical approach on the ability of economic theory to aid in avoiding financial meltdowns. Bookstaber has a very interesting history, having spent most of his life in investment banking, and particularly the risk management side; he wrote one of the best trade books on the risks inherent in modern financial mgt, called A DEVIL OF OUR OWN DESIGN. He took part in the invention of 2 major financial devices, and is well experienced to tell us why they failed. And he is quite interested in how ecological systems work too.[ disclosure: I have had various exchanges with Rick over the yrs, and clearly admire his thoughts; he was a prof at BYU, just down the road from me at UUtah].
another attempt to link to the Bookstaber book:
Rick’s other book is A DEMON OF OUR OWN DESIGN;
Re: DDIGs, here’s a proposal that a consortium of societies sent to NSF yesterday for a revised system of graduate student support: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4WoYvLnwmR1RXBRQm1UZWlSRWM/view