Assorted links

by on January 22, 2011 at 11:47 am in Web/Tech | Permalink

1. Taking a test helps cement your learning.

2. Communist Monopoly game, called Queue.

3. Threats against Francis Fox Piven.

4. "This study may be true but it is hard to know because the study that served as the counterfactual was never able to get published :)" Link here.

5. Why wages are sticky.

6. Markets in everything: human cheese; "soft and spreadable…"

7. Bob Barr, former LP candidate, now representing Duvalier.  Say it ain't so.  It's so!

dearieme January 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

"Taking a test helps cement your learning": indeed. So my primary school teachers told me, for heaven's sake.

Douglas Knight January 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

Frances.

Steve Reilly January 22, 2011 at 9:07 am

Funny, since you can ask Bob Barr about the new cheese. He ate some in Borat, after all.

Jack Woelfel January 22, 2011 at 10:10 am

For many years, I created tests that helped students learn. I was a high school science teacher with an overwhelming interest in computers and creating useful software. A long, frustrating, tedious job.

I always hated tests that just prove how dumb you are. Even if the prof goes over the test the next day, it does not work–
1. Who cares? The test is over.
2. If you go over every question, it is boring.
3. If you ask "Are there any questions?", Mary asks about #23, no one else is interested.

On the other hand, at the very time of taking the test, the student is totally engaged (not like day-dreaming in class or talking to Suzy), wants to do well, and is willing to try hard.
If the test is well constructed, and on the computer, when a question is missed, then here is what happens:

1. if it is just a simple question, the answer can be explained. A few questions later, the computer will make a very similar question appear, so it pays off to read the explanation.
2. If it is a more complex question, then a series of interactive questions can be asked, which lead the student to first, understanding the material, and finally, to be able to answer the question. Again, 3 or 4 questions later, a very similar question is asked.
3. Many kids (and people in general) have a very limited attention span, and this method helps focus on the single problem at hand to the exclusion of all distractions.
4. And at the end of the test, the computer, which has been keeping careful note of the ones missed, asks the students: "Would you like to re-try the ones you missed?" The good students ALWAYS say yes, and only the sluggards don't bother.
I think it is a great way to master simple factual material, especially in math and science.

I've made plenty of tests like these, and problems always develop when students give un-anticipated answers, But with good programming, these can be printed out for the teacher/programmer to use for possible modification of the test or help content. My experience has been that the kids are really enthusiastic about these tests, so enthusiastic that they keep after it until they get 100%! So it does make grading a problem, and in the end, I would have to use this as a warm-up test, and then give a straight-forward, old-fashioned test the next day to get a normal distribution of grades.

JCL January 22, 2011 at 10:52 am

Off topic, but RE: my comment earlier expressing surprise that cell carriers would not support jamming inside of prisons. Commenters said it was normal. Now I remember why I was surprised- because I was seeing this

"Cellular carriers, having spent years trying to blanket the nation with phone service, are now working on ways to stop people from getting calls and texts when they are behind the wheel." http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/technology/21di

twicker January 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Re: "why wages are sticky:"
Note that the group norms had no ability to affect the bad apples – because the bad apples were paid actors, paid to play a part without fail.

Yes, someone who is immune to group norms can bring down the group. However, that's a very, very small percentage of the population, so the effect is likely to be much, much smaller in the general population than it was in this study (from what I've seen, Coding Horror has several problems with its interpretations of research).

anonymous January 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm

3 — The riots in Greece were hardly benign: three female bank tellers were burned to death in an arson committed by violent hard-left agitators.

Well aware of this history, Piven specifically invokes Greece as a role model for would-be rioters while airily proclaiming that “protesters need targets, preferably local and accessible ones”.

If the spin-doctor operatives actually believe their own narrative — that a few "crosshairs" on some website can make a moonstruck pothead go postal — then surely they must join in condemning this far more egregious "incivility".

Protesters need targets, you say? Looks like they found one.

Pensans January 22, 2011 at 5:27 pm

The only reported "threat" against Piven in this story was “Somebody tell Frances I have 5000 roundas ready and I’ll give My life to take Our freedom back.” That doesn't sound like a personal threat against her at all. Certainly, no more personal than her call for Greek rioting attacks on local authorities.

Jim January 23, 2011 at 5:39 am

Yeah, those "threats" against Piven were so bad that the NYT couldn't even bother to mention what they were.

Instead they publish an entire article ripping Beck.

You'd almost be tempted to think that was their entire motivation.

Eric H January 23, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Re (2); This should be sold in the Museum of Communism.
http://www.muzeumkomunismu.cz/

Worth seeing on your next trip to Prague. It's easy to find: across from the Benneton and above the McDonalds.

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