Veteran teacher shows how achievement gaps in STEM classes can be eliminated

This press release from UC Santa Cruz definitely gave me food for thought about new things to try in my own classes. A few short snippets:

[Professor Tracy Larrabee] uses a three-pronged approach to support underrepresented students in her class.

“The first is that we have had a very diverse teaching staff,” she said. “We have one professor, four TAs and four MSI tutors, and during this time it just happened that of those people, half were female, we always had at least one African American, one Latinx, and one non-gender conforming tutor so that everyone could feel a connection to someone on the teaching staff.”

“Another technique I use is to emphasize failure as the appropriate path to learning,” she said. “Engineering is hard; it’s good to fail the first time you attempt a problem. People who fail at a problem the first time tend to retain things better than those who luck into the right answer.”

Her final tactic is to explicitly discuss stereotype threat. This is the risk that someone (i.e., from an underrepresented minority) might take routine negative experiences as confirmation that they are fundamentally unsuited for something like higher education.

“One of my African American MSI tutors—who are extremely high achieving students selected to provide supplemental tutoring to others—told me it was like having a light bulb go off for him,” Larrabee said. ”Until I discussed the issue in class, he felt like he didn’t belong in this major, but after we talked about stereotypes, he realized it wasn’t that he was unsuited for the material. It was hard for everyone!”

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 119

Source: https://www.facebook.com/MathematicalMemesLogarithmicallyScaled/photos/a.1605246506167805/3119457221413385/?type=3&theater

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 118

A cheap but funny Dad joke.

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 117

I absolutely love this joke. The integral looks diabolical but can be computed mentally.

For what it’s worth, while it was able to produce an answer to as many decimal places as needed, even Wolfram Alpha was unable to exactly compute this integral. Feel free to click the link if you’d like the (highly suggestive) answer.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/CTYJohnsHopkins/photos/a.323810509981/10151131549924982/?type=3&theater

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 116

This awful pun is just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/NeuroNewsResearch/photos/a.479172065434890/2989385557746849/?type=3&theater

My Favorite One-Liners: Part 115

I credit Math With Bad Drawings for this new weapon in my arsenal of awful mathematical puns.

Source: https://www.facebook.com/MathWithBadDrawings/photos/a.822582787758549/2823158341034307/?type=3&theater

Fun with Proportions and Atoms

I came across this fun video on proportions, imagining how large some objects would be if atomic (and subatomic) length scales were magnified to the size of a tennis ball.

The End of “Statistical Significance”

I’ve linked to a number of articles about the misuse of p-values. Recently, I read a nice article in the October/November 2019 issue of MAA Focus summarizing a conversation between the Executive Directors of the Mathematical Association of America and the American Statistical Association about the ASA’s call to eliminate the use of p-values. Per copyright, I can’t copy the entire article here, but let me quote the lead paragraph:

In March 2016, the American Statistical Association took the extraordinary step of issuing a Statement on p-Values and Statistical Significance. This spring, the association went even further, publishing a massive special issue of its journal The American Statistician entitled Statistical Inference in the 21st Century: A World Beyond p<0.05. The lead editorial in that special issue called for the end of the use of the concept of statistical significance.

It’s going to be a while before entrenched statistics textbooks catch up with this new standard of professional practice.

Here’s an NPR article on the issue: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/03/20/705191851/statisticians-call-to-arms-reject-significance-and-embrace-uncertainty

Other articles cited in the MAA Focus article: