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Archive of posts filed under the Teaching category.

Stephen Wolfram explains neural nets

It’s easy to laugh at Stephen Wolfram, and I don’t like some of his business practices, but he’s an excellent writer and is full of interesting ideas. This long introduction to neural network prediction algorithms is an example. I have no idea if Wolfram wrote this book chapter himself or if he hired one of […]

Present each others’ posters

It seems that I’ll be judging a poster session next week. So this seems like a good time to repost this from 2009: I was at a conference that had an excellent poster session. I realized the session would have been even better if the students with posters had been randomly assigned to stand next […]

Don’t get fooled by observational correlations

Gabriel Power writes: Here’s something a little different: clever classrooms, according to which physical characteristics of classrooms cause greater learning. And the effects are large! Moving from the worst to the best design implies a gain of 67% of one year’s worth of learning! Aside from the dubiously large effect size, it looks like the […]

Columbia Data Science Institute art contest

This is a great idea! Unfortunately, only students at Columbia can submit. I encourage other institutions to do such contests too. We did something similar at Columbia, maybe 10 or 15 years ago? It went well, we just didn’t have the energy to do it again every year, as we’d initially planned. So I’m very […]

Discussion of effects of growth mindset: Let’s not demand unrealistic effect sizes.

Shreeharsh Kelkar writes: As a regular reader of your blog, I wanted to ask you if you had taken a look at the recent debate about growth mindset [see earlier discussions here and here] that happened on theconversation.com. Here’s the first salvo by Brooke McNamara, and then the response by Carol Dweck herself. The debate […]

StanCon 2018 Helsinki tutorial videos online

StanCon 2018 Helsinki tutorial videos are now online at Stan YouTube channel List of tutorials at StanCon 2018 Helsinki Basics of Bayesian inference and Stan, parts 1 + 2, Jonah Gabry & Lauren Kennedy Hierarchical models, parts 1 + 2, Ben Goodrich Stan C++ development: Adding a new function to Stan, parts 1 + 2, […]

John Hattie’s “Visible Learning”: How much should we trust this influential review of education research?

Dan Kumprey, a math teacher at Lake Oswego High School, Oregon, writes: Have you considered taking a look at the book Visible Learning by John Hattie? It seems to be permeating and informing reform in our K-12 schools nationwide. Districts are spending a lot of money sending their staffs to conferences by Solution Tree to […]

The competing narratives of scientific revolution

Back when we were reading Karl Popper’s Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, who would’ve thought that we’d be living through a scientific revolution ourselves? Scientific revolutions occur on all scales, but here let’s talk about some of the biggies: 1850-1950: Darwinian revolution in biology, changed how we think about […]

Amelia, it was just a false alarm

Nah, jet fuel can’t melt steel beams. I’ve watched enough conspiracy documentaries – Camp Cope Some ideas persist long after the mounting evidence against them becomes overwhelming. Some of these things are kooky but probably harmless (try as I might, I do not care about ESP etc), whereas some are deeply damaging (I’m looking at you “vaccines […]

What makes Robin Pemantle’s bag of tricks for teaching math so great?

It’s here, and he even calls it a “bag of tricks”! Robin’s suggestions are similar to what Deb and I recommend, but Robin’s article is a crisp 25 pages and is purely focused on general advice for getting things to go well in the classroom, whereas we spend most of our book on specific activities […]

Advice on soft skills for academics

Julia Hirschberg sent this along to the natural language processing mailing list at Columbia: here are some slides from last spring’s CRA-W Grad Cohort and previous years that might be of interest. all sorts of topics such as interviewing, building confidence, finding a thesis topic, preparing your thesis proposal, publishing, entrepreneurialism, and a very interesting […]

Of statistics class and judo class: Beyond the paradigm of sequential education

In judo class they kinda do the same thing every time: you warm up and then work on different moves. Different moves in different classes, and there are different levels, but within any level the classes don’t really have a sequence. You just start where you start, practice over and over, and gradually improve. Different […]

The statistical checklist: Could there be a list of guidelines to help analysts do better work?

[image of cat with a checklist] Paul Cuffe writes: Your idea of “researcher degrees of freedom” [actually not my idea; the phrase comes from Simmons, Nelson, and Simonsohn] really resonates with me: I’m continually surprised by how many researchers freestyle their way through a statistical analysis, using whatever tests, and presenting whatever results, strikes their […]

The “Carl Sagan effect”

Javier Benítez writes: I am not in academia, but I have learned a lot about science from what’s available to the public. But I also didn’t know that public outreach is looked down upon by academia. See the Carl Sagan Effect. Susana Martinez-Conde writes: One scientist, who agreed to participate on the condition of anonymity—an […]

He wants to know what to read and what software to learn, to increase his ability to think about quantitative methods in social science

A law student writes: I aspire to become a quantitatively equipped/focused legal academic. Despite majoring in economics at college, I feel insufficiently confident in my statistical literacy. Given your publicly available work on learning basic statistical programming, I thought I would reach out to you and ask for advice on understanding modeling and causal inference […]

He has a math/science background and wants to transition to social science. Should he get a statistics degree and do social science from there, or should he get a graduate degree in social science or policy?

Someone who graduated from college a couple years ago writes: My educational background is almost entirely science and math. However, since graduating and thinking about what I do, I’ve realized that I’ve always found demographics, geography, urban planning more interesting – and I’d like to pursue research in social science. I’m currently applying to MS […]

Data science teaching position in London

Seth Flaxman sends this along: The Department of Mathematics at Imperial College London wishes to appoint a Senior Strategic Teaching Fellow in Data Science, to be in post by September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter. The role will involve developing and delivering a suite of new data science modules, initially for the MSc […]

Can somebody please untangle this one for us? Are centrists more, or less, supportive of democracy, compared to political extremists?

OK, this is a nice juicy problem for a political science student . . . Act 1: “Centrists Are the Most Hostile to Democracy, Not Extremists” David Adler writes in the New York Times: My research suggests that across Europe and North America, centrists are the least supportive of democracy, the least committed to its […]

How to read (in quantitative social science). And by implication, how to write.

I happened to come across this classic from 2014. For convenience I’ll just repeat it all here: It all started when I was reading Chris Blattman’s blog and noticed this: One of the most provocative and interesting field experiments I [Blattman] have seen in this year: Poor people often do not make investments, even when […]

There’s nothing embarrassing about self-citation

Someone sent me an email writing that one of my papers “has an embarrassing amount of self-citation.” I’m sorry that this person is embarrassed on my behalf. I’m not embarrassed at all. If I wrote something in the past that’s relevant, it makes sense to cite it rather than repeating myself, no? A citation is […]