Thursday, 19 February 2009

Be still my heart

From the description of the memisc package for R:

One of the aims of this package is to make life easier for useRs who deal with survey data sets. It provides an infrastructure for the management of survey data including value labels, definable missing values, recoding of variables, production of code books, and import of (subsets of) SPSS and Stata files. Further, it provides functionality to produce tables and data frames of arbitrary descriptive statistics and (almost) publication-ready tables of regression model estimates. Also some convenience tools for graphics, programming, and simulation are provided. [emphasis added]

How did I miss this package before? It makes analyzing NES data—heck, any data with value labels and missing values—in R an almost sane thing to do.

QotD, screw ever getting a teaching award edition

The entitlement society marches on:

“I think putting in a lot of effort should merit a high grade,” Mr. [Jason] Greenwood said. “What else is there really than the effort that you put in?”

“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”

It will come to no surprise to any observer of contemporary collegiate culture that Mr. Greenwood is a kinesiology major, often a refuge for future gym teachers and meathead football coaches who think the education school’s curriculum is far too challenging. “Doing everything the teacher asks of [you]” isn’t A-worthy; doing everything the teacher asks of you better than most other people do it and achieving mastery thereof is A-worthy. And I say that as someone who has historically been a relatively lenient grader.

Bonus quote:

Sarah Kinn, a junior English major at the University of Vermont, agreed, saying, “I feel that if I do all of the readings and attend class regularly that I should be able to achieve a grade of at least a B.”

Via QandO, Critical Mass, Orin Kerr, and Jacob Levy, the latter of whom dissents in part.

Snark aside, I think “consumer demand” by students is a less compelling aspect of the problem—or at least the dimension of the problem I see at TAMIU, which is rather different than the dimension I observed teaching at selective private institutions—than the complicity of faculty and—particularly—administrators in encouraging faculty to reward students for occupying space and going through the motions in a misguided effort to retain students (and, perhaps more importantly, their associated free money from state and federal coffers—the marginal cost of student instruction is essentially zero from an administrative perspective) in college who have neither the interest nor actual need to complete a four-year degree.

My past thoughts on grading in general can be found here and here.