Tuesday, March 31, 2009

what happened to critical thinking? (or proofreading?)

The title of this post suggests something more grandiose than I intend to present. But it is a key question. This is just a rant of sorts that I need to get off my chest. Perhaps I shouldn't, but I need to.

A recent quiz question for my Introductory Biology class:
"What is the relationship between the number of species or groups under cladistic analysis and the number of possible cladograms?"

Student answer:

The number of species or groups under cladisitc analysis is irrelevant to the number of possible cladograms. However, as the number of species increases the number of possible cladograms increases.

I'd like to say that the student is just hedging, but I truly believe the student thinks this answer makes sense.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

RWU: the magazine

I'm very excited to announce the inaugural issue of Roger Williams University's new magazine - RWU. The old magazine, The Bridge, had stagnated and the Office of University Communications saw need to revamp and start fresh. For the first time, the University utilized a Board of Editors to help with the story and design elements of the magazine. I was asked to sit on the Board to represent the Division of Math & Science and am happy to say that the magazine came out fantastic - it's fresh, current, well-designed, and does a great job of depicting the great things associated with RWU.

By far, the majority of the credit goes to our chief editor, Brian Clark, and his staff, but, if I may toot my own horn, I enjoyed playing a role in the final product. The cover story on eating locally was my idea (as well as independently by a couple of others on the Board) and I am one of the "focus localvores" in the piece (though I am misquoted once or twice!). I was also the author of the "On the Waterfront" piece about our partnership with the New England Aquarium on page 6. All in all it has been a great experience being part of this transformation.

The magazine has been mailed out to the RWU community (Rick - did you get your copy yet?). For the rest of you, the magazine is available in pdf form from the University website. If you have a few minutes, please take a look and let me know what you think - we're starting the process already for issue #2 and would love your feedback.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Planet Forward

Planet Forward is a PBS project being run by Frank Sesno. The topic is sustainability and energy. On this site, you will find a variety of arguments for and against our dependency on fossil fuels. As a founding partner in this project, RWU recruited nine very talented students to produce many of the videos and to contribute other content to the site.

This is a pretty cool idea and a great way to tap the power of the internet to help spread information and start dialogues on an important subject. I'm not involved with this at any level, other than the fact that RWU is one of the major players. I'm happy to to see the University involved in a project like this - it's forward-thinking and proactive - and the fact that our undergraduates played a central role makes it all the better.

As for your part, go to the site, register and rate your favorite videos. The most popular ones will appear on a national PBS special entitled “Planet Forward,” which airs at 8 p.m. ET and PT on April 15. (All top 10 media markets including NY, Boston, LA and Chicago, will air this program.)