An awful night! Sinus drainage/blockage rather disrupted my rest. I didn’t succumb to slumber until about the time FD SCP retired. And then the educationalists were back this morning, albeit a bit restrained for some unobvious reason. Perhaps hung over or exhausted. One always wonders if there is some secret beach somewhere where educationalists go on spring break to pretend to be young.

The podcast was also a bit blah, one of those culturally correct Canadian things talking about the customs and superstitions of their descendants of Clovisites. It was basically a series of recitations of “stories” that were both mystical and logically inconsistent and contradictory. So I had plenty of attention span to divert to considering an article [Link] sent me by my colleague Magnetic Inductance Force.

The article is an actual real article, that is, a refereed article out of a real refereed periodical and not some poo mind defecated by a “journalist”. It’s a physics article about some research on how to improve test grades in freshman physics courses. The course in particular is what we used to call Freshman Physics with Calculus – I think. It’s basically freshman physics for science majors and a service course for engineering majors. The motivation for improving test scores is, I suspect, primarily the latter. Test grades are a survival thing for science majors so pimping tests would be counter-Darwinian.

Three test groups were formed: practice tests; practice tests plus homework; and practice tests plus homework and tutoring. The bottom line is that tutoring doesn’t help. That’s not surprising to me since we have known for a long time that tutoring is primarily useful in learning the subject matter, and, with a good tutor, improving confidence. Those two then make for better test grades. And, of course, practice is important which is a thing usually lost to students who spend too little time doing problems.

This latter applies regardless of major. Nerd majors have too many problems to work to work them in a thoughtful fashion, and Bog majors tend to mostly take type one courses where there are no problems, only memorization. So they have no idea problems need to be worked nor how to work them.

The nastiness of this effort is resounding. First and foremost, the article is published in a physics journal. Not many other disciplines read physics journals, especially educationalists. Unless they are physics educationalists, which is a horrible thing to even contemplate. But the authors obviously saw no reason that these results needed to be shared outside the physics community. That’s the first nasty. It’s hubris of the rankest sort.

And the second thing is that not only is it redundant, it’s redundant of work done at the same U. Back when I was a student at the campus of the Boneyard, we did an experiment with the Keller course format that essentially found the same results. And the experiment was documented. Does no one do a literature search any more? Or go to the library?

This is Eddingtonian physics at its purest.

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