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Breaking: Student consults syllabus before asking question about course schedule

NASHVILLE, TN – Vanderbilt University is currently under lock down after a student reportedly consulted his syllabus before asking a question about the course schedule. At least one Associate Professor is in serious condition after going into shock, and several other professor have suffered mild fainting episodes. Police have been able to confirm that Jose Gomez, a junior at Vanderbilt, had raised his hand during the first meeting of History…

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Venus Flytraps Are Even Creepier Than We Thought

I clicked for the topic, but it was the writing that captured me. The first impulse sets a secret timer, and what the fly does in the next 20 seconds will determine its fate. If it avoids the hairs, it will live. If it bumps a second one, it sets off another electrical impulse, which raises the trap’s calcium levels above a critical threshold. The plant responds by sending water into…

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And so it begins: the unmarked assignments counter

This little icon will control my life for the next four months. It’s an iPad app that’s connected to Canvas, Seton Hill’s learning management system. Every time a student submits a new assignment, that number ticks up. Every time I submit a grade, the number goes down. Some assignments are really easy to grade — I scan a paragraph and tick off items on a rubric. Other assignments — like…

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Former NFL receiver Antwaan Randle El regrets ever playing football

“There’s no correcting it. There’s no helmet that’s going to correct it. There’s no teaching that’s going to correct it. It just comes down to it’s a physically violent game. Football players are in a car wreck every week.” […] Randle El is not naive to the profitability of the sport or the impact it has on society, but with the concussion and life-long injury issues getting more attention than ever…

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When Students Won’t Do the Reading

Reading this story from IHE recalled my undergraduate class with Austin Quigley (then the chair of the U.Va. English department), who had us write about the newly-published Stoppard play Hapgood. This was in about 1989 or 90, so it was not possible to Google for a plot summary. Even looking up contemporary reviews would have meant a trip to the library microfilm reader. On the day we were to discuss the play — the…

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Is Breakfast Necessary?

The idea that early eating is essential makes perfect sense for farm laborers and small children. Whether it matters for normal, sedentary adults is a different question. Many—if not most—studies demonstrating that breakfast eaters are healthier and manage weight better than non-breakfast eaters were sponsored by Kellogg or other breakfast cereal companies whose businesses depend on people believing that breakfast means ready-to-eat cereal.  Independently funded studies tend to show that any…

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Seven reasons why blogging can make you a better academic writer

I’ve been doing this since 1999. Why do academics blog? What do academic bloggers get from blogging? Discussions about scholarly blogging most often centre on the need for we academics to write in ways that attract new audiences. If we write blogs, we are told, we can communicate our research more effectively. Blogs enhance impact; they are a medium for public engagement. The advocacy goes on… Blogs (and other social…