HW Reviews on Yelp: Faculty Care or Some Light Spring Break Reading

While I’m putting some finishing touches on an Excel spreadsheet template to calculate interrater reliability for our writing placement test scorers at HWC, I decided to tool around on the Internet a little bit and find out what CCC and HWC tell students before they take the writing placement test. Before I go into what I found, let me tell you about that part of my sabbatical project.

Part of my sabbatical project is to create a guide and template for calculating interrater reliability for HWC’s writing placement test. And, I am almost finished; I submitted a proposal, yesterday, for DWFD in August, and if accepted, I hope to present and show how each campus can very easily calculate (and triangulate the three embedded tests and scores in the spreadsheet template) for their campus’s interrater reliability. Interrater reliability shows that we place students consistently in writing courses, and it sets the groundwork for longitudinal studies that can track students through their writing courses.

So, now that you’re all caught up, let me tell you what I found when I Google’d “hwc writing placement.” I found Yelp reviews of HWC. I didn’t know our college was reviewed on on Yelp, and it has been reviewed 30 times and not anonymously. There are first names and last initials with links to profiles. And our students have had a lot to say. If I were to analyze the results, which I did cursorily, I think one consistent theme throughout all the reviews is that the faculty are fantastic. And, I know spring break starts today and tomorrow for some and Saturday for others.

Here are some quotes that demonstrate how well faculty are doing (and there are some that show, well, that we aren’t), So as an extra boost for the remainder of the spring semester, please read:

I took several advanced math classes there in prep for grad. school and all three teachers I had were pretty good. They genuinely cared about teaching.

Overall the teachers do care a lot and want to help you transfer to a four year university or ear your Associates. The classes are NOT easy and are pretty challenging.

Teachers are excellent. Have had little to no issues in that area.

The instructors here are pretty good though. I’ve been to a big university where it feels like you’re not connected with the instructor at all, but  at harold washington [sic] all my profs at least make an attempt to learn everyone’s name and that means something.

The English and Math teachers I have had so far were smart and up to date on the topics in their area. I have learned a ton at Harold Washington from their teachers.

One of my professors is possibly one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. I didn’t expect that at a community college, but I am pleasantly surprised. Another one of my professors also teaches at a university, so I’m basically getting that exact same education for a fraction of the price. I only planned on going to HWC for one semester, but now I am thinking of staying another semester because I am so impressed by my professors.

There are thirty reviews as of today (04.10.14), and some of the reviews are as old as 2006. It’s interesting that some of the complaints about HWC have and haven’t changed. It would be an fascinating study to categorize the reviews and correlate those findings with various CCC/HW initiatives and when those initiatives went into effect. What I find most interesting about these Yelp reviews is that they are not anonymous; students put their names with their reviews, which, I think, may suggest that they should be weighted higher than reviews on websites like RateMyProfessor dot com (but maybe not as interesting as DrawMyProfessor), which are anonymously submitted.

Nonetheless, if while over spring break, you’re in the need for some light reading after eating at the new Big Cheese Poutinerie in Wrigleyville, you might find the Yelp reviews of HWC and the poutinerie worthwhile. I was pleased as a member of the faculty to confirm what I know about my colleagues already via these Yelp reviews.

Monday Music

Xochitl Sandoval is an HWC graduate who has gone on to the University of Illinois in Champaign and is on schedule to graduate this May. She has applied and been accepted to grad school at Loyola and the University of Chicago. She’s awesome for many other reasons as well. Last week, she published an open letter to the U of I Chancellor about her experience as a student at the University of Illinois. She said I should share it with HWC since we are partly responsible for her going there. Here is a description of it.

And this is for her–Pura Fe is awesome whether singing blues or playing lap steel or doing this:

Next Up!

It’s week 13. 75% of the semester is in the books!

Monday, 4/7: Last drop day for students; Erasing the Distance Performance (12:45-2pm, Rm 103);

Tuesday, 4/8: Faculty Council Meeting (3:30pm, Rm 1046); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (5:30p, Rm 323); Humanifest-OH! Field Trip: Edward Gorey Exhibit at Loyola University (5:30pm, RSVP to emccormack@ccc.edu);

Wednesday, 4/9: Les White’s Dad, Dr. Alexander White talks “Lessons from the Holocaust” (5:30-8p, Rm 1115);

Thursday, 4/10: Career Fair (10a-2p, Rm 102/103); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (11a, Rm 323); Humanifest-OH! Faculty Jazz Recital (11a, Basement!);

Friday, 4/11: SGA Leadership Conference (9:00a-4p, All Over); Humanifest-OH!–Chicago Latino Film Festival Screening of “The Eternal Night of the Twelve Moons” (12:30p, Rm 1115);

Saturday, 4/12: Spring break!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross Talk: Physics (again!)

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

Yes, yes…I’ve missed many of these, and yes, yes, I did Physics earlier, I know. But big things are afoot in the weird world of physics:

~Watch as Stanford physicist Andrei Linde learns about the discovery of supporting evidence for his Cosmic Inflation Theory. I still can’t say that that I remember a time that science made me cry, but my allergies sure did start acting up while I watched (and if you want to know a little more about what was said, some explanation is here):

~Two more explanations of the findings: one in Slate for Humanities majors and one in Wired for those not terrified of sciencey words.The upshot is that they managed to “detect a signal from the beginning of time.”

~Good chance they found “Dark Matter”, too.

~A great piece explaining a famous quantum physics experiment and the very weird findings (a.k.a., Bell’s Theorem).

~This one is probably my favorite out of these. It is a reminder that often Physics is fantastic (as in “fantasy”): “This move beyond the visible has become a fundamental part of science’s narrative. But it’s a more complicated shift than we often appreciate. Making sense of what is unseen—of what lies “beyond the light”—has a much longer history in human experience. Before science had the means to explore that realm, we had to make do with stories that became enshrined in myth and folklore. Those stories aren’t banished as science advances; they are simply reinvented. Scientists working at the forefront of the invisible will always be confronted with gaps in knowledge, understanding, and experimental capability. In the face of those limits, they draw unconsciously on the imagery of the old stories. This is a necessary part of science, and these stories can sometimes suggest genuinely productive scientific ideas. But the danger is that we will start to believe them at face value, mistaking them for theories.”

~Care for an example? How about this: “Life is a Braid in Spacetime.

~On particle smashing (for regular people).

~Probably the universe is just a simulation. Likely a hologram. Maybe some computer from the future trying to figure out how it came to be and running a Monte Carlo experiment. That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

~Science is always moving on from ideas and theories, too, as shown by this list of “science ideas ready for retirement,” as chosen by prominent scientists.

~Feynman is still the best, though. Watch this guy talk about Physics for six minutes and try to stay uninterested.There’s a whole series of them. This one was particularly fun to watch.

~And if that freaks you out, there’s always the physics of the curve ball to consider. Oh, and take heart–there aren’t any black holes after all.

Assessment Committee Request

Jen Asimow, friend of the Lounge (and me) and Chair of the Assessment Committee this semester, asked if I would post the following letter. For those who don’t have the full background, I hope to get another post up some time after I’ve finished midterm grading.

Dear Faculty,

 

It has come to the attention of the Assessment Committee that there are faculty who are disheartened by the way the CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement) is being administered this spring.  As you all know, we have a long tradition of voluntary assessment practices at HWC, refusing to mandate any form of assessment that comes through our committee.  We continue to honor that practice.

 

This spring, CCSSE is being administered through the Office of Academic Affairs, under the direction of the Office of Research and Planning, not the Assessment Committee.  A random sample of course sections is chosen by the CCSSE administration in Texas and is sent to the college.  Normally, colleges then require faculty to administer the survey at specific times in specific courses.  Our college is trying to make this scheduling as flexible as possible, allowing faculty to choose the time in their courses that is best for their students and them.  Faculty have been given a fairly wide window to get this done, within the CCSSE requirements.

 

Understandably, this is frustrating for many of you.  Time is precious and teaching time, even more so.  No, it is not ideal and it is not the way the Assessment Committee has done things in the past.  However, the information they receive from this survey is important as student engagement is directly and indirectly related to learning.  We are hopeful that you can find the time required to honor this request from our administration.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at jasimow@ccc.edu.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jennifer Asimow, Assessment Committee Chair

On behalf of the Assessment Committee