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    Entries in work (5)


    Things I hate in essays

    It is essay writing season again and I'm marking papers.  There are many things I dislike and well, I complain a lot.  So a former student asked if I could make a Top 10 list.  So here is the list, mostly copied and pasted from a facebook post I made.

    1. 'In today's society' and variations thereof. It is pretty much useless. Also, in most of the stuff I deal with it is almost a non sequitur. 'In today's society the hippocampus is important in spatial memory' makes little sense.

    2. The word 'interesting'. Prove to me something is interesting, I'm the reader, I'll decide if it is. Don't tell me something is interesting.

    3. 'The results showed'. 

    4. The passive voice.

    5. Quoting. It is almost never useful in scientific writing. What quotes tell me is that you don't know what the thing you're quoting means, so instead you decided to use someone else's words.

    6. Cliches. (Though I suppose one could argue a top 10 list is a cliche.....)

    7. 'In my opinion'. I don't give a shit about your opinion. I want evidence, synthesis and analysis. 

    8. Useless detail. Look, I don't need to know the light dark cycle the rats were kept on, of course unless it is say a circadian rhythm experiment or something.

    9. 'Since the dawn of time' and variations thereof. First off, it's a fucking cliche, secondly, look, the dawn of time includes more time when there wasn't even an Earth than when there was one. So it is unlikely that the effects of stimulus intensity on learning has been wondered about since the dawn of time. 

    10. 'In another study' as a way to start a paragraph. Lazy writing, useless words.

    11. '' or 'Websters' or 'The OED' or whatever 'defines x as....' Oh man that one bugs me. (Thanks for the to my podcasting buddy Anthony Marco for mentioning that in the commets of the facebook post).

    12. Telling me what university the researchers are affiliated with who you are citing. This is almost always useless information. I usually circle that and write 'don't care' in the margin.

    13. Utilize rather than use. Use is a perfectly good word. When in doubt, use the shorter word.

    14. Apostrophes don't pluralize nouns.  


    Course Materials for Fall 2018 Available

    You can see them if you click the appropriate links above.  

    I look forward to a great semester!


    End of the Term

    This is a very special time for a lot of university students.  It is when their undergraduate degrees end and they start new stuff, you know like grad school or med school or gasp, they get a job or something.

    It is a pretty special time for me as well.  For the first time in my career I am taking a sabbatical.  Basically I don't have to teach for a year, and don't have any mind numbing committee work service to do.  I can concentrate on scholarly stuff, and play xbox oh and drink Pernod.

    This year is also very special because we have a really great group of fourth year students.  I am very proud of this group.  I said goodbye to them today, and while I know I will keep in touch with many of them, some I honeslty probably won't see in person again.  The neat thing is that through things like facebook I will see them again, and see them get married and have kids and careers and all of that stuff.

    It is also the year my daughter graduates from Algoma and she was in that last class of mine.  Today was probably the only time I ever actually ever made mention of it besides the standard 'you should all know that is my duaghter' disclaimer I make at the beginning of each term in a class she takes.  I felt a strange mixture of sadness and pride when I talked about her and her two highschool freinds that are in the class.  She has better grades than I ever did, and I fear she may be smarter than I am....  As an aside it is pretty cool that today is world autism day, as the day reminds me of Jonno as well.  So this day is about both of my kids and always will be to me.

    I just want to end by thanking this great group of people for allowing me to teach them for the last four years, and I guess for paying tuition.

    Thanks guys.


    Changes to the Stats Videos

    After four years of releasing the 3256 lectures both as audio podcasts and video podcasts I have decided to kill the video podcasts.  That said, they are now on YouTube.  Enjoy.


    Some Myths About University Professors....

    The school year is set to start here in North America, and students are gearing up for another year.  So are support staff and faculty.  I have not been a student for quite a while, and I have never been a member of the support staff, so I will talk about what it is like from our side of the podium.

    There are a number of myths about profs and our work, so I thought why not write a post about that?  Plus, who the hell are you to stop me from posting on my own blog?  OK, you weren't, sorry....

    There are no stupid questions

    You might hear one of us say this in a classroom, usually on the first day, to encourage participation.  You know though, there certainly are stupid questions.  Most of us, however, will not make you feel like you asked a stupid question, so ask away.  I have had to, once in my whole career, ask someone (after class, privately) not to ask a question every time a thought came to his head.

    Profs don't care about teaching

    OK, I hear this one a lot.  "They don't care about us, they just want to be in the lab/library or whatever".  Yeah sure, there are some people like this.  But, in my experience we all like teaching.  Research takes a long time, and the personal sense of satisfaction that comes from it takes even longer.  The sense of satisfaction that comes with telling someone something they don't know, that is an amazing feeling.

    Their teacher ratings don't matter

    This one is complete bullshit.  I have sat on tenure and promotion committees at two universities, and we always look at evaluations.  We look at student evaluations of teaching along with research contributions.  Teaching will have more or less weight than research depending on the school, but, if you cannot teach, you will have trouble getting promoted and getting tenure.  The same holds true for research.  

    He only teaches six hours a week, boy a job where I was paid for six hours would be sweet...

    This one shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what we do for a living.  As I mentioned above, we teach, and most of us love it (hell, some people hate their jobs, no matter what they are).  However, we also have to do research (most of us love that too).  We have to do original stuff, sort of like big frakking term papers, but, more involved, and usually more original.  Finally, we have to do soul destroying committee work.  This is a cool job, and one of the things we do is help run where we work, hence the committees.  There are people that like committee work, I don't understand these people (and I'm a psychologist) but, they do exist....

    Tenure makes people lazy

    Tenure is simply permanence.  We have a probationary period in our jobs, just like any other job.  A typical probationary period at a company might be say 90 days.  Ours is five or six YEARS.  We come up for review every year or two and are told what we are doing right, and what we are doing wrong.  Most of us get tenure, but it is not a sure thing.  Oh, and tenured faculty can be fired.  It has to be for cause, but it happens.  That said, the weeding out process during the probationary period usually ensures that we are all pretty decent at our jobs.  Now are there people that do sweet dick all after they are tenured, hell yes.  They are, however, quite rare.

    Anyway, those are the ones I could think of now, ok, back to making up course outlines....