Posts Tagged ‘frontiers of science’
As Frontiers of Science undergoes a review this semester that will determine whether or not it stays part of the Core Curriculum, one of the biggest questions surrounding the class is whether or not it teaches basic science effectively. According to a newly released survey—administered by the faculty responsible for the course—Frontiers does its job well.
During orientation week in August, 966 first-year Columbia College students filled out the survey, which was designed by the Frontiers of Science Executive Committee. According to Executive Committee member Don Hood, the survey covered “basic skills such as statistics, probability, and the reading and analysis of graphs, as well as content to be taught during the fall session of FoS.”
The results—which Hood sent to Spectator, and which will be sent to all Frontiers students later today—bode well for the introductory science course. The average score in August was a meager 28 percent, but the 519 students who took Frontiers in the fall scored an average of 76 percent when they took the survey again during the final exam. Meanwhile, as a control group, 167 students who did not take Frontiers in the fall took the survey again at the beginning of the spring semester, and their average score was 31 percent—not much better than the 28 percent they had scored in August.
Does this survey show that Frontiers is effective? Let us know what you think in the comments. A copy of the email is after the jump.
Open up Lionmail and check some of your most recent emails. Notice anything different? The display names for some Columbia emails now show the sender’s middle name. Just a fun observation to start off your Thursday.
Read this: If you don’t know who Emlyn Hughes is by now, then you’ve probably been living under a rock… or in Butler. The infamous physics and Frontiers of Science professor met with Columbia administration and expressed his regret over the last week’s FoS lecture.
Know this: Pressure’s on in men’s basketball as Columbia is set to face Yale. Austin Morgan, Yale’s guard, will face off against our own Brian Barbour this Friday.
Here’s more: Orchesis‘ spring show and Barnard Dances at Miller falls on the same day due to the process of pre-calendaring, but the real problem behind all this is the shortage of space for performances.
Raise your hand if you heard about professor Emlyn Hughes’ FroSci striptease last Monday morning. If my impeccable divination skills fail me not, I would say that’s just about all of you.
Apparently, a middle-aged physics professor stripping to the tune of a long-forgotten rap song is too much for the educational community at large to swallow. Add a slideshow of controversial political images into the mix and we are talking notoriety.
It’s a touch ridiculous, if you ask me (which I will egotistically and shamelessly assume you do). More »
After yesterday’s bizarre performance in the Frontiers of Science lecture from physics professor Emlyn Hughes, the university has issued a response saying that administrators will review the incident. See the full statement from University spokesperson Robert Hornsby below:
Universities are committed to maintaining a climate of academic freedom, in which the faculty members are given the widest possible latitude in their teaching and scholarship. However, the freedoms traditionally accorded the faculty carry corresponding responsibilities. Columbia’s Faculty Handbook states that “In conducting their classes, faculty should promote an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, respect, and civility [and] should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses.” While one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics.
There’s been a lot of talk this semester about the future of Frontiers of Science. CCSC held a town hall to discuss problems with this newest addition to the Core, and Spec Editorial Page Editor Lanbo Zhang and Columnist Leo Schwartz weighed in on the debate in a podcast.
Discussion of the Core this semester has also included another freshman course that needs reevaluation—University Writing. While a lot of gripping focuses on Frontiers, I think that University Writing deserves some attention, too. The course has always seemed to me to be the weakest link in the Core.
Although I will admit that I came out of University Writing a better writer, I think that the fundamentals the course teaches can only take students so far. I quickly learned that each discipline has a distinctive approach to writing—an approach that’s not necessarily the same as the one UWriting takes.
Lanbo and Leo got together to evaluate Frontiers of Science before the townhall tomorrow. Listen to their opinions, and share your own in the comments!
If tuition at Columbia is around $45,000 a year, and the average Columbia student takes approximately five classes a semester, then each student spends about $4,500 per class. (Please don’t kvetch about any math errors, this is coming from someone who couldn’t get through the last Stars and Atoms problem set without crying a little in despair).
So now that you’ve emptied your life savings piggy bank, what would you say if someone told you that that the course Financial Engineering and Risk Management is absolutely free—online. In today’s paper, Lillian Chen tackles just that question:
It’s Columbia’s first major venture into the online education market in a decade.
“We’re doing a pilot program in the MOOC stage—massive open online course—and the idea there is to see … the potential of the MOOC stage for education,” said Sree Sreenivasan, who was appointed Columbia’s first chief digital officer in July.
It’s currently just the Financial Engineering course and a Natural Language Processing class, but these classes will consist of video lectures, interactive exercises, and homework assignments. And you wouldn’t even have to leave your
cardboard box room.
Jealous that you’re not a Financial Engineer yet? Here are some classes that we think should be offered online as well. More »
A local Canadian newspaper reports that Astronomy Chair and infamous inventor of Frontiers of Science David Helfand is now the full-time president of Quest University outside Vancouver. A “founding tutor” of Quest in 2007, Helfand has commuted back and forth between universities ever since, and according to a Quest spokesperson, is now on a long term leave of absence from Columbia with “zero foreseeable responsibilities” in Morningside Heights.
Helfand’s most memorable quote from the article, perhaps only meant to share warm sentiments about his new position, comes across a little like a backhanded critique of his time at Columbia. “‘I have been lecturing at Columbia for a third of a century,’ said Helfand. ‘But I feel I only began truly teaching when I came to Quest.’” Apparently restructuring every CC student’s education by creating a new compulsory Core class doesn’t count as teaching. Will Frontiers survive with its designer away in Canada or take the path of Gateway as a requirement of the past?
Look for a full story from the News Desk.
As a compulsory class that starts its weekly reading with, “Science is a special kind of explanation of the things we see around us. It starts with a problem and curiosity,” Frontiers fails to meet or exceed expectations on many levels. However, the solution to this disappointment, and indeed what should become an essential experience for CC first-years, includes several ways of staying entertained when you’d much rather be sleeping in on a Monday morning.
Fro-Sci Bingo: Make a board of events likely to happen during lecture. Make sure to include “professor references how much everyone hates this class” and “technical difficulties with PowerPoint.”
Salute to Science: Listen for the lecturer’s favorite phrases and buzzwords as well as any oft-repeated vocabulary (“real-estate principle,” for example). Find a group of friends and classmates to sit together in the theater. Proceed to visibly salute in sync every time the catchphrase is mentioned.
(click to enlarge)