Friday, September 26, 2008

Parallel events, causation and other musings

I must concur with Christy's assessment of correlation: its not good enough. I can see the necessity of research that shows correlation, it just appears logical that someone would proceed to determine if some of the correlations were causative. But that brings me to the crux of matter. Research in the social sciences (including education) is different that research in hard sciences, as one of the readings related. That may be why Christy struggles with correlation, and why I do too. We were both in the objectivist hemisphere of the grid, though she was in the lower right and I was off the grid in the upper right. Some day I must come to realize this fact, but I think it would really help if researchers in the social sciences and education would quit calling their work "Scientific Research." It makes me recall Anna and the King (movie version: The King and I). We could coin a new, more authentic term, for example: good-enough research or even "Educational Research." That would work for me and reduce my increasingly frequent bouts with cognitive dissonance.

Now for class and how it goes. Vachel's demo of the correlation function in Excel was great stuff. Melanie said it only appears in Office 2007, but I also found it in Open Office 2.4 which is free and multi-platform. I must also admit I am a skeptic, so I checked Excel 2003 and found a correlate (correl) function hidden there also. So this tip was cool! Thanks Vachel.

Now for the classroom. O. K., the cat is out of the bag. Who is researching the attrition rate of doctoral students confined to small spaces? That is the only reason I can deduct that 11 doctoral students and their kind master are week by week stuffed into a low tech cul-de-sac created in the dark ages before Kenneth Eble published Professors as Teachers (1971), which stated that the physical accommodations for learning were atrocious and derived from medieval torture chambers and French monasteries. This is not good modeling folks. I suggest we form a doctoral students' union, compose a manifesto, stock up on garlic, and begin negotiations with the bourgeoisie. Better yet, let's move class to Portofino's, a bar, a church, or somewhere that is conducive to human beings and Boone's environmental fluxes. If we were cattle or chickens, the humane society would help us. Seeing we are on the top of the food chain, we have no advocate.

Resolve: That Cohort 16 hold class at the Chancellor Peacock's house every Tuesday afternoon (and on the two weekends we are in town), eat his food, and drink his beer until the situation is remedied. I am sure this course of action would speed up the negotiations and work better than any formal complaint that we can lodge. His house also has lots of free parking.


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