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Sunday, November 30, 2014

ISU seeks more exchanges with China

"As part of its efforts to provide students with a global perspective, Illinois State University has signed an agreement with Wuhan University in China that will lead to faculty and student exchanges." reports Bloomington Pantagraph.
 

Illinois State University - Wuhan University

 “Wuhan University is a first-rate research university, but they also offer strong education programs,” ISU President Larry Dietz said.

The agreement calls for exchanges of faculty, staff and students; training and joint research activities; and exchange of academic material and other information.

Perry Schoon, dean of ISU's College of Education, who accompanied Dietz on the trip to China, called it a cooperative agreement in which “we can learn from each other's best practices.”

Within the next five years, ISU wants to double the number of students who study abroad. The university also wants to increase the number of foreign students studying in Normal. Currently, the number going each direction — about 400 — is nearly the same.

ISU's strategic plan calls for providing programs “that prepare students to excel in a globally competitive, culturally diverse and changing environment.”

As much as ISU would like more students to study abroad, leaders recognize that most won't, for financial or other reasons.

Increasing the number of international students and faculty at ISU is “a way of bringing the world to Illinois State,” Dietz said.

International students make up about 2 percent of ISU's student body. Typically, a university of ISU's size would have about 5 percent international students, he said.

“That's not going to happen overnight and we don't want it to come all from one country,” Dietz said. 
“We want a diverse international student population.”

Schoon said three ISU programs he expects to be most involved are special education and instructional technology on the undergraduate and master's degree levels and teaching and learning at the doctoral level.

Dietz said Wuhan University has an advanced student assessment program and high-tech facilities for distance learning.
Read more...

Source: Bloomington Pantagraph


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ISU seeks more exchanges with China

"As part of its efforts to provide students with a global perspective, Illinois State University has signed an agreement with Wuhan University in China that will lead to faculty and student exchanges." reports Bloomington Pantagraph.
 

Illinois State University - Wuhan University

 “Wuhan University is a first-rate research university, but they also offer strong education programs,” ISU President Larry Dietz said.

The agreement calls for exchanges of faculty, staff and students; training and joint research activities; and exchange of academic material and other information.

Perry Schoon, dean of ISU's College of Education, who accompanied Dietz on the trip to China, called it a cooperative agreement in which “we can learn from each other's best practices.”

Within the next five years, ISU wants to double the number of students who study abroad. The university also wants to increase the number of foreign students studying in Normal. Currently, the number going each direction — about 400 — is nearly the same.

ISU's strategic plan calls for providing programs “that prepare students to excel in a globally competitive, culturally diverse and changing environment.”

As much as ISU would like more students to study abroad, leaders recognize that most won't, for financial or other reasons.

Increasing the number of international students and faculty at ISU is “a way of bringing the world to Illinois State,” Dietz said.

International students make up about 2 percent of ISU's student body. Typically, a university of ISU's size would have about 5 percent international students, he said.

“That's not going to happen overnight and we don't want it to come all from one country,” Dietz said. 
“We want a diverse international student population.”

Schoon said three ISU programs he expects to be most involved are special education and instructional technology on the undergraduate and master's degree levels and teaching and learning at the doctoral level.

Dietz said Wuhan University has an advanced student assessment program and high-tech facilities for distance learning.
Read more...

Source: Bloomington Pantagraph


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Are you educated if you are competent?

"For a university that pioneered distance learning, Northern Arizona University’s foray into online, self-paced degree programs seems like a natural fit." continues Arizona Daily Sun.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But on the Mountain Campus and elsewhere, competency-based education uncoupled from the credit hour is raising questions fundamental to higher education: What is a college? What does it mean to be educated at one? And how does a college work to accomplish that goal?

As the host community to a bricks-and-mortar campus of 20,000 students, Flagstaff has a big stake in how those questions shake out. The Internet has proved to be a disruptive technology in many fields, and using its interactivity to eliminate “seat time” in class and semester-long course modules has wide ramifications for a residential college campus.

STARTING SLOWLY 
As we report today on the front page, NAU’s program, called
Personalized Learning, has started slowly with just three degree programs: liberal arts, computer information technology and small business administration. It breaks down course syllabi into dozens of goals that show mastery of certain skills, with clusters like “critical and creative thinking” and “digital fluency and information literacy.” Students in competency programs have reading and writing assignments, but they also are encouraged to attend plays, help low-income families fill out tax forms or intern at a computer repair shop.

Most of the initial students in Personalized Learning – there are 390 so far – are older and have had jobs and other life experiences. Instead of paying by the credit hour, students pay a flat rate of $2,500 every six months for as many competencies as they can master. Mentors check in by phone or email on their progress, and subject-matter experts grade papers and tests. By 2020, NAU hopes to have enrolled 8,000 students in Personalized Learning and be generating net revenue by that year of $19 million.

Proportionally speaking, that’s not an insignificant number of students compared with the Mountain Campus. But if these are students who would otherwise not complete a degree, then Personalized Learning would seem to be serving a new and important niche. NAU as a whole struggles to graduate even a majority of its enrollees after six years, so a self-paced degree program free of any residential or credit-hour requirements might help to improve those numbers.
Read more... 

Source: Arizona Daily Sun


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Are you educated if you are competent?

"For a university that pioneered distance learning, Northern Arizona University’s foray into online, self-paced degree programs seems like a natural fit." continues Arizona Daily Sun.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But on the Mountain Campus and elsewhere, competency-based education uncoupled from the credit hour is raising questions fundamental to higher education: What is a college? What does it mean to be educated at one? And how does a college work to accomplish that goal?

As the host community to a bricks-and-mortar campus of 20,000 students, Flagstaff has a big stake in how those questions shake out. The Internet has proved to be a disruptive technology in many fields, and using its interactivity to eliminate “seat time” in class and semester-long course modules has wide ramifications for a residential college campus.

STARTING SLOWLY 
As we report today on the front page, NAU’s program, called
Personalized Learning, has started slowly with just three degree programs: liberal arts, computer information technology and small business administration. It breaks down course syllabi into dozens of goals that show mastery of certain skills, with clusters like “critical and creative thinking” and “digital fluency and information literacy.” Students in competency programs have reading and writing assignments, but they also are encouraged to attend plays, help low-income families fill out tax forms or intern at a computer repair shop.

Most of the initial students in Personalized Learning – there are 390 so far – are older and have had jobs and other life experiences. Instead of paying by the credit hour, students pay a flat rate of $2,500 every six months for as many competencies as they can master. Mentors check in by phone or email on their progress, and subject-matter experts grade papers and tests. By 2020, NAU hopes to have enrolled 8,000 students in Personalized Learning and be generating net revenue by that year of $19 million.

Proportionally speaking, that’s not an insignificant number of students compared with the Mountain Campus. But if these are students who would otherwise not complete a degree, then Personalized Learning would seem to be serving a new and important niche. NAU as a whole struggles to graduate even a majority of its enrollees after six years, so a self-paced degree program free of any residential or credit-hour requirements might help to improve those numbers.
Read more... 

Source: Arizona Daily Sun


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Older brains still learn, but maybe too much

Follow on Twitter as @LATsciguy
"If you ever noticed that you notice more as you get older, well, brain science may be on your side." according to Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times.

There's a catch, though: Lots of that visual information isn’t important, and it might be replacing more relevant stuff, like where you parked the car.

Seniors may be just as good as youngsters at processing visual information, but they may not be able to filter out what's irrelevant to the task, a new study suggests. Here, a recreation director in West Chester, Pa., works trivia questions on a tablet with seniors.
Photo: Los Angeles Times

A new study suggests that adults who are well into their 60s and 70s can learn visual information just as readily as the whippersnappers in the 19-to-30-year-old range, but the elders pick up much more irrelevant visual information than do their younger counterparts.

The findings could help clarify the nature of cognitive declines that come with age. At least for visual perceptual learning, older brains remain “plastic,” or changeable, but they may sacrifice stability — or long-term retention of information, the study suggests. And that’s because of a decline in the ability to suppress information that isn’t germane to the task at hand, according to the study.

“Our brain capacity is limited,” said Brown University neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe, coauthor of the study published online Wednesday in the journal Current Biology. “If you learn more unnecessary things, then there is a risk of replacing important, existing information in the brain with something trivial.”

That’s not a trivial matter. Watanabe and his fellow researchers from UC Riverside and National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan have been exploring how older people learn. A study they published this month showed that learning-related changes in one part of older people’s brains involved mainly white matter, while gray matter activity changed among the young.
Read more... 

Additional resources 
White matter in the older brain is more plastic than in the younger brain. Published
Nature Communications 5, Article number: 5504 doi:10.1038/ncomms6504
 
Source: Los Angeles Times


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Older brains still learn, but maybe too much

Follow on Twitter as @LATsciguy
"If you ever noticed that you notice more as you get older, well, brain science may be on your side." according to Geoffrey Mohan, Los Angeles Times.

There's a catch, though: Lots of that visual information isn’t important, and it might be replacing more relevant stuff, like where you parked the car.

Seniors may be just as good as youngsters at processing visual information, but they may not be able to filter out what's irrelevant to the task, a new study suggests. Here, a recreation director in West Chester, Pa., works trivia questions on a tablet with seniors.
Photo: Los Angeles Times

A new study suggests that adults who are well into their 60s and 70s can learn visual information just as readily as the whippersnappers in the 19-to-30-year-old range, but the elders pick up much more irrelevant visual information than do their younger counterparts.

The findings could help clarify the nature of cognitive declines that come with age. At least for visual perceptual learning, older brains remain “plastic,” or changeable, but they may sacrifice stability — or long-term retention of information, the study suggests. And that’s because of a decline in the ability to suppress information that isn’t germane to the task at hand, according to the study.

“Our brain capacity is limited,” said Brown University neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe, coauthor of the study published online Wednesday in the journal Current Biology. “If you learn more unnecessary things, then there is a risk of replacing important, existing information in the brain with something trivial.”

That’s not a trivial matter. Watanabe and his fellow researchers from UC Riverside and National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan have been exploring how older people learn. A study they published this month showed that learning-related changes in one part of older people’s brains involved mainly white matter, while gray matter activity changed among the young.
Read more... 

Additional resources 
White matter in the older brain is more plastic than in the younger brain. Published
Nature Communications 5, Article number: 5504 doi:10.1038/ncomms6504
 
Source: Los Angeles Times


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We Should be in a Golden Age for Math Education

Follow on Twitter as @WJS1988
"How many of you out there think math is an important part of education? Also, how many of you really, truthfully enjoyed taking math courses in school?" summarizes for the National Edition.

The resounding response to the former is that math plays a crucial role in education, but the latter response would indicate that most of us didn’t enjoy our own mathematics education.


Taking the stage at Tech Cocktail Week, Stuart Gannes of MakerMedia stood in front of an owl sculpture, the symbol of learning, to talk about exactly that: learning. It all starts for Gannes at a simple place, the Twitter-sphere. If you look at Twitter feeds focused on algebra, or math, you’ll see that people think math sucks and makes our lives difficult.

Tech Cocktail Week Vegas | Stuart Gannes | 1.8.2014
 

Source: Tech Cocktail and Tech Cocktail Channel (YouTube)


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We Should be in a Golden Age for Math Education

Follow on Twitter as @WJS1988
"How many of you out there think math is an important part of education? Also, how many of you really, truthfully enjoyed taking math courses in school?" summarizes for the National Edition.

The resounding response to the former is that math plays a crucial role in education, but the latter response would indicate that most of us didn’t enjoy our own mathematics education.


Taking the stage at Tech Cocktail Week, Stuart Gannes of MakerMedia stood in front of an owl sculpture, the symbol of learning, to talk about exactly that: learning. It all starts for Gannes at a simple place, the Twitter-sphere. If you look at Twitter feeds focused on algebra, or math, you’ll see that people think math sucks and makes our lives difficult.

Tech Cocktail Week Vegas | Stuart Gannes | 1.8.2014
 

Source: Tech Cocktail and Tech Cocktail Channel (YouTube)


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What it’s like for Canadian women working in tech

Follow on Twitter as @nlynnbogart
Global News writes, "When Loretta Faveri decided to go to art school as a mature student, she never imagined she would emerge a budding wearable tech entrepreneur."

Women still represent the majority of university graduates in Canada; however they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences (STEM) fields.
Photo: Globalnews.ca  

With a background in dance and art, Faveri started classes at Toronto’s OCAD University working toward a Bachelor of Design degree. But after getting hands-on with some of the school’s more technical programs and tools, she was inspired to take her art in a new direction.

Faveri is the creator of SOMO – a wireless, wearable sensor that creates sound using a person’s body movements.

The device can be worn on the wrists or feet of dancers to create a unique sound performance. Faveri’s team of engineers and designers at her Toronto-based studio Sonicwear have been testing SOMO with dancers from Canada’s Ballet Jorgen and The Studio for Movement.

“None of this would have happened if I didn’t go to art school,” Faveri told Global News.
“It took me way out of my comfort zone because I don’t have any background in electronics. The only reason I pursed it was because I had a vision. For me it’s about making magic.”
And, at a time where the lack of women working in tech has become a big conversation within the industry, Faveri hopes the idea of making magic is something that will inspire more women and girls to look differently at technology.

Women still represent the majority of university graduates in Canada, however they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences (STEM) fields.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), women accounted for 39 per cent of university graduates aged 25 to 34 with a STEM degree in 2011, compared with 66 per cent of university graduates in non-STEM programs.

The 2011 survey – the most recent data Statistics Canada has on the topic – also found that among women who choose to pursue a degree in STEM, most do so in biology or science programs, resulting in even fewer women in engineering, computer science and mathematics programs.
Read more...

Source: Globalnews.ca


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What it’s like for Canadian women working in tech

Follow on Twitter as @nlynnbogart
Global News writes, "When Loretta Faveri decided to go to art school as a mature student, she never imagined she would emerge a budding wearable tech entrepreneur."

Women still represent the majority of university graduates in Canada; however they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences (STEM) fields.
Photo: Globalnews.ca  

With a background in dance and art, Faveri started classes at Toronto’s OCAD University working toward a Bachelor of Design degree. But after getting hands-on with some of the school’s more technical programs and tools, she was inspired to take her art in a new direction.

Faveri is the creator of SOMO – a wireless, wearable sensor that creates sound using a person’s body movements.

The device can be worn on the wrists or feet of dancers to create a unique sound performance. Faveri’s team of engineers and designers at her Toronto-based studio Sonicwear have been testing SOMO with dancers from Canada’s Ballet Jorgen and The Studio for Movement.

“None of this would have happened if I didn’t go to art school,” Faveri told Global News.
“It took me way out of my comfort zone because I don’t have any background in electronics. The only reason I pursed it was because I had a vision. For me it’s about making magic.”
And, at a time where the lack of women working in tech has become a big conversation within the industry, Faveri hopes the idea of making magic is something that will inspire more women and girls to look differently at technology.

Women still represent the majority of university graduates in Canada, however they remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer sciences (STEM) fields.

According to the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), women accounted for 39 per cent of university graduates aged 25 to 34 with a STEM degree in 2011, compared with 66 per cent of university graduates in non-STEM programs.

The 2011 survey – the most recent data Statistics Canada has on the topic – also found that among women who choose to pursue a degree in STEM, most do so in biology or science programs, resulting in even fewer women in engineering, computer science and mathematics programs.
Read more...

Source: Globalnews.ca


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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Online learning 'the only way to go'

"As universities try to balance rising demand for tertiary education with expansion challenges, education experts say Web-based e-learning models will increasingly play a pivotal role in SA and across the continent." reports

Photo: ITWeb

This week, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) announced plans to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) in a partnership with edX – a US-based non-profit online learning destination founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

MOOCs aim to deliver learning content online to any person who wants to take a course, with unlimited participation and no costs incurred for those who sign up. Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, deputy vice-chancellor for research and post-graduate affairs at Wits, says course content is still being finalised, but people who register for courses can become certified in what they study, if they choose to be assessed.

Vilakazi says course content will undergo verification by Wits and edX "to make sure you don't get a certificate that is worthless". Students will be able to enrol for the MOOCs on edX towards the end of next year, according to Wits.

Wits aims to increase its reach to students across Africa, and although edX currently has more than 200 000 learners on the continent, the new MOOCs seek to draw even more people into its framework.

In a brief statement, the university says the number of students pursuing higher education in Africa has tripled between 1991 and 2006, yet public investment in education has remained the same.

Wits says the increased demand, along with the growing value of university degrees on the continent, means the current high levels of educational expansion may still not be enough – a gap the new partnership aims to bridge. Vilakazi adds the main idea is to "democratise education" and have a positive effect on job prospects for people.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) also aims to introduce MOOCs from early next year, in partnership with British provider FutureLearn.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Sandra Klopper, says, in developing UCT's MOOC strategy, "we have been mindful of the scarcity of contributing universities from the global south, and from Africa in particular.

"We are aware of the challenges many potential learners face with regards to technology and access. In response, we intend to place special emphasis on accessibility for audiences that are limited by bandwidth provision and device capacities."
Read more...

Source: ITWeb


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Online learning 'the only way to go'

"As universities try to balance rising demand for tertiary education with expansion challenges, education experts say Web-based e-learning models will increasingly play a pivotal role in SA and across the continent." reports

Photo: ITWeb

This week, the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) announced plans to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs) in a partnership with edX – a US-based non-profit online learning destination founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

MOOCs aim to deliver learning content online to any person who wants to take a course, with unlimited participation and no costs incurred for those who sign up. Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, deputy vice-chancellor for research and post-graduate affairs at Wits, says course content is still being finalised, but people who register for courses can become certified in what they study, if they choose to be assessed.

Vilakazi says course content will undergo verification by Wits and edX "to make sure you don't get a certificate that is worthless". Students will be able to enrol for the MOOCs on edX towards the end of next year, according to Wits.

Wits aims to increase its reach to students across Africa, and although edX currently has more than 200 000 learners on the continent, the new MOOCs seek to draw even more people into its framework.

In a brief statement, the university says the number of students pursuing higher education in Africa has tripled between 1991 and 2006, yet public investment in education has remained the same.

Wits says the increased demand, along with the growing value of university degrees on the continent, means the current high levels of educational expansion may still not be enough – a gap the new partnership aims to bridge. Vilakazi adds the main idea is to "democratise education" and have a positive effect on job prospects for people.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) also aims to introduce MOOCs from early next year, in partnership with British provider FutureLearn.

Deputy vice-chancellor, Professor Sandra Klopper, says, in developing UCT's MOOC strategy, "we have been mindful of the scarcity of contributing universities from the global south, and from Africa in particular.

"We are aware of the challenges many potential learners face with regards to technology and access. In response, we intend to place special emphasis on accessibility for audiences that are limited by bandwidth provision and device capacities."
Read more...

Source: ITWeb


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Thursday, November 27, 2014

A numbers game: Math helps to predict how the body fights disease

"Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have defined for the first time how the size of the immune response is controlled, using mathematical models to predict how powerfully immune cells respond to infection and disease." according to Phys.Org.

Dr Andrey Kan, Ms Julia Marchingo, Dr Susanne Heinzel and Professor Phil Hodgkin have combined mathematics and laboratory studies to define how the size of the immune response is controlled. 
Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia

The finding, published today in the journal Science, has implications for our understanding of how harmful or beneficial immune responses can be manipulated for better health.

The research team used mathematics and computer modeling to understand how complex signaling impacts the size of the response by key infection-fighting called T cells. The team included Ms Julia Marchingo, Dr Andrey Kan, Dr Susanne Heinzel and Professor Phil Hodgkin from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and Professor Ken Duffy from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

T cells are important for launching specific immune responses against invading microbes, as well as eliminating some . Errors in the control of T cells can lead to harmful 'autoimmune' responses that attack the body's own tissues, the underlying cause of diseases including type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

The team combined laboratory data with mathematical models to clarify how different external signals impact on T cell proliferation, Ms Marchingo said. "The more times T cells divide, the more powerfully they can fight their target," she said. "For example, if T cells are responding to a vaccine, more division can produce a better protective immune response.

"The outcome of our research is that, for the first time, we are able to predict the size of an immune response, such as the response to flu virus, based on the sum of the signals received by the flu-responsive T cells."
Read more...

Additional resources 
"Antigen affinity, costimulation, and cytokine inputs sum linearly to amplify T cell expansion," by J.M. Marchingo et al. Science, 2014. 
www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/… 1126/science.1260044

Source: Phys.Org


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A numbers game: Math helps to predict how the body fights disease

"Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have defined for the first time how the size of the immune response is controlled, using mathematical models to predict how powerfully immune cells respond to infection and disease." according to Phys.Org.

Dr Andrey Kan, Ms Julia Marchingo, Dr Susanne Heinzel and Professor Phil Hodgkin have combined mathematics and laboratory studies to define how the size of the immune response is controlled. 
Credit: Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, Australia

The finding, published today in the journal Science, has implications for our understanding of how harmful or beneficial immune responses can be manipulated for better health.

The research team used mathematics and computer modeling to understand how complex signaling impacts the size of the response by key infection-fighting called T cells. The team included Ms Julia Marchingo, Dr Andrey Kan, Dr Susanne Heinzel and Professor Phil Hodgkin from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and Professor Ken Duffy from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

T cells are important for launching specific immune responses against invading microbes, as well as eliminating some . Errors in the control of T cells can lead to harmful 'autoimmune' responses that attack the body's own tissues, the underlying cause of diseases including type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

The team combined laboratory data with mathematical models to clarify how different external signals impact on T cell proliferation, Ms Marchingo said. "The more times T cells divide, the more powerfully they can fight their target," she said. "For example, if T cells are responding to a vaccine, more division can produce a better protective immune response.

"The outcome of our research is that, for the first time, we are able to predict the size of an immune response, such as the response to flu virus, based on the sum of the signals received by the flu-responsive T cells."
Read more...

Additional resources 
"Antigen affinity, costimulation, and cytokine inputs sum linearly to amplify T cell expansion," by J.M. Marchingo et al. Science, 2014. 
www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/… 1126/science.1260044

Source: Phys.Org


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Men are from STEM, women are from humanities: Breaking down gender barriers in academia

"Encouraging young women to see themselves as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals could increase enrollment numbers at colleges." continues UNLV The Rebel Yell.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Betzabe Sanchez, engineering major, recalls walking into her first class at UNLV.

“When I walked in there were only three other girls in that class,” Sanchez said. “The professor asked me if I belonged in the class. I said yes, this is my class. He said ‘this is an engineering class.’ I said ‘I know.’”

Sanchez said she was shocked at the reaction of the professor and the other students in the class although she realizes that she doesn’t fit the stereotypical mold of an engineer.

Sanchez didn’t dream of being an engineer until her senior year of high school. She had her mind set to be a psychologist until her physics teacher and mentor planned a trip to the Hoover Dam and she talked to professional water resource engineers.

“I fell in love with what they were doing,” Sanchez said. “It’s not until I experienced that that I thought I could be an engineer.”

According to the American Association of University Women, an organization that supports women in the STEM field, 25 percent of women make up the computing workforce and 14 percent are involved in engineering. The association also states that African-American, Hispanic and Native-American women are the most underrepresented.

AAUW put together a report, “Why So Few Women In Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics,” compiling research from 1960 to 2009.

The report looked at studies that tested girls’ achievements and interest in math and sciences compared to their learning environments and the social beliefs surrounding them.Citing 2009 National Science Foundation data, the report states that men outnumber women 3 to 1 in high-level SAT math performance, and there are 29 men for every 15 women who declare STEM majors as a freshman.

The formal statistics for the College of Engineering weren’t available as of press time.

Sanchez said that she thinks that societal pressure plays into women’s disinterest in pursuing engineering.

“If a girl is good at math, society tells them they should go into science, economics or business but engineering is male-based,” Sanchez said.

Rebecca Sheldon, a former enterprise software engineer for CrowdFish said she noticed the same problem in computer science. She is now a programmer but originally went to school for communications.

“I always say that it would be nice to have seen a girl like me in that field growing up because then I could visualize that would be a role I could take,” Sheldon said.

She now mentors other women and young girls. She says that most women she has mentored or worked with came into coding by working in another related profession first like graphic design.
Read more...

Source: UNLV The Rebel Yell


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Men are from STEM, women are from humanities: Breaking down gender barriers in academia

"Encouraging young women to see themselves as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals could increase enrollment numbers at colleges." continues UNLV The Rebel Yell.

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Betzabe Sanchez, engineering major, recalls walking into her first class at UNLV.

“When I walked in there were only three other girls in that class,” Sanchez said. “The professor asked me if I belonged in the class. I said yes, this is my class. He said ‘this is an engineering class.’ I said ‘I know.’”

Sanchez said she was shocked at the reaction of the professor and the other students in the class although she realizes that she doesn’t fit the stereotypical mold of an engineer.

Sanchez didn’t dream of being an engineer until her senior year of high school. She had her mind set to be a psychologist until her physics teacher and mentor planned a trip to the Hoover Dam and she talked to professional water resource engineers.

“I fell in love with what they were doing,” Sanchez said. “It’s not until I experienced that that I thought I could be an engineer.”

According to the American Association of University Women, an organization that supports women in the STEM field, 25 percent of women make up the computing workforce and 14 percent are involved in engineering. The association also states that African-American, Hispanic and Native-American women are the most underrepresented.

AAUW put together a report, “Why So Few Women In Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics,” compiling research from 1960 to 2009.

The report looked at studies that tested girls’ achievements and interest in math and sciences compared to their learning environments and the social beliefs surrounding them.Citing 2009 National Science Foundation data, the report states that men outnumber women 3 to 1 in high-level SAT math performance, and there are 29 men for every 15 women who declare STEM majors as a freshman.

The formal statistics for the College of Engineering weren’t available as of press time.

Sanchez said that she thinks that societal pressure plays into women’s disinterest in pursuing engineering.

“If a girl is good at math, society tells them they should go into science, economics or business but engineering is male-based,” Sanchez said.

Rebecca Sheldon, a former enterprise software engineer for CrowdFish said she noticed the same problem in computer science. She is now a programmer but originally went to school for communications.

“I always say that it would be nice to have seen a girl like me in that field growing up because then I could visualize that would be a role I could take,” Sheldon said.

She now mentors other women and young girls. She says that most women she has mentored or worked with came into coding by working in another related profession first like graphic design.
Read more...

Source: UNLV The Rebel Yell


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The Math Geek Holiday Gift Guide

Follow on Twitter as @evelynjlamb
"Looking for a gift that says, “Hey, I know you like math”? Look no further. There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to wonderful mathematical things to give to people, but here are some of the coolest items I’ve seen this year." according to Evelyn Lamb, Postdoc at the University of Utah.

To read
I wrote reviews of Jordan Ellenberg’s How Not to Be Wrong and Richard Schwartz’s Really Big Numbers earlier this year, and both would make good gifts.

Albert Michelson’s Harmonic Analyzer was a 19th century machine that used gears to perform Fourier analysis mechanically. Bill Hammack, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has made a superb set of YouTube videos that show the machine in action. He, Steve Kranz, and Bruce Carpenter have also put together a beautiful book illustrating exactly how it worked. Bonus: if you’re cheap, there is a free pdf version of the book available at the website.

The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer is about family, grief, the immigrant experience, and the Navier-Stokes problem. Few novels center around mathematicians, and while some of the characters in this book are a bit stereotypical, he portrays many mathematicians with complexity and sympathy, and I was drawn in to the story.

Zombies and Calculus by Colin Adams is not for the squeamish, and I’m squeamish. But if the mathletes in your life don’t mind a few bashed-in brains, they can probably handle this book. The book gently introduces mathematical concepts such as tangents, curves of pursuit, and exponential growth within the framework of an over-the-top zombie apocalypse story.

John Napier

John Napier gave birth to the logarithm 400 years ago, and there’s a new biography of him by Julian Havil that explores not only his mathematical work but also his personality and the treatise on the Book of Revelation that he thought he would be remembered by. Bonus points if you give the recipient of this book a slide rule too.

Oliver Byrne’s edition of Euclid’s Elements. This is a reprint of the 1847 edition of the Elements that uses beautiful diagrams in primary colors to illustrate the proofs.

I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet, but with a title like Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, I’m guessing Matt Parker’s new book will be pretty fun.
Read more...

Source: Scientific American (blog)


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The Math Geek Holiday Gift Guide

Follow on Twitter as @evelynjlamb
"Looking for a gift that says, “Hey, I know you like math”? Look no further. There is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to wonderful mathematical things to give to people, but here are some of the coolest items I’ve seen this year." according to Evelyn Lamb, Postdoc at the University of Utah.

To read
I wrote reviews of Jordan Ellenberg’s How Not to Be Wrong and Richard Schwartz’s Really Big Numbers earlier this year, and both would make good gifts.

Albert Michelson’s Harmonic Analyzer was a 19th century machine that used gears to perform Fourier analysis mechanically. Bill Hammack, a chemical engineering professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has made a superb set of YouTube videos that show the machine in action. He, Steve Kranz, and Bruce Carpenter have also put together a beautiful book illustrating exactly how it worked. Bonus: if you’re cheap, there is a free pdf version of the book available at the website.

The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer is about family, grief, the immigrant experience, and the Navier-Stokes problem. Few novels center around mathematicians, and while some of the characters in this book are a bit stereotypical, he portrays many mathematicians with complexity and sympathy, and I was drawn in to the story.

Zombies and Calculus by Colin Adams is not for the squeamish, and I’m squeamish. But if the mathletes in your life don’t mind a few bashed-in brains, they can probably handle this book. The book gently introduces mathematical concepts such as tangents, curves of pursuit, and exponential growth within the framework of an over-the-top zombie apocalypse story.

John Napier

John Napier gave birth to the logarithm 400 years ago, and there’s a new biography of him by Julian Havil that explores not only his mathematical work but also his personality and the treatise on the Book of Revelation that he thought he would be remembered by. Bonus points if you give the recipient of this book a slide rule too.

Oliver Byrne’s edition of Euclid’s Elements. This is a reprint of the 1847 edition of the Elements that uses beautiful diagrams in primary colors to illustrate the proofs.

I haven’t gotten my hands on a copy yet, but with a title like Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension, I’m guessing Matt Parker’s new book will be pretty fun.
Read more...

Source: Scientific American (blog)


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Musicians show advantages in long-term memory

ScienceDaily writes, "A peek inside the brains of professional musicians has given University of Texas at Arlington psychology researchers what may be the first links between music expertise and advantages in long-term memory."
 

Photo: ScienceDaily

Heekyeong Park, assistant professor of psychology, and graduate student James Schaeffer used electroencephalography (EEG) technology to measure electrical activity of neurons in the brains of 14 musicians and 15 non-musicians and noted processing differences in the frontal and parietal lobe responses. The team will present initial results of their new research Tuesday at Neuroscience 2014, the international meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Washington, D.C.
 
"Musically trained people are known to process linguistic materials a split second faster than those without training, and previous research also has shown musicians have advantages in working memory," said Park. "What we wanted to know is whether there are differences between pictorial and verbal tasks and whether any advantages extend to long-term memory. If proven, those advantages could represent an intervention option to explore for people with cognitive challenges."

Park's laboratory in UT Arlington College of Science uses high tech imaging tools -- including EEG, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) -- to research human cognitive neuroscience. To test working memory, the study participants were asked to select pictorial or verbal items that they'd just been given among similar lures. For long-term memory, participants judged whether each test item was studied or new after the entire study session was complete.
 
The musicians, all of whom had been playing classical music for more than 15 years, outperformed non-musicians in EEG-measured neural responses on the working memory tasks. But, when long-term memory was tested, the enhanced sensitivity was only found in memory for pictures.

The study has not explored why the advantages might develop. Park said it's possible professional musicians become more adept at taking in and processing a host of pictorial cues as they navigate musical scores.

Park's abstract for the conference reports that musicians' neural responses in the mid-frontal part of the brain were 300 to 500 milliseconds faster than non musicians and responses in the parietal lobe were 400 to 800 milliseconds faster than non musicians. The parietal lobe is directly behind the frontal lobe of the brain and is important for perceptual processing, attention and memory.
Read more... 

Additional resources 
 
Photo: Heekyeong Park,
The University of Texas at Arlington
The findings suggest that musical training may be a promising treatment option for people who struggle with cognitive challenges, according to Dr. Heekyeong Park, a psychologist at UT Arlington and the study's lead author

Source: ScienceDaily


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