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[Phys-l] Referenceless Posts - Like Children Alone at Night In a Big City

Once again a seemingly futile plea: If you reply to this long (12 kB) post please don't hit the reply button unless you prune the copy of this post that may appear in your reply down to a few relevant lines, OTHERWISE THE ENTIRE ALREADY ARCHIVED POST MAY BE NEEDLESSLY RESENT TO SUBSCRIBERS! See also Signature quote #1.

ABSTRACT: I insert academic references into a PhysLrnR post by Jerry Epstein that (paraphrasing Bruno Latour) is "like a child without an escort walking at night in a big city it does not know: isolated, lost, anything may happen to it." ****************************************

Jerry Epstein (2008), wrote, in referenceless PhysLrnR fashion [see Signature quotes #2 & #3; my insert at ". . . . .[[insert]]. . . ."; bracketed by lines "EEEEE. . . ."]:

And I point out that Vin Coletta and Jeff Phillips' work. . . . .[[ Coletta & Phillips (2005), Coletta et al. (2007a,b)]]. . . . on correlating <g> . . . .[[ as indicated in Hake (2008a), Coletta et al. are usually correlating single-student normalized gain g(i) - which they usually call G :-( , not class average normalized gains <g>]]. . . . with independent tests of cognitive level seems to me very important, and I urge that people follow their work (mostly in AJP as far as I know) with diligence.

I have been spouting off for years. . . . [[see e.g., Epstein (2000) - as referenced in Coletta et al. (2007a)]]. . . . . (usually to brick walls) about the critical importance of student cognitive level (in the sense of Piaget) for practical questions about instruction. Instruction that can produce decent gain in students at high cognitive level is totally useless for students at low levels. . . .[[but "interactive engagement methods" can be tailored to suit the needs of varying student populations and so as to avoid Matthew and anti-Matthew courses (see e.g., Hake, 2002a and Signature quote #4]]. . . .

The entire educational establishment, from at least grades 6 through university, has largely ignored this issue, and has continued the myth . . . .[[see e.g., Signature quote #5]]. . . . . that if the professor speaks with perfect clarity, "no one within earshot can possibly fail to understand" (phrase probably stolen from Arnold Arons). . . . . [[see Signature quote #6 and also Hake (2008b). . . ]]. It is utter nonsense, as any real evaluation of student conceptual understanding after instruction will demonstrate to anyone who actually wants to know the awful truth -- most don't, since they are so sure of the perfection of their own lectures. . . . .

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
24245 Hatteras Street, Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Honorary Member, Curmudgeon Lodge of Deventer, The Netherlands.

An attempt to approach the encyclopedic Signatures quotes of Dewey Dykstra:

"Answer: Because it messes up the normal way people read text.
Question: Why is top-posting so bad?
Answer: Top-posting.
Question: What is the worst way to reply to email and newsgroup messages?"
Don Zimmerman, "Good clean fun" section of

#2. "Usually I find the inclusion of references busywork and ignore it. . . ."
Ed Eckel (2003) in a PhysLrnR post

#3. "The number of external friends the text comes with is a good indication of its strength, but there is a surer sign: references to other documents. The presence or the absence of references, quotations, and footnotes is so much a sign that a document is serious or not that you can transform a fact into fiction or fiction into fact just by adding references. The effect of references on persuasion is not limited to that of 'prestige' or 'bluff'. Again, it is a question of NUMBERS. A paper that does not have references is like a child without an escort walking at night in a big city it does not know: isolated, lost, anything may happen to it. On the contrary, attacking a paper heavy with footnotes means that the dissenter has to weaken each of the other papers, or will at least be threatened with having to do so, whereas attacking a naked paper means that the reader and the author are of the same weight: face to face."
Bruno Latour (1987, p. 33)

#4. "to him that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath."
Matthew, First Gospel of the New Testament (Gutenberg edition)

#5. "College and university faculty tend to overestimate the effectiveness of their own instructional efforts and thus tend to see little need for educational reform. As examples of this tendency see Geilker (1997) (countered by Hilborn [1998]), Griffiths (1997) (countered by Hestenes [1998]), Goldman (1998), Mottman (1999a, 1999b) (countered by Kolitch [1999], Steinberg [1999], and Hilborn [1999]), and Carr (2000)." Hake (2002b, Lesson #8, see that article for the references)

#6. "I am deeply convinced that a statistically significant improvement would occur if more of us learned to listen to our students....By listening to what they say in answer to carefully phrased, leading questions, we can begin to understand what does and does not happen in their minds, anticipate the hurdles they encounter, and provide the kind of help needed to master a concept or line of reasoning without simply "telling them the answer."....Nothing is more ineffectually arrogant than the widely found teacher attitude that 'all you have to do is say it my way, and no
one within hearing can fail to understand it.'....Were more of us willing to relearn our physics by the dialog and listening process I have described, we would see a discontinuous upward shift in the quality of physics teaching. I am satisfied that this is fully within the competence of our colleagues; the question is one of humility and desire."
Arnold Arons (1974)

REFERENCES [Supplied by <>; Tiny URL's courtesy <>.]
Arons, A.B. 1972. "Toward wider public understanding of science," Am. J. Phys. 41(6): 769-782; online to subscribers at <>.

Arons, A.B. 1974. "Toward wider public understanding of science: Addendum," Am. J. Phys. 42(2): 157-158; online to subscribers at <>.

Coletta, V.P. and J.A. Phillips. 2005. "Interpreting FCI Scores: Normalized Gain, Preinstruction Scores, & Scientific Reasoning Ability," Am. J. Phys. 73(12): 1172-1182; an abstract is online at <>.

Coletta, V.P., J.A. Phillips, & J.J. Steinert. 2007a."Why You Should Measure Your Students' Reasoning Ability," Phys. Teach. 45(4): 235-238; the introductory paragraph is online at <>.

Coletta, V.P., J.A. Phillips, & J.J. Steinert. 2007b."Interpreting force concept inventory scores: Normalized gain and SAT scores," Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 3, 010106, Issue 1 - June; online at <>.

Eckel, E. 2003. "Re: The bad effects of physics first," PhysLrnR post of 23 Nov 2003 08:06:45- 0500; online at <>.

Epstein, J. 2000. "The '0.7 Barrier' on the FCI - A Suggestion of the underlying problem and a proposal for further research," Physics Education Research Conference 2000: Teacher Education (Univ. of Guelph, August 2-3, 2000), online at <> (44 kB).

Epstein, J. 2008. Re: measure of gain. PhysLrnR post of 17 Jun 2008 12:47:30-0400, online at <>.

Hake, R.R. 2002a. "Assessment of Physics Teaching Methods," Proceedings of the UNESCOASPEN Workshop on Active Learning in Physics, Univ. of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, 2-4 Dec.; online at <> (84 kB). [UNESCO = United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; ASPEN = ASian Physics Education Network.]

Hake, R.R. 2002b. "Lessons from the physics education reform effort," Ecology and Society 5(2): 28; online at <>. Ecology and Society (formerly Conservation Ecology) is a free online "peer-reviewed journal of integrative science and fundamental policy research" with about 11,000 subscribers in about 108 countries.

Hake, R.R. 2008a. Use of Single-Student Normalized Gain," online at <>. Post of 17 Jun 2008 12:26:22 -0700 to ASSESS, EdResMeth, EvalTalk, PhysLrnR, and POD.

Hake, R.R. 2008b. Re: Building Research into the Curriculum: Effective Introductory Lab Courses," online at <>. Post of 15 Jun 2008 16:03:59 -0700 to AP-Physics, Phys-L, Physhare, PhysLrnR, and POD.

Latour, B. 1987. "Science in Action - How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society," Harvard University Press, p. 33; publisher's information at <>.