What do course evaluations evaluate?

It would be interesting if course evaluations evaluated teaching effectiveness. A low evaluation would mean the students did not learn much, while a high one indicated a very good teacher. For this to happen, it seems students need to be able to tell if they learned much.
Given what we know now about self-knowledge,** we shouldn’t expect students to be able to tell how effective some teaching really is. And though the evidence is early and fairly small, it looks as though students are NOT very good at assessing how well they are taught.

See the CHE Article:

In an experiment students heard the same lecture—on why calico cats tend to be female—from two instructors, one fluent and engaging, the other halting and stiff. Unexpectedly, both groups of students scored equally well on a test of the material, even though the students with the better lecturer thought they’d learned more.

** easy to read references: Thinking fast and slow, by Kahneman; The Invisible Gorilla, by Simons and Chabris

General anaesthesia (GA) for older people

I had no idea about any specific link between dementia and GA. In fact, given the announcement’s date, few people could have known about it until recently. But it seems to me the sort of thing one should know about, either as potential victim or as someone close to a potential victim. ‘Elderly’ starts at 65.

June 1, 2013 — Exposure to general anaesthesia increases the risk of dementia in the elderly by 35%, says new research presented at Euroanaesthesia, the annual congress of the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA). The research is by Dr Francois Sztark, INSERM and University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues.

Postoperative cognitive dysfunction, or POCD, could be associated with dementia several years later. POCD is a common complication in elderly patients after major surgery. It has been proposed that there is an association between POCD and the development of dementia due to a common pathological mechanism through the amyloid β peptide. Several experimental studies suggest that some anaesthetics could promote inflammation of neural tissues leading to POCD and/or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) precursors including β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. But it remains uncertain whether POCD can be a precursor of dementia.
In this new study, the researchers analysed the risk of dementia associated with anaesthesia within a prospective population-based cohort of elderly patients (aged 65 years and over). The team used data from the Three-City study, designed to assess the risk of dementia and cognitive decline due to vascular risk factors. Between 1999 and 2001, the 3C study included 9294 community-dwelling French people aged 65 years and over in three French cities (Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier)…The data were adjusted to take account of potential confounders such as socioeconomic status and comorbidities.
The mean age of participants was 75 years and 62% were women. . After adjustment, participants with at least one GA over the follow-up had a 35% increased risk of developing a dementia compared with participants without anaesthesia.
Dr Sztark concludes: “These results are in favour of an increased risk for dementia several years after general anaesthesia. Recognition of POCD is essential in the perioperative management of elderly patients. A long-term follow-up of these patients should be planned.”

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The Steubenville rape case helped spark a national conversation about victim-blaming and rape culture.

But the victim only got justice because Anonymous leaked significant social media evidence implicating the assailants — and for distributing those tweets, photos, and video, 26-year-old Deric Lostutter faces more prison time than the rapists got themselves.

Sign the petition here.

Obama’s strong words against rape in military

used as reason to be soft on military rapists. [Many expletives deleted.]

Navy Judge Commander Marcus Fulton has just ruled that comments made by the President regarding military rape “would unduly influence” any potential sentencing in the cases of two defendants in military sexual assault cases, U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes. Stars and Stripes reports that, per the judge’s ruling, should the two men be found guilty, they cannot be punitively discharged because of “unlawful command influence,” meaning, because of what President Obama, as the Commander in Chief, said. Would you like to know what incendiary, unduly prejudicial, trial-influencing comments the president made, so inflammatory that if two servicemen are actually found guilty of violently raping they should not be punished?

“The bottom line is: I have no tolerance for this,” Obama said, according to an NBC News story submitted as evidence by defense attorneys in the sexual assault cases.

‘I expect consequences,” Obama added. “So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training, but ultimately folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”

(Thanks, T!)