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Help (or viability) on translating lineages into cladograms

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I figured there was an element of tounge-in-cheek with @jdp's reply.  Also of course if the labs are carelessly planned that might be indicative of a professors attitude towards everything in general, in which case they should go.  However I have learned that you should never underestimate student's ability to misinterpret even the most obvious instructions.  For example I can write an exam question and 149/150 students will read it exactly as I meant it, and 1 will read it in some distorted but technically not incorrect way and answer that.  It's always hard to know what happened there, did they deliberately twist the question to avoid the real and much more rational reading?  Also I was reviewing some student  evaluations for a molecular biology lab course I teach.  Three students wrote it was the most useful and engaging course they had taken in their whole undergrad, several gave it high marks in every category, and one said it was the worst, most disorganized course they had taken and they never had a clue what they were doing.  It's not unusual to get that kind of a spread in comments.  I'm guessing the disgruntled student was one who never read the posted material and regularly missed class, with the predictable effect on their grade.  Their opinion still affects how I am evaluated by my department head, though.


I always meet with my TAs to go over the labs in advance, and I always pay attention to their suggestions.  Over the years the labs have been much improved by suggestions from the TAs.  A professor who is dismissive of their TAs is an idiot.



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Yeah I totally agree that undergrads often do not understand the point of lab exercises, and as a result their assessments often reflect something else, such as ease of completing the project or personal rapprt with the instructor. My criticism is restricted to the relationship between the instructors who actually teach labs and the instructors of record who design them.

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On 4/24/2021 at 9:45 PM, FossilDAWG said:

Career termination for putting together a poorly thought out lab seems a bit harsh.  No room for error I guess?



Not harsh enough...I would prefer if they were crucified upside down, disemboweled, and left for the crows...I have spent years re-writing entire lab books for folks after they realized how badly their predecessors set things up.

On 4/25/2021 at 10:11 AM, jdp said:

having taught someone else's badly-thought-out labs before, career termination is a light sentence


On 4/25/2021 at 3:30 PM, jdp said:

Same, but I will say that I have taught some very poorly-designed labs as a TA, and the worst designed of those were very, very badly designed, to the point where one (a group presentation project) literally ended up promoting eugenics. In just about every case it was very obvious that the lab activity was likely to go off the rails but TAs seldom have the authority to revise these sorts of projects but end up having to deal with the fallout.

Which is where my job came from- a need to have an "adult" wrangle in decades of just plain bad/lazy/complacent work. We actually got rid of TAs decades ago in lieu of a more efficient format....but kept all the wreckage from those days. Apparently some other Uni's and colleges are adapting to our weird model, but they are having trouble finding jack-of-all-trades with degrees that only sleep 4 hours a night.:default_rofl:


It took me three years to develop, test and write the lab manuals for Chem 1 through Org 2...and I am still working the bugs out, though thankfully it is mostly typos these days. Botany, Intro to Earth Science, Dev Bio, and Zoology are my current projects, in addition to adjuncting and all the other projects around here.


To be frank, I cannot wait to quit teaching these online courses and only do my passion- field school and field research courses that aren't just a big booze fest of title IX violations!

Of course I am still developing those....more research is needed...in the field...

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yeah a lot of the university education system is not ideal for actually delivering course content.

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