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an exciting day. whoop.

Much of today was given over to a department retreat: the other three computer science faculty in my department came over to my house and we spent six hours discussing various courses, what they're supposed to achieve, and "learning outcomes assessment", i.e. how we're going to tell whether the students have actually learned what we said we wanted them to learn. This is not quite the same thing as grading. First, grades in one course are affected not only by learning in that course but by learning in other courses. Second, a student who has achieved B-level command of all the topics in a course gets the same letter grade as one who has achieved A-level mastery in some topics and C-level competence in others. Third, in learning outcomes assessment we usually don't care what individual students have achieved (to draw conclusions about the student), but rather what the mean or median student has achieved (to draw conclusions about the curriculum and the teaching). A letter grade is too specific in the temporal and student dimensions and too broad in the subject dimension.

Anyway, assessment (particularly of student work this year) was the top item on the agenda for today. We didn't actually get to any of it, as we spent the entire six hours coming up with general goals, a few words each, for each course, goals that in many cases could have been found in the existing course descriptions. What a waste of time. Not that the outcomes-assessment was likely to be any more pleasant or productive, but we're supposed to produce a report about it in the next month.

On the bright side, shalmestere and I got the house cleaner than it's been in months, in preparation for my colleagues coming over. So at least the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and upstairs hallway are more pleasant places to be.


shalmestere and I got the house cleaner than it's been in months...

Quick! Invite someone else over before the clean gets away!