“Perceived Effort”


Campus Reform has a report on a paper by four professors from Otterbein University suggesting that women may be averse to STEM fields because they feel they work harder than male students without earning higher grades. In STEM grading is based on getting the right answer rather than how much effort was expended. The professors seem to think this is a bad thing.

[T]he professors discovered that while women felt they put more effort into their classes than men, they received approximately equivalent grades, which “indicates that women’s higher perceived effort levels are not rewarded.”

“This, in turn, returns us to questions of grading practices,” the professors write. “Does a course grade primarily reward conceptual understanding and problem-solving ability, or does it primarily reward hard work, reflected in course attendance, submission of assignments on time, etc., or some mixture of the two?”

Speaking as an engineer with almost fifty years’ working experience, contentiousness and effort do play key roles in professional success. However, contentiously getting the wrong result can be disastrous. As one of the commenters to the Campus Reform post put it, would you want to be sitting in an airplane designed by an engineer with a perfect attendance record in school or one who got As because he or she solved test problems correctly? If you’d prefer the former, I have a bridge for you—

UPDATE—Mrs. Hoge and I met at an engineering meeting. She was the founding co-chairman of the Nashville Section of the Audio Engineering Society.

Meanwhile, Back at My Day Job


We’re testing the performance of the widget I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. It’s being operated over a wide temperature range in a vacuum chamber. This particular test cycle will run 24/7 for next couple of weeks. It’s important to demonstrate the reliability of the equipment prior to launch because I don’t make house calls above the atmosphere.

Explorer 1


Wow! It’s been 60 years. I remember staying up late on a Friday night to watch Shock Theater on WSIX-TV (the monster movie that night was The Invisible Man) and seeing a bulletin about the Army’s launch of Explorer 1 during the newscast just before the station signed off for the night.

And now there is hardware that I designed flying on NASA x-ray astronomy missions.

Whoda thunk it?

Video Credit: NASA