Life on a silver platter

When I wrote this in my previous post:

After all, 6 times as many people who grow up in the top quartile by household income in the U.S. graduate from college as compared to those of us who are [sic; should have been “were”] bottom feeders in the bottom quartile.

I had been looking at data from the 1979-1982 birth cohort in the National Longitudinal Study of Youth from a couple years ago that indicated that 54% of children growing up in the top quartile of family income had graduated from college as opposed to 9% in the bottom quartile. Considerably later than my birth cohort, but more appropriate for recent trends. In any case, six times nine is fifty-four. Except that the true number may be even worse! Right on the cover of this just released report from those commies at the Pell Institute, they quote numbers of 73% and 8%! (The 2013 numbers they quote later in the report are actually 77% and 9%; I think the cover figure is for 2012.) Either way, it’s about a factor of 9. Although my institution skews to the high side of the income spectrum, at least I don’t see very many overprivileged rich snots – outside of the professorate anyway.

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If you write a paper in a forest, does anyone cite it?

I’m always trying to come to grips with my research productivity or lack thereof.  I’ve written about this topic before, but in the interest of having not all of my posts be negative, I decided to take a closer look the current holy grail of non-monetary judgment of scientific research productivity, the h-index.  It’s a topic that has recently popped up at a couple places, so what the heck. Continue reading

What a load

This is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while.  It’s easy to say things like “I teach 3 courses” or whatever, but there is a wide range in effort depending on the level of the course, whether it is a new prep, whether it is lower- or upper-division, how many students, etc.  If everything breaks the right way, a “2 course” load can be worse than a “4 course” load.  For example, if the former involves new upper-division preps with lots of students and the latter involves two sections each of two intro courses you’ve taught before. Continue reading