All posts by Heather M. Whitney


Your Voice: How Much Math Proficiency is Needed to Succeed in STEM?

This post is a little different than our usual tips and reflections about the professoriate. But at the heart of ProfHacker is an emphasis on the power of technologies such as social media to spread information about the good work being done in academia. We think that a project being conducted by the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) matches that heart, and so we share the following with you.

The WCER is currently conducting a study that asks one simple question: What level of math…


Google Calendar cancels appointment slots: implications for scheduling office hours

Google Calendar Here at ProfHacker we love us some online scheduling of office hours, with posts going back to 2009 on the topic. Over the years we have covered tools like Tungle, Acuity, Jiffle, Doodle, and perhaps the most-widely used, Google Calendar Appointments. But Friday, a little seemingly innocuous “winter cleaning” post came out from Google, with information on tools they are phasing out. When the post came through my RSS reader I dutifully checked in to see if any of my favorites were on the list, a…


Followup: Basecamp for Organizing Student Research

Moleskine Notebook

It has been over a year since I posted about my experience in using Basecamp for organizing student research. Since then, a couple of things have happened: I ran another summer’s worth of research for two students, and Basecamp has made some changes itself.  In this post, I will followup up about how Basecamp’s applicability to my need has changed.

First of all, Basecamp no longer offers a free version. (Pricing is available here.) In March of this year, the company announced a migration to a n…


Grading Computer Programming with Voice

As a part of our physics program, I teach a course in computer modeling. We introduce the students to Matlab and they learn both basic programming and principles of translating physics scenarios into computer models. Last year, based on our departmental assessment procedures, I determined that I wanted a more subjective way to give feedback to my students. To me, programming is more than just right or wrong code; I want students to develop good habits and styles of programming that use the tool…


Quartzy for Life Sciences Inventory Management (and more)

Recently, my department decided to update our inventory for keeping track of instructional lab items. Previously we had been using an Access database, but its unwieldiness had discouraged us from updating it regularly. So we went on a search for a solution to create Inventory 2.0. We wanted something that could be accessed from a web browser anywhere, easily updated by student TAs and busy professors, with entries that had attachable information such as manuals and pictures of the items.

For mon…


Update to Mendeley: Institutional Edition

Logo-Vertical-2010-largeReference manager Mendeley is no stranger to ProfHacker; we’ve covered it previously here, here, here, and here. (And full disclosure: it’s my tool of choice for managing references.) The company has recently announced a significant update to the program that we think ProfHacker readers will want to know about.

Mendeley has released a new institutional edition that will allow participating colleges and universities to aggregate their users under one digital roof, not unlike institutional subscri…


Summer Appointment Hours

Dr Wernher von Braun's 1969 appointment calendarFor many faculty, summer brings at least some semblance of increased flexibility. But it is also a time in which we hope for increased productivity. And sometimes these are at odds with each other.

Personally, I have observed that less structure to my days means that I am more likely to schedule appointments, personal and professional, at random points, which makes my days add up to very scattered weeks.  So I’m trying out a new-to-me idea of summer appointment hours, similar to office hours. Th…


Review of Student Writing in the Quantitative Disciplines

Mikey Angels - The After Math“I got into [math, physics, chemistry - insert any quantitative discipline, really] because I don’t like to write!”

How many of us in the quantitative disciplines (or, as I prefer to describe it, disciplines that have a strong quantitative element) have heard that phrase from our students? I certainly have, and it saddens me. There is a lot of evidence that strongly suggests writing prose helps our students think through the material they are encountering in our course or process the development…


Check Those Journal Article RSS Feeds

Feed the World (with Atom and RSS)

RSS feeds are great for keeping up with journal article publications as they come out. (We covered the basics  previously here. ) But lately I’ve noticed that several of my feeds haven’t updated, and sure enough, I found that some feeds had been changed without proper notification. So I’ve added “check on RSS for all journals that I read” to my to-do list as an item to do at the end of every semester.

How about you? How do you make sure the automated processes you’ve got in place keep going? Ha…


How to Scan Books for Your Personal Library (and Why You’d Want to)

ISBN for the APA Manual, 5th editionUndoubtedly, one of the major themes of the 2011-2012 academic year for me has been books. Through a series of circumstances, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to read more widely than ever before. And this means the books are stacking up at my home office, my campus office, and everywhere in between.

Because I’m more used to keeping up with journal articles than I am books, I began looking for some kind of program that I could use to easily itemize my growing library. I already use Goodreads t…