Archive for the ‘Jargon’ Category

for Mod values of Adj

August 22, 2010

At the last minute, a weekend cartoon. From Scenes from a Multiverse:

Two points. First, “for infinitesimally small values of huge”. (Later, “sausage party”.)

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Short shot #46a: graduatize

May 11, 2010

More educational jargon, from Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words #689, 5/8/10:

LEARNING TERMS  An unfamiliar word, GRADUATISED (GRADUATIZED if you’re American or very formal) appeared in an British article. It refers to a profession or occupation, the entry to which has been restricted to university graduates. The article addressed the problems of school leavers, who are increasingly finding it hard to get jobs for this reason. Educationalists have used GRADUATISED, its verb GRADUATISE, and its linked noun GRADUATISATION, at least since the early 1970s, though it’s still a term of art in the profession and is rarely found outside specialist or scholarly publications. A rare sighting of the noun was a comment by the (then) British PM Gordon Brown in the Evening Standard of London on 30 April 2008: “This is one of the wider problems with today, the graduatisation of the political and media worlds. So many people are now excluded because they left school at 16 or 18.”

Educational jargon tends to get very bad press (though both educational rubric and graduatize can be defended on the grounds that they are not only compact but also useful in their context), and innovations in -ize (verbings by derivational suffix) have been reviled for a long time, so graduatize gets a double dose of scorn. And, in fact, if you’re not familiar with it (as I was not, until Michael put this entry in WWW), its meaning can be very hard to guess even in context. But you can see its utility.

Short shot #46: rubrics

May 11, 2010

From the April 10 issue of The Teaching Professor:

Two Reasons Why I Still Use Rubrics
By Kevin Brown, Lee University, TN

I began using grading rubrics for essays several years ago, and I was initially rather unhappy with how they worked. I found I was giving grades that I wouldn’t have given when I graded without the rubric. Often the grades were higher, but not always. I gave enough lower grades to cause me to notice those as well. (link)

The piece goes on to use just plain rubric — the short version of grading rubric – throughout (without explanation or examples; the readers are supposed to know the word already). I could work out roughly what rubric meant in this context, given OED2’s chain of senses for the word:the color red; a heading printed in red, or a passage so marked; a heading in general [note to etymological purists: no printing headings in black, or any color other than red!]; an injunction; a general rule. So a rubric in the teaching context is presumably some sort of rule for assigning grades. But it sounds like something more specific is intended. And so it is.

The word is teacher jargon (using jargon neutrally, for expressions used by a particular profession or group and not easily understood by others, usually serving to provide short reference to some concept important to the group). A rubric — the Teacher Planet site here has dozens of them, for history, math, social studies, and so on, even for the design of scavenger hunts! — provides a set of factors (each factor representing an expectation for specific knowledge, ability, or performance) and for each factor, descriptions for assigning a student to one of a certain number of levels. For the Scavenger Hunt Rubric:

Factors: Contribution to Group, Sites, Questions, Cooperation, Final Hunt Results

Grading for Sites: 5 Sites found are all relevant to project and good source for questions. 4 Sites found are mostly relevant to project and good source for questions. 3 A few of the sites found are relevant and provide a fair source for questions. 2 Few sites are relevant. Sites are not a good source for questions. 1 No relevant sites are included. Sites are not good sources for questions.

The descriptions require some judgment on the part of the teacher, of course.

So rubrics break down expressing expectations, setting goals, and assessing performance into a number of explicit factors for the purposes of grading. It would be interesting to see something about the history of the technique and its possible relationship to similar assessment tools in industrial, business, etc. settings.


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