My mistake….

Question 31 on the test was wrong:

31.  Nicolaus Copernicus

a. solved the problem of longitude
b. established a secret society of atheists
c. believed Jesus Christ to be of African ancestry
d. believed in a geocentric solar system

Unfortunately, none of these answers are correct. Answer (d) should say “believed in a heliocentric solar system” and none of the other answers are even close (though I can understand associating an astronomer and mathematician with the Longitude problem, especially if you actually realized that (d) was wrong). Most of you – almost 2/3rds – picked (d) anyway; only two people picked (d) and corrected the error. Most of the rest of you picked (a), though about 1 in 7 picked (b) or (c).

So, what does a teacher do when the question is wrong? First, apologize. My mistake, sorry. I guess there’s one advantage to using a test bank that I hadn’t considered (but I’m not going to stop making up questions myself because that way you’re actually tested on the material I taught). Then, adjust the test.

In this case, I’m inclined to just discount the question entirely, make it a 49-question test. Those two people who actually got the question right will get a point added to their extra credit. People who answered (d) will get 2/3rds of a point extra credit; people who answered (a) will get 1/3rd of a point extra credit. (I’m giving 1/3rd of a point for each country correct on the extra credit map, up to 15 countries. There are 30-odd countries in North, South and Central America plus Carribean.)

The rest of the grading will happen over the weekend.Tune in Monday for results!

Note: As before, I don’t like having you hand in a document assignment when I haven’t given you the previous one back, so I’m pushing the “French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen” assignment back to Wednesday the 9th.

Extra Credit: Violin and Piano Recital

Violin and piano recital at the McCray Hall, Pittsburg State University: Askin-Wasser Violin & Piano Duo. The event will take place on Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The artists will play works of Handel, Mozart, and Prokofiev, the same program they have performed at the Carnegie Hall last week. If you have any questions, please contact

Selim Giray,Director of Orchestras.
Cihat Askin, as an international representator of Turkish Violin School, is one of the leading artists of Turkey today. Cihat He gave numerous concerts and recitals in America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Some names who played with Askin are Cobos, Dmitriev, Yoel Levi, Shiomo Mintz and Ida Haendel. Askin has been a jury and faculty member in many competitions and masterclasses in Turkey, Switzerland, Israel, Bulgaria and Poland. He has been the director of Istanbul Chamber Orchestra and Filarmonia Istanbul. He has founded the Askin Ensemble. Askin is one of the founders of ITU Center of Advanced Studies in Music (MIAM) He is the director of ITU Conservatory of Turkish Music. Apart from his position as a university professor, he is also continuing to study with  young musicians and children with his CAKA project (Cihat Askin and his Little Friends).

Test 1 and Doc Assignment 1 Grades

On the document assignment, I gave grades and plus grades (A+, A, B+, B, etc.) Here’s how the grade scale worked out, approximately:

Grade Level distribution
A 5%
B 25%
C 20%
D 35%
F 15%

On the test, I gave plus and minus grades (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc) which translate into a 100 point scale in my gradebook (100, 96, 92, 88, 85, 82, etc., down to 58, 55, 50 for F-level). The high score in the class was 47.8 out of a possible 50, not counting extra credit, so for simplicity sake I used 47.5 as the 100% mark (if you’re not sure whether that helped you, just double your raw score to get your percentage score before the adjustment). The median score was on the D/D+ border meaning that about as many people got above a D+ or above as a D or below; the average score was on the D+/C- border. The extra credit was worth up to 3 points: About half of the people who attempted extra credit went up one grade level (B to B+, etc.) and about a third went up two grade levels (B- to B+, etc.). Here’s how the grade scale worked out:

Grade minimum points distribution
A+ 47.5
A 44.5 12%
A- 42.75
B+ 41.2
B 39.5 12%
B- 38
C+ 36.5
C 34.75 24%
C- 33.25
D+ 31.75
D 30 24%
D- 28.5
F+ 27
F 23.75 28%
F- Below 23.75

Obviously, this is a somewhat disappointing result, but it’s only the first test of five, so those of you struggling with this one will have lots of chances to improve your overall grade.

Document Analysis comments

In no particular order

  • “Bias” means something that distorts the meaning of the text. A preference or opinion may be evidence of bias, but you’d have to show how that actually introduced some error into the record. Conversely, just because you know who someone is doesn’t make them trustworthy or free of bias.
  • The questions in the assignment prompt are not a checklist: not all of them will be equally helpful and quoting them certainly isn’t going to advance your analysis
  • The emphasis should be on analysis: the content and historical use categories are really the most critical, though the Context and authorship categories are also very much worthwhile.
  • Looking up stuff to fill in gaps in your understanding is fine, but you have to remember to evaluate the quality of the source you find (a test wikipedia often fails), and the question of whether what you’ve found actually belongs in your paper. I don’t care, for example where or how de Busbecq died, as long as it wasn’t related to these writings.
  • If you use a source, you should cite it. If you use the textbook, tell me what page or pages. If you use an outside source like the Encyclopedia Brittanica, you need to list the source and article or page. Using information from a source without citing it is a form of plagiarism and will not be tolerated if detected.

Regarding the tests:

  • When I said pick one, I meant one. There are no questions on this test where Picking more than one option was the correct choice. And even if one of your choices was correct, I can’t really give you credit for it without everyone wanting to try it.
  • I did, however, give partial credit if you missed an “all of the above” answer, and for partially correct responses to the “Why” question on the Renaissance.

I will have the grade distributions for the Document and Test later today.

Extra Credit: SEK Symphony Concert Sunday

The Southeast Kansas Symphony will present a concert of works entitled “Pianissimo” at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20, in Pittsburg’s Memorial Auditorium, 5th and Pine. The concert will feature works by Gustav Holst, Ludwig van Beethoven, George Gershwin and Franz Liszt. The Southeast Kansas Symphony is under the direction of Dr. Selim Giray, a member of the PSU Music Department faculty.

The program will begin with “Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity” from Gustav Holst’s seven-movement orchestral suite, “The Planets.” From its premier until its present day, “The Planets” has remained one of Holst’s most performed works.

Holst described “The Planets” as a series of mood pieces, and in each movement named for a different planet of the solar system, many listeners see the progression of life. In this view, “Jupiter” represents the prime of life.

The second piece on the program is the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, opus 19, featuring Pittsburg State University’s 2010 Concerto Aria winner Dongyuan Chen.

Beethoven was the soloist for the premier of this work in 1795 and the piece is generally considered a vehicle that helped the young composer advance his stature as a piano virtuoso.

The third piece on the program, George Gershwin’s iconic “Rhapsody in Blue,” transports the audience from 18th century Europe to 20th century America. The piece features PSU 2010 Concerto Aria winner Cagdas Soylar.

“Rhapsody in Blue,” written for solo piano and jazz band in 1924, helped establish Gershwin’s reputation as a composer and today remains one of the most recognizable and most frequently performed concert pieces in the U.S.

The symphony will close the program with “Les Préludes,” a symphonic poem by Franz Liszt. “Les Préludes,” composed between 1848 and 1854, appears to be related to a French ode that describes a man’s life from youth and romance through war, work and, finally, acceptance.

Tickets for the symphony are $7 for adults and $5 for students 13-18. Children 5 and under are free, although children 5-12 must have tickets. PSU students with identification are admitted free.

Tickets are available in person at the PSU Ticket Office in the Overman Student Center, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, online ( or by phone (620-235-4796). Tickets are also available at the Memorial Auditorium box office one hour before the performance begins.

For more information, call the PSU Department of Music at 620-235-4466.

Extra Credit: Historical Recreation of Bloody Kansas Debate

I have to admit, I’m not entirely sure whether they’re going to recreate a period debate or try to use modern conflict resolution methods on reenactors. Either way, it could be interesting.

Kansas Settlers Try Again Beyond “Bloody Kansas”

Thea Nietfeld, Presenter

February 15 at 2:00 pm in the Balkans Room at the Overman Student Center In honor of Black History Month and  150th anniversary of Kansas statehood Sponsored by The Tilford Group, Student Diversity, & Campus Activities Center

Grounded in history and theory, this presentation engages participants with a situation that was formative for our regional culture in order to imagine alternatives for the future. The “Bloody Kansas” era used violence to terrorize political opponents, such as in the massacres at Pottawatamie and Marias des Cygnes Creeks.  By bringing Captain John Brown and other leaders to life, we can consider alternative approaches for their decision-making.

Thea Nietfeld is an experienced in conflict resolution and has done numerous public presentations on peaceful alternatives in conflict resolution and negotiation. Her work with labor unions and as a state volunteer mediator in Iowa and Oklahoma led her to focus on peacemaking in her work as Unitarian Universalist (UU) clergy. She teaches nonviolence at the college level and currently serves the UU Fellowship of Salina.

As always, extra credit requires attending the event and writing a 1-2 page summary/reaction paper.

Reminder: Test Review Assignment Due Midnight, Tuesday

As the syllabus says, your review assignment, which must be emailed to me no later than Tuesday midnight, is at least five multiple choice questions – based on the study guide terms – for each chapter covered in that section of the course. There are three chapters in this section – 15, 16 and 17 – so you need to do at least (I’m always happy to have more, if you want to do more) fifteen questions.

The questions should be multiple choice, though if you want to throw in a true/false or fill-in-the-blank now and then, that’s OK, but only a couple. You should clearly mark which chapter the question comes from, and indicate which answer you intend to be the correct one. If it’s not obvious which study term the question is based on, make sure you tell me that, too. The answers can and should be based on both the textbook, readings (de Busbeq is fair game), and lectures including powerpoints and resources.

The questions shouldn’t be about trivia: I don’t care about the precise date of Columbus’ voyage, or Zheng He’s religion as much as I care about what they did and why it matters. Don’t copy the language of the textbook or a powerpoint and expect students to remember the exact words used: the significance of events and people is about the connections and changes they were part of. For a brief tutorial on using multiple choice questions to test more advanced learning, read this overview of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning by a professor at the Other PSU

Multiple choice questions are tricky. The traditional question has:  one clearly right answer, one clearly wrong answer (if you know the material), and two answers that are appear possibly right but which are actually clearly wrong.  My problem writing questions is that I tend to assume that people know too much, so my ‘wrong’ answers are sometimes too close to actually correct. You may also use “all of the above” – including an item which looks wrong but is actually true makes it a challenging question – or “none of the above” as options, if you’re inspired.

I will make a selection of your questions available for review and may use, or modify, your questions on the test itself.

The 50-minute test will consist of 50 multiple choice (or other) questions. “Other” may include a short definition or two, as well as true/false, fill-in-the-blank questions. There may be extra credit opportunities: they will be clearly marked.

Extra Credit: Global Universities

The Internationalization Council and the International Academic Affairs Committee will sponsor Mr. Ben Wildavsky, senior fellow with the Kauffman Foundation and writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education-Global Edition, for a public lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 2 in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom at 4 pm.  Mr. Wildavsky has recently published a book, The Great Brain Race: How Global Universities Are Reshaping the World (Princeton University Press, 2010), and is co-editor of Reinventing Higher Education: The Promise of Innovation, forthcoming in April 2011 from Harvard Education Press.
Before joining the Kauffman Foundation in 2006, Wildavsky was education editor of U.S. News & World Report, where he was the top editor of America’s Best Colleges and America’s Best Graduate Schools.  Before joining U.S. News, he was budget, tax, and trade correspondent for National Journal, higher education reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, and executive editor of the Public Interest. His articles and reviews have also appeared in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications. He blogs for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s new global edition as a consultant to national education reformers, he has written several influential reports, including the September 2006 report of the Secretary of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. In addition to numerous media appearances, he has spoken to audiences at Google, the Economist’s Human Potential conference, Harvard, Berkeley, the London School of Economics, the Committee for Economic Development, and many other venues.

Extra Credit: Irish Music & Dance

The PSU Performing Arts and Lecture Series will present an evening of Irish music and dance on Friday, Feb. 4, with a performance by An Dochas and the Haran Irish Dancers. The performance is set for 7 p.m. in Pittsburg’s Memorial Auditorium.

An Dochas, Gaelic for “the hope,” is an Irish band. The Haran Irish Dancers, meanwhile, is a troop founded 15 years ago in Kettle Falls, Washington. Together, the groups offer a performance that combines traditional Irish music with energetic, award-winning dance.

Using authentic Irish instrumentation, including Uileann pipes, whistles, bodhran, fiddle, mandolin and guitar, An Dochas blends new tunes with old in a diverse repertoire.

The Haran Irish Dancers have performed in America, Austria, and Japan and have had multiple appearances at the Irish Step Dancing World Championships in Ireland.

Tickets for the performance are $5 for the general public and $3 for PSU faculty and staff, persons 65 and older or 17 and under. PSU students with a valid ID are admitted free. Seating is reserved on the floor and general admission in the balcony.

For more information:

PSU Ticket Office – 620-235-4796,

Campus Activities Center – 620-235-4795

An Dochas –

Haran Irish Dancers –