There is a long tradition of university and college instructors lamenting the state of grammar in their students’ writing. Students’ syntax and spelling are perceived to not meet the language standard instructors expect, so goes the complaint. Sometimes instructors send students resources to test their grammar or complete grammar tutorials. Sometimes instructors play with the idea of designing lessons that address particular problems with grammar, issues they see occur with some frequency in students’ assignments. Instructors might gather exercises so students learn to ensure subject-verb agreement, distinction between adjectives and adverbs, or appropriate verb tense. Most often, perhaps, instructors think…

Lecture slide highlighting distance markers, names, and modifiers.

Writing studies by that name is a young field. It has grown with increasing production of written genres in many professions and positions. It has grown along the idea that universities and colleges should more consciously teach students how to write. It has grown from theoretical traditions in rhetoric, philosophy, English studies, and linguistics. As someone who writes regularly about writing studies and pedagogy, I am often asked what we do in this field. Please allow today’s answer to be an example from one of my classes.

In my current third-year course, students are in the process of taking in…

Covers of grade 1 and 2 math textbooks from the former GDR which include pictures of a carousel and of a roll call.
Covers of grade 1 and 2 math textbooks from the former GDR which include pictures of a carousel and of a roll call.
Covers of grade 1 and 2 mathematics textbooks from the former G.D.R.

George Orwell was not a mathematician.

And neither am I.

James Lindsay, however, was trained as one. What has he been teaching us about mathematics lately?

Over the past weeks, a corner of academic Twitter has been in deep debate about the possibility of 2+2 not always being equal to 4. It doesn’t matter much where we say the debate started (if it can be said to start anywhere in particular), but the sides in the debate seem quite clear.

On the one side, we have those who sternly remind us that 2+2 is always equal to 4. Claiming anything…

Speech bubble with a tweet by Fuerst.
Speech bubble with a tweet by Fuerst.

(A mini play adapted from Mo Willem’s awesome picture book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!)


Hi! I’m the driver of this peer review bus.

Listen, I’ve got some other work to do, so can you watch things for me until I get back?



In an op ed in the Wall Street Journal, Colin Wright and Emma Hilton (with Heather Heying in the background) try to argue that "transgender ideology harms women, gays — and especially feminine boys and masculine girls." Titled "The Dangerous Denial of Sex," it is a piece of speculation about issues on which the authors do not demonstrate expertise.

All three authors — two credited, one not — are biologists. Colin Wright researches collective behaviour in insects, Emma Hilton is a developmental biologist who studies mutations, and Heather Heying has published about frogs. In the op ed, the point that…

The Open Syllabus Project: 6 million syllabi from 79 different countries. See here for a good article about the project and the possibilities it holds for analyzing disciplinary boundaries and overlaps.

The University of Birmingham's video series "A Day in the Life of" about what it means to be an undergraduate student in science and applied science fields.

Watch mathematicians talk about their dedication to working with chalk on blackboards. Read also Natasha Artemeva's extensive work on "chalk talk" in math education across the world.

Guest post by Graciella Dean, Reya Rana, Sophia Boulbol-Baker, and Marco So

Keeping Track of What You Have Used

Sometimes after searching through what seems like endless research articles and course readings, it’s difficult to remember what you have looked up and decided to include in your paper. The best thing I have found is to create a document solely for listing the sources you have searched and included.

OneNote file with list of sources (divided into course readings and other research articles).

Start a document with the title of your project at the top, then separate it into sections, such as I have done in the screenshot of my own document. After you…

Guest post by F. Ramorasata, Katrina Matwichuk, Reya Rana, Sophia Boulbol-Baker

Online Data: Tweets

When coding a corpus of online sources, in this case a corpus of tweets, you should use “advanced searchfunctions to look for keywords, hashtags, and tweets from certain time periods. Here is a picture of what Twitter’s advanced search option looks like.

After you have asked Twitter to do this search for you, you will be shown a list of tweets aligning with your parameters. This makes it much easier to choose which tweets you can include in your corpus as a smaller, more specific number of relevant…

Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Students worked on defining a research concept

In a recent piece in University Affairs, Jessica Riddell argues that Canadian universities should resist the trend of creating tenure-track teaching positions. The alternative, she suggests, is to create postdoctoral teaching fellowships instead. Framed as a way of addressing increasing employment precarity in Canadian higher education, such an argument is highly misguided. As her starting point, Riddell describes the classrooms that tenure-track teaching faculty create as a “static space for knowledge transmission rather than a rich, engaging space for the creation of new modes of thinking.” I’m one of many tenure-track teaching faculty currently working in Canada. …

Katja Thieme

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