Week 15 – the final Post – great class

my current pet peeve


“Must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction.”



A school year in Chicago “must have a minimum of 185 days OR 1,025 hours of instruction.” – 185 days of school? This is almost half a year of no school, aka vacation time! Wow. I should have moved to the US at the age of 5.


“In all countries, the longest break in the school year is during summer, lasting between 5 and 14 weeks. In America and Russia, summer holidays are normally three months, compared to six to eight weeks in Britain, The Netherlands and Germany.”

Why do we have month and month of summer vacation in the US? Most students are no farmer’s sons anymore – they don’t need to help during harvest season. Isn’t it about time for High Schoolers to spend more time in High School? Maybe that way we can catch up to the level of some European high schools.


US students with the long vacations might be unprepared when entering the workforce with their 5 days of vacation time.


How can it be that the US is in the top ten for the amount of student holidays but in the bottom 100 for the amount of vacation days for a regular worker.


So as a parent I have to decide – do I take 5 days off during Christmas or during summer to be with my child. While my child has to decide what he/she wants to do with the 180 other days that it can enjoy without school and parents?


Me as a parent – how do I afford child care for 180 days of the year? What if my 13 year old is still not to be trusted home alone – all daycare options stop at 12.


I realize that school is not a child care. But it kind of is.


I am done with high school, so I hereby vote to cut the amount of school holidays in half! (but only if I don’t become a High School teacher – otherwise I think we should increase those days)



Ps. “A school year must have at least ten (10) teacher workdays” Chicago – Just out of curiosity, why can’t the teachers have workdays during the summer holiday? Or the spring break? Or during the three weeks (?) off over Christmas? Or during turkey week?

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Week 14 – Progress

My team and I finished the english version of our project: “GHS at a glance with the 4 pillars and case studies”. We learned a lot and were shocked by some of the VT cases that were examplified.

Now the difficult thing is translating the ppp into German. First slide: “Graduate Honor system at a glance” – I don’t think that we have an Honor system in Germany, or if we do, I have never heard of it. Second problem: what are graduate students. I don’t even think we differentiate between undergraduate and graduate students, and I have been a both in Germany myself.

I am sure there are rules against cheating, falsification etc at German universities, but a quick google search just now did not reveal much.

I have to dig deeper into the subject, but it is sad that after 5 years of graduate and undergraduate education in Germany I still dont know


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Week 13 – What role should faculty play in promoting ethics?

Part of Ethics is being an “ethically correct” teacher.  For some reason, when I think about ethics the LGBT law comes into mind.


The LGBT law


America is such a diverse country with so many different groups of people – all having such strong opinions about what is right and wrong in their mind. This is true for every country, but only in the US is where everyone is suing everybody. It has gotten so far that no one dares to say anything anymore. One wrong word as a teacher and one parent might sue you. If I talk about transgender kids or gay people, ‘one million moms’ will make sure you lose your job.

As a teacher I don’t want to influence my children to be pro or con anything, but I want to encourage them to be who they want to be.

I don’t like the LGBT law (explanation and source at the end of the paragraph). Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of teaching our students about gays, lesbian, transgender people, about people with disabilities and people who are simply different. But I don’t like that we had to make it into a “law” – in my mind it is common sense to teach about differences in humans. It is like making it a law to say “thank you” after someone holds the door open for you. It is just something that is self evident and supposed to come naturally. But not in the US – here we have to have laws. Otherwise some “idiot” will come and sue you if you mention they word gay in class.

I do however like that teachers will be prohibited from criticizing LGBT and different religion – even though that should be self explanatory as well. I would never as a teacher criticize anyone or anything in front of my students. However, where do we draw a line here? I am passionate about animals. If someone tells me that their neighbor has 2 dogs that are chained outside their house 24/7, I will start a 5 hour rant about backland Americans and how they treat their pets. (And I know that this is not partial to the hillbillies and rednecks. What I perceive as animal abuse is different from what lot of Americans, Germans, Russians etc think. Even some New Yorkers.) So if my student comes up to me proudly telling me that he and his dead build a new dog kennel the size of a shoe box, I don’t think I can be impartial. I know I WILL start laying into that poor kid on how cruel that is. So am I any better than those criticizing the transgender people? Isn’t it that I am also trying to force my beliefs on that kid? Just because I am pro LGBT, religious freedom (even here I am partial – and would have to say ‘certain religious freedom’) and against animals being chained up? Does that mean I have a right to set the kid straight? My cause is more morally acceptable than the criticism about condoms in school or a kid being taught what transgender means – but still – where is the line?


Even though I am not a fan of making something this obvious into a law, I do think we need more laws like. And pass these laws in rural Kansas as well. So that kids that are LGBT can hopefully live more freely when their classmates are taught. And so that teachers do not have to be afraid of being fired, sued or beaten.


“Opponents have already begun five initiatives to repeal the mandate. Their latest efforts aim to allow parents to remove children from class while the new curriculum is being taught” And this enrages me so badly. THIS is exactly why I don’t watch the news. I don’t want to hear about stuff like that. Why in the world would someone go through all the trouble to start an appeal? Even if I were to be against my child being taught about the history of gays, I wouldn’t go through all the trouble of doing anything against it. I am just lazy I guess. Why not just raise your kids with your (wrong) believes and teach them not to listen to the teacher when he talks ‘rubbish’ like that. Why not expose your kids to the different opinions and than teach them that all transgender people should rot in hell. I mean that is horrible – but what do they want to accomplish with taking the kids out of school? That they will never hear the word transgender, never be exposed to the thought of it? What if your kid grows up and hears the word ‘gay’ at age 16 for the first time? And then god forbid forms its own opinion as a rebellious teenager? Isn’t that against everything you believe in? Maybe I should write them a letter telling him to expose the kids early to the evils of the LGBT.

For some reason I only ever hear about those crazy people in the US – there seems to be a large concentration of crazy here. I was never aware of Germans fighting for their misguided religious beliefs like the Americans do. It seems that Americans are much more influenceable. It just needs one crazy person – starting a sect or being a pastor and lots and lots of people follow him/her. It is scary. I am not scared of terrorism per se (even though those are clearly crazy people too). I am scared of raising my kids in a country where the pure mention of LGBT gets people so riled up that they take my kids classmates out of school. It always amazes me that they don’t see reason. But they probably think that it is unreal that I don’t see it their way. It is a matter of opinion and I am just not capable of fully grasping that. I am working on developing a “live and let live” life style, but it is hard. It is hard to not try to shake sense into them. And it will be hard as a teacher to not go crazy on a student telling me that his mom took him to an anti gay demonstration last weekend.


LGBT CURRICULUM: Thanks to California’s FAIR Education Law, public school students will be the first in the country to receive mandatory instruction on the historical contributions of gays, lesbians, and people with disabilities.

Teachers will be prohibited from introducing material criticizing LGBT Americans or those who practice particular religions. Opponents have already begun five initiatives to repeal the mandate. Their latest efforts aim to allow parents to remove children from class while the new curriculum is being taught.” (http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/01/04/most-controversial-education-laws-2012)


LGBT is for students in elementary to High School. College is more open to diversity; it’s freer of parental influences. (at least I hope it is). So can I as a teacher talk about my own believes and interest? What if I am a research professor and my research is mostly funded by Monsanto – can I teach my plant breeding class without a bias? I would have to mention the advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – but will I if I don’t want to risk loosing my funding?

What if my students vehemently argue against GMOs? What if they want to use our lab time to study the negative effects of GMOs?  And unrelated to teaching – what if my Monsanto funded research actually shows that GMO gene products cause allergic reactions in humans? What shall I do?


If I were to teach at VT I would start the semester with telling every one in my class that “0.5% of you who you are sitting in front of me will abandond a cat or a dog this year.” Because I am sick and tired of finding abandoned and thus starved animals during the summer – animals that still hang around the apartment complexes that their previous owner lived in before graduation.


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Week 12. The Module is empty, so I ll ramble on….

Global Education – not so global after all.


The definition of global education according to Wikipedia: “Prepares students to be global, interdependent citizens by developing a global consciousness which embraces “universal” values and pantheistic, earth-centered beliefs that supposedly will save the planet and unify its people.”


We hear it all the time: the words US education and global in the same sentence. But how global can the US High school education be if a US high school diploma does not even allow you to attend a German university.


In order to attend a German university, you have to the following options:


Full entry equivalent to Abitur officially needs either:

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– full entry testing for foreigners
– Studienkolleg precursor courses in Germany

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– 2 years college (50% credits for Bachelor)
– at least 5 different GE courses, 3 of them at 3rd level

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– state-schooled for last 4 years
– SAT, minimum 1300 points in Math and Critical Reading

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– SAT, minimum 1150 points
– 1 year college
– at least 5 different GE courses, 3 of them at 3rd level
– all 5 GE courses consecutively attended over full year

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– state-schooled for last 4 years
– ACT, minimum 28 points composite score

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– ACT, minimum 23 points composite score
– 1 year college with courses as in d)

g) [only for: Math, Medicine, Science, Pharmacy, Engineering]
– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– AP Calculus AB or BC
– AP Biology or AP Chemistry or two half AP Physics C
– one of AP French / Spanish / Latin / German / English Literature / English Language and Composition
– one other AP

h) [only for: Humanities, Law, Social Studies, Business]
– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– AP Calculus AB or BC or AP Biology or AP Chemistry or two half AP Physics C
– AP English Literature or AP English Language and Composition
– one of AP French / Spanish / Latin / German
– one other AP

– high school diploma (GPA > 3.0)
– associate degree
– college as b)




It is very popular for Germans to do a study abroad for a year during high school. Exchange students from Germany are usually 15 or 16 years old and most of them are directly put into the senior year of an American High School. Students that have a B or C average in 10th grade in Germany come here and finish senior year with a 4.0 GPA.

I am not saying that Germans are smarter. Not at all. It is just that the education system is better – for all the reasons described in my general ed journal entry. The German gymnasium teaches more material in a shorter amount of time – in 10th grade the material is probably already outdoing senior year of high school. Because in Germany ‘we leave child behind’. I don’t be mean to sound snobby – I always say “Americans” accompanied with an eye roll. But I love America – otherwise I wouldn’t live here. I just like to complain – like the rest of society. Oh darn it, that was a complaint again.


So lets be more global.



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Week 11 – Ethics in the news

First off, is it just me or is everything in module 9-12 empty?


Ethics in news:


It makes me sad seeing how people (reporters, journalists) always try to profit from war, bad luck, embarrassments etc from “normal” people. I can’t imagine a life spend following a celebrity around and waiting for them to “screw up”. But reporting about war and death and then lying about it is horrible. My ethical beliefs are strongly against it. But everyone is different, and people want to survive – need money, fame etc.

Ethics is something that cannot be defined or made rules for – I think it is something that strongly depends on the individual person and how they were raised and what there believes and morals are. That’s why we need precise rules for the university – it must be written down – in clear words on what is expected from us, especially since  a university is made up from so many foreigners.


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Week 8 – Fair use determination

The dissertation of a friend read: ” Figure 1.3. QTL maps of low phytate loci in CX1834.  Low phytate was shown to be associated with loci on LGs L and N.  [Fair use] Walker D.R., Scaboo A.M., Pantalone V.R., Wilcox J.R., Boerma H.R. (2006) Genetic mapping of loci associated with seed phytic acid content in CX1834-1-2 soybean. Crop Sci. 46:390-397. https://www.agronomy.org/publications/cs/articles/46/1/390 (accessed July 10, 2011).  Fair use determination attached.”


I always wondered what this meant. After reading VTs copyright guidlines (http://www.lib.vt.edu/copyright/can-i-use-it.html) and used the tool from the university of Minnesota (https://www.lib.umn.edu/copyright/fairthoughts) I understand now.

But it seems like a big overkill. After every figure that came from someone else I need to write about fair use and attach a fair use determination.

I find it sometimes difficult to determine the “Amount and substantiality of the portion used”.

Does everyone have to attach a fair use determination document?

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Week 7 – Guys, I think we are too late with all our project ideas

Looks like what most of us planned to do for our final project already exists:


Providing Lunch is a great way get peoples attention.


Survival in Academic America: Multicultural Academic Integrity for International Students

March 17 & March 20, 12:00p.m. – 1:00p.m.

Graduate Life Center, Meeting Room C

Designed primarily for Virginia Tech international students, this presentation will clearly explain, using multiple languages and in multicultural contexts, the concepts of academic integrity, plagiarism, and citations. Students will be guided in hands-on practice to easily make citations correctly and learn how to avoid infringement of the VT Undergraduate and Graduate Honor Systems.  Lunch Provided.

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Week 6 – final project ideas

I am not really sure yet what to do and especially how “big” the project has to be. I had posted an idea in the forum but it seems to small for a final project. Not sure.


my final project…make a funny ppp about consequences about hs violations. or a video

The documents from week 3 of our reading material stated the 4 major violations of the honor system and example cases. It was a good read, but too long and too many words, not too many people probably read it or understand the severity of being caught in the wrong doing. I imagine an interactive powerpoint highlighting these four pillars, example case and worst case scenarios of punishment would be a good idea.



Academic Integrity – Proposal for Final Project


The four pillars of honor code violation and the possible consequences



To produce a power point presentation that is short and concise about the honor code violations and their consequences (in English and German)


Why is that important?:

–          Incoming undergraduate and graduate students need to know the rules of VT’s honor code system, the penalties and steps of prosecution, but are often too ignorant or lazy to familiarize themselves with the facts.

–          Long, formal documents explaining all the rules and regulations as well as displaying old case studies exist but some are too long or in written in “legalese”.

–          As far as I know, no documents in other languages exist, even though lots of incoming students don’t speak English very well yet and might have trouble reading these documents. Furthermore, students from other countries are used to different honor code systems or do not have any at all.




Make a short powerpoint:

–          One slide introducing the honor code system

–          Then detailing the four pillars (plagiarism, cheating, falsification, academic sabotage) with two case studies – best and worst possible outcome and their consequences

–          A quiz in the end

–          I envision pictures and very little text.

–          No longer than 5-10 minutes

–          For the website and a must all new students to watch and then maybe answer questions about at the end



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Week 5 Last years relgious citation “scandal”

If you have you missed the news last year, here is the article again: “http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/12/09/mars-hill-church-plagiarism-controversy-citation-errors/”


Many different versions of the truth, many different explanations, many tries of covering it up and talking themselves out of it – we will never know the truth for sure. But it illustrates how dangerous plagiarism is and that you can’t really trust anyone – a pastor trust his/her research assistant the same way our professors have to trust us not to plagiarize and cite correctely. It is scary to think of it from the professors point of view – he is putting his good name on the paper or dissertation without being able to check every little sentence for plagiarism. He has to trust us to do the science correctly and not mess up the experimental results and in addition he has to trust us to not cite wrong or plagiarize. I think many cases of plagiarism and citation errors happen by accident, so in my opinion it is one of the most important things a professor has to teach his new student from the start: how to conduct research correctly and how to cite and write.


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Week 4 -falsified research findings

The video and the alternate universe was great – http://ori.hhs.gov/thelab.

It was very well done, even though I am  not sure how much it actually prevents people from falsifying data.

I question the value of research data in general. I don’t think too many researchers actually falsify data on purpose and most of those who do are never caught. Only a few make it into the news (like Hwang Woo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hwang_Woo-suk).

But I think that there is a huge quantify of data that is wrong by accident. It is soooo easy to make mistakes and never catch on to them. Replication and Redos help, but still.

This article is a very interesting read: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020124

“a research finding is less likely to be true when the studies conducted in a field are smaller; when effect sizes are smaller; when there is a greater number and lesser preselection of tested relationships; where there is greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes; when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice; and when more teams are involved in a scientific field in chase of statistical significance.”

It is scary to think about. So much of our lives depend scientist research and polls etc.


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