Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College's blog

10 Mar 2020

Asynchronous online teaching in the COVID-19 era

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

As colleges and universities move to limit person-to-person contact at this time I have had several people on- and offline ask me about teaching remotely. There are a number of threads on Twitter that I've scanned but to be honest, I've been so busy trying to figure out what I'm planning to do that I decided to just type up some thoughts and hopefully people can chime in with their own comments.

24 Jan 2019

CHOCoLaTe CHIP BITeS: Bias of teaching evaluations

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

I have been doing a lot of research on the efficacy of Student Evaluations of Teaching (SETs). This is part of a personal mission to try to convince the leadership of my institution to stop using SETs for tenure or salary decisions for faculty members. The short version is that SETs are biased against women and minorities. I have been trying to affect change at my institution by beginning conversations and discussions around this topic. I have learned a lot and wanted to share it with the community.

13 Jun 2018

Teaching an old dog a new trick

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

About a year ago, my good friend Sheila Smith told me that using UV arm sleeves while working in a glovebox would help with several things. The first is sweat protection. Anyone who has ever used a glove box (or ever wrapped their arms in saran wrap and gone for a run) can attest that sweat can be real problem... for the next user especially. The other is ease of sliding in and out of the glove box gloves.

26 Mar 2018

Symmetry Challenge -- 2018 RECAP!

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

The 2018 Symmetry challenge has come to a close. I wanted to give a big thank you to all 14 of the participants, representing four different institutions. Sadly, I have to report that, yet again, no one from my class submitted the challenge. Perhaps the stakes were too low... er... should I say the "snakes" were too low?

27 Feb 2018

In early February I was teaching vibrational motion in water using vibrational mode analysis and group theory. I remember learning about vibrational modes as an undergraduate and I remember distinctly feeling uneasy about it. Why can’t water just vibrate one of the two OH bonds at a time? What is it that forces the linear combination of the two OH stretches into the symmetric and antisymmetric stretches?

20 Jun 2017

Appendix 9 - Scientific Writing Tips from Professor Johnson

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

My inorganic chemistry lab manual has all sorts of policies, procedures, experimental instructions, and examples of what to do in the lab and for the writeups. My manual is quite specific in how I want lab reports to appear, and what I want in them. For example, I want a reaction scheme, a reagent table, an evaluation of possible characterization methods (with limited time, which methods are the best to do first?), a detailed experimental section and a complete, open-ended, discussion that analyzes the data from their synthetic reaction.

14 Apr 2017

Symmetry Challenge -- 2017 recap!

Submitted by Adam R. Johnson, Harvey Mudd College

The 2017 Symmetry challenge has come and gone and I wanted to give a big thank you to all the participants. In the end there were 12 intrepid scholars who contributed their symmetrized objects to the challenge, from three schools. Sadly, I have to report that no one from my class submitted the challenge. Perhaps the stakes were too low... er... should I say the "snakes" were too low?

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