Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


December 14, 2012

Rubrics: What Are They Good For?

Barbara E. Walvoord, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita, University of Notre Dame

Mailing address: 130 Woodcock Rd., Williamstown, MA 01267.    E-mail:

Generic Rubric for Writing in Multiple Disciplines

Categories and Criteria  5Few or no weak-nesses found;

writer satisfied the criteria with distinction


4Strengths outweigh the weaknesses; writer shows sound understanding of criteria


3Strengths and weaknesses are about equal; writer shows awareness of criteria


2Weaknesses outweigh strengths; writer shows limited understanding

of criteria


1Weaknesses far outweigh strengths; writer does not show understanding of criteria


a.The paper fulfills the assignmentand addresses its audience’s needs.


b.Supporting evidence isdeveloped and analyzed sufficiently.


c.The thesis is clear. 
d.Sources are appropriatelydocumented.




a.Introduction is fully developedand leads smoothly to thesis.


b.Body paragraphs use topicsentences effectively.


c.Paper is unified in relation tothesis.


Ho institution current.4

Categories and Criteria  5Few or no weak-nesses found;

writer satisfied the criteria with distinction


4Strengths outweigh the weaknesses; writer shows sound understanding of criteria


3Strengths and weaknesses are about equal; writer shows awareness of criteria


2Weaknesses outweigh strengths; writer shows limited understanding

of criteria


1Weaknesses far outweigh strengths; writer does not show understanding of criteria


d.Conclusion provides insightfulclosure




a.Vocabulary and tone areappropriate to the assignment.


b.The meaning of the sentences isclear.


c.Sentence structure is varied. 
d.Transitions create smooth flowof ideas.


a.Sentences are grammaticallycorrect.


b.Punctuation is correct. 
c.Spelling is correct (e.g.homonyms used correctly).


d.Paper format is correct. 

Ho institution current.4


Categories and Criteria  5Few or no weak-nesses found;

writer satisfied the criteria with distinction


4Strengths outweigh the weaknesses; writer shows sound understanding of criteria


3Strengths and weaknesses are about equal; writer shows awareness of criteria


2Weaknesses outweigh strengths; writer shows limited understanding

of criteria


1Weaknesses far outweigh strengths; writer does not show understanding of criteria




Faculty committee developed the rubric.

Same committee, plus additional faculty, after a training session, scored a sample of student work.

Used rubric scores to address three questions:

1.   How well are our students doing?

a.   Each rubric item was awarded points.  Points for each paper were totaled.

b.   Report showed the percentage of student work that received at least 70 points.


2.   What factors make a difference in their writing competency?

a.   Report showed that 65% of students who had taken gen ed comp and lit courses met the 70% benchmark, while only 40% of students who had not taken those courses met the benchmark.

3.   What are strengths and weaknesses?

a.   Items with lowest average scores were identified.

b.   Lowest scores were citing sources, avoiding plagiarism, integrating material from sources into their writing, and checking their work against instructor criteria.

Source: Anne Arundel Community College Case Study in Walvoord and Anderson,



, 2nd ed., Jossey-Bass, 2010, pp. 181-185.

For Generic Rubrics

developed within a national project by Association of American

Colleges and Universities, see Value Program



Ho institution current.4




I found my book for the book review

April 6, 2012

I finally found my book for the book review. It’s titled The Compass of Pleasure. In a nutshell it’s about how the brain make things feel so good. Many times these things are bad for us and sometime they are good but nonetheless, our brain synapses interpret pleasure. The following are my initial thoughts. 


“There are variants in genes that turn down the function of dopamine signaling within the pleasure circuit. For people who carry these gene variants, their muted dopamine systems lead to blunted pleasure circuits, which in turn affects their pleasure-seeking activities. … Any one of us could be an addict at any time. Addiction is not fundamentally a moral failing — it’s not a disease of weak-willed losers.” — David Linden
There are a lot of humans that are very cryptic when it comes to pleasure; a source of happiness that we spend most of our waking lives perusing. We also regulate pleasure because people and things tend to influence or sway us one way or the other.  It is also a prime mover in our lives, essential to learning how we find food and water to sexual interactions that inevitably pass on our genotypes on to the future.  Some types of pleasure are associated to the more guarded aspects of one’s life. Behaviors such as prayer, communion, dancing and meditation Many of our most important rituals involving prayer, music, dance, and meditation produce extraordinary pleasure that has become highly instilled in human social culture. This author, being a neuroscientist says it quite well, “While most people are able to achieve a certain degree of pleasure with only moderate indulgence, those with blunted dopamine systems are driven to overdo it. In order to get to that same set point of pleasure that others would get to easily — maybe with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends — you need six drinks at the bar to get the same thing.”
Religions, education and law, have deep connections with pleasure, and instill an idea or belief that mind is in control of body. This pleasure, basic as it may be, is easily heightened and induced by pleasures such as hard drugs (e.g. Cocaine, heroin) that act as catalysts. Even small amounts of nicotine and/or alcohol act in the same way on a neurological plain. This pleasure is a buzz that can be found in a number of mind and body altering substances. You can try to theorize how humans regulate pleasure with the backing from sociology and anthropology from many human cultures, but pleasure is mostly determined by both culture and tradition. However, The Compass of Pleasure investigates a different type of more intellectual theory based on a cross-cultural biological e. Through pricise and organized thinking Linden determines that, “Pleasure must be earned, must be achieved naturally, and it should be sought in moderation. Self denial of pleasure can yield spiritual growth, even while pleasure is transitory.”
In this book, Dr. David Linden, professor of neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, continually reiterates to his students that we are in “the golden age of brain research” and contends that our daily live experiences are extraordinary. That we are centrally bound by pleasure through various vices such as exercise, meditative prayer, recreational drug use and even giving to charitable organizations. These things activate the anatomically defined and biochemically determined pleasure circuitry of the brain. Things like learning, eating fatty foods, shopping, internet usage, gambling and praying; calling upon neurological signals that activate what is called the “medial forebrain pleasure circuit”, a tiny section of connected brain tissues. These brain tissues, whivh are activated by neurons in the brain, communicate pleasure signals that range from minute to intense bepending on the human experience.
His theory does a good job of reframing the way we understand the brain in relation to the regulation of pleasure. He goes on to state that, “While we might assume that the anatomical region most closely governed by laws, religious prohibitions, and social mores is the genitalia, or the mouth, or the vocal cords, it is actually the medial forebrain pleasure circuit.” Both societies as a whole and individually, we very determined on both producing and managing pleasure, and the nurons that are deep withinn our brains are where this all happens. The biggest implication of his work would have to be in the relm of addiction. He calls this “the dark side of pleasure” and science is showing that addiction is associated with biochemical, electrical, and morphological changes which are association ithin the meddle fore brain plea­sure circuit. There is strong backing that these changes govern addiction, including progressive tolerance, craving, withdrawal, and relapse. To this end, memory, pleasure and addiction, are highly related and extremely interconnected.
David Linden uses many examples from George Gamow and Roger Penrose and captivates the reader to become curious. He states that, “It would be possible to write a book exploring the brain’s pleasure circuits that were free of not only molecules but also basic anatomy,… If you come along for the ride and work with me just a bit to learn some basic neuroscience, I’ll do my best to make it lively and fun as we explore the cellular and molecular basis of human pleasure, …, and addiction.”

Fast Ways for the Overloaded College Student to Go Green

March 22, 2012

Am I the only one that gets seriously depressed when I see pictures of marine life stuck in plastic soda rings? I highly doubt it. It’s common knowledge that plastic waste has become a major problem in our oceans and for all species living in it. Between classes, exams, projects, and papers it seems hard to dedicate some time to trying to be more environmentally friendly. I have news for you fellow college kids: it’s not hard! There are easy ways that you can decrease the amount of plastic you use on a daily basis AND have more money in your wallet! Crazy right?! Listen up:

1. Get a reusable water bottle!

I stopped drinking bottled water over a year ago. It was one of the best decisions of my life, no lie. One, it was so easy. All you gotta do is  go buy a reusable bottle and a filter to put directly on your faucet or a brita filter. I personally have a brita and I adore it. Now I don’t ever have to worry about running out of water or lugging it up flights of stairs to my dorm room. I also don’t have nearly as much recycling as I use to! I mean I still recycle but it’s a whole other type of beverage if you catch my drift ;]

2. Use canvas bags when you go grocery shopping.

I can’t tell you how many stupid plastic bags are under my kitchen sink at the moment. It’s actually gross. Everytime my housemates go shopping it keeps building up. I hate it, it’s such a waste. That’s why I decided to buy a few reusable canvas bags and bring them to the grocery store every time I go shopping. It was hard to remember to bring them at first so I leave them by the door in my house so I see them before I leave.  It was such a simple way to decrease my plastic waste that I wish I committed to doing it a while ago. You can buy your canvas bags at the store itself! Super convenient! Also check out Surfrider’s Rise of Plastics Campaign and sign the petition to committ to using plastic bags!

3. Use reusable tupperware

The easiest way to stop using ziploc bags, plastic wrap, and all that other stuff is to use tupperware. Even better is to get glass containers. I know what you’re thinking. What if I drop it? It will go everywhere! Don’t fret. It’s actually so much better. I can’t even tell you how many times I have called my mom and was like “Can I reheat my dinner in this?” You know what her answer is right? A big fat NO. She always tells me the plastic will melt into your food and that’s not good for you blah blah blah. But it’s true! Thanks mom. Another way to avoid getting more plastic tupperware from restaurants is to dine in instead! Go figure!

4. Opt for products packaged in cardboard instead of plastic

Cardboard is way easier to recycle compared to plastic. Unless it’s a type 1 or 2 plastic, plastic can be very hard to recycle. It’s simple guys! Plus cardboard packaging is usually cheaper since it’s less aesthetically pleasing compared to plastic packaging.

5. Buy in bulk

I don’t know about you but Costco is one of my favorite places to go, like ever. So if you have to buy plastic, I mean it’s seriously omnipresent, you might as well buy in bulk so not only you get more of the product itsef, you also get more for your money. Woot woot!

Those weren’t so hard, right? Definitely easy enough for every college kid to do! Check out more ways to reduce your plastic waste!

New Show Alert: Frozen Planet!

March 22, 2012

As I impatiently wait for the most anticipated week of television, cough SHARK WEEK cough, I try to look for shows to fill that void in my heart. If you feel the same way, do not fear for I have found a solution! Discovery Channel has just aired premiered their new series Frozen Planet.

It is comparable to their previous entrancing show Planet Earth and it really has something for everyone! Where as Planet Earth went to all crevices of the earth, literally too, Frozen Planet focuses on life for the animals of the Arctic and Antarctic regions. It’s beautifully shot, fascinating, and just plain amazing.

With all the craziness that is life, it really helps to sit back, relax and be moved away by the wonders of our earth. Meet the stars of the show! Make sure you catch it on Sundays at 8PM on the Discovery Channel! You know I will be watching!

4 Ways to Remember Your Reusable Bags

March 22, 2012

Go ahead, admit it to yourself, remembering your reusable bag before you go grocery shopping is a difficult task.  Often, when you remember that you have a reusable bag to use, you’re already packing plastic bags with the items you just purchased.  If this happens to you more than once or twice a week, you need to create better ways to remember your reusable bag.  Below are four ways to remember your reusable bag!

 1) Write on a sheet of paper “Don’t Forget Your Reusable Bag” in bold print!  Attach this to your fridge or a place in your house where you’ll be reminded to bring your bag before you go shopping.  This acts as a ‘ prompt,” providing visual reinforcement to aide in changing your “behavior!”Image


2) If you know you’re going shopping at some point in the day, set an alarm on your cell phone that reminds you to bring your reusable bag with you.  This requires you to go shopping at a certain time and setting your alarm prior to your shopping departure. 

 3) Buy multiple reusable bags to store in your house, car, and backpack.  The more reusable bags you have at your convenience, the more likely you are to use reusable bags!  Most online purchasing sites sell reusable bags in sets of 4 for an affordable price.  If you’re anything like me and love professional football, NFL reusable bags are in style!  Support your team and the environment!  Image


4) Get a tattoo!  If you’re that forgetful of using reusable bags, get a tattoo on your hand that reminds you to always use your reusable bags!  

Plastic Bag Bans become the Norm?

March 22, 2012

Will your city be the next to ban plastic bags? It seems as though these bans are becoming more commonplace as the campaign against plastic waste has gained traction.


On March 19 of this year, Santa Cruz County, California joined the ranks of plastic bag-banning municipalities.  In the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County, plastic bags have been banned outright in all businesses except for restaurants, and a 10 cent charge (that will rise to 25 cents after one year) has been placed on the paper bags that will now be available at all businesses.

In the United States, California has led the war against plastic, with bans already in place in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Marin County, and a few others to boot (check out a full list of California cities and municipalities here). This movement has expanded to Seattle, Portland, coastal North Carolina, and other locales scattered across the country (How Stuff Works).


 Although new policies are not always met with complete support, most people are willing to sacrifice personal convenience for a healthy environment.  The video below describes the new ban in Santa Cruz County in more detail, and shows the reactions of some local residents.

 Plastic bags, however, are being banned not only in the United States, but across the globe.  Both developed and industrial nations alike have made an effort to either ban or tax plastic bags.  Although progress has been slow, places like California have developed a new social norm: banning the plastic. Learn what you can do to fight against The Plastic here!


OBX, Like it should be!

March 22, 2012

The Outer Banks, a 200-mile expanse of pristine coastline. It’s home to the Piping Plover  (a small oyster-catcher listed as a threatened species) and an important Sea Turtle nesting area. It’s also rated one of America’s top 10 beaches. Unfortunately, for the last few years it’s looked more like a sand-covered parking lot than a top 10 beach and excessive off-road vehicle (ORV) use has threatened the Sea Turtle nesting and Piping Plovers. Hopefully that’s all going to change this year!

A perfect example of why it's ranked the number 5 beach in America

As of Feb. 15, the National Park Service will be requiring anyone who wants to drive on the beach to buy a permit, $50 for a day pass or a $120 for the year. This policy is great! It’s likely to lower ORV use, keep the beach open to those willing to buy a permit or carpool, keep the beach looking like it belongs in America’s top 10, and allow the wildlife of the Outer Banks to thrive again. The result, a beautiful beach and a thriving ecosystem!

If you’re in doubt about how much of an effect ORV use has on the local wildlife check out this press release.

Attack of the Jellyfish!

March 22, 2012

Imagine a predator that is silent, nearly invisible, and covered in paralyzing tentacles.  Scared?  If you plan on visiting the New Jersey shore this summer, you should be.  Although the ever-growing numbers of jelly fish along the coast are relatively absent from the ocean waves, they are thriving in the Barnegat Bay.  Just across the barrier island, opposite the Atlantic Ocean, lays an amassing swarm of sea nettles.


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Michael Kennish, a professor and active researcher from the Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, and the research coordinator at the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve in Tuckerton, New Jersey.  Dr. Kennish specializes in the study of anthropogenic impacts on the environment, and is one of the leading experts on the health of the Barnegat Bay and Little Egg Harbor watersheds.

Sea nettles (Chrysaora quinquecirrha), which are native to the Barnegat Bay, have been rapidly increasing in number in the past few years (Barnegat Bay Partnership).  Dr. Kennish explained that the jellies’ population growth can be traced back directly to human activity, and that “eutrophication and bulkhead construction” are largely to blame.


As Kennish pointed out to me during the interview, many people are unaware that sea nettles, during their life cycle, exist in a polyp (sessile) form, as well as a medusa (free-“swimming”) form.  During their polyp stage (pictured above), the sea nettle clings to a rock or some other hard surface. For this reason, bulkheads provide ample space for jellyfish polyps to develop into their stinging, medusa stage.


And sting they do.  Almost anyone who has swum in the Barnegat Bay can attest to the annoying nature of the jelly swarm.  In many parts of the bay, especially in the northern end, it is impossible to dive into the water during the summer without suffering a sting.  The video below briefly details the rise of jellyfish populations in the bay, and the reaction of the local residents.

In order to reduce populations of this nuisance species, drastic measures must be taken.  Dr. Kennish argues that the Barnegat Bay watershed is at “carrying capacity,” and cannot support any further human population growth.  If you want to learn about how you can help, click here!


Asbury Park Oceanfront Crowd Surfing

March 22, 2012

Bamboozle. Isn’t that always at the Meadowlands? Not this year!

The annual three day music festival is coming to Asbury Park this May. It will include mainstream and local bands, comedy acts, and plenty of merchandise booths! You can even register to be a vendor!

The festival goes on for the whole weekend! You can buy a 3-day pass for the full experience, or just spend the day with a single day ticket. No matter how many days you go, you’re sure to have a great time!

This years headliners include Blink182, Mac Miller, Brand New, and New Jersey’s very own Bon Jovi (just to name a few!) You can see the full lineup, and which days the bands will be performing. Not all bands have been announced yet so keep an eye out–your favorite band may be coming to town!

Can’t wait until May? Bamboozle Radio has a bunch of songs from the headlining bands! Either listen to your favorites, or get more familiar with them before the show!

The Quiet Tsunami

March 20, 2012

“If you don’t know, now ya know,” Biggie Smalls once said. Now, if you don’t know that CO2 emissions are increasingly warming our planet, now you know. Last week, Justin Gillis published an article in the New York Times titled “Rising Sea Level Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.” It’s unfortunate that an issue such as rising sea level still remains a political issue of little salience. However, if scientists like Dr. Ken Miller of the Rutgers Geological Sciences department are warning us that by 2100 New Jersey might see sea level rise to a level worth worrying about, shouldn’t we act now?

It is difficult to precisely gauge scientific data to the “tee” when it comes to predicting the exact year for a disaster to occur. Scientists say the Yellowstone volcano is estimated to erupt now, but now can be 50,000 years down the road. This makes people hesitant to act about environmental issues. Even worse it makes people totally indifferent to science. This causes an article like the one I mention to easily be pushed in the “back pages.” If we wait long enough to act, we’ll be sideswiped by a quiet tsunami.

Most scientists agree that by 2100, many of the United States coastal regions will see a sea level rise of almost 1 meter. Although 2100 appears to be a long time away, it is not. The time to act is now. Unfortunately, awareness and individual environmental sacrifices will not be enough to change this problem. Policy that addresses this problem is the only solution.  Yes, it is terrifying that politicians are the only people who can prevent sea level rise.  However, I urge New Jersey citizens to write to your senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez asking them to begin a dialogue about sea level rise!