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Troy Patterson

The Sabermetrics of Effort - Jonah Lehrer - 0 views

  • The fundamental premise of Moneyball is that the labor market of sports is inefficient, and that many teams systematically undervalue particular athletic skills that help them win. While these skills are often subtle – and the players that possess them tend to toil in obscurity - they can be identified using sophisticated statistical techniques, aka sabermetrics. Home runs are fun. On-base percentage is crucial.
  • The wisdom of the moneyball strategy is no longer controversial. It’s why the A’s almost always outperform their payroll,
  • However, the triumph of moneyball creates a paradox, since its success depends on the very market inefficiencies it exposes. The end result is a relentless search for new undervalued skills, those hidden talents that nobody else seems to appreciate. At least not yet.
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  •  One study found that baseball players significantly improved their performance in the final year of their contracts, just before entering free-agency. (Another study found a similar trend among NBA players.) What explained this improvement? Effort. Hustle. Blood, sweat and tears. The players wanted a big contract, so they worked harder.
  • If a player runs too little during a game, it’s not because his body gives out – it’s because his head doesn’t want to.
  • despite the obvious impact of effort, it’s surprisingly hard to isolate as a variable of athletic performance. Weimer and Wicker set out to fix this oversight. Using data gathered from three seasons and 1514 games of the Bundesliga – the premier soccer league in Germany – the economists attempted to measure individual effort as a variable of player performance,
  • So did these differences in levels of effort matter? The answer is an emphatic yes: teams with players that run longer distances are more likely to win the game,
  • As the economists note, “teams where some players run a lot while others are relatively lazy have a higher winning probability.”
  • There is a larger lesson here, which is that our obsession with measuring talent has led us to neglect the measurement of effort. This is a blind spot that extends far beyond the realm of professional sports.
  • Maximum tests are high-stakes assessments that try to measure a person’s peak level of performance. Think here of the SAT, or the NFL Combine, or all those standardized tests we give to our kids. Because these tests are relatively short, we assume people are motivated enough to put in the effort while they’re being measured. As a result, maximum tests are good at quantifying individual talent, whether it’s scholastic aptitude or speed in the 40-yard dash.
  • Unfortunately, the brevity of maximum tests means they are not very good at predicting future levels of effort. Sackett has demonstrated this by comparing the results from maximum tests to field studies of typical performance, which is a measure of how people perform when they are not being tested.
  • As Sackett came to discover, the correlation between these two assessments is often surprisingly low: the same people identified as the best by a maximum test often unperformed according to the measure of typical performance, and vice versa.
  • What accounts for the mismatch between maximum tests and typical performance? One explanation is that, while maximum tests are good at measuring talent, typical performance is about talent plus effort.
  • In the real world, you can’t assume people are always motivated to try their hardest. You can’t assume they are always striving to do their best. Clocking someone in a sprint won’t tell you if he or she has the nerve to run a marathon, or even 12 kilometers in a soccer match.
  • With any luck, these sabermetric innovations will trickle down to education, which is still mired in maximum high-stakes tests that fail to directly measure or improve the levels of effort put forth by students.
  • After all, those teams with the hardest workers (and not just the most talented ones) significantly increase their odds of winning.
  • Old-fashioned effort just might be the next on-base percentage.
Troy Patterson

Trouble with Rubrics - 0 views

  • She realized that her students, presumably grown accustomed to rubrics in other classrooms, now seemed “unable to function unless every required item is spelled out for them in a grid and assigned a point value.  Worse than that,” she added, “they do not have confidence in their thinking or writing skills and seem unwilling to really take risks.”[5]
  • This is the sort of outcome that may not be noticed by an assessment specialist who is essentially a technician, in search of practices that yield data in ever-greater quantities.
  • The fatal flaw in this logic is revealed by a line of research in educational psychology showing that students whose attention is relentlessly focused on how well they’re doing often become less engaged with what they're doing.
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  • it’s shortsighted to assume that an assessment technique is valuable in direct proportion to how much information it provides.
  • Studies have shown that too much attention to the quality of one’s performance is associated with more superficial thinking, less interest in whatever one is doing, less perseverance in the face of failure, and a tendency to attribute the outcome to innate ability and other factors thought to be beyond one’s control.
  • As one sixth grader put it, “The whole time I’m writing, I’m not thinking about what I’m saying or how I’m saying it.  I’m worried about what grade the teacher will give me, even if she’s handed out a rubric.  I’m more focused on being correct than on being honest in my writing.”[8]
  • she argues, assessment is “stripped of the complexity that breathes life into good writing.”
  • High scores on a list of criteria for excellence in essay writing do not mean that the essay is any good because quality is more than the sum of its rubricized parts.
  • Wilson also makes the devastating observation that a relatively recent “shift in writing pedagogy has not translated into a shift in writing assessment.”
  • Teachers are given much more sophisticated and progressive guidance nowadays about how to teach writing but are still told to pigeonhole the results, to quantify what can’t really be quantified.
  • Consistent and uniform standards are admirable, and maybe even workable, when we’re talking about, say, the manufacture of DVD players.  The process of trying to gauge children’s understanding of ideas is a very different matter, however.
  • Rubrics are, above all, a tool to promote standardization, to turn teachers into grading machines or at least allow them to pretend that what they’re doing is exact and objective. 
  • The appeal of rubrics is supposed to be their high interrater reliability, finally delivered to language arts.
  • Just as it’s possible to raise standardized test scores as long as you’re willing to gut the curriculum and turn the school into a test-preparation factory, so it’s possible to get a bunch of people to agree on what rating to give an assignment as long as they’re willing to accept and apply someone else’s narrow criteria for what merits that rating. 
  • Once we check our judgment at the door, we can all learn to give a 4 to exactly the same things.
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