Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Do professional managers have a profession: the specialist/generic distinction amongst higher education professional services staff

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    An emerging literature is beginning to create a theoretical framework for analysing the role of professional managers – that is, those without an ongoing academic background – in the context of UK higher education. Here I argue, drawing on my own experience in a range of higher education institutions, that this literature misses a crucial distinction amongst professional managers, namely that between generic HE professionals, and specialists from professions which exist outside the world of higher education (for example, human resources professionals, lawyers, marketing professionals). Building on this distinction to analyse the professional identities of higher education professional services staff, I recommend ways in which institutions can reduce the professional- academic divide in university management

    A multi-granularity pattern-based sequence classification framework for educational data

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    In many application domains, such as education, sequences of events occurring over time need to be studied in order to understand the generative process behind these sequences, and hence classify new examples. In this paper, we propose a novel multi-granularity sequence lassification framework that generates features based on frequent patterns at multiple levels of time granularity. Feature selection techniques are applied to identify the most informative features that are then used to construct the classification model. We show the applicability and suitability of the proposed framework to the area of educational data mining by experimenting on an educational dataset collected from an asynchronous communication tool in which students interact to accomplish an underlying group project. The experimental results showed that our model can achieve competitive performance in detecting the students' roles in their corresponding projects, compared to a baseline similarity-based approach

    When are purely predictive models best?

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    Can purely predictive models be useful in investigating causal systems? I argue ‘yes’. Moreover, in many cases not only are they useful, they are essential. The alternative is to stick to models or mechanisms drawn from well-understood theory. But a necessary condition for explanation is empirical success, and in many cases in social and field sciences such success can only be achieved by purely predictive models, not by ones drawn from theory. Alas, the attempt to use theory to achieve explanation or insight without empirical success therefore fails, leaving us with the worst of both worlds – neither prediction nor explanation. Best go with empirical success by any means necessary. I support these methodological claims via case studies of two impressive feats of predictive modelling: opinion polling of political elections, and weather forecasting

    Digital hegemonies: the localness of search engine results

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    Every day, billions of Internet users rely on search engines to find information about places to make decisions about tourism, shopping, and countless other economic activities. In an opaque process, search engines assemble digital content produced in a variety of locations around the world and make it available to large cohorts of consumers. Although these representations of place are increasingly important and consequential, little is known about their characteristics and possible biases. Analysing a corpus of Google search results generated for 188 capital cities, this article investigates the geographic dimension of search results, focusing on searches such as "Lagos" and "Rome" on different localized versions of the engine. This study answers the questions: To what degree is this city-related information locally produced and diverse? Which countries are producing their own representations and which are represented by others? Through a new indicator of localness of search results, we identify the factors that contribute to shape this uneven digital geography, combining several development indicators. The development of the publishing industry and scientific production appears as a fairly strong predictor of localness of results. This empirical knowledge will support efforts to curb the digital divide, promoting a more inclusive, democratic information society

    Alakit and Daldyn kimberlite fields, Siberia, Russia: Two types of mantle sub-terranes beneath central Yakutia?

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    Mineral data from Yakutian kimberlites allow reconstruction of the history of lithospheric mantle. Differences occur in compositions of mantle pyropes and clinopyroxenes from large kimberlite pipes in the Alakit and Daldyn fields. In the Alakit field, Cr-diopsides are alkaline, and Stykanskaya and some other pipes contain more sub-calcic pyropes and dunitic-type diamond inclusions, while in the Daldyn field harzburgitic pyropes are frequent. The eclogitic diamond inclusions in the Alakit field are sharply divided in types and conditions, while in the Daldyn field they show varying compositions and often continuous Pressure–Temperature (P–T) ranges with increasing Fe# with decreasing pressures. In Alakit, Cr-pargasites to richterites were found in all pipes, while in Daldyn, pargasites are rare Dalnyaya and Zarnitsa pipes. Cr-diopsides from the Alakit region show higher levels of light Rare Earth Elements (LREE) and stronger REE-slopes, and enrichment in light Rare Earth Elements (LREE), sometimes Th-U, and small troughs in Nb-Ta-Zr. In the Daldyn field, the High Field Strength Elements HFSE troughs are more common in clinopyroxenes with low REE abundances, while those from sheared and refertilized peridotites have smooth patterns. Garnets from Alakit show HREE minima, but those from Daldyn often have a trough at Y and high U and Pb. PTXfO2 diagrams from both regions show similarities, suggesting similar layering and structures. The degree of metasomatism is often higher for pipes which show dispersion in P–Fe# trends for garnets. In the mantle beneath Udachnaya and Aykhal, pipes show 6–7 linear arrays of P–Fe# in the lower part of the mantle section at 7.5–3.0 GPa, probably reflecting primary subduction horizons. Beneath the Sytykanskaya pipe, there are several horizons with opposite inclinations which reflect metasomatic processes. The high dispersion of the P–Fe# trend indicating widespread metasomatism is associated with decreased diamond grades. Possible explanation of the differences in mineralogy and geochemistry of the mantle sections may relate to their tectonic positions during growth of the lithospheric keel. Enrichment in volatiles and alkalis possibly corresponds to interaction with subduction-related fluids and melts in the craton margins. Incorporation of island arc peridotites from an eroded arc is a possible scenario

    Educating for social participation: open data as open educational resources

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    Students construct knowledge by critically analysing information from various sources and formats, including data. Being capable of analysing and interpreting raw data is increasingly important and can be seen as key to the development of transversal skills, which are defined by UNESCO as “critical and innovative thinking, inter-personal skills; intra-personal skills, and global citizenship”. If one of our goals as educators is to develop these transversal skills in students, towards enabling them to function as citizens, to actively participate in the discourse and debates of society, then we propose that Open Data can play a key role. Open Data is produced and used at various levels in research, governance, policy making and civil society. In educational and academic contexts, Open Data can be understood and used as an Open Educational Resource (OER) to help support the engagement of students and researchers in analysing and collaborating towards finding solutions for contemporary real-world problems, chiefly by embedding Open Data and Open Science principles in research-based, scenario-led activities. In this way, students can experience working with the same raw materials scientists and policy-makers use. We will report on a series of case studies of the use of Open Data as OER with a particular focus on good practices identified by these educators. We can suggest educators embracing Open Data in the classroom must consider the following elements: • Focus: define the research problem and its relation to the environment students. • Practicality: match technical applications and practices to expected solutions. • Expectations: set realistic expectations for data analysis. • Directions: support in finding data portals which contain appropriate information. • Training: provide training materials for the software students will need to analyse the data. • Location: use global, local and scientific data which is as granular as possible. • Modelling: develop model solutions to guide students on the challenges and activities. • Collaboration: support students to work collaboratively and at multidisciplinary level. • Communication: support students in communicating their findings to local or wider communities. While there is already a degree of consensus in the academic and political levels on the value of Open Data for researchers, it is necessary to establish educational models and good practice in the use of Open Data as OER, and therefore enable students to become critical and engaged citizens

    Gaze-contingent reinforcement learning reveals incentive value of social signals in young children and adults

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    While numerous studies have demonstrated that infants and adults preferentially orient to social stimuli, it remains unclear as to what drives such preferential orienting. It has been suggested that the learned association between social cues and subsequent reward delivery might shape such social orienting. Using a novel, spontaneous indication of reinforcement learning (with the use of a gaze contingent reward-learning task), we investigated whether children and adults' orienting towards social and non-social visual cues can be elicited by the association between participants' visual attention and a rewarding outcome. Critically, we assessed whether the engaging nature of the social cues influences the process of reinforcement learning. In the current study, both children and adults learned to orient more often to the visual cues associated with reward delivery, demonstrating that cue-reward association reinforced visual orienting. More importantly, when the reward-predictive cue was social and engaging, both children and adults learned the cue-reward association faster and more efficiently than when the reward-predictive cue was social but non-engaging. These new findings indicate that social engaging cues have a positive incentive value. This could possibly be because they usually coincide with positive outcomes in real life, which could partly drive the development of social orienting

    Attitudes towards drug policies in Latin America: results from a Latin-American survey

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    Background: in recent years Latin American countries have increasingly rejected the traditional prohibitionist paradigm of drug policy, reflecting its failure to reduce either consumption or trafficking. The extent to which these policy trends currently command pubic support is unclear, however. This article goes some way to filling this gap, providing a snapshot of public attitudes towards drug policies in nine Latin American countries. Methods: the 2014 Annual Survey of the Observatory of Drug Policies and Public Opinion, which has representative population samples, was used to measure public opinion. Country comparisons are made using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results: countries fall into three groups: Peru, Bolivia and El Salvador are the most conservative countries on drug policy and perceptions of risks of cannabis use; they also score lowest on Human Development Index. On the other hand, the public in Chile and Uruguay are more likely to support drug policy reform. The remaining four countries (Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Peru) tend to occupy the middle ground between these extremes. In addition, cannabis legalization is explained by its recreational use, being this the main meaning attached to cannabis policy among Latin American citizens. Conclusion: There is a significant heterogeneity in attitudes towards drug policies in Latin American countries, which suggests that people are questioning the policies that set the norm in Latin America without achieving any consensus regarding future measures for each country

    Multilingualism and psychotherapy: exploring multilingual clients' experiences of language practices in psychotherapy

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    This study investigates bi- and multilingual clients’ self-reported language practices in counselling and psychotherapy. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through an international web survey inviting adults who had experienced one-to-one therapy to describe their experiences. Analysis of responses by 109 multilingual clients revealed that clients did not always have an opportunity to discuss their multilingualism with therapists, and for some this inhibited their language switching. Others were assertive in their language choices, or benefited from working with a therapist who was either bilingual or skilled at creating an inclusive linguistic environment. Very few reported two main therapy languages, while nearly two thirds of participants reported short code-switches. These happened occasionally within sessions and were typically linked to difficulties in translation, expressing emotion, accessing memories or quotation. Over a third of respondents used a second or additional language as their main therapy language, with nearly half of this group reporting that they never switched to their first language in sessions, despite some using it daily for inner speech. The implications for therapy and further research are discussed, including the role of the therapist in inviting the client's multiple languages into the therapeutic frame

    Spectral identification and quantification of salts in the Atacama Desert

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    Salt minerals are an important natural resource. The ability to quickly and remotely identify and quantify salt deposits and salt contaminated soils and sands is therefore a priority goal for the various industries and agencies that utilise salts. The advent of global hyperspectral imagery from instruments such as Hyperion on NASA’s Earth-Observing 1 satellite has opened up a new source of data that can potentially be used for just this task. This study aims to assess the ability of Visible and Near Infrared (VNIR) spectroscopy to identify and quantify salt minerals through the use of spectral mixture analysis. The surface and near-surface soils of the Atacama Desert in Chile contain a variety of well-studied salts, which together with low cloud coverage, and high aridity, makes this region an ideal testbed for this technique. Two forms of spectral data ranging 0.35 – 2.5 μm were collected: laboratory spectra acquired using an ASD FieldSpec Pro instrument on samples from four locations in the Atacama desert known to have surface concentrations of sulfates, nitrates, chlorides and perchlorates; and images from the EO-1 satellite’s Hyperion instrument taken over the same four locations. Mineral identifications and abundances were confirmed using quantitative XRD of the physical samples. Spectral endmembers were extracted from within the laboratory and Hyperion spectral datasets and together with additional spectral library endmembers fed into a linear mixture model. The resulting identification and abundances from both dataset types were verified against the sample XRD values. Issues of spectral scale, SNR and how different mineral spectra interact are considered, and the utility of VNIR spectroscopy and Hyperion in particular for mapping specific salt concentrations in desert environments is established. Overall, SMA was successful at estimating abundances of sulfate minerals, particularly calcium sulfate, from both hyperspectral image and laboratory sample spectra, while abundance estimation of other salt phase spectral end-members was achieved with a higher degree of error
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