322 research outputs found

    Enhancing student communication skills via debating engineering ethics

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    In Engineering, the construction of informed, persuasive and convincing arguments is at the very core of everyday practice. However, in taught postgraduate education there is often an excessive focus on assessment of these skills through written arguments or oral presentations that are usually in the form of long uninterrupted monologues, where the construction of the arguments themselves is almost never challenged. To change this status quo, we have successfully pioneered the use of oral debate as a dynamic and engaging mechanism to develop and assess this skill in our Chemical Engineering MSc students. Debate is an ideal mechanism to assess our students’ ability to construct arguments as it actively encourages them to (1) think about both sides of an argument, (2) consider how they can persuade others and (3) express their viewpoint professionally but with conviction. For this reason, the debates undertaken were linked to important engineering ethical dilemmas, by discussing topics such as “should developing countries prioritise the shift to clean energy over economic growth”. The development of this debate-based training and assessment has had numerous positive outcomes on the students’ learning experience and vital skills development. Importantly students found the debates to be both an interesting and enjoyable method of assessment and noted that the skills learned would be useful in their future careers. In this concept paper we present our experiences in delivering debate assessments to engineering students along with recommendations for practitioners wishing to implement similar styles of performative assessments in their own pedagogy

    A mixture of experts model for rank data with applications in election studies

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    A voting bloc is defined to be a group of voters who have similar voting preferences. The cleavage of the Irish electorate into voting blocs is of interest. Irish elections employ a ``single transferable vote'' electoral system; under this system voters rank some or all of the electoral candidates in order of preference. These rank votes provide a rich source of preference information from which inferences about the composition of the electorate may be drawn. Additionally, the influence of social factors or covariates on the electorate composition is of interest. A mixture of experts model is a mixture model in which the model parameters are functions of covariates. A mixture of experts model for rank data is developed to provide a model-based method to cluster Irish voters into voting blocs, to examine the influence of social factors on this clustering and to examine the characteristic preferences of the voting blocs. The Benter model for rank data is employed as the family of component densities within the mixture of experts model; generalized linear model theory is employed to model the influence of covariates on the mixing proportions. Model fitting is achieved via a hybrid of the EM and MM algorithms. An example of the methodology is illustrated by examining an Irish presidential election. The existence of voting blocs in the electorate is established and it is determined that age and government satisfaction levels are important factors in influencing voting in this election.Comment: Published in at http://dx.doi.org/10.1214/08-AOAS178 the Annals of Applied Statistics (http://www.imstat.org/aoas/) by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (http://www.imstat.org

    Mixed membership models for rank data: Investigating structure in Irish voting data

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    A mixed membership model is an individual level mixture model where individuals have partial membership of the profiles (or groups) that characterize a population. A mixed membership model for rank data is outlined and illustrated through the analysis of voting in the 2002 Irish general election. This particular election uses a voting system called proportional representation using a single transferable vote (PR-STV) where voters rank some or all of the candidates in order of preference. The data set considered consists of all votes in a constituency from the 2002 Irish general election. Interest lies in highlighting distinct voting profiles within the electorate and studying how voters affiliate themselves to these voting profiles. The mixed membership model for rank data is fitted to the voting data and is shown to give a concise and highly interpretable explanation of voting patterns in this election

    Reaching the summit of discharge summaries: a quality improvement project

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    Background Discharge summaries need to be completed in a timely manner, to improve communication between primary and secondary care, and evidence suggests that delays in discharge summary completion can lead to patient harm. Following a hospital health and safety review due to the sheer backlog of notes in the doctor’s room and wards, urgent action had to be undertaken to improve the discharge summary completion process at our hospital’s paediatric assessment unit. It was felt that the process would best be carried out within a quality improvement (QI) project. Methods Kotter’s ‘eight-step model for change’ was implemented in this QI project with the aim to clear the existing backlog of pending discharge summaries and improve the timeliness of discharge summary completion from the hospital’s paediatric assessment unit. A minimum target of 10% improvement in the completion rate of discharge summaries was set as the primary goal of the project. Results Following the implementation of the QI processes, we were able to clear the backlog of discharge summaries within 9 months. We improved completion within 24 hours, from <10% to 84%, within 2 months. The success of our project lies in the sustainability of the change process; to date we have consistently achieved the target completion rates since the inception of the project. As a result of the project, we were able to modify the junior doctor rota to remove discharge summary duty slots and bolster workforce on the shop floor. This is still evident in November 2020, with consistently improved discharge summary rates. Conclusion QI projects when conducted successfully can be used to improve patient care, as well as reduce administrative burden on junior doctors. Our QI project is an example of how Kotter’s eight-step model for change can be applied to clinical practice

    Using Minecraft to engage children with science at public events

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    Engagement with science and scientific skills is an important aspect of children's ability to navigate the world around them, but engagement with science is low in comparison with other subjects. The Lancaster University outreach project Science Hunters takes a novel approach to engaging children with environmental science research through a constructivist pedagogical approach using the popular computer game Minecraft. While Minecraft is extensively used in formal education settings, few data are available on its use in public engagement with scientific research, and the relationship between children's and adults' attitudes to science and computer games are complex. Through motivational surveys conducted as part of the project evaluation, we analysed feedback from participants who attended sessions as part of a programme at public events, to explore the basic demographics of children attending our events, and whether it is the prospect of learning about science, or the opportunity to play Minecraft that leads them to choose our activity. We also present evaluation of general feedback from participants at public events over four years to give a broader view of participants' response to the activities

    Forward and Reverse Genetics of Rapid-Cycling \u3cem\u3eBrassica oleracea\u3c/em\u3e

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    Seeds of rapid-cycling Brassica oleracea were mutagenized with the chemical mutagen, ethylmethane sulfonate. The reverse genetics technique, TILLING, was used on a sample population of 1,000 plants, to determine the mutation profile. The spectrum and frequency of mutations induced by ethylmethane sulfonate was similar to that seen in other diploid species such as Arabidopsis thaliana. These data indicate that the mutagenesis was effective and demonstrate that TILLING represents an efficient reverse genetic technique in B. oleracea that will become more valuable as increasing genomic sequence data become available for this species. The extensive duplication in the B. oleracea genome is believed to result in the genetic redundancy that has been important for the evolution of morphological diversity seen in today\u27s B. oleracea crops (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi). However, our forward genetic screens identified 120 mutants in which some aspect of development was affected. Some of these lines have been characterized genetically and in the majority of these, the mutant trait segregates as a recessive allele affecting a single locus. One dominant mutation (curly leaves) and one semi-dominant mutation (dwarf-like) were also identified. Allelism tests of two groups of mutants (glossy and dwarf) revealed that for some loci, multiple independent alleles have been identified. These data indicate that, despite genetic redundancy, mutation of many individual loci in B. oleracea results in distinct phenotypes

    Emissions of Trace Gases and Particles From Savanna Fires in Southern Africa

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    Airborne measurements made on initial smoke from 10 savanna fires in southern Africa provide quantitative data on emissions of 50 gaseous and particulate species, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, methane, ammonia, dimethyl sulfide, nonmethane organic compounds, halocarbons, gaseous organic acids, aerosol ionic components, carbonaceous aerosols, and condensation nuclei (CN). Measurements of several of the gaseous species by gas chromatography and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy are compared. Emission ratios and emission factors are given for eight species that have not been reported previously for biomass burning of savanna in southern Africa (namely, dimethyl sulfide, methyl nitrate, five hydrocarbons, and particles with diameters from 0.1 to 3 ÎŒm). The emission factor that we measured for ammonia is lower by a factor of 4, and the emission factors for formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, and CN are greater by factors of about 3, 20, and 3–15, respectively, than previously reported values. The new emission factors are used to estimate annual emissions of these species from savanna fires in Africa and worldwide

    Slow-Speed Supernovae from the Palomar Transient Factory: Two Channels

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    Since the discovery of the unusual prototype SN 2002cx, the eponymous class of low-velocity, hydrogen-poor supernovae has grown to include at most another two dozen members identified from several heterogeneous surveys, in some cases ambiguously. Here we present the results of a systematic study of 1077 hydrogen-poor supernovae discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory, leading to nine new members of this peculiar class. Moreover we find there are two distinct subclasses based on their spectroscopic, photometric, and host galaxy properties: The "SN 2002cx-like" supernovae tend to be in later-type or more irregular hosts, have more varied and generally dimmer luminosities, have longer rise times, and lack a Ti II trough when compared to the "SN 2002es-like" supernovae. None of our objects show helium, and we counter a previous claim of two such events. We also find that these transients comprise 5.6+17-3.7% (90% confidence) of all SNe Ia, lower compared to earlier estimates. Combining our objects with the literature sample, we propose that these subclasses have two distinct physical origins.Comment: 49 pages, 36 figures, submitted to Ap

    Family role in paediatric safety incidents: a retrospective study protocol

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    Introduction: Healthcare-associated harm is an international public health issue. Children are particularly vulnerable to this with 15%–35% of hospitalised children experiencing harm during medical care. While many factors increase the risk of adverse events, such as children’s dependency on others to recognise illness, children have a unique protective factor in the form of their family, who are often well placed to detect and prevent unsafe care. However, families can also play a key role in the aetiology of unsafe care. We aim to explore the role of families, guardians and parents in paediatric safety incidents, and how this may have changed during the pandemic, to learn how to deliver safer care and codevelop harm prevention strategies across healthcare settings. // Methods and analysis: This will be a retrospective study inclusive of an exploratory data analysis and thematic analysis of incident report data from the Learning from Patient Safety Events service (formerly National Reporting and Learning System), using the established PatIent SAfety classification system. Reports will be identified by using specific search terms, such as *parent* and *mother*, to capture narratives with explicit mention of parental involvement, inclusive of family members with parental and informal caregiver responsibilities. Paediatricians and general practitioners will characterise the reports and inter-rater reliability will be assessed. Exploratory descriptive analysis will allow the identification of types of incidents involving parents, contributing factors, harm outcomes and the specific role of the parents including inadvertent contribution to or mitigation of harm. // Ethics and dissemination: This study was approved by Cardiff University Research Ethics Committee (SMREC 22/32). Findings will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, presented at international conferences and presented at stakeholder workshops