Author Archives: aje

Numeracy Skills Bootcamp

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In 2008 I was asked to provide a short, intensive bootcamp for incoming students. This page is a collection of the resources that I used for that course. It contains some slides that define and explain key concepts, and also provides some examples of numeracy tests. In addition, I noticed that many students – particularly females – felt that they “weren’t math people”. I’ve done a video to discuss these fears. I hope you find these resources helpful.

I also recommend the following page, which is full of links:


Part 1. Fundamentals of Mathematics


 

 Download the handouts here.

Additional topics:

Some fascinating ideas:fermat

 


Part 2. Practice Tests

 

Download the handouts here.

Additional resources:


Part 3. Gender Differences & Mathematics


Download the handouts here.

And remember:

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This is part of my online course on Analytics.

An Introduction to Game Theory

“Game Theory”, or the science of strategy, is a big topic that leads in many fascinating directions. This post will provide a basic understanding of what Game Theory is, and how it can be utilised in management situations. In addition to providing my own course material, I have also attempted to tie into some of the amazing resources that already exist.

My advice for you is to watch this video, and then choose one (or more) of the additional readings.

The handouts for my lecture slides are here (note there is some additional content compared to the version in the video). If you are an instructor then email and I’ll send you the raw powerpoint file (containing surprises and solutions). I like to follow a lecture on Game Theory with the following classroom exercise:

  • Beckman, S. R., “Cournot and Bertrand games” Journal of Economic Education, Vol.34, No.1, pp.27-35 (see here for the handouts, email me for a Teaching Note).
  • I also utilise the following at the start and end of the Game Theory lecture: Oligopoly Game 42 and “Cheating for a $20″ (email me for the Teaching Note)

Additional readings

Here are some recommendations, depending on your level of interest and time constraints:

But the Game Theorist’s “bible” is Thinking Strategically” by Dixit, A., and Nalebuff, B (Norton, 1993). This is the one book you need to read, re-read, and master.

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Finally, it is great fun to apply Game Theory to popular culture. See Michael Statsny’s discussion of game theory in movies, and a collection of popular cultural references. Here are some of my favourite discussion questions:

I also like these two classic clips from Goldenballs:


This is part of my online course on Analytics.

Missing Puddy

IMG_0019_4On Saturday 7th February, 2015, we noticed that Puddy hadn’t appeared for his breakfast. It was common for him to be out overnight, but come 7am he’d almost always be waiting in the lounge. And he never missed his breakfast. We soon began to fear the worst, and considered him missing. As the days passed our concerns grew and we made concerted efforts to find him. This was the first time we’d had a missing pet, and we learnt a lot about what to do. This is my attempt to summarise what we should have done.

Prevention

– Get a collar with a contact tag. Our cats are constantly losing their collars, and so we gave up trying to keep them with a contact tag. But I do wonder if someone who suspects he might be lost would be more likely to phone the owner, than take him to a vet to be scanned for a chip.

– Get him microchipped. This makes it highly likely that if someone finds him, and knows that he’s missing, you’ll find out. We use PetLog.

– It is really tempting to use GPS as this would solve the mystery element of working out where he is. Ethically, I’m not sure it’s a good idea. But I’d be very tempted to hook up some surveillance just to get an idea of how far your cats roam and where they like to go.

Rescue plan

Once you’re confident that something is amiss, it is worth considering if there’s been any changes that might explain the absence. On Friday 6th February we’d been out to a few pubs in the local village and walked past the house. We did wonder whether Puddy had found our scent, and tried to follow us. But otherwise we couldn’t think of any reason that would cause him to leave, or to not want to return. We tried to consider the various scenarios, and what our response should be:

  • Trapped in a garage, shed, wheelie bin or car – likely to be local, possibly within a few doors either side of our house
  • Lost and unable to find home – could be quite far from home, and people may have noticed him
  • Injured – likely to be by the side of a main road, taken to a vets, or possibly discarded into a wheelie bin
  • Stolen – if thieves are intending to sell him on then at least they have an incentive to feed him, and a potential new owner is likely to take him to a vet

Rather than consider which of the above was most likely, we wanted to cover them all. But some of the possible situations were less urgent than others. This would be my advice:

  1. Notify the microchipping company. They can send out an alert to their database and will notify you if anyone finds him. Make sure your contact numbers are all up to date. This covers the possibility that he’s taken to a vet, or dumped in a wheelie bin. It could be bad news, but that would end the uncertainty.
  2. Hit neighbours early. Don’t let them say “we’ve not had the shed open so he can’t be in there” – ask them to look anywhere they can think of. Remind them that if he’s scared he won’t bolt out, and could be trying to hide.
  3. Create posters. These should contain several recent photos (including a side on shot which is how people are likely to observe him), and a contact number. It is a good idea to use a number that people could call anonymously. The Cats Protection League may help. Don’t offer a reward. Put posters up around the local area and be especially conscious of places with high foot traffic such as newsagents, supermarkets, pubs, community noticeboards, school gates.
  4. Call for him. He may be close to home but discoordinated. Make sure you call every morning and evening, and leave items with his scent on in the garden (such as cushions, clothing or the contents of the vacuum cleaner).
  5. Look for him. Go out for a walk and shout for him. Take a leaflet and show it to people that may have seen something – especially dog walkers and people on building sites. Take a torch to be able to see in alleyways and woodland. Make sure you wear high visibility clothing and be considerate to people who may think you’re acting suspiciously.
  6. Use social media and local newspapers. Friends may offer to help, and if so get them to. Ask them to take a leaflet and show it to their social groups (e.g. schools, church, community classes). Ask them to share your social media appeals.

If you are reading this having lost your own pet, feel free to use our poster as a template: MISSING Puddy.pdf

Anecdotally it appears that these situations often end with the cat returning of their own accord, possibly several weeks later, and you never find out what had happened. Making overly concerted efforts to find a cat can alienate people close to you and drive you up the wall with anguish. We received several possible sightings and spent a lot of time surveying those areas. I’m not sure how likely it is that you will ever “find” a cat that gets lost. They are robust creatures that can survive by themselves for a long time. I also believe that strangers will treat animals with kindness. However I do think the six points above can increase the chances of being reunited, and it is important to feel that you are doing something. But try not to conflate activity with accomplishment. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do.

Update (Saturday Feb 14): It’s now been a week. The lowest point was on Sunday night, walking around the village. It was very cold, dark, and I had visions of him trapped somewhere, very hungry, and scared. Now, I feel that if he’s alive then he’s worked out how to stay alive. And hopefully someone will see our posters, social media will come to the fore, and we’ll see him again soon.
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Update (Sunday Feb 15): We made a map of potential sightings, and tried to focus our efforts on those areas (our house is at the bottom of the map in the middle). However these seemed contradictory. Someone thought they’d seen him in Combe St within a few hours of a sighting in St Nicholas Mt. I raced over to Combe St, which is near the Watergardens, and spent an hour or so walking around, calling. I noticed some geese and ducks by the river bank and wondered if he might have been tempted to try to catch one. I used my torch to look under the bridges but couldn’t see him. It was right next to a curry house called “Bengal Spice”. Later that evening Faith went for another look and found a duck with an open wound. Given that I hadn’t noticed it the injury seemed fresh. She shouted for Puddy, and we speculated that he was in the area. However she followed a trail of blood back to the main road, and surmised that it’d been hit by a car. When she got home I wondered if it was my car.

We did notice that two sightings had occurred near Shrub Hill Common. However not since the previous Tuesday. Then, on Saturday evening, I received a message from someone at Valleyside. We both felt that he was there. The previous evenings of aimless wandering now felt as though they were useful. I had a much better understanding of our local areas, and when people mentioned roads I knew where they were, and why it was plausible that Puddy might find himself there. Then, on Sunday morning we got a voicemail from someone at Ridge Lea. He’d seen Puddy at 9am. Now it seemed like too many independent sightings to be a coincidence. And given that he’s a such a distinctive cat, and that they’d all reported a red collar, we went to the Common. I took the kids on the swings whilst Faith searched the woodland. We then drove around the estates backing onto it, and went door to door along Ridge Lea. We met the gentleman who’d phoned us earlier, and thanked him. Faith put up a “Missing Puddy” poster on a lamppost.

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We returned home, and I switched off the engine. I immediately heard that my phone was ringing. It was the same man. He had *just* seen Puddy. We raced off and drove up Northridge Way. I turned left towards Ridge Lea and we were trying to see if the poster was still up: “There he is!” said Faith. Not the poster! Actually him!

He looked skinny and scared, and was walking along the main road. Faith jumped out, picked him up, and we had him in the car. He was meowing louder than we’d ever heard him, and was clearly disoriented. But we brought him home. He’d lost 10% of his body weight but seemed unscathed. It was a mighty big adventure. We are so grateful to the people who phoned us with sightings. Leaflets and social media built up a map, and we managed to locate him. Who needs GPS!

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Faculty audits

Professional educators understand the limitations of student evaluations, and yet the culture of external assessment is attempting to incorporate a similar thirst for trivial feedback on our peer-review. As someone who enjoys sharing a classroom with colleagues, and is genuinely keen to share ideas on effective pedagogy, I wanted to outline a possible way to conduct teaching feedback. I will write it from the perspective of the instructor conducting the audit.

  1. Acquire the course outline and read it as closely as you expect students to read your outline.
  2. Meet with your colleague to discuss the audit. Get a good understanding of where the session you will be observing fits into the course as a whole. Make sure you’re aware of any specific areas that they would like feedback on.
  3. Attend the whole class. Arrive early and leave at the end. Alternate roles between being a student and an observer. It might be a good idea to talk to students about any specific questions you have, but even if you think this would be a good idea ensure that the person you are observing is ok with that.
  4. Write a letter to the person you observed, thanking them, and providing your reflections. If there are specific areas of weakness that you believe you’ve identified keep this document private.
  5. Take your colleague out to lunch, go over the feedback, and give them an opportunity to respond. Agree on what parts you should share with other colleagues, and external examiners.

In terms of the written feedback it should be tailored to the specific course objectives that you’ve ascertained from step 1 and 2. Here are some examples of feedback forms that could be used as a basis or template:

WW1 Battlefields

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We have been to Picardy several times and in 2014 made our first foray to see some of the WW1 Battlefields. This page is to share some of our advice on what to do.

Getting there

I enjoy getting the ferry because it feels more like a holiday, and there are plenty of cheap and regular crossings from Dover to Calais. I like using P&O because they’ve been good at getting us across if we’ve been late, and have good customer service.

However the Eurotunnel is a far better option. It’s usually around £80 per trip (although there’s a £15 per trip pet surcharge) and the road links are superb. There’s several trains each hour and it’s essentially first come first served. When you check in you are assigned a letter, and they typically refer to a set departure time. But if you proceed to the boarding slip lanes as soon as your letter is called, there’s a good chance you’ll squeeze onto an earlier train. If you spend too much time in the terminal and wait until the second call, you may well get pushed back onto a later one. The crossing takes just 35 minutes and you can get out of the car as soon as you’re on board. It really is an engineering marvel and wonderfully convenient.

Base

We stay in Mons Boubert which is a friendly village near Arrest. However we’ve also stayed at the Domaine de Drancourt campsite and highly recommend it. We like to book through Eurocamp which have plenty of affordable options. It is toddler friendly and conveniently located. Some of our favourite day trips include:

  • Saint Valery sur Somme – we visit the town centre regularly. It is the port that William the Conquerer departed from in 1066, and was a resting place for Joan of Arc on her way to Rouen in 1430 (I think). There is a monument for the former outside the Office de Tourisme and a plaque for the latter in the medieval part. The Sunday market is worth visiting (but best to park outside of town and walk in) and the quayside is flat and leads to a nice cafe (and playground) on the beach. We’ve enjoyed Creperie Sel et Sucre and Spa Samaris.
  • The Somme Bay steam train – St Valery to Noyelles is 15 minutes, whilst St Valery to Le Crotoy is 30 minutes. There’s a nice Salon de The/Art gallery right next to the station at Noyelles called Relais de las Baie but make sure you check times for the return journey (often it’s either a choice of coming straight back or having to kill a few hours)
  • Abbeville – the town centre is convenient to park in, find a brasserie, and visit the cathedral. There’s also a soft play called Accro Kids which has coffee and wifi. On a rainy day it is a necessity if you have young children.
  • Amiens – under an hour from St Valery and an easy day trip. We parked by the Hotel de Ville, visited the cathedral, and ate on the banks of the river. The old town is worth exploring.
  • Quend plage – Fort Mahon plage is bigger but Quend plage is a little closer (it’s a 40 minute drive), more down to earth (they don’t sneer if you want a coffee before lunch) and has everything you need. There is plenty of parking within a short walk of the beach and several brasseries on the front. The beach is sandy and goes for miles. It can be windy and the weather is unlikely to be much better than the UK but if you bring games, shelter, and a picnic it’s a great day out
  • Crecy – the battle of Crecy took place in 1346, and was an important part of the 100 years war. It is just over 30 minutes away. There is a small turret that can be climbed to give an overview of the site and visualise the importance of the new technology being employed by the English longbowmen

The battlefields

The itinerary below is based on what we’ve done, and what we’d do if we did it again. It is based on an overnight stay but could be fit into a daytrip. I’m not including any photos and don’t advise you to do any more research than what you’re reading now. If, like me, you don’t have much familiarity with these sites it’s best to see them for the first time in the flesh. Be willing to be surprised. Once there, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to absorb information. You can find the exact locations easily but we just put the town centre into the sat nav and then looked for the road signs to each place. This seemed like a better way to do it – everything is very well signposted, but it adds an element of immersion and serendipity. Once you are in Albert (and especially Beaumont-Hamel) you could just randomly drive around, and stumble upon cemeteries at random. It’s a bit like a morbid, poignant wine trip.

Day 1

  1. Drive to the Thiepval memorial (1hr 30 mins) – this is a great place to start because the visitor centre has a nice account of WW1 and a separate history of the Somme battlefields. My prior knowledge was limited to what I remembered from school and Blackadder. The visitor centre doesn’t go in much detail, but it fills in a few holes and lays down a nice primer. They also tend to have excellent photographs. The memorial itself is stunning
  2. Drive to the German cemetery at Fricourt (20 mins) – head north out of Thiepval towards Pozieres. Over 17,000 German soldiers are buried here, making it one of the largest German sites in the area. It provides a haunting contrast to the Allies cemeteries which are individual white stone graves. The German ones are often buried 4 per marker, which are black crosses. Not all of them are crosses though
  3. Drive into Albert and park by the basilica (10mins) – this is a good stop for lunch, and to stretch legs. Then, underneath the basilica is the Somme 1916 WW1 museum. It is housed underground, in a WW2 air raid shelter, but contains an evocative collection of WW1 memorabilia. There are numerous wax models displaying scenes from trench life. These are uncomfortable and you leave via a dark tunnel with scary sound effects.
  4. Drive to the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial (10 mins) – this takes you into actual trenches at the front line. The visitor centre explains the history of Newfoundland (which at the time was a British Dominion) and there are free tours
  5. Drive to Arras city center (35 mins) – we used the Holiday Inn Express and recommend it. There’s convenient parking and it’s right in the city centre. We walked to the Grand Place via the Place de Heros, and there’s plenty of restaurants in amongst the Flemmish style arches. We ate at Assiette ou Bouef and enjoyed it.

Day 2

  1. Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez (15mins) – one of the biggest British cemeteries and immaculately kept. It also has the advantage of having a Polish and Czechoslovakian cemetery nearby, and a stunning but fleeting view of the Vimy memorial on the road in
  2. Drive to the Canadian National Memorial at Vimy (11 mins) – a real highlight of the trip. Head to the memorial first and walk around. You need to get back into the car to go on to the visitor centre. You can get a pass to allow you to explore the preserved trenches, and look at the bomb craters. There are also guided tours each hour, on the hour, and these provide access to an underground tunnel system
  3. Drive back to base (1 hr 40mins) – there are several routes to take, we went via Hesdin. You could make it back for lunch, but we stopped on the way at Chez Nathalie in Labroye. There wasn’t really a menu, just a few specials. They were all authentic and hearty.

Coach

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I am a UEFA qualified soccer coach and a non league scout.

Positions

  • 2005, Head Coach: The Royal Pigeons, Vienna Youth, u10s
  • 2003-2004, Team Manager: Ashville Colts, u10s
  • 2001-2004, Head Coach: Hills Soccer, Wirral

Qualifications

  • UEFA B Coaching Certificate
  • First4Sport Level ‘2’ Certificate in Coaching Football
  • FA First Aid Certificate

Fulbright


I spent September 2011 – December 2011 as Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at San Jose State University. This page provides a list of some of the public activities I took part in. Personal photos of the trip are at Flickr.

9/12 Meeting at Independent Institute, Oakland

9/21 “The problem with shock therapy is not enough volts: Why Russia needs more powerful oligarchs” David S. Saurman Provocative Lecture Series, San Jose State University

9/26 “Why Market Monopolies are OK”, Civil Society Institute, Santa Clara University

9/30 “Whistleblowing and the knowledge problem”, College of Business, San Jose State University

10/3 Attendee of the “Monetary Policy Workshop”, San Francisco Federal Reserve

10/7 “The Financial Crisis in the U.K.:  Uncertainty, Calculation, and Error”, Department of Economics Friday Workshop, San Jose State University

10/11 Fulbright Visiting Scholars Luncheon, Stanford University Faculty Club

10/11 Hoover Institution archives, Stanford University

11/10 “Why whistleblowing protection fails and what to do about it” Lucas Graduate School of Business, San Jose State University

11/16 “The role of ignorance in economic crises: The UK experience during the great recession” Cal State East Bay

Textbooks

This is just a list of textbooks that I’ve taught from, and like:

Principles:

  • Principles of Economics, N. Gregory Mankiw
  • The Economic Way of Thinking, Paul Heyne, Peter Boettke, and David Prychitko
  • Modern Principles of Economics, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok

Advanced:

  • Microeconomics, Andrew Schotter
  • Advanced Macroeconomics, David Romer

Managerial:

  • Managerial Economics, Luke Froeb and Brian McCann
  • A Concise Guide to Macroeconomics, David Moss