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The 19th Annual Palomar College
Distinguished Faculty Award

Each year as the spring semester draws to a close, a special committee at Palomar College decides which teacher shall receive the "Distinguished Faculty Award For Excellence In Teaching." During the selection process, a large pool of nominees is gradually reduced to a small group of finalists. The selection criteria is based on student evaluations, classroom visitations, interviews, and essays expressing the philosophy and goals of each finalist. In the spirit of academic excellence and collegiality, the Wayne's Word staff publishes a 1st order linear regression graph each May to show the "unlikely" trend for senior faculty to win this coveted award. Because of an unprecedented change in slope, the term "unlikely" will not be used in this year's graph.

Unlikely trend graphs have appeared every May for the past 19 years. The graphs are not meant to imply "sour grapes" by old, disgruntled faculty members, or retired faculty members with too much time on their hands. They may be interpreted in many ways: Perhaps younger faculty win the award because they are more enthusiastic; perhaps the generation gap between older faculty and students results in less impressive student evaluations; perhaps seasoned faculty don't bother to publicize this award in their classes; perhaps senior faculty are more cynical and decline to participate in the selection process; or perhaps they don't participate because Palomar College reduced the monetary prize in order to save money. Between 1987 and 2003, every graph has a downward slope that may be interpreted as an unlikely trend for long-time faculty members to receive this award. However, the May 2005 graph has finally changed into an upward "likely" trend. It took 19 years for this monumental event to happen!

The following data table and 1st trend linear regression graph were created May 18, 2005. The winner in 2005 taught full time since 1989, a total of 32 semesters. The selection of this faculty member marks the beginning of an increasing (upward) trend for senior faculty to win the "Distinguished Faculty Award For Excellence In Teaching." Last year's graph was perfectly horizontal without any upward (likely) or downward (unlikely) trend; however, for the previous 17 years there was a consistent decreasing (downward) trend. Wayne's Word would like to congratulate the 2005 winner, who finally broke the "unlikely tend." To appreciate the significance of this year's award, please read the following interpretation of the 2004 and 2003 graphs.

The 2005 Distinguished Faculty Trend Graph


1st order linear regression graph: y = a + bx

Year
1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Semesters
14
24
20
30
14
4
2
6
6
15
14
10
5
Year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Semesters
7
30
2
18
32
32
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Number of full-time semesters taught by award recipients
for each successive year between 1987 and 2005:


In order to understand and truly appreciate the significance of this year's faculty award, please read the following interpretation of the 2004 and 2003 trend graphs:


Interpretation Of The 2004 Distinguished Faculty Trend Graph

Between 1987 and 2003, every graph had a downward slope that may be interpreted as an unlikely trend for long-time faculty members to receive this award. However, the May 2004 graph finally leveled off with no unlikely trend. It took 18 years for this monumental event to happen! The winner in 2004 taught full time since 1988, a total of 32 semesters. The selection of this faculty member marked the end of a 17 year decreasing (downward) trend for senior faculty to win the "Distinguished Faculty Award For Excellence In Teaching."




1st order linear regression graph: y = a + bx


Interpretation Of The 2003 Distinguished Faculty Trend Graph

Even though the 2001 winner taught full-time for 30 years, there was still a downward trend because the 2002 winner taught full-time for only one year and the 2003 winner taught full-time for nine years. Thus, the decreasing (downward) trend for senior faculty to win the "Distinguished Faculty Award For Excellence In Teaching" was preserved. On a positive note, the selection of a 30 year veteran for this award in May 2001 and a nine year veteran in 2003 indicated that there was some hope for a longtime Palomar College teacher to win this coveted award before they retire or expire. This favorable trend is especially evident if the data is plotted with a 2nd order polynomial regression graph (see below).



1st order linear regression graph: y = a + bx


In the spirit of collegiality, honesty and scientific objectivity, I have plotted the 2003 data with a 2nd order polynomial regression graph. This graph shows a definite favorable trend in recent years for senior full-time faculty to win the Distinguished Faculty Award before they retire!

2003 Award Plotted With 2nd Order Polynomial Regression Graph


2nd order polynomial regression graph: y = a + bx + cx2

Note: There is a fundamental problem with polynomial regressions. Few biological or chemical models are described by polynomial (quadratic) equations. This means that the best-fit results can rarely be interpreted in terms of biology or chemistry. Polynomial regression can be useful to create a standard curve for interpolation, or to create a smooth curve for graphing. But polynomial regression is rarely useful for fitting a model to biological data. In other words, polynomial regression graphs can be used to interpolate between data points but not extrapolate beyond data points; therefore, they are not predictive. As of 2003, the above 2nd order polynomial regression graph shows a favorable (positive) trend for senior faculty to receive the distinguished faculty award, and yet this award continues to remain a negative (downsloping) trend according to the 1st order linear regression graph.

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