UC Merced

UC Merced students pitch in for day of service

A day off meant a day of service for some UC Merced students, staff and faculty members who volunteered to help spruce up Luther Burbank Elementary School in Merced as part of the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

Vernette Doty, associate director of the Office of Student Life, coordinated the annual volunteer effort.

“I talked to Merced City School District and they identified Burbank Elementary as having several different projects,” Doty said. “Then we sent out a call to students, staff and faculty members, and close to 50 said they’d be there to help.”

Doty was pleasantly surprised when more than 80 UC Merced affiliated volunteers showed up to paint, rake, trim and more.

Some of the groups represented included the men’s basketball and volleyball teams, Bobcat Girls dance team, Black Student Union, fraternities and sororities, staff and faculty.

Earlecia Martin, a sociology major from Los Angeles, smiled as she gathered piles of leaves in the school’s playground.

“It feels really good to help out the community and to represent my club, the Black Student Union,” she said.

“Burbank is a good centralized location and it needed some detail work,” said Juan Mendoza, supervisor of operations and grounds for Merced City Schools, who offered to spend his holiday opening the school for the volunteers. “I think it is good for the students to get out here and interact with the community, and also build a partnership between Merced City Schools and UC Merced.”

While the service project benefited the school, it also reinforced the university’s commitment to public service.

“Our students feel compelled to give back to their community more than I’ve seen at other places,” Doty said. “They see it as a great opportunity, and they realize they have been given a chance, and they want to turn around and help others. They also seem to enjoy working together on service projects.”

“It was a really good turnout,” Mendoza said. “They did a lot of work in a short time.”

The MLK National Day of Service is the country’s largest day of civic engagement, but UC Merced also holds various service projects throughout the year.

Fulbright visiting scholar to deliver lecture

A Fulbright-Masaryk fellow will deliver a talk at UC Merced about researching the reliability estimates in the Czech admissions test as part of the Outreach Lecturing Fund, which lets Fulbright visiting scholars travel across the United States.

Patrícia Martinková, a fellow with the Center for Statistics in the Social Sciences at University of Washington, will give her talk at noon on Feb. 12 in the Social Sciences and Management Building, room 104. The talk is free and open to the public.

Many Czech colleges and universities run their own admission tests. Several years ago, there was a suggestion to require reporting of Cronbach’s alpha, a measure of reliability, for all higher education admissions tests.

Martinková’s study first aimed to explain the statistical groundings for Cronbach’s alpha, to stress its assumptions and to research alternative reliability estimates in more complicated designs. As a secondary outcome, a new estimate of reliability – logistic alpha – was proposed for binary items.

Martinková’s talk will present the work on the development of the new reliability estimate and the simulation study that compares logistic alpha with existing estimators of reliability.

For more information, contact Professor William Shadish at wshadish@ucmerced.edu.