Curious David

DS to DS: Reflections on Fraud and Forgiveness (Reflecties over fraude en vergeving)

I am having quite a bit of difficulty writing this piece—and have had that difficulty for the past several years since my identity with my discipline of experimental social psychology became disrupted and unsettled. In my Experimental Social Psychology class I have been sharing with students a case study of the influential career of European social psychologist Diederik Stapel. May I never be so famous that my biography is regularly updated in Wikipedia,

  1. my story is featured in the New York Times,
  2. my entire career’s work is evaluated by a Commission,
  3. I’m featured on a TED train special,
  4. and my work is regularly condemned on Retraction Watch.

The past few years I have invited my students to share in writing their reactions to this case study. Thank you, Diederik for replying and sharing some of your experiences over the past three years.

I am left struggling with the questions of at what point is ostracism unwarranted and forgiveness or a variant of compassion warranted. At what point does ostracism degenerate into a witch hunt? How can one both acknowledge and condemn wrong behavior (never forget) and yet avoid wrong behavior by failing to allow an individual opportunities to show that they have learned from their misbehavior?

I began my class by having all students carefully read the article Coping with Chaos: How Disordered Contexts Promote Stereotyping and Discrimination. After we have carefully studied the experimental design, elegance of the the thinking, data analysis, conclusions and practical implications I shared with students the reports of the investigation of Stapel’s fraudulent data collection (here is a link)  and his explanations of why he falsified data.

The challenge is how to avoid undermining students’ belief in the validity of psychological science while at the same time confronting the reality that science is a human endeavor. I found the Stapel malfeasance most disruptive to my own professional identity (and I am not alone.) How can I make that disruption a positive thing, especially for my students?

I have much to ruminate about:  Perfectionism, Fraud, Ostracism, and Forgiveness

Here are some of some thoughts of my students in my Experimental Social Psychology class:

Czarina writes: 

My initial response to Diederik Stapel’s situation was shock. While researching in our Social Psychology class we found that he was first accused of fraud in 2011, but by 2016 they had found his 58th retraction. To know that someone of his caliber had committed this much fraud astounded me and after reading the New York Times’ article I found myself asking “why”. Stapel was a respected and well-known researcher and he had worked with many colleges and students. To know that his career was filled with lies and fraud made feel upset. As a result of his crimes, he was stripped of his PhD and was practically banished from the field of psychology. At times I feel as though that wasn’t enough. Stapel used millions of dollars to conduct his falsified studies and to know that money could have been used to conduct other research makes me frustrated. At first, I viewed Stapel as a “villain”. His scandal shook the field of social psychology and made impacts more personal than just that. Many say the reason as to why he was able to forge his work was because of his deep understanding of sociology. He knew what exactly people wanted to see in terms of research and he was clever and knew where to draw his boundaries for how far to push his studies.

It amazes me how one man’s decision can lead to so many consequences. Diederik Stapel’s decision not only impacted himself, but it negatively affected those that he worked with and the students that he took under his wing. Some of his prior students, even feel that due to this scandal their future and careers were ruined. I can’t help but wonder if he thought about not only what this could do to the careers of those he respected, but how this could impact his family as well. The reason I think about this is due to the Netherlands having a very strict culture in which it is not very forgiving. In the article, it said that when apologizing to a past student he felt deep remorse for his actions and when I read that it made me see him as more human than before. Prior to this, I could only see one side of it, but some say that they “blame the system” for Stapel’s actions. Although, I believe every person should be held accountable for their choices, I can see how Stapel might have been blinded by the need for success. In many societies, someone is not worth anything until they prove it, and maybe once Stapel was praised for false research the first time, he found success in that. I can see how the need for success and manipulating studies can become an addiction, similar to gambling. Once you win, you never want to stop, regardless of the consequences.

Although I see this mostly in a negative connotation, I cannot deny the benefits this is created in the field of research. One outcome is that research now needs a lot of supporting evidence and support. Things are being thoroughly reviewed, and many are requiring that studies be replicated. This is only one example, but after listening to my other classmates discuss I cannot deny that this situation has impacted Social Psychology in many beneficial ways. Regardless of the positive outcomes, I still cannot justify Diederik Stapel’s actions, but I do not fully put the blame on his shoulders.

Audrey writes:

Diederik Stapel committed a large amount of fraud, this is an indisputable fact. When I first heard about his situation I wanted to be sympathetic but upon reading further into his story my sympathy waned until all I could feel was disgust. If Diederik had stopped after the first few insistences of fraud that would have been forgivable especially with the justification that he gave for his actions. It’s one thing to succumb to the pressure and impending deadlines of a successful career but to commit such a crime for just ambition and aesthetics is disheartening. The field of science is looked to and respected because it is founded on the belief that the answers that we receive from it are based on observable facts and truths. The scientific method is a key aspect of what gives science the respect it is given, that Stapel claims to love science but committed such large amounts of fraud because the scientific method did not lead to a clear conclusion that supported his hypothesis is just mind-boggling.  Blaming the scientific community is easy to do because the field of science does have issues, less now than when Stapel committed his crimes, but at the end of the day,Stapel made the decision to throw away his career. Many have been convinced that their hypotheses were valid and used the scientific method to prove or disprove their hypotheses often learning something else in the process so in my book Stapel does not get a pass just because he didn’t want to spend more time doing research after his first few trials failed. The fact that Stapel got to a point where he was not even attempting to give the experiment a chance to succeed by completing the actual experiments but immediately jumped to faking the data is what makes his actions truly inexcusable and difficult for me to understand, as he has to know that he would be caught eventually and having done the actual research would have cushioned the fall. That he also deprived his student’s and colleagues the opportunity to regain their dignity by redoing the analysis on the raw data and reaching the correct conclusions thus saving their reputations and efforts makes his actions even more reprehensible. Some of my faith in science was shaken when I read that nobody acted on their suspicions, as no one can do so many experiments and get clear-cut answers on or have all their experiments never fail to support their hypotheses without raising some sort of suspicions. However, I am glad that this incident has made the field better and brought much need change to the field of Social Psychology. While I have some sympathy and understanding for Diederik Stapel as he did not know a lot of failure in his life and that by committing fraud he guaranteed that he would never feel failure, I think that he should have been punished more than he was. The Diederik Stapel case has brought to light some of the failures that exist in the field of Science especially social psychology while I am saddened to see such an important figure fall the aftermath of his fall has brought science forward.

Kristen writes:

After reading this interesting New York Times article on Diederik Stapel, I have a different perspective on the field of science in general. This article has shown me that the field of science does not always consist of facts. In the article, it mentions science being the new religion. In the past, religion was thought to be divine and untouchable. If an individual questioned the church, they were seen as crazy. Throughout the years, people have decreased labeling these individuals and started to question some aspects of religion. Today, science is seen in this similar way; being known as factual. However, this scandal has caused me, and many others, to question the validity of scientific research. Thankfully, some scientific journals have resolved this suspicion by having the researchers required to turn in their data with their written piece. Although this feature should have been implemented in the first place, this scandal has shown that science does not always mean truth. It helped us question science, like religion, in how factual this data might be.

When I was first brought into the world of science, I was taught this topic consisted of individuals trying to find the answers to life. Scientists had to conduct experimental or correlational research to find life’s universal truths. However, as I was learning this wonderful field, I never considered the number of resources that were needed in order to conduct these research projects. This leads an individual to become extremely stressed to have perfect results in order for it to be published in a scientific journal. As a college student, I can relate to this strive for perfection in wanting to be admirable for graduate schools. In some ways, this strive for perfection can be beneficial in bringing us to be our best selves; however, in Stapel’s case, it can also cause us to become our worst selves leading to damaging results. I do not condone Stapel’s actions, however, I understand this system is flawed.

Liz writes:

These are my thoughts on Diederik Stapel’s case of falsification in social psychology. Diederik was just like any other experimental psychologist in a growing field; hopeful, bold, and driven. He was driven by success, the amazing feeling of having significant results, and when faced with research that he knew may NOT achieve significant results, he chose to falsify information dozens of times. He described the feeling as a high, hard to stop, similar to when you open the cookie jar and find it impossible to resist. Stapel thought the journals wanted simplicity and results, and he believed “you are what you achieve”. He was obsessed also with order in his everyday life. He seemingly forgot life’s other challenges such as friends and family and became obsessed with work, and it was easy to get caught up in the great results and fame that came with them. When these thoughts are taken into account I am able to begin to understand what went through his mind when this was occurring. When asked on a Ted talk about this incident he seemed to feel badly, and said he contacted those he impacted and many forgave him. Initially in the article it seemed he didn’t feel too badly about their ruined careers.

He, unknowingly, changed social psychology for the better because it was made more fortified, and now researchers are made to submit raw materials and data, not just results. This makes it harder to falsify data. Replication needs to happen more, people often don’t want to replicate because they want their own groundbreaking new study but it is important because some results may be flukes and should be retested. This incident made people realize just because something is published in a scientific journal doesn’t necessarily mean it is 100% correct, which is sad because people trust science and when it is faked it’s a big problem especially for those who don’t trust science (anti- vaxxers, etc). This leads to more distrust and  further division of citizens.

Likely why there was little suspicion was because he was considered an “expert” In his field which made people scared to speak out. Unfortunately, misconduct is not as rare as people think, especially back then and likely now as well. He also wrote a book and tried to star in a play shortly after his charges were brought into the open which makes me wonder did/does he really understand the enormity of what he has done to the field of social psychology? He ruined many people’s lives but also spurred a complete overhaul of the way research is handled. His parents blamed the system but he claims to accept blame in the article. He seems to be accepting that he did something majorly wrong and I can kind of understand him when his reasons are stated. I think everyone deserves a second (or 42nd) chance, but time will tell if he really has changed. By now he has had time to reflect on why he actually did this. I wonder if he would be compelled to act the same if he was given the chance to start over.

Caity says:

My thoughts as I was reading various articles pertaining to Diederik Stapel were complex, to say the least. At first, our class read a study that Stapel conducted, and I, along with the entire scientific community for years, found myself overall impressed. That could be an understatement. The research that Stapel sent out into the world was groundbreaking and exciting, exactly what the scientific community hoped for in its research. He cited important people, cited from prestigious journals, and was creative in a thrilling way that seemed to place him constantly on the bleeding edge of scientific discovery. It was clean; it was thorough; it was significant. At one time Stapel was likely one of the most famous researchers operating in Europe. Many people – those who knew him personally, and those who did not – greatly admired him.

But it was always significant. It was always tidy. It was always perfect. Eventually I, like my other classmates and the rest of the world, discovered that Stapel did not actually gather data from his research – rather, he fabricated it all. Such a revelation completely stunned the scientific world. It stunned those working side-by-side with Stapel at Tilburg University where he worked. It shocked his students and complete strangers in the community. Nobody seemed to know how to react at first. For a horror-struck second, the world was still. Then that quickly changed, and the scientific brains of the world altogether seemed to leap up and lash out. It was an affront to the scientific process, that which researchers believed in sometimes more than religion itself. It was personal to many who devoted their lives in the hopes of generating true groundbreaking results, and sometimes to no avail. Suddenly, Diederik Stapel was the perfect villain in the eyes of science.

I, like many others, found myself upset at first. It is easy to be angry, especially when it saves one from thinking. If reality did resemble a fairytale, there is no doubt in my mind that Stapel would be fit into the proper villain role for the sake of story, but real life is hardly ever that simple. The order and perfection that Stapel sought in research through any means necessary drove him to falsify data for his own experiments, for those of his colleagues, and for his students. Stapel acted the way he did for order to beat chaos – a story that always sells. However, he sold the story, among several reasons, to give the scientific community something it desired greatly – hope and excitement. What he ended up giving to the community was order. Order, in this case, came in the form of increased requirements for publication, including a submission of all materials and data.

While it’s easy to be angry, it is important also to recognize that positive effects of Stapel’s actions exist. The scientific community now has a strengthened ability to identify and reject fraudulent research before it can ever reach publication. Individual researchers may turn a sharper eye to their fellow colleagues. Some may even feel a newfound courage to speak out about known manufactured results. In effect, this may make scientific research that one experiences in journals worldwide more trustworthy than they were years ago. While Diederik Stapel himself might not ever receive a thank you for his actions, a thoughtful student would be quite foolish to refuse to learn about the impact Stapel had, particularly on the rules and regulations the research community now has that make it more worthy of the faith millions place upon it every day.

Lindsay writes:

As a college student, I must admit I was frustrated when reading about the drama that shook the psychology field. We depend on research to support our ideas and to challenge what we think we know about the world. It was devastating to read data and to have it seem so possible, only to find out it was one over fifty articles retracted from Diederik Stapel’s collection of research. It was hard to believe that someone could get away with a career’s worth of data and print so many studies without anyone speaking up. After reading about how scared graduate students were to speak up for fear of their careers and education was heartbreaking. I felt for them. We trust that our data is true and that our professors, many of whom are often mentors, are leading us on the path to success. The college student side of me really felt angered and betrayed for the graduate students and coworkers he lied to and to students in the psychology field in general who looked up to him and strived for the kind of career he had built.

However, I have always been a person who tries to imagine both sides. As a college student, I also relate to the stress that comes with making your parents proud and becoming successful. I am competitive, motivated, and hungry to make my small dent on the world. I have had many successes, such as an article publication, good grades, opportunities, and so on. Failure is a hard pill to swallow for me because I have experienced so many opportunities. I understand that he was afraid of failure and disappointing his family. I have experienced failures and even though it was hard, you have to get back up and try again. However, Stapel never had the opportunity to learn to get back up because he never fell. His data always seemed so great and realistic. I understand the pressure to succeed, but his actions go farther than one or two mistakes. He says it became an addiction to conduct fake studies. I still do not fully understand this. He spent so many hours in the library reading research and taking time away from his family to fudge data on research he had never conducted. He could have taken all of the time he used to fake the studies, to actually commit to doing it correctly. He also dragged his graduate students and colleagues into data he knew he would be faking. Was faking data truly worth losing your credibility, friendships, job, and the PhD that you worked so hard for? Maybe in the moment it all seemed so great, but a price was paid.

Lastly, I questioned the process. How could over 50 retractions be submitted, reviewed, and approved in prominent psychology journals? It was alarming to know that so many papers were accepted. It made me question who else was out there submitting data that was faked. For the first time since I entered college, I questioned the information I had become so attached to, the journals I had come to respect, and the daunting process I admired. Was I admiring a broken system and fake data? Was everything I thought I knew false? It could not be that bad, could it? This troubled me deeply. After bringing up the question to Dr. Simpson, some of my faith was restored. We discussed how these retractions changed the way in which journals conducted their process and the information submitted by authors. I now know that it is much more difficult to have data published than ever before due to the problems found in the system.

I am not sure that people will forget one of the biggest events to happen to the experimental social psychology community, however it is time to forgive. While I do not believe Stapel received enough punishment for his actions, I think that the past needs to be closed on this chapter of his life. He may not have paid for his actions with jail time or other severe consequences, but he has lost a lot. I cannot imagine how lonely it must feel to go from having so much support to being publicly shamed. I think it is time that people move on and leave his family alone. While I am not sure he can ever be trusted with a grant or to work for an institution heavily based on research, but I think he is still an educated man who can give something back to the psychology field and make up for some of his actions. As a college student giving perspective on something I can never fully understand, and while not condoning his actions or the punishment he was given, I understand the drive for success and the competition we face to be the best we can be. But you have to look at yourself before judging someone else. I have made mistakes. Does that mean I am unworthy of a second chance? Some people may disagree with me, but I think we need to change our focus to educating younger students about situations like these and supporting them in reporting questionable work they are seeing and making sure that our future researchers are doing the work and not afraid to fail. There is something to be said for those who fall time and time again, but get back up and keep going.

Emily writes:  After this year, I will be attending graduate school for School Psychology. In my Experimental Social Psychology class, we were tasked to read an article about a man by the name of Diederik Stapel. While reading, I took a particular interest in the fact that Diederik committed research fraud because he was fixated on order and symmetry. Diederik believed that in order for his research to be published, his results needed to mean something and needed to be significant. He was able to publish around fifty-eight fraudulent articles before two of his graduate students started suspecting something. The two graduate students actually ended up discussing their thoughts with a young professor and that was when everything started to come out. When this came out, I found it interesting that there had been at least two other notable scientists who were found to have forged research as well. I believe that it took so long for Stapel’s error to finally come out because he was a very respected professor and the dean of students at his university. This paired with the fact that he was an award winner of the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology award, made people trust him and respect him. It took Diederik actually going to a school that he supposedly had done research at and him not recognizing any of the buildings on the campus, to actually realize that what he was doing was wrong. After his trip, he confessed to his wife about his wrongdoing and a little while later he was suspended from his job. Since then, Diederik has released a book about his life and what lead him to commit research fraud. He released this book in the hopes that he could raise a profit and earn back some of the respect that he had lost.

Though I think this is a good start, I believe that we as a society need to take a step back from science and reexamine our methods of research. We also need to work on efforts for spotting scientific and research fraud. As for Stapel, I believe that it will take a lot more than a simple apology to regain the trust he has lost and there will always be a reason to weary of what he has to say.

Jordan writes:

As a little introduction, I am a senior psychology and criminal justice double major, I am hoping to get a PsyD. and law degree after I graduate from Carroll. As student researcher here at Carroll as well. I have been doing research both paid and unpaid for the last year with my criminal justice advisor. I have presented at a conference with my advisor and the rest of our team of two other students. I will be continuing to do research this year as a paid assistant until I graduate next fall.

As I was read the article from the New York Times I had many thoughts, feelings, and reactions. As a student and researcher, who has put much of his trust in his advisors, my first reaction was anger, how could a mentor and trusted professor do that to his students? Second was embarrassment, for Staple and for the field in general. It is difficult to study a social science as our field is under constant scrutiny for “not being an actual science” or since replicating studies has been difficult it calls the reliability and validity of social sciences in general but psychology made a big push as to make it a respected science. So in some respects Staple’s actions set the field back. As I read further I had a different reaction, understanding. The article stated that  “he love the field of psychology but that get frustrated at the messiness of experimental data, which rarely leads to a clear conclusion”. Having gone through messy data but on a smaller scale, having read many articles that left me with more questions than answers, I empathize with Staple. After that the article says “… science, too, was becoming a business,” he said “There are scarce resources, you need grants, you need money, there is competition””. Again I one-hundred percent agree with Staple on this. I think this to a degree explains his actions, in order to get the money you need to produce results, in order to produce results you need to either get lucky or create the perfect experiment and get the perfect outcome, but the majority of the time you do not get the results you expect or need. People do not want truth, people want results. So money gets pulled, people lose jobs, time feels wasted etc. if you can’t show them results, and that can be terrifying and can cause people to act irrationally and unethically. A bit later the article quotes Staple saying “People think of scientist as monks in the monastery looking out for the truth. People have lost faith in the church, but they haven’t lost faith in science” again to a degree I appreciate Staple’s point. But it takes education and sound judgement to understand science is not infallible. It can be hard for those who do not study or learn about the scientific method to understand that. People think science and/or religion can solve all of their problems and calm their fears when that is not an realistic expectation of anything. A bit later the article says “… individuals were defined by what they accomplished professionally “That’s what my parents’ generation was like”, he said. “You are what you achieve.”” again I think Staple hits the nail on the head. American society functions in a very similar way. You are what you do, you are the list of accomplishments, or titles you can list off. Science works that way as well, as I and Staple mentioned prior, science is the results you get. Your results gain you money and prestige, prestige gains you more money and respect, which gains you further status. I think in the end I can understand and appreciate why Staple did what he did, that doesn’t mean I condone it. With that being said I think humanity today can be way too harsh and unforgiving. I think he has been punished enough by society and himself. I think he deserves the forgiveness of the scientific community. He showed that prior to his actions he was/is a brilliant person. His actions, in the end, also helped the field by making people be more aware and critical of what they are reading, especially those that decide if a study is worthy of publishing by requiring all materials like raw data. Everyone deserves a break and a second chance to prove themselves.

Alex writes:

At first read the Diederik Stapel case made me very upset, I really wanted to know why someone would do what he did. When reading it I had to admit that my first opinion was how could someone be so careless and selfish. Stapel took the lives of his graduate students and his wife and family into his own hands. When falsifying his data, he did not happen to think of the lives of the innocent people he would impact only his own personal gain. Staples only true reasoning for doing what he did was because, he believed the scientific method was messy and it messed for this need for order. While going deeper into the article there were some points that Stapel brought up that I empathize with, life is all about your name and there is a huge pressure in today’s world to be the best at everything you do and do make a way for yourself. After taking a step back it made me realize that Diederik is not the first person to have falsified data and he certainly will not be the last, knowing this fact we know that our system is broken somewhere. That is possible for someone to give fake data and get away with it, 56 times before it is finally noticed.

After thinking greatly about this I believe it is important to hold the people who falsify data to a greater punishment. I do not believe that giving up their PhD is longer enough for people to know that we cannot fake the data of our studies and get away with. This system is broken, and we are very greatly making strides in the right direction that now to publish a study than you must also publish the raw data, but I feel that this is not enough to hold people accountable for their actions. We must make the changes now and they must be greater changes in the efforts to protect the honesty that we have left in the field of Psychology. When data is fake, and studies are called into questioning, it calls into question the field of Psychology as a whole. We must no longer allow people to walk away from their actions and we must hold them accountable for the paths and the actions that they have chosen. We need to help the system, and we need to make sure that we do not allow for people to question the field.

Kelsey writes:

On the first day of class, Dr. Simpson had us read an article that cited a few notable research experiments to defend the idea that chaos promotes discrimination. In this article, the researchers ​​talked about a field study they performed at a train station in Utrecht. While reading this particular experiment, I remember thinking that the way it was set up and the results it produced were very intriguing; it left me wanting more. After our class finished reading and discussing the article, Dr. Simpson presented us with a second article; the New York Times piece on Diederik Stapel.

My first reaction to this story was anger and frustration. I had so many questions racing through my mind: Why did Stapel do this? Why did he not stop? Why did someone not find out about this sooner? I could not believe what I was reading! Dozens of papers that were once considered groundbreaking to the field of psychology are now useless. He harmed and wasted the time of his students, who were living a complete lie without any knowledge of it. Thousands of individuals who looked up to Stapel and his work are now let down because of his lies.

In my time as a student, I have done one research study completely on my own, and I failed to find any significant results. My research took an entire school semester to complete, which lead me to realize that research is tedious, frustrating, and time-consuming. It pains me that Stapel turned this into something laughable and fake. The hard work that researchers put into their designs every day, and Stapel turned it into a joke.

This story not only had me questioning Stapel’s acts, but I could not help but wonder if there are more researchers just like him that have not been caught yet. How many times has this happened in the past? How many times will it happen in the future? As a society, we put so much trust into science, so what are we supposed to believe now? Individuals work hard to destroy the negative criticism and stereotypes that psychology is not a “hard science.” Now, with Stapel’s acts, the critics are able to use a new argument in their favor.

I read the article a second time, hoping that some piece of information would jump out and allow me to forgive him. I have yet to find this, but I was able to feel a slight bit of understanding for what he did. He became caught up in his addiction to praise and fame. Feeling like a superstar on top of the psychological world, he ate up his glory and felt untouchable; until he was finally touched.

Perhaps the way research is conducted needs to change. Maybe each study now needs a supervisor or a team of people to check over the data to ensure its legitimacy. Studies may need to be replicated, not once, but multiple times, to prove that the original results were significant and not faked. Even if all of these methods are implemented, would it be enough to stop someone like Stapel?

Some time has passed since I have read the article, allowing myself time to reflect. I do not forgive Stapel, at least not yet, but I have been able to understand that the feelings of pride and achievement that he experienced allowed him to continue his fraudulent trend. What I will never understand is why he decided to do it in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial intelligenceCurious DavidRobot-Proofing

Reflections on “Robot-Proofing” My Classes

I read a lot of science fiction (especially lately works by Liu Cixin and Ken Liu) and find it more and more difficult to discriminate between science fiction and science fact. I am especially interested in the fictional portrayal of artificial intelligence.

Last week I finished reading Joseph E. Aoun’s book Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. Many of the author’s key ideas were earlier shared by a colleague task force from the College of Arts and Sciences at the beginning of this semester. Below are two videos in the author’s own words.

I found his book (and our faculty discussions) thought-provoking but I reject the ideas that we must all emulate Northeastern University, cater our curriculum to what employers want, or necessarily embrace his “new learning model” of ‘humanics.’

Among the ideas in Aoun’s book and videos I find compelling are the following:

  • Universities (and I would argue, the corporate world) need  to teach, encourage, and provide opportunities life-long self-directed learning. This is a message which visionary and international thought leader Jane Hart, Director of the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning, has been preaching and teaching for the past decade.
  • We need to educate people in ways that (presently!) cannot be imitated by networks of machines.
  • There is a need for – and a place for technological literacy, data literacy, human literacy, critical thinking, systems thinking, entrepreneurship, and cultural agility in higher education – AND in the workplace,
  •  Experiential learning adds value to in-class learning experiences by encouraging going beyond acquisition and integration of skills and knowledge through application to novel, dynamic real-world situations (increasing the likelihood of ‘far transfer’).
  • Universities need carefully to (re)consider ways in which alumni stay connected, develop loyalties, and define themselves as alumni.

 

Curious David

Reflections on Advising, Mentoring and Open Office Hours

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Recently on FaceBook a former student, Jillian (now a high school teacher of AP Psychology) invited me to comment on Dana Dunn’s Psychology Today blog post about “The Overlooked Importance of Instructor Office Hours.”  Thank you, Jillian, for alerting me to his thoughts — and for continuing to stay in touch. I admire what you are doing professionally in “giving away” psychology in your teaching and coaching and mentoring of other AP Psychology teachers.

Dana writes well and gives important advice in his blog “Head of the Class.” Here are comments I made to him in response to what he wrote:

Well said! I am saddened at how fewer and fewer students come to my office to see me across the past forty years. I have an open door policy in addition to scheduled office hours. “Today’s” student seems to think that email communication serves the same purpose. I respect the fact that they are so busy with multiple jobs, student extracurricular activities, and their studies. Meeting them in person, though, in my office, allows for mentoring, my learning from them, and the building of a relationship that can in fact last across one’s lifetime. I have been so blessed.


I’ve been reflecting lately on my role as faculty adviser to undergraduates here at Carroll and about those faculty who played such a crucial role in that capacity for me. Without doubt their influence shaped how and why I relate to students and former students as I do.

At Oberlin College my most influential adviser was Ralph H. Turner. Ralph, the first faculty member to invite me to address him by his first name, somehow was able to provide me the right balance of challenge and support I needed both inside and outside the classroom. I fondly and respectfully remember him as intellectually curious, patient, playful, kind, and unusually generous in his time with me. Indeed he was willing to stay in touch with me even across the years that I was continuing my education at The Ohio State University. Thank you, Ralph.

I was blessed with a similar and even deeper rich and enduring relationship at Ohio State with Tom Ostrom, who was my adviser, research collaborator, mentor, friend, and role model until the day of his untimely death. Tom provided emotional support for me while I struggled with the likelihood of being pulled out of graduate school to be sent to Vietnam, listened to me as I sorted out my thoughts about getting married, wrote me a teasing letter about a study I should do if I ended up in jail, guided me in the transition from the intense research world of Ohio State to my current home at Carroll and inspired me to share with others my love of learning. His wisdom, lust for life, optimism, sense of humor, firmness, and candor still guide and humble me.

Both individuals so impacted my life in so many ways. I draw upon their wisdom each time I am interacting with a student in an advising capacity or with my student research assistants. Advising is much more than helping students make the transition from high school, providing advice in course selection, or giving guidance in deciding whether there is an afterlife after graduating from Carroll. The lessons taught me by Ralph and Tom aren’t and can’t be learned from adviser training workshops.

Alumni4

 

Carroll University USACurious David

Digital Resources for Mastering Basic Statistical Analyses

For the past 40 years I have taught a course called Statistics and Experimental Design required of Carroll Psychology majors. I summarized my teaching philosophy of this course in a 2014 Society for the Teaching of Psychology publication. As I complete my last year of teaching here, my students and I are interesting in “giving away” psychology. The following links provide ancillary materials for mastering my course (or a refresher for what my students might have forgotten).
  1. My First Attempt at Self-Publishing
  2. Retooling and Sharpening the Saw
  3. Teaching Tools: SPSS, inStat, starQuiz, Camtasia and Research Randomizer.
  4. On Engaging Students (Part 2): Adventures with StarQuiz and SPSS
  5. Learning by Teaching: Alison and Lizzy’s Guide to Using SPSS Data Analysis for Simple Linear Regression
  6. t-Time: Three Short SPSS Screencasts for PSY205
  7. Review of One-way Between Subjects ANOVA using SPSS
  8. Two-way Between Subjects ANOVA Using SPSS (Part 1)
  9. Something Old and Something New: A brief Introduction to Effect Size Statistics
  10. What data analysis should I use (you need not enter your real name or email)?
 
Curious DavidGlobal Education

Last(ing) Thoughts about Going Global

Across the years I have been fortunate to have learned from a number of global educators. Luis Miguel Miñarro, an educator in La Mancha, Spain, shared with me how he used Animoto  to make a Carnival video in 2014. I still follow him on LinkedIn.  Thank you, colleague, for helping me to discover new ways of learning and of sharing my learning.
I treasure the “care package” I received from educator friend, Inci Aslan, in Turkey who was the principal investigator of an Etwinning project I closely followed…
 Thank you, Inci. I hope that you are well, safe, and happy. I admire what you have done in the classroom and think of you and other friends from Turkey when I am watching global news events.
Lithuanian educator Irma Milevičiūtė befriended me on Epals years ago and whetted my  interest in global communication. Heartfelt thanks, Irma — and so delighted that we have reconnected on Facebook!  What I have learned from you and with you has been enduring.
Thank you, Australian educator Julie Lindsay, for expanding my global horizons with your seminar Flat Connections Global Project. Best wishes on your new creative global learning endeavors.

Thanks to Saskia de Rooy for revitalizing my appreciation for art through your campus visits. And of course thank you to the many international students who have enriched my life and my learning.

My world continues to expand as it shrinks.
How does one keep up with “the learning revolution” or Classroom 2.0? How does one keep abreast of developments in International Education?
I try to keep reasonably aware of international events through reading articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Guardian.  I occasionally shadow Global Education Conferences  and follow several WordPress blogs dedicated to Global Education. And yet I remain so globally illiterate.
Here are my some of my reflections on this topic a few years ago….
 The world is open. I’ve been thinking about how to make our campus and curriculum more global. Here are some incipient thoughts about how that might de done.
  • Increase awareness and use of media such as BBC News and  Google News.
  • Incorporate Kiva into the classroom.
  • Tap into high quality online lectures .
  • Rather than relying so much on Google Translate, explore other languages.
  • Capitalize on cultural universals such as musiccuisine, sports, and literature. Our international students have so much they can teach us.
  • Reading: We need to encourage faculty, staff, and students to read, discuss, and discover world literature. Ann Morgan’s blog (a “Year of Reading Around the World”) is a wonderful place to start – as if Words Without Borders.
  • Though no substitute for reading, excellent audio and video recordings exist of introductions to world literature, world history, travel, and world religions.
And here are even earlier reflections…..
  • What is the appropriate foundation for general education in the 21st century?
  • Are we faculty appropriately educated for teaching in the 21st century?
  • What skill sets, traditions, and knowledge are as vital today as when this academic institution was founded?
  • Can we change our general education program without intentionally changing our institutional mission?
  • Should part of a general education be mastery of another language? If so, how does one define mastery> Is it enough merely to know the right phrases to allow one to travel within another country?
  • Should one be fluent in another culture’s history, customs, idioms, national concerns, and language?
  • Can internationalization be achieved through the 21st century equivalence of international pen pals using Skype?
  • What defines global citizenship? Global awareness?
  • How can we continually reaffirm and rediscover our common sense of humanity?
Carroll ReflectionsCurious David

Day 1 Jitters: 2018

Tomorrow I meet with my students for the first time. Even after four decades of teaching I shall be nervous, though for different reasons than my two new colleagues whom I chatted with today (one, a former student!).

Delighted to connect via Facebook with two former students last Friday who saw me “marshaling” Faculty during the Opening Convocation as we welcomed their children to Carroll! Alumnus George Jifas wins the price for delicately indicating on LinkedIn how old I am:

“I clearly remember your old office with an IBM PS1 and the dual floppy drives when you would show us the “internet” and how it was used for research and access to the Library of Congress. My how times have changed.”

I have already sent my students a survey to have been completed before we meet. This begins the relationship building which is a focal point of how I teach. In the 2 sections of Statistics and Experimental Design I’ll collect some data to illustrate a simple two-group design. This also serves as a means of taking attendance. I also want to convey to them my interest in “robot-proofing them“, why I so value the liberal arts, and by belief in Carroll’s newly formulated ethos statement.

I am VERY impressed at how my Experimental Social Psychology students have thoughtfully responded to the blog post I shared with them. Based on their thoughtful responses, we may be rewriting the syllabus as we go.

My biggest worry at the moment is will I physically be able to get into my office – when I left today they were programming the locks!

AgingalumniCurious David

Swan Song: Bidding Farewell to Teaching Experimental Social Psychology


When I initially arrived at Carroll with my “ABD” degree (All But Dissertation) in 1978 it made much sense to me and to my chair, Dr. Ralph F. Parsons, to teach what I had specialized in during graduate school at The Ohio State University.

David, Ralph, and Virginia

David, Ralph, and Virginia Briefly Reunited February 1, 2014

My introduction to the field of social psychology had come while I was an  undergraduate at Oberlin College, and I hoped share with my Carroll students the excitement that I felt at that time of actually being an experimental  social psychologist.

At Oberlin  my academic adviser, Ralph Turner, was a self-described “arm-chair” social psychologist (i.e not at a researcher) interested in creating dithering devices to facilitate learning that would cascade within and outside the classroom. As an adviser and professor Ralph Turner was kind to and patient with me. He was a role model of a dynamic teacher and a voracious reader who regularly wrote book reviews and who played a leadership role in Division 2 (Teaching of Psychology). He encouraged my intellectual curiosity and accepted me as I was, unformed and uninformed but eager to learn. He introduced me to the idea that psychological principles of persuasion and attitude change could be used to make the world a better place — or a worse place if applications of these same social psychological principles and findings failed to be guided by ethics.

These were my most (in)formative years especially, perhaps, because I was taking all my classes “credit/no entry” (that is, ungraded).  This freedom from being graded allowed me to read voraciously, to be exposed firsthand to social justice and war/peace issues, and to read and reflect upon works such as Postman and Weingartner’s Teaching as a Subversive Activity. I was also at that time inspired by APA President George Miller’s 1969 address advocating that we should give psychology away

While a perennial graduate student at Ohio State I was surrounded by students who already were far better scientists than I was or would ever become and who subsequently made major contributions to the field. Once again I was heavily influenced by personal relationships formed with a few key faculty — in particular by my academic adviser, mentor, and friend Tom Ostrom and more indirectly but in many positive ways, by the teachings by example of Tony Greenwald. Both of them, in their kind but brutally candid way convinced me that my calling most likely would be in teaching rather than in conducting creative, seminal, path-breaking research. And here I some 40 plus years later!

It pleases me that a number of Carroll students chose to pursue advanced graduate degrees in social psychology (e.g. Mark Klinger, Pam Propsom, Deana Julka, Darcy Reich, Jenny Welbourne, and Cathy Carnot-Bond ) or in related disciplines (e.g. Mike Schwerin and Mary Jo Carnot). Some of them have developed enviable scholarly reputations. But my goal in my experimental social psychology class is not so much as to be a pipeline to graduate schools in social psychology as to attempt to provide a capstone-like experience in students’ developed abilities of thinking about research.

As I teach this course for the last time at Carroll I am sorting through how and what to teach. Though some years the enrollment has been as high as 35 students, this year there will be only eight. One possibility is to focus on classic studies and recently published articles. Such a change in format might allow for more extensive, daily discussion and the potential development of student research ideas resulting from such discussion.

A second possibility is to teach the course from a much more global, international perspective. A third possibility is to dramatically introduce hands on Internet-based resources and experiences  A good start in identifying some such resources has already been made by Scott Plous in his development of the Social Psychology Network  and is reflected in the work of Jonathon Mueller in developing teaching resources for social psychology.  And, of course, I could draw more upon the expertise of former students who are active experimental social psychologists. I had some success with that last semester in my Research seminar when former students Skyped with us or came to campus.

I welcome input from students and former students concerning which directions I should explore. How best should I proceed to give social psychology away?

 

alumniCarroll UniversityCurious David

The Siren Song of Bag Pipes Once Again Call Me Back to Carroll Land

A wonderful tradition on my campus both on the first day before classes and again at graduation is to have a bagpiper majestically lead the students on to campus. Today we’ll slightly change the tradition by moving the Opening Convocation to the day that first-year students arrive so that parents can witness the opening welcoming of their children as they walk through the line of applauding faculty.

I am very impressed by our new President Cindy Gnadinger’s interest in preserving our traditions yet open to changes consistent with our values and ethos statement.  I wonder what she would think of our bringing onboard a “brand” new piper I’ve discovered. I suspect at the minimum she would be thunder-struck. He would, though,  provide a cross-cultural experience, be energizing and engaging, and quite memorable. Stay tuned.

On a more serious note, it was delightful to be visited by my Lead Student Research Assistant today, Kristen Reszka and to be in touch with several alumni via LinkedIn and Facebook. Please continue to stay in touch via Facebook, email, Skype, LinkedIn, snail mail, visits, and owl. I still have a good supply of Carroll COLLEGE decals for the asking:). And I even make house calls sometimes for a coffee date.

IMG_1170

Carroll ReflectionsCurious David

I’ll Miss The Sounds of a Bustling Campus

I love the sounds of a bustling campus – the chimes, physical plant staff changing shifts, the chattering of students as they discuss their athletic practices – though the predominant sounds this morning are those of the many construction workers trying to complete Rankin Hall’s renovation before classes begin. When completed, the renovated building will indeed be magnificent. Thanks to the many donors, some of whom have become my friends across the years.

Almost time to leave the new office and drive out to the Graduate Center for another morning of meetings dealing with implementation of Carroll’s new Strategic Plan and contributions the College of Arts and Sciences can make. It is interesting to reflect upon how much of my life has been spent in meetings. In retrospect, was that time well invested?

To prepare for my meeting I opened my newly purchased package of pencils.I try to find the right balance between high tech and low tech tools! Now if I can only remember how to sharpen them. I may have to consult the help desk.

 

 

 

 

Agingappluenzabrain fitnessCarroll ReflectionsCarroll University USA

Applying 50 Years of Teaching Psychology: Transitions

As I transition this last year of teaching psychology courses at Carroll, I am reflecting on what lessons I have learned which will ease my transition out of academe. In particular, today I am reflecting on habits: how they are formed, maintained, strengthened, weakened, and suppressed. I am finding helpful several books recommended by some LinkedIn individuals I “follow:”

  1. Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  2. Nir Eyal’s Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (I also find his podcast and newsletter of value) and
  3. Scott Sonenshein’s Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – and Achieve More than You Ever Imagined.

Among the habits I envision changing or developing are the following:

  1. Reading (Though I shall continue my reading of literature, I now am finding much pleasure in reading lengthy thought pieces in, for example, The Economist, The Atlantic Monthly, and The New Yorker.)
  2. Time Management (I shall not miss the day long series of meetings I have today!)
  3. Spending
  4. Health Maintenance
  5. Self-identity and Self-understanding
  6. Frameworks for understanding (e.g. how should one view the aging process)
  7. Writing.  I am interested in writing longer pieces and publishing them in venues like The Conversation or Medium or self-publishing a number of books.
  8. Exercise
  9. Playing
  10. Reflection Linked to Action
AgingCurious DavidRetirementTime

Vita Brevis: Tempus Fugit

New office

“There is something wrong with you! You have no sense of urgency about time!” I was recently admonished while sitting in my chair reflecting upon Patricia Hampfl’s delightful book of essays entitled The Art of the Wasted Day. Don’t retire, accelerate advises Bracken Darrell, Head of Logitech, in a recent LinkedIn blog piece.

Here are some of my previous thoughts about time:

A canceled meeting! How best to make use of that unexpected 50 minutes—that gift of time.  Maybe catch up on Profhacker blog pieces sitting on my RSS feed? Here are five of them:

  1. When the technology changes on you? Seems germane.
  2. Slowing down and learning about “deep listening”?  I should also turn off my twitter feed that tempts me with messages from some of my favorite thought leaders.  I am so easily distracted.
  3. Hints for teaching a large online course. I may try this when I leave Carroll.
  4. Making a WordPress Site Multi-lingual: Lately I’ve been exploring translation and language software.
  5. Exploring “gamification“: I’m still somewhat chary of moving in this direction, but intrigued by the creative writing/ gaming applications of English Professor Colleague BJ Best.

TIME was the campus -wide theme for Carroll University (Waukesha, WI, USA) during the 2014-2015 academic year. Across my years of teaching, I have enjoyed creating special courses (‘Why War?” “Happiness” “Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools”) when I have been allowed time and total control over the course. Had I offered a course on this theme of time, I would have include the following as required reading and videos:

Time to walk with the Dog!

 

 

Carroll ReflectionsCurious David

First Year – Last Year Carroll Reflections

Above: Computer Rendering of My New Office

Even after more than 40 years of teaching at Carroll, the first day of class is anxiety-arousing, pressured, critical, and rewarding. As a youth, I was so anxious about giving oral presentations that I fainted when I participated in my first school debate. I had a similar melt-down during the oral exam component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at The Ohio State University. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing as excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes, too, I whistle a happy tune!

These academic first days-of-the-semester pressures are primarily situational nuisances: making sure that my syllabi and handouts are up-to-date, proof-read, and sufficient in number; visiting the classrooms ahead of time to better guarantee that there are enough seats and that the computer equipment works; thinking through how to handle disruptive classroom situations in particular classroom environments; and of course trying to respond in timely fashion to the myriad course-related emails. An added challenge this year is having the contents of last year’s temporary office moved into a brand new office which I have never seen on August 20.  The move will occur while I am vacationing in Canada. No doubt a good part of on campus non teaching time in September will be consumed by sorting through the several hundred boxes of my stored materials as I both unpack and pack up again in preparation for leaving Carroll at the end of the academic year. Looks like I might need another bookshelf:) though I have contacted some graduates about taking any books they might want.

Bookwhacked

For me the first class meetings are vital for relationship and credibility building  — for getting to know my students, creating shared and appropriate expectations, and establishing standards for students and for me. This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs).  Based on 1) student evaluations, 2) what my students demonstrate that they can do at semester’s end, 3) how I feel every time I teach it, and 4) feedback I get from alumni  “Statistics and Experimental Design ” is without doubt my best taught course. Among the challenges in teaching such a class successfully are the attitudes that some students bring (“I hate math”; “I don’t do well in math”; “I’m afraid”), weaknesses in students’ fundamental computational skills, and their inexperience with my strongly believed outlook that statistics (and data analysis) is a tool, a language and a way of thinking. Here are some reflections I shared a few years ago about teaching the course.

With the able assistance of my student research assistants, I shall continue to focus research and writing time on the topics of aging, brain health, and brain fitness training. I applied to become an APS Wikipedia Fellow with an interest in brain fitness training. And I do plan to participate again in the SharpBrains 2018 Virtual Summit.

 

AgingCurious David

Reflections on “The End of Old Age”

Were I to teach a course on brain health, aging, or brain fitness, I definitely would include Marc E. Agronin’s engaging, thought-provoking, and well-written recent (2018) book The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life.He asks three fundamental questions – Why age? (to grow in wisdom). Why survive? (to realize a purpose). Why thrive? (to create something new.)  He argues persuasively that aging can and should be seen not as a disease but as a life enhancing opportunity for developing strengths of wisdom, purpose, and creativity. His arguments are well supported both by germane case studies and by detailed chapter end notes. The author makes wonderful and creative use of metaphor and clever turns of phrase, provides useful chapter summaries and even gives the reader an action plan for redefining and “re-aging.” This book definitely deserves careful reading and heeding by readers interested in a balanced, refreshing positive perspective about aging. Below are some resources I plan to further explore gleaned from the book.

Resources drawn from reading Agronin’s provocative book:

  1. Marc Agronin Web site:
  2. Audrey de Grey’s Research to End Aging.
  3. Margaret Morganroth Gulette: On Ending Ageism
  4. Becca Levy’s Stereotype Embodiment Research
  5. Ellen Langer’s Power Of Possibility.
  6. MIDUS: University of Wisconsin Longitudinal Study of How Americans Age   
  7. Paul Baltes’ Model of Wisdom
  8. Carol Ryff’s research on positive aging
  9. Ezekiel Emmanuel: “Why I Hope to Die at 75.
  10. Barbera Myerhoff’s Number Our Days

Here are some of my earlier blog pieces about the aging process:

  1. Ten Brain-enriching Resources
  2. Ruminations about Memory Loss
  3. Brain Fitness Software: Brain-boosting or Bloated Claims?
  4. Obsessing about Forgetting:
  5. Promising Research or Wishful Thinking?
  6. Sharpening My brain at the Summit:
  7. Brain Fitness Training: Fact and Fiction
  8. Pieces of the Puzzle:
  9. Retraining My Old Brain
  10. Reflections on the Myth of Multi-tasking

 

Agingbook-writingbrain fitnessCurious DavidSelf Publishing

Five Courses I’d Like to Create, Teach, or Take in the Next Few Years

I learn best and most by creating and then teaching courses. Here are five courses for which I have done extensive background preparation and that I may develope to fruition in the next few years.  Even if I never offer them at Carroll, there are so many venues for continuing teaching (e.g. via LinkedIn, Coursera, etc.) that it seems a waste not to complete and share these thoughts —and others.

  1. Self-Publishing Tools (e.g. Designrr, CreateSpace, Pressbooks; Lulu) 
  2. Brain Health and Aging
  3. History of Waukesha’s Carroll: 1977 – 2019
  4. Memory and Literature
  5. Internet Learning Tools

Which should I complete during my last year teaching at Carroll?

 

Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsJane Hart's Top Tools for Learning

Curious David Redux: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

I notice that Twitter is number 5 among the Top Learning Tools of 2017 identified by Jane Hart. A number of years ago I was quite hesitant to use Twitter. My student assistants found little value in using  it. They failed to see differences between it and, say,  the “update function” of Facebook. I read two books about it, consulted several Carroll alumni who DO use it (thanks Chris G,  Lori S, and Fred K.), and studied fellow academics’ twittering experiences documented in publications which I closely read and value.  I objected to the Procrustean process of having  my thoughts, ideas, and communications reduced to 140 characters or less (“thought bytes”). Also, I was petrified at my inability to decrease or at least slow down my communication and information acquisition activities. I very much need and treasure having time to reflect, to read, to assimilate, and to create. I am amused to see that I myself have tweeted more than 2100 times!

Since then, however, I have reconsidered Twitter as a learning tool. “To Twit or not to Twit?” for me is no longer the appropriate way to frame the issue. Rather, the questions for me are:

  • Under what circumstances might Twitter give me more successful ways of teaching?
  •  How can I use Twitter to improve my ability to find answers to questions I am investigating?
  • How can I minimize the costs to me (time away from other things; wheat to chaff ratio) of my using Twitter?
  • How can I best manage the tool?

Today Twitter is an invaluable personal learning and communication resource that I have fine-tuned for my particular needs. Currently I choose to follow 78 “thought leaders” whom I very much admire.   I am in the process of comparing  several  Twitter-management apps (e.g.Tweetbot) which show promise to help me optimize the efficiency of my use of the tool.  Now I need to consider implementing more these Advanced Twitter Tips I encountered.

@professorDavidS

As I systematically revisit Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools List, I must confess that (like Adam Grant) I continue to discover new ways to maximize Twitter’s usefulness for me as a learning tool. Though I have no interest in becoming a Twitter Ninja:), I am delighted by the capabilities, for example, of creating lists of experts who regularly stream invaluable and current information on topics important to me (right now those topics are technology learning tools and global education).

I’m monitoring my Twitter feed as I write this blog piece and find 10 ideas, resources, and thought-leaders worth following. The dross is outweighed by the nuggets as I refine my Twitter filters and make better use of Twitter applications. I still am not quite ready to explore Twitter Chats. Just because a technology learning tool HAS capabilities, doesn’t mean that I need them –or that I should change my teaching to accommodate them.

Thank you Teri Johnson and Jane Hart for firmly but gently nudging me into exploring the use of Twitter.

Here are some tweets that informed me or guided my personal learning.

  1. I see that Maria Konnikova has a new book out  She writes so well about psychology and pseudo science. I preorder the book and send her a brief note. Thank you, Maria, for your clear thinking, your lucid writing, and your thought-provoking ideas.
  2. Alec Couros recommends a Ted Talk about “Where Good Ideas Come From.” If I can find time, I’ll take a look at that before teaching my research Seminar. Thank you, Alec, for the inspiration.
  3. The indefatigable Richard Byrne alerts me to some free Technology Tools for Teachers.
  4. While I am data mining resources from K-12 I take a quick glance at my Edutopia feed.
  5. A colleague on LinkedIn suggests reposts an article about skills every young professional should have. I see value in sharing this with my advisees.  Thank you, Rebecca!
  6. I see a Mac 911 MacWorld piece about how to incorporate special characters into documents. I’ll need this as I try blog pieces in different language.
  7. I glance at recent posts from LifeHacker—always fun to read and read one about how there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Favorite Apps and Learning Tools Revisited

As I continue my review of Jane Hart’s tools I become increasingly aware of the tremendous indebtedness I am to her in alerting me to a wealth of learning resources. I also owe a tremendous debt to my student research assistants across the years as we have leaned (and laughed) together.  With reflection, I am much more cognizant of how my learning needs have changed across the last four decades of my teaching and how those needs may change in the near future.

I notice that Google Drive and Google Docs were listed among the top ten learning tools identified by Jane Hart in 2017. Looking forward to next year I see tremendous value in my investing time mastering the gamut of Google apps and making better use of Google Drive (which my students have used more than I).

Here is a recent screencast draft I made and stored on the Google Drive account I shall be using after next year. Here is an introduction to how my students have used Google Drive.

Over the past few years I have asked my student research assistants what apps and learning tools they most use. I  recognize that what may be considered essential for a nineteen-year-old may differ from that chosen by a sexagenarian! Here are some of their recommendations.

As a first step I asked my first-year assistant, Kristen R. to share with me her favorite iPhone apps. This advice has been helpful as I transition to a new IPhone 8.

Favorite Apps

Twitter

Most of the time, I use Twitter as an entertainment. From funny videos to relatable posts, this app never fails in making me laugh. My friends and I love sharing this funny content by easily tagging each other on these posts. Although Twitter can be quite entertaining, it can also be used as a source of current worldwide news. On this app, I follow many reliable accounts (news networks) that provide the same information one would see on TV. I can also follow different individuals, like Elon Musk, who are posting updates on how they are changing history.

Grammarly

Whenever I write an email or post something on social media, I want to be perceived as a professional individual. This app gives me the ability to do this by checking over my grammar. This gives me the opportunity to correctly revise my written work and apply it to my future pieces.

Mr. Number

Before I had this app, I was receiving countless spam phone calls every day from all over the world. It seemed like a never-ending nightmare. However, when I downloaded this free app, this problem drastically decreased. This is due to Mr. Number frequently updating; providing current protection from evolving spam. It also provides features that include caller ID, ability to block, and reveals the amount of reported spam on that certain number.

The Weather Channel

Although my phone already has this kind of application, Wisconsin’s weather is always unpredictable. The Weather Channel app provides this in-depth of view of the current predicted weather. It has features that include, but not limited to, the radar, wind-chill, temperature, hourly and daily predictions, and health and activity reports. Due to all of these features, I frequently use this app more than the one my phone provided for me.

The Guides Axiom

When I am not constantly on social media, I am trying to solve this difficult puzzle. The Guides Axiom is an app that consists of challenging intertwined levels that lead to solving one big puzzle (the whole app). The levels, however, do not go in order which makes it even more difficult to solve the app. It can be frustrating at times; however, I enjoy testing my problem-solving skills.

What Ipad Apps should all college and university students be familiar with? I posed that question to my student research team a few years ago and here are the responses they shared with me on Google Drive. What MUST-HAVE apps are they missing? Which apps in your experience are most useful for College/University students? What makes them useful to enhancing student success? Are these tools equally useful to faculty?

Here is the wisdom of one of my seniors, Lizzy,  (shared when she was a junior).

image11

Apps I use as a College Student – Lizzy Hoehnke

Pinterest:

Pros: Allows one to find new and creative recipes, crafts, fashion ideas, hair ideas, make up tutorials, cleaning ideas, etc. They offer the websites and allows one to save it to their profile and in a certain sub category for future use. In addition, it helps someone find deals on items that could be costly, such as bridesmaid dresses, shoes, flowers, craft supplies, etc. People are able to connect with others as well as that; they may or may not know and be able to see their pages (if not on a privacy setting) for ideas and to see their interest.

Con: Some of the posts that are still up on the site are not available anymore for others to use or have become extinct.

Snapchat:

Pros: There are different filters that one is able to use on their photos to show more colors, in black and white, or add where they are from, the time, etc. Snapchat allows people to add filters on their faces of possibly being a dog, a hamster, an old person, with a flower crown, with a lot of makeup, etc. One is able to use these filters with friends as well. People are able to message each other over the app as well as send past pictures they have taken and video chat each other. Another feature, is that Snapchat has a memories folder at the bottom of the app that saves all the pictures or videos you have taken on the app. One is able to delete the memory if they wish or save it to their pictures on their phone settings. Also, if a person wants to screen shot a picture on someone else’s story of them and that friend so they are able to keep it for themselves, they are able to do so.

Cons: Past messages people send to others will delete instantly, so if one forgets what they had said then they will have to ask the other person what they had said or try to remember. In addition, the video chat aspect of the app is difficult to work and takes time to understand it.

Facebook:

Pros: People are able to make many connection with others, get news updates on what is going on in the world, see stories of what is happening in people’s personal lives, see photos and updates as well as add your own photos and updates. One is able to post on people’s profiles, comment on people’s post, like, love, laugh, cry, etc. at other people’s videos and pictures. Able to connect with people from their past as well as people from across the world. Allowed to tag people in a post that makes you think of somebody.

Con: have to upload another app that allows one to message people. It takes up space on your phone, which causes you to have less storage for other apps.

Instagram:

Pros: People are able to cross-reference their post from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Instagram allows people to add more filters on their pictures and update the lighting, color contrast, etc. Able to tag people in photos as well as others. Are able to add websites onto your pictures and add stories that allow people to swipe up and go to a different page, such as YouTube. Able to message others and cross-reference a picture on Instagram or a meme.

Cons: Are only able to upload pictures.

Associated Mobile Banking:

Pros: Do not have to go to the bank to check my balance, able to make transfers on my phone, able to call customer care right away and are able to deposit checks off the app, and paying your credit card balance.

Cons: are not able to deposit money on the app, so still have to go to the bank or an ATM of theirs now to deposit cash.

Marcus Movie App:

Pros: Allows me to see what movies are out for the next few days, see the pre sales of the movie before driving all the way there and finding out it is sold out, seeing what the movie times are for the day to plan accordingly with your day, and are able to buy the tickets online if needed.

Cons: are not able to use special passes through the app if you have a free movie pass or something of that source.

Yahoo Mail App:

Pros: Allows me to see my emails right away without logging in to the website. Able to delete emails or star emails right away that I need. Able to move my emails to folders very easily and see updates if needed.

Cons: Slow when deleting emails and sometimes will not refresh.

Too many APPS. Too little time to master them. I’ve struggled with this issue before.

Here (read me) and here and here and here:). I decided to consult with some members of what Howard Gardiner referred to as the “APP Generation”. Here is what several of my other student assistants told me over the past couple of years are “must-have” apps for college/university students.

Tia writes :

As a college student, having access to multiple apps on my smart phone helps make me a more efficient learner by staying organized. The apps I use academically are Gmail, Safari, Notepad, and Calendar. Each of these apps helps me stay on top of all my homework with the heavy course load I have this semester. I use my Gmail frequently on my smart phone because it is faster to check my email from here rather than logging on to my laptop and waiting for the slow Carroll wifi to start up. Instead of a five to seven minute process, I can have my email checked within seconds of opening the app. When I am not able to use my laptop, the Safari app is very convenient when I need to Google a quick question I have. Also, I use the Notepad app when I do not have a pencil or my agenda book to write down my assignments or meetings I have with my professors. This helps me to remain organized and on top of all my assignments, especially now with a month left in the semester. Lastly, I use the Calendar app to put in important dates such as exam dates, final exam dates, or study sessions for a certain course. All of these keep me organized, and I always have them in the palm of my hand.

As a college student, the social life is just as important as the academic life. Some apps I use when I am not studying are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. All of these apps help me stay connected with my friends from other schools, my friends at Carroll, as well as my family members all over the United States. Having multiple forms of staying in contact with these people helps with maintaining social supports, which is extremely important towards the end of the semester when stress is at an all time high. One more app I use is Two-Dots, which is just a random game. It’s a puzzle game kind of like Candy Crush. I play this game in between studying different material to give my mind a little break.

All in all, these are the apps I use on a day to day basis to stay caught up with my social life as well as staying organized academically.

Arianna tells me:

Much like most 20 year olds, I have a smartphone. With a smartphone comes several apps, but which of those apps are a must have? And which must have apps are we missing out on, requiring us to download?

Well, in my opinion, there are eight must have apps. Those apps include Gmail, Reminders, Notes, Safari, Calculator, Find iPhone, Maps, and Camera. As a college student having my Gmail and student email linked straight to my cell phone is a necessity. It allows me to easily stay in contact with professors and students, never showing up to a canceled class, easily noting changes to the syllabus, or getting missed information. Reminders and Notes have saved my life on a number of occasions. I tend to forget things rather often, and rather quickly, thus, being able to set a reminder for a day, a week, or a month from now and being able to create to do lists or grocery lists right on my cell phone has changed my life. I doubt I am alone when I say there are times I cannot think of a word or need information quickly but am on the run, well, that is where Safari comes in use. Being able to quickly surf the internet wherever I am has brought ease to my day to day life. I am able to quickly google anything I would like, especially useful when I am doing my homework far from a computer and need to research a topic or look up an unfamiliar word. The fifth App I find to be a must have is the Calculator. Although most of us can do basic mathematical operations, it is very nice to take the lazy route and calculate out things such as tip money, how much money you will be making this month, or the discounted price that will be applied to the bill you have from shopping online. Find iPhone is an app I have not yet had to use, knock on wood, but I see the potential it has. Should someone be missing, should someone’s iOS device/Mac be stolen, or should you just have misplaced your iPhone, Find iPhone uses remote location-tracking to locate them. Maps, much like the Calculator, is not entirely necessary if you prefer the old school way of paper maps. However, unfamiliar with such resources, I whole heartedly approved of the Maps app. In fact, my first few times driving to and from Carroll University I had to use Maps in order to ensure I would not get lost. In my opinion, if you are alone, Maps is a safer way to travel than a paper map, as Siri will tell you exactly when to turn, which exits to take, and so on, without you ever having to take your eyes off of the road. The last app I find to fall under the “must have” category is the Camera. Recently I traveled to Italy and, of course, I brought my cell phone. Having a feature like the Camera directly on my cell phone made it so I had one less thing to carry on all of my excursions, rather nice when you are backpacking for 10+ miles a day.

For me, these are must have apps, but, depending on the person and his or her day to day life, must have apps could vary wildly. So what are your must-haves?

 

Curious David

Year 2017 Top Learning Tools: PowerPoint Revisited

Although I see that PowerPoint continues to be among the top ten learning tools identified by Jane Hart, it has never played a major role for me in teaching, learning, or communication. A number of my objections to this presentation tool (or documentation of its abuse) have been well expressed by others across the years.

    1. In the Harvard Business Review.
    2. In Edward Tufte’s original thesis that Power Point is Evil
    3. In Don McMillan’s YouTube classic Life After Death by PowerPoint:
    4. I am not sure that Slideshare is any less “evil”.
    5. I’ve never found Prezi served any additional presentation needs for me.

 

Curious David

Year 2017 Top Learning Tools: Google Search Revisited


I try to protect some daily time for learning something new. Surprisingly, sometimes that involves (re)discovering features of technology learning tools that I didn’t realize (or forgot) existed. Perhaps these features didn’t exist at the time I first “mastered” the tool—technology tools evolve.  Perhaps, on the other hand,  the (re)discovered features didn’t address my needs at the time—my needs change.

Google scares me (perhaps I have been listening too much to voices from my computers!). —perhaps because of my reading the dystopian novel The Circle.  So does Siri.  Still, I find myself more and more using a variety of Google apps. In fact, I am considering creating a course just addressing all the Google applications—and their weaknesses.

How well do you know how to use Google search? How well do you know how and when to use Google Scholar? Are you familiar with the support that Google itself gives? Have you discovered the excellent guides developed by Librarians? Someone is always sharing additional less well-known features that might prove useful for finding information more efficiently.

Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Year 2017 Top Learning Tools: YouTube Revisited

YouTube: As I wind down my teaching career, I anticipate that YouTube may serve different needs for me in the future than when I was as a professor. Last year I wrote the following about my uses of screenshots, screencasts, and YouTube in classroom teaching situations:

“Tonight I am “rediscovering” teaching/learning tools: specifically Skitch (for screenshots and annotating screenshots, Screenflow for screencasting, and YouTube).

How do you use YouTube? How might it serve as a learning resource in your job? What are its unrecognized or under-utilized capabilities? Here is what student research assistant Lizzy (recently accepted into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) wrote when I asked her how she used it.

Uses of YouTube

YouTube is an internet source that has multiple uses. Personally, I use YouTube a lot when I am working at Dr. Simpson’s office for background music. YouTube does not only have music on their site, but educational videos, silly videos, podcasts, etc. Since my time being here at Carroll University, I have had multiple professors’ post YouTube links in their slide shows and assign YouTube videos as assignments for student’s to watch at home. When I struggle using a certain software, I am able to go to YouTube and search what I am looking for in the search bar. Multiple videos will pop up on the screen that go through step-by-step instructions on how to do the task I am looking for.

YouTube is useful for posting videos as well. Dr. Simpson has posted videos in the past with his student research assistants and discussing certain issues. I have had to watch podcast of others on YouTube that are discussing a certain issue we are dealing with in class or about a certain software we are trying to use, such as SPSS. In class presentations, 90% of the time students are required to post a visual image or video in their slides. YouTube is very useful in this circumstance. One is able to find certain media coverage of an issue on YouTube as well as scenes from past TV shows, news broadcasts, radio shows, etc. A great example of how YouTube is useful in my field, psychology, is research. YouTube has multiple videos of famous studies that have been done in the past, such as Pavlov’s, Little Albert, and the Bobo Doll study. All these videos are accessible to people, like us, on YouTube.

YouTube is a great source, not only for education, but also for others to express themselves. There are many podcasts on YouTube of people’s life stories. Some of them involve people dealing with issues such as cancer and mental health problems. However, there are podcasts of people discussing their experience sky diving, cliff jumping, in a different city, making covers of songs, etc. People in the 21st century are becoming “YouTube famous” because of their podcasts on YouTube. Many famous singers like, Justin Bieber, became famous by starting on YouTube and working their way up. In addition, people will post weekly podcast updates of their lives on YouTube and have millions of fans because of this method. An example is a couple named, Cole and Savannah, who have a YouTube channel and post videos every other week of what is happening in their lives.

YouTube is an amazing media source. YouTube allows one to find what music they are interested in, express talents that they want to show the world, show others their life stories, gives education to people, helps people stay up to date on certain issues going on in the world, etc. I would highly recommend YouTube as a source that everyone should look into and explore the different options that it has to offer the public.”

Most recently I have used YouTube for guidance in learning how to fly a drone given to me as a birthday present! And I can use it as a tool for enjoying the wonderful singing of my grand nephew, Cole and his talented Mom, Sara!
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Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Jane Hart’s Top Learning Tools

I see that Jane Hart has announced the deadline for recommending top learning tools for 2018.  I’m going to try and revisit all the 2017 tools this summer and identify those which I have found to be of most value to me. I’m hoping that in the fall my students and I can put together an ebook describing the tools they see as best serving their needs.

Here is the 2017 list:

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious David

“What will you DO when you retire?” I am asked more and more frequently.

“What will you DO when you retire?” I am asked more and more frequently—especially as I am a year away from seventy years of age. My answer is both simple and complicated – in part depending upon who is asking, why I think they are asking me, and when I am asked.

It is easier to answer what I shall NOT do! I don’t plan to grade any exams! Or to answer the question of what will happen to “David-in-Carroll-land.com.” It WILL retire or be transformed.

If my past behavior predicts my future behavior as it has in the past I shall not return to campus after next year’s commencement. Such was my behavior upon graduating from Howland High School in 1967 (though I was tempted by the Facebook contacts of classmates inviting me to our 50th reunion), graduating from Oberlin College in 1971, and my completing my graduate work at The Ohio State University in 1979. I’ve never been back. I treasure the richness of experiences and relationships which occurred but I look forward to having the time to focus on new or neglected aspects of life.

Consider the many meanings of commencement; start, genesis, infancy, first step, unveiling, creation. It’s been fun and rewarding being a professor, and I look forward to one more academic year before commencing. Still, it clearly also is time to move on.

 

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Journaling

Delighted today to learn on LinkedIn of Jane Hart’s well-deserved recognition as a Modern Learning Pioneer.  As I plan my last year in CarrolLand, I’m revisiting a number of journal entries I have made across the years. I just invested a five-year journal that allows me to compare my thoughts across the past five years. Most edifying.

 

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While cleaning the office  I came across my journal notes from when I still was a graduate student at Ohio State.  I had just returned from a two-day job interview at then-named Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Much has changed since then! I continue working against changing too much too quickly.

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I still use and keep journals now–some paper and pencil— though I now do most journaling using software dedicated to that function. Though I have explored the utility of many apps, my personal preference at the moment is DayOne.

onenote-vs-dayone-google-docs

I particularly use journaling to follow the recommendations of Jane Hart on the value (I would argue, the necessity) of reflecting on my work day accomplishments and failures and for short and long-term goal setting. This was one of many lessons I learned from Jane.  I encourage my students and clients to build into their day regular times for written reflection.

What journaling software do you use? Why?

 

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Booked for the Summer

Home Study Book Shelf # 1

Christine Smallwood has a thoughtful review in the June 9 & 16 2014 New Yorker “Ghosts in the Stacks” of Phyllis Rose’s The Shelf: From LEQ to LES.

Smallwood raises some issues about reading books which is of considerable interest to me:

  • how we choose books today has been dramatically changed by technology (our preferences and reading habits are monitored and curated
  • what scholars read and how they read has changed (a distinction is made between close reading and surface reading)

I was appropriately admonished by her last paragraph:

And what about the books right in front of you that were published, even purchased, but, for all you know, might as well not have existed? My own bookshelves are filled with books I haven’t read, and books I read so long ago that they look at me like strangers. Can you have FOMO about your own life?…The alphabet is great, but there is nothing quite as arbitrary as one’s own past choices. Reading more books begins at home.”

Timeout on buying new books to read until I review what is filling my home office bookshelves. This is also a wonderful opportunity to use my LibrarianPro app.

Hmm—32 books in shelf # 1 beginning with father-in-law’s 1927 copy of the Best Known Works of Edgar Allan Poe and ending with Philip Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment. How delightful!

Summer is a time for reading, reflecting, re-energizing, refocusing, and rejoicing about the beauty of living.

 

 

 

 

 

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACommencementCurious DavidGraduation

Dear 2018 Carroll University Graduate…

Dear 2018 Carroll University Graduate…

Now is a good time to gather together some last thoughts about and for you while i am proctoring my last final exam of the 2017 – 2018 academic year. This year for the first time since I came here Commencement will be Saturday morning rather than on Mothers’ Day afternoon. Because of my age seniority length of time at Carroll and my rank of Full Professor, I march at the front of the line at Commencement. That gives me an ideal seating position for seeing and hearing speakers, but forces me to be on my best behavior — awake, disconnected from my Ipad, and resisting wearing my Brewers’ or Carroll College hats. I even got a hair cut!

For those of you I have met, I have done my best to teach you well but alas I am only human. Each student I teach is different, special, and always teaches me.  You have enriched my life, and I welcome the opportunity as you become alumni to continue and perhaps to even expand upon our relationships.  That happens a lot!

Thanks for the many lessons you have taught me.

Many people (family, staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees)  have worked very hard, in addition to you, to try to provide you with the best education that Carroll can provide both within and outside of the classroom. I often think that we ought to set aside a time for recognizing those unsung “guardian angels” who have done their best to make Carroll a caring community and a better place.

I urge that as time and circumstances allow you join them in giving back (without expectation of receiving “convocation points”) your time, wisdom, networking resources, prospective student recommendations, and examples of skills or values developed here at Carroll that have served you well. Carroll for me has always been a Caring Place.

Give Carroll its due credit when it has earned it, but I also encourage you to offer constructive criticism when the institution has failed to meet your expectations or deviates from its values which you value. Be appropriately skeptical of bland, branding platitudes. Seek out opportunities to do “a” right thing. Use your mind to think carefully and critically, but don’t forget that there are indeed many times when it is appropriate to follow one’s heart.

I envy your youth and the many opportunities that lie ahead or you as you share your talents and to make the world a better place. Stay in touch. Oh, yes… Here is a final exam.

With many fond memories,

David Simpson, Professor of Psychology and fellow, flawed human being.

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Reflections on the Purpose and Value of Final Exams

“How long have you taught at Carroll?” I am often asked. I now tend to give the answer that my father-in-law, Golden Pioneer Walter G. Schmidt,  gave when I once asked him how long he had been married. With a twinkle in his eye he retorted “forever.” Suffice it to say that when I came here senior faculty looked older to me and students at that time seemed much more my age! And, according to an online quiz my student assistant alerted me to my personality is most like Thanos!

I presently am proctoring my first final exam as I attempt to bring this academic year to a close. By my calculation I have made, given and graded more than 500 final exams since 1977. I am amused by some of my prior rants reflections (below) about the value of giving finals, the challenges of disciplining oneself to complete the task of grading, and the distractions (most self-induced) that temporarily knock me off course winding down. Somehow putting the semester to bed always gets done in time, with integrity, and with a sense of accomplishment.

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Grading.

Two books to read laid out before me: David Pogue’s Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Show You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life and Jocelyn K. Glei’s Unsubscribe: How to Kill email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real work Done. Each lends themselves to reading and learning when one has short “down times” for learning.

I should be finishing the grading of the exam I gave yesterday while I proctor the exam I am now giving. Yesterday Leo the Grading Dog and I devoted five hours to the uncompleted task–and decided that we needed sleep to continue. I playfully attempted to engage former students on Facebook in a crowdsourcing grading “experiment.” Alas, a lot of LOL’s. About as successful as my tabled crowdfunding proposal:)

Instead, I am reviewing all my past WordPress posts, Tweets, and Facebook Photos as I plan for major projects next semester. I am contemplating pulling all that material together in a “Best of Curious David” e-book. I hope to engage in extensive self-publishing with students, teach a research seminar dealing with “brain fitness/training” apps and interventions, and pull together 40 years of Carroll-related archival documents that really should not be forgotten. My physical office environment could be challenging as the Rankin Hall reconstruction begins–necessitating a moving from the office.

Here are some previous (unedited–I have not checked the links’ viability) musings about final exams. Clearly the fact that I pondered these questions before suggests that I still haven’t come up with a clear answer–yet I see value comprehensive, multifaceted finals despite the costs of time to grade them.

Final Reflections on Final Exams  Dec 20, 2009

The last final exam has been graded–the grades submitted electronically.

Final exams began on Thursday this year, but my finals were the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Moreover, I chose to do something new within each final exam. These innovations resulted in my not having exams (newly made) ready until the day before I administered them. Such are academic opportunity costs!

This semester I introduced innovations in each of my classes, some common across each class and others unique to each course. Common to each class, I chose to complete the formal part of instruction a week before the end of the semester. I used the remaining scheduled class time for review and for preparing students for the final exam.

For each class, I wrote a blog about the class and invited students to respond to the blog. My primary goal in that assignment was not to increase “hit rate” on my blog site! Rather, I’d like to increase the likelihood that students subsequently might recognize how easy it is to comment responsibly to something “published” on the web. Though it is too early to say whether that goal was met, I was very pleased by the thoughtful comments from my PSY101 students.

Unique to PSY101, I also asked students in my Introductory Psychology class to visit a psychology podcast site and critique for me two episodes. Since I am exploring whether (video) podcasting is something I wish to do (is Audacity the answer?), I found their feedback quite helpful. Their final exam was the easiest to produce (50 multiple choice questions covering the fundamental concepts I cover in the course and 50 points of terminology questions)–and easiest to grade –in part because they provided  compelling evidence that they knew the material. They were a fun group to teach and to learn with!

Unique to PSY205, I invited the students (once they had completed their 13 page, cumulative final exam —50 multiple choice, 30 points of terminology, 20 problems requiring students to indicate what data analysis was appropriate—to accept the Robin the Christmas Newf extra credit challenge.

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Though I don’t believe in giving extra credit (it undermines intrinsic motivation), I was curious about their abilities to recognize flaws in published articles (the same article I gave my PSY303 class to critique for their final) and poorly designed surveys (the same survey administered to a sample of Carroll employees last week to assess the quality of the workplace). Though only one student (almost) identified the published data analysis error–and none recognized that the response scales of the survey had categories which were not mutually exclusive (and hence potentially invalidate most statistical break-downs), I was pleased that several students rose up to the challenge. And, more importantly to me, a number of students from this class clearly have a mastery of which data analysis to use. But will they have that same degree of mastery the next time I see them–or will they be singing this swan song again?

Unique to PSY303, I gave students in my Experimental Social Psychology course in advance two published journal articles. I also gave them a sense of the kinds of questions I would be asking them about the “Scrooge Effect” and God is Watching You articles. I elected to assess students this way (rather than over course content—e.g. names, terminology, theories, concepts) since a major emphasis of this course involved thoughtfully reading and critiquing published research through weekly student presentations and discussion. I was most impressed by the thoughtful, reflective, insightful responses of almost every student–though none noticed the data analysis flaw.

Why bother giving final exams? Aren’t the 3 to 5 regular exams I give throughout the semester enough? It surely would be so much easier for me to give all multiple-choice questions which students respond to on a computer readable form. However, choosing the easy route would eliminate my opportunity to both assess and to teach during final examination period.

How odd it is that course evaluations occur before final exams are given. Wouldn’t a fairer evaluation of a course (and of the instructor) require that students have taken and received feedback from their final examinations?  How frustrating it is not to be able to go over the final with my students and get from them suggestions for improvement in a timely fashion.

Maybe finals should be the last week of class and feedback should be during finals week. Alternatively, maybe a component of course evaluations should be a reflective writing piece the first day of classes.  Maybe the first day of classes should be an exam covering the course prerequisites!

Too much grading leads me to think like this and hallucinate about Sugar Plums.

Sugar Plums

Happy Holidays from Curious David!

December 2014 Musings about Final Exams

The Newf

It was a foggy 5:30 a.m. morning when I let the Newf out for her morning “duties.” One of many good reasons for driving carefully to Carroll this Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. I surely would NOT like to hit another deer–nor would Santa or my car.

Deer Me

I can still see fog outside my Rankin classroom. Thirty-seven years ago I was in this very building giving a sample lecture illustrating how I teach as part of my two-day job interview to become a faculty member at then-called Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I still have a copy of that presentation–and I remain at my first and only job for better or for worse. So much has changed–buildings, enrollment, technology, the institution’s name, the organizational structure.  I feel obligated to protect traditions and overriding institutional historical values, but there are fewer and fewer here that remember them. So many of my former mentoring faculty and staff friends have moved on through retirement or from life. I miss their wisdom but try to preserve their gifts to Carroll.

Ghosts of Christmas's Past

And here I sit proctoring an 8:00 a.m.Saturday morning final exam covering “Statistics and Experimental Design” taken by students several of whose relatives (aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters) were former students or advisees of mine. An_Outline_of_Basic__Cover_for_Kindle

There are times when they look and behave very young and I recognize that I am 65-years old. Many other times Assistantsthey keep me young with their energy, willingness to learn, and playfulness. I feel that way especially in the present of my student research assistants–four of whom are graduating this year.

It has been a rough semester. I continue to find challenging teaching three consecutive seventy-minute courses in a row with 10 minute breaks even when two of the courses are the same. And this year I am co-chairing the Planning and Budget Committee (with a delightful colleague and poet BJ Best).

It has been the Dickens of a task: The Wurst of Times and the Best of Times. Younger colleagues like BJ, though, and the fewer and fewer remaining colleagues from my past reinforce my willingness to remain here and make a difference before departing.

Best of Times, the Wurst of Times

The chimes just sounded. 10:00 a.m. Eight students remaining. Very good students among which several, should they wish, might join Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood as student research assistants.

Carroll’s 2014-2015 theme is “Time.” I just finished reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Time to start grading so that I can finishing reading The Book of Strange New Things.

CommunityCurious David

Reflections on Community, Our Town, and Precious Moments

I am still emotionally drained reflecting on the life lessons from the Milwaukee Rep’s performance of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town that Debbie and I enjoyed last Sunday. As a high school student and undergraduate, I used to keep journals documenting how literature and the arts impacted me. Thornton Wilder was born on my sister’s birthday and attended my alma mater Oberlin College.

Precious Moments: The entrance to this world by a new grand-nephew, Finn William O’Connor. Welcome!

Precious Moments: Quality time with Debbie, Dog, and Friends.

Precious Moments: Playfully being crowned the Once and Future King.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Precious Moments: Thoughtful, playful students who stop by and enrich my day.

Precious Moments: Exploring ways to enhance how and what I teach.

Vita brevis.  Kruse control over 1440 minutes? I give thanks.

 

alumniCurious David

Fiat Lux: Things they didn’t teach me in graduate school …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no “typical” day at Camp Carroll!

What to do when a few minutes after beginning a 3 hour exam the lights go off? The students smile and turn on their cell phone spotlights. After I ascertain that there is no health risk (it was a campus-wide outage), they choose to finish the exam by flashlight. I am impressed by their good humor.

Fiat Lux: Let there be light (more than an hour later).

Curious DavidDesignrrebook software

Curious David Redux: Mastering Designrr

As Dr. Simpson works on revising his past blog pieces, he gave me the task of testing out different eBook software. The promises of Designrr.io (found here) intrigued us. It allows authors to easily display their written work (blog pieces, articles, etc.) and uses their URLs to combine this work into one big eBook.

Dr. Simpson suggested that I create a basic guide to Designrr.io in order to help aspiring authors in the future. Then he would attempt to use my Student Guide to Designrr to pull together an e-book from a subset of his blogs.

Here’s my first draft:

Getting Started:

Once an account has been created, one can start a project by clicking “Create A New Project” button. The author can then name their project and import their URL. After this, the author can then choose a template they desire. The author can always skip this step or choose a different template later on while creating the project.

After following these simple steps, Designrr.io should automatically create a default book of the content the author just downloaded. The author can choose to publish this eBook immediately or choose to make some minor edits.

Before the editing process begins:

This website includes a feature called that will automatically save one’s work over a period of time. To enable this feature, click on the Settings Tab, then the subcategory Auto Save, and finally the Enable AutoSave button. Below this button, one can set the autosave delay. I usually have mine set on 5 minutes; however, the time ranges from 5 minutes to an hour.

Changing Background:

To change the background image of the cover of the book, click on the Inspector Tab and then the subcategory called Background. By clicking on the Image then Media Manager box, one can either choose a picture on their computer or search for a photo. The Textures option, located right below the Media Manager box, will help the author change the rest of the pages’ backgrounds. However, make sure to select one of these textures on the desired page, not the cover page.

Editing Text, Headers, and Footers:

By double-clicking on the text of the header and footer, Designrr.io will bring up two tabs (inspector tab on the left and simplified tab located near the text). In both tabs, one can change the font’s size, color, style, and border. I found that the Inspector Tab was the easiest to follow.

Changing Font Using Inspector Tab:

Start by double-clicking on the desired text one wants to change. One should be directed to the Inspector Tab and the subcategory Text Styles.

1)    Size- Manually type in the size font by clicking on the box under the italicized box. The box one should look for should have the label px (Ex: 28px).

2)    Color- Click on the long grey rectangular box under the box one just used to change the size. Then choose or create the desired color using the color wheel.

3)    Font Style- Click on the top left-hand box, next to the G box, to look and pick the default styles Designrr.io offers. By clicking on the G box, one can view a variety of fonts from Google.

Changing the Border Using Inspector Tab:

Start by double-clicking on the desired text one wants to change. One should be directed to the Inspector Tab; however, one needs to manually click the subcategory Border. I highly suggest editing the borders in this order.

1)    Style- Click on the box that reads None in order to choose the style of the border.

2)    Color- Click on the long rectangular box next to the None box. Just like the Test Style Color box, one can either choose or create a color they desire.

3)    Size- Use the slider above the two previously mentioned boxes in order to change the thickness of the border.

Adding More Posts to A Generated Project:

To add a new post/URL onto an already generated project, one must first click the Element tab and then the subcategory Components. Click on the New Article box and drag it to the desired spot. After this, paste the URL and it will automatically generate one’s blog piece into their eBook. In this tab, one can also add new pages and create a table of contents.

After the Editing Process:

If one wants to preview their work before they publish, click on the eye box located on the bottom left-hand corner. After the author is satisfied with their work, to publish the eBook click on the box to the right of the preview box. Desginrr.io gives authors the option of converting this draft into a PDF, .mobi (Kindle), and an Epub. Click on the desired format and press the Export box. If one wants to export their work into multiple formats, they must repeat this step.

Although there is an abundance of other features on this program, the ones mentioned in this piece seemed to be the most useful in the creation of an eBook. By following these simple steps, one can successfully use Designrr.io.

Here is what Kristen and I were able to produce using the Designrr.io software. Though there is always more to learn (I would have it no other way), it may prove useful in my tool kit. (Click here). Not bad for two beginners.

Curious DavidTeaching Statistics

Curious David Redux: Musings and Swan Song about Teaching Statistics

I draw upon this material in the introductory chapter of a book I am working on.

Dec 7, 2009

As I’ve documented elsewhere, I have now taught more than seventy times a course required for the Carroll undergraduate psychology major. Can it really be that it was more than 30 years ago that my first student assistant, Larry Jost, and I proudly announced in our “journal,” Occasional Papers in Psychology, our successful translation of some 40 BASIC statistical analysis programs (obtained from a psychologist in South Africa)? We were so thrilled that we were able to introduce them into my PSY205 class using my TRS80 Model I Level II microcomputer with 16K RAM!

There exist a number of excellent resources on the Web, today, for supplementing a course like “mine.” Among my favorites is the Rice Virtual Lab in Statistics.  I also find very well done and useful for our students the online resource Research Randomizer.

I’m wondering, though, whether it is time (or past time) for me to pass along the course to someone else.  Indeed, is it perhaps time for the course to “go away” (though parting is such sweet sorrow 🙂 )— either by assuming that its content is addressed by other courses (such as are offered by my colleagues in Mathematics) or by merging it with another course, say, a two semester psychology research course. Both ideas have been proposed and discussed with faculty colleagues in recent years.

Though I think I have been unusually successful at developing rapport with students in a course whose subject matter is often anxiety-arousing, anyone teaching the same course time-and-again runs the risk of losing touch with new ways of teaching, failing to understand changes in student needs and student abilities and neglecting to capitalize on new and perhaps better ways of teaching the subject matter.

Is time to teach the course in a way more in “sync” with students of today to help students avoid choosing the wrong statistic? Should I offer the course in a totally online format? In a hybrid format ? Is there continued value in teaching a “canned” statistical package such as SPSS? Might it make more sense to teach the data analysis capabilities of open source statistical software freely available online? Should I incorporate more applications or draw more upon the work I do for Schneider Consulting which I strongly believe enriches my teaching? Should I make room for the more systematic teaching of effect sizes and statistical power?

I’d love to incorporate material on ethical issues of data analysis, provide opportunities to discover inappropriate data analyses, create opportunities for action research, and help students realize the limitations of statistics. Might it be worth my following through on my idea of a number of years ago of creating a highly trained group of undergraduate, cross-disciplinary, student data analysis consultants? Do I delude myself in thinking that my “Statistics and Experimental Design course” is the most important class that I teach?

I invite former and present students of mine who have taken this class with me to share their insights for possible new directions for this course.

Curious David

Musings While Settling Down to Write

As I attempt to bring the semester to a soft landing, I thought that I would try creating a screen cast of some of my book-writing efforts using an earlier version of some screen casting software. Odd how sometime an earlier version of software (Voila) better fits my needs than the new improved version. Forgive the lack of editing. I am burning candles at both ends today. I am probably over ambitious trying to write three books simultaneously using three different pieces of self-publishing software. Ars longa, vita brevis.

 

Global Education

Curious David Redux: Ruminations on global education

Headshot4blogs

Across the years I have been fortunate to have learned from a number of global educators. Luis Miguel Miñarro, an educator in La Mancha, Spain, shared with me how he used Animoto  to make a Carnival 2014 video. Now we interact on Linked-in.  Thank you, colleague, for helping me to discover new ways of learning and sharing my learning.
I treasure the “care package” received from educator friend, Inci Aslan, in Turkey who was the principal investigator of an Etwinning project I closely followed…
 Thank you, Inci. I hope that you are well, safe, and happy. I admire what you have done in the classroom.
Lithuanian educator Irma Milevičiūtė befriended me on Epals years ago and whetted my  interest in global communication. Heartfelt thanks, Irma–though we have lost touch, what I have learned from you and with you has been enduring
Thank you, Australian educator Julie Lindsay, for expanding my global horizons with your seminar Flat Connections Global Project . My world continues to expand as it shrinks.
How does one keep up with “the learning revolution” or Classroom 2.0? How does one keep abreast of developments in International Education?
I try to keep reasonably aware of international events through reading articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Guardian.  I occasionally shadow Global Education Conferences  and follow several WordPress blogs dedicated to Global Education. And yet I remain so globally illiterate.
Here are my some of the reflections on this topic a few years ago.
 The world is open. I’ve been thinking about how to make our campus and curriculum more global. Here are some incipient thoughts about how that might de done.
  • Increase awareness and use of media such as BBC News and  Google News.
  • Incorporate Kiva into the classroom.
  • Tap into high quality online .
  • Explore other languages.
  • Capitalize on cultural universals such as musiccuisine, sports, and literature. Our international students have so much they can teach us.
  • Reading: We need to encourage faculty, staff, and students to read, discuss, and discover world literature. Ann Morgan’s blog (a “Year of Reading Around the World”) is a wonderful place to start.
  • Though no substitute for reading, excellent audio and video recordings exist of introductions to world literature, world history, travel, and world religions.
And here are even earlier reflections…..
  • What is the appropriate foundation for general education in the 21st century
  • Are we faculty appropriately educated for teaching in the 21st century?
  • What skill sets, traditions, and knowledge are as vital today as when this academic institution was founded?
  • Can we change our general education program without intentionally changing our institutional mission?
  • Should part of a general education be mastery of another language? If so, how does one define mastery— knowing the right phrases to allow one to travel within another country?
  • Should one be fluent in another culture’s history, customs, idioms, national concerns, and language?
  • Can internationalization be achieved through the 21st century equivalence of international pen pals using Skype?
  • What defines global citizenship? Global awareness?
  • How can we continually reaffirm and rediscover our common sense of humanity?
Ayuda me. I’m going postal 🙂  global!
Curious DavidMemory

Curious David Redux: Ruminations about Memory Loss

So much unfinished business forfore putting the semester to bed. I see that I have 100 drafts of unfinished blog posts. Some of the drafts ooks like their ideas are still worth developing. Other drafts I have no recall of having even of having written! Clearly it is time either to delete them or to bring the ideas to fruition. My modus operandi has always been to have a plethora of unfinished tasks.

In November 2009 I wrote this draft about the Zeigarnik effect:

“I was first introduced to the Zeigarnik effect (people typically recalling interrupted tasks better than their recalling completed ones) by my first Oberlin College Introductory Psychology professor, Celeste McCollough. My participation in her visual perception studies of the “McCollough effect” formally introduced me to the science of psychology. I remember being both amused and fascinated by Professor McCullough’s sharing an anecdote where she intentionally used the Zeigarnik phenomenon as a motivator for her to resume working on manuscripts that she was writing for publication. I find it curious how a phenomenon such as the Zeigarnik effect can be discovered, experimentally investigated, popularized, misrepresented, forgotten, and rediscovered.”

I was able to use that anecdote in a review I completed of Bob Cialdini’s newest book Pre-suasion. Equally important, I was able to use that Zeigarnik tension to motivate me to complete the revisions suggested by my editor and to successfully have the review accepted for publication.

One common theme among my unfinished work is the tensions I feel between rigorous, experimental psychological science and well-intentioned attempts to popularize psychological findings. How can one avoid avoiding overstatement and misrepresentation?  Why is there such a disconnect between what is popularized (or advertised) and what empirical evidence actually shows? Across the past fifty years I’ve seen oversimplification and misrepresentation of research investigating learning styles, mindfulness, subliminal perception, and most recently brain fitness training.

I’ve taken an increased interest lately in memory research–in part because a number of Carroll alumni have been actively involved in that area (e.g. Michelle Braun, John DenBoer and Mark Klinger). I’ve always been fascinated by the too much neglected research of Ellen Langer’s exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness–as she uses the terms. I found fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still struggling with believing its implications of age-reversal. Still, there IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging. This merits further study. Perhaps because I just recently read that the CEO of Evernote wants me to be able to remember everything, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jorge Luis Borges‘ Funes Memorius and about those Seven Sins of Memory outlined by Psychologist Daniel Schacter. One of the down-sides  joys of being liberally educated is that one sees interconnections among seemingly disparate things.

Based upon my thinking about the links above, I’m convinced that I don’t want a perfect memory—nor do I want technological tools for remembering everything. Still, as I grow older I am increasingly sensitive to issues of memory loss. I am haunted by the descriptions of  dementia so graphically and accurately described in Walter Mosley’s novel The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Here is an interview with the author.

There is so much hype interest today in using technology to improve one’s brain power,  health and well-being. Try, for example, doing an online search on “brain fitness.” You’ll  be overwhelmed with the results though (hopefully) be underwhelmed by the validity of the claims. The challenge is to know how to decide which claims are “snake oil,” which represent vaporware, and which are truly science-based.  Consider these  Internet “tools” (none of which I am endorsing but each of which I am considering investigating with my students)  … and their promises and claims of success at improving one’s life

  1. lumosity.com
  2. happify.com
  3. learningrx.com
  4. brainhq.com
  5. neuronation.com

Which (if any) is based upon valid psychological science? Which is merely entertainment? Which make false or unverifiable claims? Which is patently wrong? Do brain training programs really work?

A very thoughtful and thorough  scholarly review was recently completed which provides some useful caveats and preliminary answers. A shortened summary of that report can be found here and the complete article is here. A relatively recent citizen science project, the game “Stall Catchers” (found here) provides an interesting crowdsourcing avenue for conducting Alzheimer’s research.

I hope to share my answers to these questions in the near future. Hopefully these thoughts won’t merely end up in my draft pile!

 

Curious DavidEarth Day

Curious David Redux: Remembering Mother Earth

North Lake Flowers

1) Earth Day concerns should be unifying every day concerns .

2) We must do more than merely virtually explore the wonders of our precious planet.

3) Preserving, savoring, celebrating, protecting, and nurturing Mother Earth should be a super-ordinate, cross national,unifying effort of international  concern.

4) We are all earthlings.

5) So much to learn:

 

July 10

 

 

Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Internet Learning Tools

It’s amusing and edifying to revisit the last “Curious David” blog piece I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JSOnline) before they discontinued (terminated) their educational community bloggers. I still stay in touch with one of those community bloggers–and a number of the students who took this “Pioneering Learning Tools Course” a decade ago. They taught me much.

Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools
By David Simpson
Monday, Sep 1 2008, 09:32 AM
I’m nervous and excited. Time to take off my invisibility cloak. Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 8:00 a.m.)
I meet in person for the first time with my 20 first-year students. What an immense responsibility to be their first professor!
We’re going to explore 21rst century learning tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, virtual
worlds, and Youtube. The idea for this
course emerged from my experiences writing this Curious David
blog column. Last year’s opportunity to write for JSonline was transformative for me as I learned from elementary and
secondary school teachers, high school students, virtual school advocates, retired faculty and readers about innovations,
challenges and successes they faced promoting learning.

In this first-year seminar we shall focus on some of the 25 free learning tools described by educator Jane Hart. As we examine these learning tools we hope to answer questions such as these:
1. To what degree can these web tools truly enhance student learning?
2. To what degree are they just cool tools?
3. Could they be used to develop critical thinking?
4. Do they improve or degrade communication skills?
5. Might they be applied to fostering cross-cultural or international understanding?
6. Might they strengthen or weaken writing skills?
7. What are their weaknesses or dangers? Should they complement or replace 20th century learning skills/tools?
8. How can one evaluate their effectiveness?

We shall read two books—Little Brother, a work of fiction (maybe it is fiction) and a work of nonfiction Dispatches from Blogistan. My intent is to assist students in the transition
from high school to college–and to investigate Web 2.0 learning tools which might be useful across classes and in the
workplace. I want to involve them in educational experiences that will develop and enhance abilities in reading, writing,
reflecting, presenting, thinking, and producing. Writing exercises will include papers, journals, blogs/wikis, and exams.
Presentations will be both formal and informal; individual and in small groups. Collaboration will be both with fellow
students and with me I welcome reader feedback about
this course. I’d gladly share a course syllabus in .pdf format which has many hypertext links. (Indeed, I’d welcome reassurance that I still have readers after a two month hiatus from writing!).
Still Curious,
David
email me at dsimpson@carrollu.edu.

Tomorrow’s final exam may give me some insight into what the students have learned. I received an email today from someone in Great Britain interested in the course. It is my intent to begin (renew) serious writing in a blog format starting in January. I’ll most likely use Type Pad.

I’ve learned so much — and have so much to learn.

 

Book writingbook writing with studentsbook-writingcompassionCurious David

Curious David Redux: Ruminations on Writing

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Yesterday I met with a friend to celebrate the publication of her first novel. Today I met with my business partner to discuss a book we are working on together. I just now received a progress report from my research assistant on some e-book publication software about which she is writing a student user’s manual. I continue to be haunted by the lyrical prose and themes of Sigrid Nunez’s novel The Friend.

Curious David Redux:

For numerous reasons, I am a slow writer. I don’t type. Though a nuanced writer I do not naturally dictate into a piece of software as my business partner Greg Schneider does so naturally. I’ve never had a secretary or administrative assistant.

I am, however, a prodigious reader. I have a stack of over two dozen books awaiting my reading this summer. Greg just suggested two to add to the stack.

I have rightfully been criticized for reading too much in order to delay my writing. I revise multiple times trying to find just the right word, the right tone, the right feeling. My novelist friend just gently admonished me to stop striving for perfection.

I self-handicap by being interested in so many different things.  I am very easily distracted from the task at hand. Yesterday I was distracted from writing by reflecting on digital doppelnamers!

I have no strong external incentive to write nor am I interested in carrots or sticks. I am tenured and intrinsically motivated. Are these excuses or reasons?

Last night I started reading a new book The Seven Sins of Psychology.  I’ll write a book review of the book after school is out. I miss having the writing outlet of the journal PsycCritiques where I published several dozen book reviews before it was discontinued by the American Psychological Association. Reading and reviewing the book may give me closure on resolving ruminations I struggled with in this piece I wrote about 6 years ago.

Curious David Redux

I am having quite a bit of difficulty writing this piece–and have had that difficulty for the past few years when my identity with my discipline of social psychology became disrupted and unsettled. When I taught Experimental Social Psychology class I shared with students a case study of the influential career of European social psychologist Diederik Stapel. May I never be so famous that

  1. my biography is regularly updated on Wikipedia,
  2. my story is featured in the New York Times,
  3. and my work is regularly condemned on Retraction Watch.

The past two years I have invited my students to share in writing their reactions to this case study. Before “publishing them” in a blog piece, I was interested in whether Diederik might be interested in seeing them. Thank you, Diederik for replying and sharing some of your experiences over the past years.

Diederik’s behavior leaves me struggling with the questions of at what point is ostracism unwarranted and forgiveness or a variant of compassion warranted. At what point does ostracism degenerate into a witch hunt? How can one both acknowledge and condemn wrong behavior (never forget) and yet not engage in wrong behavior by failing to allow an individual opportunity to show that they have learned from their wrong behavior?

I have much to ruminate about.

 

CDICLCurious DavidHumor

Curious David Redux: Something Old… Something New …

DSCN5292

Today is “Celebrate Carroll” day. For me it is a a day of reflection. I’m sitting in my Humphrey Art Center office awaiting any students who may come by for some help. If   When they do come, I’ll ignore the phone, close my computer screens (Dell, Mac, Ipad, Iphone) and give the students my full attention. It is my Way. Being a professor has brought me so much joy.

Right now the office and art building are quiet even though my door is open. I have taken advantage of that quiet time to rediscover the dictation capabilities of my Mac and to upgrade my Camtasia screencasting software.  I think I’ll teach its use to my research assistants since it works across both Macs and PCs.

I am more than usually sleep-deprived this morning due to a night Brewers’ game and a barking dog who feels obligated to alert me about the deer outside. Often my best ideas for writing emerge when I am in this cognitive state. But also the typos, slips of the tongue, forgetting to include email attachments, and other “oopsies” manifest themselves.

As I think about the blog pieces I hope to write next year, I see their being organized around my “wedding” to this institution. Hence there will be something old (Curious David Redux), Something new (current events in psychology, the world, or in my life), something borrowed (taking or reflecting upon the ideas of others, and my Carroll Blues!

Yesterday I had a delightful tea time with Friend and colleague Peggy Kasimatis who had just published her first novel, Not Pink. She encouraged me to publish my not-so-fictional work about Camp Carroll.  She nudges well. I enjoy wordsmiths such as she and colleague BJ Best.

Earlier today I had some delightful electronic interactions with several trustee and former trustee friends and from a dear former colleague now in the Netherlands.  Later today I’ll be having lunch with another colleague, and friend (Dave MacIntyre) whose Dad (Bruce) was one of my early mentors and role models. Such a richness of relationships have blessed my life.

I especially enjoy this year the office presence of my student research assistants. In their presence (and with their talent development) I find myself happy, productive, and more youthful. With this week’s announcement that the Rankin renovations are on schedule for my return to an office there, I am hopeful that I can expand their numbers from the three that I presently have. (I already have a waiting list of three.) I’ll have some 200 boxes of materials to retrieve from storage, peruse, use, or discard. Stay tuned.

 

Brain HealthCDICLCurious David

Curious David Redux: Ten Brain Enriching Resources


As I continue my investigations and writing about brain health and brain training, I am interested in “vetting” resources that I think are best evidence-based, rich in fact, and readable. Here are ten current favorite resource links. Click them for details.

  1. Harvard Medical School Guide to Cognitive Fitness
  2. Alzheimer’s Association Articles
  3. Dr. Michelle Braun’s insights (also visit her Psychology Today blogs and her web page): 
  4. A recent Oprah wellness presentation
  5. National Institute of Health/ Aging Resources
  6. Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward (2017)
  7. The Human Brain Project
  8. The Global Council on Brain Health
  9. Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  10. Brainfacts.org
Curious David

Curious David Redux: Brain Boosting or Bloated Claims?

Please forgive any duplication of earlier blog posts as I continue my mastery of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and winnow my writings of the past 10 years before grouping them  into e-books. I am attempting to make sure that the pieces are still germane and that there are no dead links.

Curious David Redux:
For Christmas nephew Alex gave me some “brain challenging” puzzles.  For a very short while I was able to fool him (and myself!) about my mental acumen by solving two of them in a few minutes. Then my beloved, intellectually curious grand nieces and grand nephews (ages 5 through 8) exposed me and put my achievements into context. They quickly took apart the remaining two puzzles which I had avoided because I thought that they were too difficult for me!  I  still haven’t figured out how to put the puzzles back together!

Later that evening grand nephew Cole invited me to play a board game “Brain Games for Kids.” I had reason to heed the warning on the box!

 

My mind was indeed blown away as he outperformed me very quickly — answering all questions correctly and gleefully (but kindly) correcting me when I failed to know the answers.

Putting his success into context, 1) he probably had memorized all the questions and answers and 2) he is quite precocious. Still, the children taught me a number of lessons and raised a number of questions for me to ponder. Are these additional signs of changes in my aging brain?  Should I stop comparing myself to those younger than I? Are there brain fitness strategies they use which could inform me? Are there deleterious effects of their constant use of of iPads and cell phones? Is this why I focus much of my research time on the topics of brain health and aging?

In an earlier blog piece I summarized five preliminary conclusions I had reached as a result of my immersing myself with my research students  investigating the claims of brain fitness training companies. I hope to continue that research in the Fall and to build upon what I learned at a Brain Health Virtual Summit. (I also am looking forward to participating in the 2018 SharpBrains Brain Health Virtual Summit.)

  1. “Brain Training” and brain health products is a huge, lucrative and growing industry with very expensive market research reports! Alas, I did not have the $7,150 to purchase such a report. Click this link to read the abstract.
  2. There exist a number of excellent, current, well-written and understandable science-based guides to maintaining cognitive fitness and brain health (e.g. Click this link to see an example of this Harvard Medical School paper).
  3. There exist excellent scholarly reviews of the efficacy (and validity of claims made) of “brain fitness” programs. The best such review is by Daniel J. Simons et al. which can be found here: (Click this link to see it in full).

              Among the authors’ important conclusions and advice most germane to this blog piece (and the next series i am contemplating writing) are the following:

“Consumers should also consider the comparative costs and benefits of engaging in a brain-training regimen. Time spent using brain-training software could be allocated to other activities or even other forms of “brain training” (e.g., physical exercise) that might have broader benefits for health and well-being. That time might also be spent on learning things that are likely to improve your performance at school (e.g., reading; developing knowledge and skills in math, science, or the arts), on the job (e.g., updating your knowledge of content and standards in your profession), or in activities that are otherwise enjoyable. If an intervention has minimal benefits, using it means you have lost the opportunity to do something else. If you find using brain-training software enjoyable, you should factor that enjoyment into your decision to use it, but you should weigh it against other things you might do instead that would also be enjoyable, beneficial, and/or less expensive.

When evaluating the marketing claims of brain-training companies or media reports of brain-training studies, consider whether they are supported by peer-reviewed, scientific evidence from studies conducted by researchers independent of the company. As we have seen, many brain-training companies cite a large number of papers, but not all of those directly tested the effectiveness of a brain-training program against an appropriate control condition. Moreover, many of the studies tested groups of people who might not be like you. It is not clear that results from studies of people with schizophrenia will generalize to people without schizophrenia, or that benefits found in studies of college students will generalize to older adults. Finally, just because an advertisement appears in a trusted medium (e.g., National Public Radio) or is promoted by a trusted organization (e.g., AARP) does not mean that its claims are justified. Consumers should view such advertising claims with skepticism.”

4. Many cognitive training studies and brain training companies overpromise results, cite the same methodologically faulty studies, cite studies funded by their organization,  ignore best practice experimental designs (see point 2 above), and fail to take into consideration placebo effects (Here is a simple, well-designed,  study indicating how EXPECTATIONS may cause the outcome attributed to cognitive training.)

5. Many helpful insights into memory loss can be gleaned from literature such as Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and from individuals sharing first-hand experiences such as in the beautiful bogging in Sally Remembers.

 

— Still curious at age almost 69,

David

AgingBrain health supplementsCDICLCurious David

Curious David Redux: Brain Health Resources

P1110785

Today I made additional considerable progress obtaining, reading, and vetting information about brain health issues. Thanks to Alvaro Fernandez at Sharpbrains.com for corresonding with me about the forthcoming 3rd edition of the Sharpbrains Guide to Brain Fitness. I look foward to “attending” the 2018 Sharpbrains summit in December. LinkedIn feeds are now alerting me to a number of resources about Brain Health Summits (such as this one)  and dead-ends in pharma funded research (such as this one).

Increasingly there is a need for paying attention to the good work of organizations such as the  Truth in Advertising Organization (truthinadvertising.org). Recently they did good work exposing false claims about memory enhancement supplements such as Prevagen.

I still hope to pull all this information into one place in e-book format before I leave Carroll for the summer on May 13. I have now discovered several easy ways to convert WordPress files into Word or pdf formats. Stay tuned!

 

 

alumniCurious David

Curious David Redux: Thank you, Graduating Carroll Seniors: Flashbacks and Flash Forwards

The closer I get to retirement, the more meaningful Carroll graduations, past traditions, and the relationships I have formed with students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the Carroll Community become. Carroll has changed greatly since I wrote the message to seniors below. Baccalaureate is now at 5:00 Friday evening without Faculty regalia. Commencement (no longer on Mothers’ Day) is now at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The physical appearance of Carroll continues to change daily with new or renovated buildings.

Carroll has a new President, Cindy Gnadinger. I have personally known five other Carroll Presidents since I arrived in February of 1978. And Carroll Emeriti, faculty, and students look younger to me every day :). Certain Carroll music triggers strong emotions.

My feelings about my overall Carroll experience haven’t changed from what I wrote years ago (or how I felt here forty years ago) so I re-share them here–with a few photos taken since then!

Curious David Redux: Reflections from a few years ago:

As is my habit of the past many years, I am sitting in my office on this graduation day morning reflecting. I drive in early to ensure getting a parking place before the proud families start arriving. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, babies, babies-soon-to-join-the world—-the campus explodes with sounds, colors, emotions, and celebratory chaos. Often I walk around campus taking photos (or accepting an invitation to be photographed).

My emotions are mixed–not unlike that of the soon-to-be-graduates. Joy–sorrow–elation–sadness–weariness–rejuvenation. At the end of a long Commencement Day  I experience some emptiness and some poignant, positive residual reminders. I often tease my graduating research assistants that upon their exit from campus I “exorcise” our shared office space to better allow me to adjust to the temporary emotional vacuum caused by their absence from “Dr. David’s Neighborhood.” You know of course that when you graduate, you remain in my memories as I have come to know you–and you remain forever at that age! Forever young.

 

 

CCEPILOT

I can hear chapel bells. Soon I’ll hear the chimes of the campus hymn and that of the alma mater.  My sitting in the front row has its liabilities as I’ll feel that I must behave in an uncharacteristically well-mannered fashion!

Each Carroll Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremony is special to me just as is each student whom I have gotten to know.  I have chosen (or been called) to teach and to learn and though they (you) may not realize it, I truly do learn so much from my students and from the challenges of trying to teach them well.

Thank you, graduating seniors past and present (and for a few ever so short more future time) for all YOU have taught me. Put to good use your many talents, your energy, your playfulness, your empathy, your resilience and your creative ideas to make the world a better place. Come to appreciate (as I did upon graduating from Oberlin College in 1971) that you have been privileged to receive a good education due not only to your own sacrifices and hard work but also due to the many members of the larger community whom you may never have met or whom you took for granted–Board Members, Administration, Staff, Faculty, Physical Plant Staff, and Alumni–who deeply care about you.

The bells call me. And I have promises to keep…

——-Simply David

Amy and David

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Curious David Redux: Paean to My Best Friends

A few minutes ago I finished reading Sigrid Nunez’s beautiful novel The Friend (more about it can be found here).

I still am choked up in tears from reading it. It strikes close to home, and it triggered reflections about my best past and present canine friends.

Curious David Redux: Here are some of my earlier reflections about dogs who taught me lessons. As the biped protagonist in Nunez’s novel comments to Apollo, the Great Dane, “Remember, I’m only human. I’m nowhere as sharp as you are.”

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Reflections:

Today I am “dog-tired”–it was a three dog night yesterday as we celebrated a birthday with dear friends.

Several summers ago I was humbled at how much I have yet to learn about teaching and about learning. A friend Mary directed her  beloved, devoted blind Newfoundland Ernie to “rescue” me by, on command, swimming out to a rowboat where I feigned being in distress.

Blind Ernie

I was saved as he towed me back guided only by the loving voice of Mary.

Reflections: It has been 6 months since Robin the Newf left my life. She leaves me with many fond memories and enduring lessons about patience, love, persistence, forgiveness, coping with pain, loyalty, and playfulness.

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Her successor, Leo the Great, already is reminding me of all those lessons and, in his own way, offering me new things to learn.

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Reflections: Robin and Glenn the Big Dog and Mollie the Golden Retriever and Queenie and Duchess and Snapper and Freud and Leo have made me laugh and cry, exhausted and rejuvenated me, and constantly pointed out to me the frailties of being a human. My father-in-law, Walter G. Schmidt deep love of dogs was extolled in his eulogy given by the Reverend Charles Valenti-Heine:

…”And that world, for Walter, included his beloved Canines. Lucy, Canis, Oaf, Chaucer, Trollope, and Freud, the last-named because Walter was told that the companionship of a good dog was of greater worth to people than any other therapy! The one time I remember Walter speaking in church was when Trollope died, and he stood up during joys and concerns to opine: ‘If there is a place in heaven for Presbyterians, then surely there is a place for greyhounds.’

I have had many dog role models both real and fictionalized. As I child I fondly remember Mr. Peabody and his seven-year-old sidekick, Sherman. I am attracted to the nonsense of dog cartoons in the same way that my dogs are attracted to scents.  Though many of my friends claim I behave more like Scott Adams’ cartoon character Dilbert, I have often learned from the philosophies of his character  Dogbert and from Snoopy.

Rudyard Kipling  and Lord Byron have warned us of how dogs can capture your heart! Dogs continue to teach me so much! Some day soon I hope to be their full-time student.

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Do dogs match their owners in physical appearance? in personality? There is an interesting body of research dealing with these questions. Under what circumstances does pet ownership reduce stress? increase it? Why in the world did I spend $250 tonight on pet treats? Perhaps I still am affected by my first reading of Argos‘ blind enduring faith. Robin, the patient gentle giant, knows.

Here is some anecdotal evidence provided by one of my playful students that owners like me (though there was sometimes confusion between Robin and me and, presently, Leo and me as to who is the owner) may start looking like their dogs!

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Curious David

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Reflections

I enjoy arriving at work by 7:15 am. It gives me time to walk around the Art building to discover the many new student and faculty works of art that are showcased in the different galleries. It will be interesting to see on April 23 the finalized versions of the sculptures which students did (including of your truly!). You can learn more about that project by clicking this link. It has been an (In)Sightful academic year for me! Thank you, Amy Cropper and Saskia de Rooy, for expanding my artistic horizons.

I look forward later today to a “check in” phone call from my consulting partner, Greg Schneider, in preparation for our meeting next week. Being a partner in Waukesha’s Schneider Consulting (here is our web page) has been invaluable in opening my eyes and horizons to corporate culture.

My partnership, long-standing friendship, and interactions with Greg and Jane Schneider always help me step back, rebalance, slow down, recenter, and put into context what I want to accomplish with the talents I have or that I  need to develop. Greg and I started working at Carroll College on the day. Here he is in 1978 with another Walter Young Center colleague!

Time to review, cull, revise, or delete more of my earlier blog writings. I’m going to focus today on pieces dealing with reflection, refocus, and redirection. Apparently I wrote at least 28 such pieces. I may ask student research assistant Kristen to pull them together into an e-book format.

From May 2017…

Two books to read laid out before me: David Pogue’s Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Show You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life and Jocelyn K. Glei’s Unsubscribe: How to Kill email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real work Done. Each lends themselves to reading and learning when one has short “down times” for learning.

I should be finishing the grading of the exam I gave yesterday while I proctor the exam I am now giving. Yesterday Leo the Grading Dog and I devoted five hours to the uncompleted task–and decided that we needed sleep to continue. I playfully attempted to engage former students on Facebook in a crowdsourcing grading “experiment.” Alas, a lot of LOL’s. About as successful as my tabled crowdfunding proposal:).

Instead, I am reviewing all my past WordPress posts, Tweets, and Facebook Photos as I plan for major projects next semester. I am contemplating pulling all that material together in a “Best of Curious David” e-book. I hope to engage in extensive self-publishing with students, teach a research seminar dealing with “brain fitness/training” apps and interventions, and pull together 40 years of Carroll-related archival documents that really should not be forgotten. My physical office environment could be challenging as the Rankin Hall reconstruction begins–necessitating a moving from the office.

Here are some previous (unedited–I have not checked the links’ viability) musings about final exams. Clearly the fact that I pondered these questions before suggests that I still haven’t come up with a clear answer–yet I see value comprehensive, multifaceted finals despite the costs of time to grade them.

Final Reflections on Final Exams  Dec 20, 2009 Read More