Category: alumni

alumniCurious David

The Wisdom (and Freshness) of Freshmen

As I continue the process of winding up and winding down and sorting through 40 years of files, photos, and memories, I have rediscovered a lot of things — like a Hinakaga yearbook photo from 1984 of my two quarter-of-a-century departmental colleagues Virginia and Ralph Parsons. Thank you Ralph and Ginny for sharing your wisdom with me during my “freshman” faculty years.


Four years ago, I wrote the following blog piece in an open letter to the Freshman class of 2018, many of who will be graduating in less than 50 days. I shared this with one of my first-year students, Kristen (whose mother attended Carroll and whose aunt was my research assistant). Here is what I wrote four years ago:

Dear First-year Student,

I may not meet you for a while since I am not teaching first-year courses as often as I used to. I do offer you a heartfelt welcome.  You may well be the son or daughter or niece or nephew of one of my former students. That happens a lot.

First-year students have played a very important positive role in my life during my 36+ years of teaching here. You have made me smile, motivated me to learn from your enthusiasm, made me proud as I have seen you grow across your years here, and made me especially happy when we have been able to stay in touch across the years.

You sometimes have been favorably referred to as “the App Generation.” Don’t forget that your best apps are your values and your mind. You, the Class of 2018, do have very different life experiences than I. I look forward to learning from you and with you–if not directly this year, then in subsequent years. Do drop by and say hello in the interim.

Here are a few friendly suggestions I offer based on my years of teaching and learning.

Don’t be too proud to seek help or advice from faculty, staff, administrators, and older students here–especially those who know the campus and our students well.

Take advantage of opportunities to try new things, to meet new people (especially from different cultures) and to learn how to learn better. Let us become a global choir of learning.

Research suggests that the quality of relationships (e.g. with peers, with faculty)  is central to a positive, successful college experience.

Set aside some time for self-reflection.

Let  self-discipline enable you rather than imprison you, find the right balance between service and involuntary servitude, between doing a right thing and doing things right. My own freshman year at Oberlin College in 1967 was informative and formative, lonely and elating, value challenging and values affirming. I envy you the learning opportunities that are here.

The last time I taught a first-year seminar (dealing with Internet Learning tools) I asked freshmen to reflect upon their freshman year–and I returned their paper to them when they were seniors. I asked Kristen to share her experiences during her first year at Carroll. Here are her thoughts:

As I start to wrap up my freshman year at Carroll University, Dr. Simpson suggested that I take the time to step back from my busy schedule and reflect on my first year of college.

One of the main things I noticed right away about college was the improved maturity in my peers. In my first semester, I was astonished to see how everyone treated each other with kindness and respect. Not only this, but you can tell the students at this university want to engage in the subject. Even when the content is not pertaining to their major, they still take the subject seriously.

Originally, I thought that taking classes that were not pertaining to my major were a waste of time. However, after taking multiple general education classes, I realized the value of them. One of my favorite classes that I took at Carroll was called Music of the Movies. It was very insightful and focused on how movies and culture changed overtime. I can definitely see how these general education courses can help students who do not know what do to in the future. These classes have helped challenge me in becoming a better overall student and person.

Working with a professor has also challenged me in ways my classes never have. To be able to work with someone who is knowledgeable in my field of study is an incredible unique opportunity. I have not only learned more about my field of study, but I am also challenged in ways I never thought before.

I can also tell I have changed as an individual. Throughout my high school career, I was extremely shy and had a lack of confidence in myself. I would rarely ask for help from my teachers. Although I still struggle with my confidence at times, I am, however, more talkative with my peers and professors. I also contribute in more classroom conversations and never hesitate to ask for help when needed.

Throughout this first year, I have learned more about myself than ever before. Although it can be quite difficult at times to balance between education and sanity, overall, I find college to be an unexpected enlightening experience.

alumniCulturesCurious David

Bridging the 3 Cultures: The Wonder of Art




alumniCurious DavidStrategic Planning Data Resources

Strategic Plan Data Mining 101

What might prove useful resources to (re)visit as Carroll begins a Strategic Planning Process?’s recent release College/University ROI data base (see below) reminded me of the value of being aware of such resources and of the importance of understanding their value, their assumptions, their limitations, and their potential uses and misuses. Below are a few of my favorite data resources. What have I missed?

  1.’s recent release of 2017 College/University ROI data base
  2. CollegeScoreCard (click on link and try it) wonderfully introduces an important trend toward TRUE TRANSPARENCY in data sharing and a very useful interactive data base for comparing schools
  3. the UW Accountability Dashboard similarly exemplifies this healthy trend.
  4. College Results Online is  such a gem in the rough.
  5. Chronicle of .Higher Education (I pay for premium access.)

  6. AAUP Salary Data: Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

  7. Executive Compensation at Private Colleges: Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

  8. IPEDS (individual institutions and comparisons

  9. Here is a link to the U.S. Department of Education’s  data base “trove” that drives its data base.  

  10. And if you work dig deeply enough, you can even find historical data on one’s own institution

alumniCurious DavidDay 1

Day 1 (Professor’s Perspective) September 2017

Even after almost 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 component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at Ohio State. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing into excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes I whistle a happy tune! Click that link and you’ll receive that sage advice from someone who sings better than I. 🙂

These academic first days of the semester pressures I feel 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. [Note the irony that I just now am posting this blog post due to first-semester busyness!].

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 both students and for me.

This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs) and PSY492, a Research Seminar focusing on the topic of brain-training software.

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.  How amusing that even in that class, the one in which I am most confident and comfortable, I missed seeing the dog who was present!

Was my failure to notice canine Kia (whom I had met numerous times and who was even featured in a local newspaper story) an example of what Daniel Simons calls Inattentional blindness? Or was my attentional oversight/ blindness due to my being used to always having a canine companion near me, under me or underfoot?


I’m quite excited about teaching the Research Seminar PSY492. Every day we meet there will be opportunities for data analysis, critical reading, reflective writing, and discussion related to the course’s topic. Relationship building is easier here since I already know all 10 students.

Let Week Two Commence!!

alumniApp GenerationCurious DavidResearch Seminar

Top Ten Learning Tools to Be Used in My Research Seminar

The deadline is approaching for participating in Jane Hart’s 2017 survey of Top 10 Learning Tools. My nominations this year reflect the tools I am using (or will be teaching) in a Research Seminar dealing with “Brain Fitness Training ” software.

  1. SurveyMonkey. Using SurveyMonkey I have already sent my 10 students a survey assessing their baseline familiarity with technology learning tools, their past research experience, and their career plans. I also use this tool in my consulting work with Schneider Consulting. Here are some of my earlier thoughts about SurveyMonkey.
  2. WordPress. I enjoy blogging, and I have found that my students can develop a love or respect for writing by being taught how to use this tool. Here is an example of some WordPress writing by two of my last year’s research assistants.
  3. Diigo. The research that I do with students very much requires teamwork and sharing of information. I find Diigo a handy resource for sharing bookmarks and I am impressed at how it has improved across the years. I have already created a Diigo group Brain Fitness Training: Exploring the validity of claims about brain fitness software and brain training apps and added 20 resources. Let me know if you’d like to be invited to contribute to its development.
  4. SPSS. This is still the major data analysis software I use and teach. Mastery of it has helped my students get jobs and scholarships.
  5. ScreenFlow. We may have reason to make screencasts. My students and I often use it to create lessons for other students.
  6. Quizlet. I’m going to experiment with students’ developing their own tests to assess material that they need to memorize.
  7. Google Drive. My students find this very useful for collaboration.
  8. Createspace. This is my current favorite tool for self-publication of books.
  9. Linkedin. Not all my students will (immediately) go on to graduate school. I am very impressed at recent improvements in LinkedIn.
  10. Skype. No doubt we shall need to communicate with other researchers throughout the country or the world (e.g. at the University College Groningen).


alumniCurious David

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 become. Carroll has changed greatly since I wrote the message to seniors below. Baccalaureate is now at 5:00 Saturday evening without Faculty regalia; Commencement is now at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The physical appearance of Carroll continues to change daily with new buildings. Soon there will be a transition of Carroll Presidents–I have personally known five of them since I arrived in February of 1978. Emeriti faculty look younger to me every day:).

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

As is my habit of the past 35 years, I am sitting in my office on this Sunday morning of Commencement, 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 the day sometime around 4:30 –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.” When you graduate, you remain in my memories as I have come to know you–and forever at that age! Forever young.


I can hear chapel bells. Soon I’ll hear the chimes of the campus hymn and that of the alma mater. At 10:00 I’ll attend the Baccalaureate ceremony marching in wearing my cap and gown. According to the “certificate of appreciation” I recently received this is my 35th year of service to the institution.  I’ll immediately follow Provost Passaro, and Dean Byler into the auditorium. Sitting in the front row has its liabilities as I’ll feel that I must behave uncharacteristically well-mannered!


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 years future) 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 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

    Alison prepares for her presentation in Spanish.

Amy and David


Carroll College CU FB Old Main


alumniCarroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious David

Senior Reflections: Alison and David

This year’s Carroll Campus-wide year-long theme was “Citizenship” so I thought it might be appropriate to share this discussion between two “senior citizens”:).  Alison is one of my two graduating senior research assistants. She will be attending graduate school at Illinois State in the Fall.

AgingalumniCarroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious David

Can my old brain be (re)trained?

There are buildings on campus whose cornerstone bears a date before my birth. My father-in-law walked in some of these very buildings in 1936. Voorhees Hall was a women’s dorm when Walt walked this campus.

So many memories. Some converge; some change. Some researchers argue that memories change every time that they are retrieved.

With age comes my increased interest in the inevitable aging process. At one time or another I have written over 80 blog pieces (or drafts) about relationships between aging and memory.

Here are a few: (Clicking on all the links in each and viewing their contents might be a valuable brain fitness exercise!):)

  1. Thanks for the memories!
  2. I’m not sure that you will remember me but…
  3. Brain fitness training (Part 1)
  4. Brain fitness training (Part 2)

After consulting with my four student research assistants, I’ve decided to focus my Fall semester research seminar on the topic of “brain fitness”—fact and fad.  I am particularly intrigued by the promises of the program “BrainHQ.” Time to don my skeptical thinking cap:


alumniCarroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsWriting

Why Write?


At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year I indicated to my Chair, Dean, and Provost that I wanted to write a lot this year—especially with students.  I reaffirmed that intention (to an international audience!) in an individual learning plan I was “required” to share while participating in Jane Hart’s “Supporting Everyday Workplace Learning” workshop. david-simpsons-individual-learning-plan

I shared eight lessons that I learned in that workshop with my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, and WordPress audiences in this blog piece.

Three individuals have had a major influence on my writing since my joining the Carroll community in 1978. Carroll colleague Jim Vopat taught a course entitled “Why Write” that I had an opportunity to visit.Thank you, Jim Vopat, for giving me direction.

An influential present Carroll colleague BJ Best continues to successfully engage students in writing both by regularly modeling it and by the creation of an online, student-centered journal, Portage Magazine.  Thank you, BJ, for all you have shared—including students eager to learn. I can’t wait to entwine myself in the writing of that long threatened promised adventure stories about David in Carroll-Land.

For the past decade I have followed with interest and admiration the blogging and developments in thinking of Jane Hart about uses of technology tools to enhance learning.  Motivated by her initial contributions, I created a first-year seminar course based on her top twenty-five tools. More recently, my students have begun writing and publishing books about the learning tools they found of most value. We are in the process of seeking financial support to expand that effort. Thank you, Jane Hart, for your fellowship, mentorship, and friendship across the ocean.

My introduction to blogging tools reinvigorated my personal interest in writing.  It enhanced my judgment of the importance and value of including writing exercises in my classes. I am convinced that properly taught, introduced and regularly used, blogging and micro-blogging tools can enhance a student’s civic responsibilities (e.g. writing a thoughtful response to a New York Times online article or to a local paper—rather than merely clicking the “like” button). They can be used to improve students’ writing and enjoyment of writing, and can expand their knowledge about “publishing” and making the blogosphere and the world a better place.

alumniClutterCurious DavidHappinessMeaning

Refocusing, Renewal, and “Hours longer we to bury was.”


Version 3Last night I took the time to wander and wonder outside our North Lake home with my camera taking pictures of the super moon.  The evening not only was beautiful but the act of having to focus and refocus my camera helped develop in me thoughts about the importance of focus and refocus in my life. Reflection and refocusing in one’s life for me is not only good but imperative.

I’m sitting at my desk for the moment between the time of administering two exams. How best should I use this “free” time? Too often I use the time to start yet another project. Instead this time I am reflecting.  I also am trying to dictate this blog piece using my Nuance Dragon Professional software. It surely has improved in terms of its accuracy and ease of use, and it is far past time for me to learn how to use it to my advantage.

Still, it has its limitations (or perhaps I still need to learn better its features).

“Hours longer we to bury was.”  That gibberish was what the software produced when I attempted to quote something I read in Latin almost 50 years ago:  “ars longa, vita brevis.” Art is long; life is short.

I had forgotten that the passage was originally attributed to Hippocrates. I embrace his  more complete quotation:

“Life is short,and art long,opportunity fleeting,experimentations perilous,and judgement difficult.”

So much to learn; so little time. So much beauty to discover and to appreciate.


So many perilous experimentations to be risked in order to live more fully. So many difficult judgments to make. So many difficult conversations needed.  Yet, I continue to believe that I have been blessed by being given the opportunity to teach and to learn continuously.

Time to return to the classroom—renewed…