Category: Carroll Reflections

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Dear 2017 Carroll University Graduate…

Dear 2017 Carroll University Graduate…

Now is a good time to gather together some last thoughts about and for you. Because of my age seniority good looks  length of time at Carroll and rank of Full Professor, I march at the front of the line at Commencement (following Faculty Marshall Gary Olsen). 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, resisting wearing my Brewers’ or Carroll College hats).

For those of you I have met, I have done my best to teach you well but I am only human. Every student I teach is different, special, and 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. Thanks for the lessons.

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 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.

Give Carroll its due credit when it has earned it, but also offer constructive criticism when the institution has failed to meet your expectations for it. 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 of you to 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

 

 

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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.

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Denizens of Dr. David’s Neighborhood: Lizzie

Returning to my office two of my student research assistants were “at their work stations.” One was engaged in an animated phone conversation in Spanish with someone in Honduras. She has the difficult choice this weekend of choosing among three graduate school acceptances. Hasta luego, we have a brief team meeting where I update them on present and future projects (CrowdFunding proposal for extending their book publishing capabilities; a grant to fund brain fitness training research in the fall). I indicate that I also want to make a screen cast of each of them before Tuesday. Both Alison and Lizzie are very facile with technology learning tools such as iMovie. I share with them that I soon am going to need to find some new student assistants. THEY know best what goes on in Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood, so they will do my “vetting.”

I ask Lizzie to share her experiences as my research assistant.

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Shared Reflections With a Graduating Senior

What has kept me here almost forty years is not the buildings but the traditions, the faculty, staff, administrative, and trustee friendships–and the students. I asked one of my graduating senior research assistants to stop by and to spontaneously share some of her Carroll reflections. I promised to be well-behaved—i.e. no funny hats and unusually quiet:)

She laughed. She knows me well.

Arianna will be leaving me for graduate study at Marquette University in the Fall.

We recorded this from my MacBook Pro using the Capto screen casting software.

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Ruminations: CrowdFunding, Student Book-writing, and Grant-writing

 

I had a few “extra minutes” at work today for reflection. I’m awaiting (dis)approval of seeking Crowdfunding financial support to expand my students’ capabilities to self publish books. I am also writing a few small grants to fund some modest research comparing several different “brain fitness” programs (e.g. BrainHD and Lumosity).

Just for fun I chose to document my rambling ruminations by creating a screencast. I still find Screenflow easier for me to use than Capto or Camtasia. I favor using Skitch for Screenshots from my Mac. It is indeed hard to teach an old dogged professor new tricks (or to discard old tools).

In the screen cast below I am thinking out loud as I experiment with the camera software (iglasses)  and the microphone (a Yeti).  I am leaning towards using both for our next Student Guides to Internet Learning Tools (if funded). The first volumes of the new works will most likely focus on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Screencasting tools. Oops, time to go for a walk with my canine companion!

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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:

 

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In My Role as Professor I Wear Many Hats…

In my role as professor I wear many hats: teacher, researcher, mentor, coach. Sometimes, I confess, things can get kind of silly in Dr. David’s Neighborhood particularly around the Ides of March.

March Madness of campus life is in full bloom. Midterms; academic advising; students learning the outcomes of interviews. I asked two of my senior undergraduate research assistants to share their thoughts about interviews they recently had. Both of these talented students were accepted into graduate school for next year. I asked them to share with me how they had prepared for their interviews, what they experienced, and advice they would give to others. Here are their reflections on the interview process they experienced. Clearly I’ll need to change my ways before I job hunt–and perhaps don a different hat!

Alison: 

Preparing for an interview:

  • Dress to impress: It goes without saying that when you look your best, you feel your best. With that being said however, always wear something that you feel comfortable and confident in. If you are not comfortable with the clothing you are wearing, you will be constantly adjusting your clothing or distracted from the itchy sensation of your top. Always dress your best, but wear clothing that lets your personality shine and that does not distract you from your interview.
  • Keep going: As human beings we often make mistakes, it is part of our human nature. When interviewing, do not become distraught or overly concerned about stumbling over words, about saying the “right” word, or about forgetting to explain a detail about your qualifications. The beauty of life is that it keeps moving. Learn from your mistakes, but realize that graduate schools know that we are all human, and they watch how we pick ourselves up and continue on.
  • Prepare a question: To show engagement, graduate schools are looking for students who ask questions. Questions can be as simple as how many students are admitted into the program or as complex as asking about the curriculum of the school. In all situations, always have a question prepared to show interest and preparedness for the graduate program.
  • Engage students and faculty: Some graduate schools hold group interview days for all possible candidates to attend. While students want to make a good impression on the faculty, the graduate school is also looking at how well you interact and connect with other students. Because most graduate programs accept a small group of students, it is important that those students work well together and encourage one another during their studies. So, while it is important to engage faculty, make sure you are also interacting with other candidates.

Arianna:

As a senior in college planning to go on to graduate school, I have been preparing for interviews for many months now. Unfortunately, I have found that the best way to prepare for an interview is to experience an interview. Luckily, at Carroll University we have Career Services, so I was able to do a mock interview before my actual interview. Some students even do two or three mock interviews. This helped me more than words can express. The woman who worked with me made sure my responses sounded polished yet genuine, and she taught me interview techniques that I would not have known otherwise such as tying my answers back to the school. Despite having this practice, I was still nervous. But remember that nerves are good! They show you that you truly care, and they give you a little extra push to do better. Beyond this, I also made sure to do my research. Make sure you know the program and the school you are interviewing with. Lastly, have questions! I cannot stress that enough. I was told to make sure I had questions to ask, and I wrote all of my questions down beforehand and brought them with me in a pad folio. Interviewers notice this.

All of this preparation was beneficial to me, yes. Many of the basic questions “why this school?” “tell me about you” were asked. However, make sure to do more research on your program and common questions for your program. This is something I wish I had practiced more. Another thing I wish that I had remembered was that they brought me there for a reason.  Clearly they liked something about my application. So, when you are at an interview, remember to be yourself and prove to them you belong there. Throughout my group interview, I forgot to remind myself of this, and I started to compare myself to the other individuals interviewing with me. As hard as it is, DO NOT DO THAT. You will only psych yourself out and only hurt yourself. Also, dress well. If you do not own a suit and tie, buy one. If you do not own dress pants and a blazer, buy one. That is money well spent. Lastly, breathe. Again, they brought you there for a reason, so just breathe and do your best.

I am starting to hear bagpipes in my dreams. I shall miss these two students as they move on. Thank you A. and A. for putting up with my clowning around with you in Dr. David’s Neighborhood! You have taught me far more than you can imagine and I look forward to following your career trajectory.

 

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Journaling as a Daily Writing Activity

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While cleaning the office today 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.

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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 this past year.  I encourage my students and clients to create regular times for written reflection.

What journaling software do you use? Why?

 

 

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Why Write?

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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.

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And So It Begins….

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I usually arrive on campus to an empty parking lot. Today was no exception despite the road construction, school buses, and famous Waukesha trains.

The construction workers are already hard at work completing the new science building. New students adorned in their new tee shirts are exploring the campus making sure that they can find their classrooms.

An early morning phone call to ITS is quite successful both in resolving some traditional first of semester computer issues and in renewing some friendships. Daniel will be starting his 20th year here. Chris is a Carroll graduate. Both exemplify the authenticity in my belief that Carroll Cares.

Much mundane to accomplish today before the Cubs game. I hope to get a lot of serious writing done this year, but that block of time will not be available today.

Several of my student assistants have threatened promised to stop by. As I’ve written many times I’ve been blessed across the years with over 50 superb student assistants. It is fun and rewarding learning together. They keep me young(er). Tomorrow, rain or shine, I’ll answer the call of the bagpiper as the new freshman class is introduced to the Carroll academic world.

Thanks to all you alumni for sharing via LinkedIn and Facebook your responses to my earlier blog posts of this year. It’s nice knowing that I have a reader or two:)

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