Category: Higher Education

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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

 

 

App GenerationAppsCarroll ReflectionsCarroll UniversityClutter

Decluttering Revisited


I seem to return to certain topics—like reducing virtual desk top clutter. I am once again in the process of reviewing “applications”—I’ve installed (first on my Mac, then on my Ipads, then on my PC’s).I read a thoughtful piece in the New York Times this morning suggesting that the urge to declutter or the perceptions of succeeding in the task may be misguided.And I just ordered a copy of a revised Stephen Covey book to assist in my reordering my priorities.

I have a goal of reducing the 37-years of accumulated office clutter by pulling together all the institutional research have done the past 37 years (thank you former research assistants) and combining it with present data collection processes. however, I am amused and annoyed to discover how technology sometimes makes data acquisition more difficult.

Right now two of my student research assistants are helping me pull together a blog piece dedicated to the Carroll alumni I have known as students across the past 37 years. Take a peak at a work in progress.

Let me know if you’d like a picture of you from year’s gone by. I’ll trade you for one of me OR of you today.

 

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Dear First-Year Student

Dear First-year Student,

I may not meet you for awhile 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.

 

 

 

 

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It’s about Time…

enjoypic

It is about time to discard my invisibility cloak and return to campus. TIME is the campus -wide theme 2014-2015 for Carroll University (Waukesha, WI, USA) where I teach. Across the course of my 36 years of teaching, I have enjoyed creating special courses (‘Why War?” “Happiness” “Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools”) when I have been allowed total control over the course. Were I to offer a course on this year’s theme, I would include the following required reading and videos:

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Post Commencement

2014RyanandPhoumany

 

Commencement Is history. Academic life takes on a different rhythm. End of semester revisiting of goals. Planning for fall semester courses. Reflection, rejuvenation, redirection.

One of the first academic professional development efforts I’ll engage in this summer is in reworking my Experimental Social Psychology course, PSY303. I need to somehow incorporate into it lessons learned from Diederik Stapel.

 

I also want to transform it into a major introduction to international/global applications. Any suggestions from readers of this blog would be most welcome.

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Dear 2014 Carroll University Graduate…

My thoughts may be even fuzzier this Saturday morning as I sit here in my office—a little over 24 hours before your Commencement Day. I have just returned from a three hour meeting in my role of Faculty Observer at a Board of Trustees Meeting, and I was most impressed by the poise, courage, compassion, and intelligence of the remarks made by your Student Senate President. Now is a good time to gather together some last thoughts about and for you. Tomorrow will be a joyful and tearful day as relationships change. 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 both at Baccalaurete (behind Dean Byler) and Commencement (following Faculty Marshall Pamela Pinahs-Schultz). That gives me an ideal seating position for seeing and hearing those of you in choir, 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 and 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.  As time and circumstances allow join them in giving back (without expectation of receiving “conovocation points”) your time, wisdom, networking resources, prospective student recommendations, and examples of skills or values developed here at Carroll that serve 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 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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What ELSE a professor does: On Being a Person of “Letters”

What does a professor DO? My answer to this question changes as a function of when you ask me—at different times of the academic year and developmentally at different times in my professional career.  I began to address this question in my first blog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October of 2007 when I was trying to explain to my father that a professor does more than sit in his office and read books (what a heavenly thought though). At that time I had the pleasure of being one of their online educational community columnists for a year.

One of the major demands on my academic life over and above teaching six classes per year, serving on committees,engaging in scholarly activity, academic advising, and mundane organizational responsibilities is writing letters of recommendation—an important task which consumes increasing larger amounts of my time. Having been a faculty member at Carroll for more than thirty-five years, I have gotten to know and be known by an increasingly larger number of students, staff, faculty, and alumni. I receive an unusually large number of requests from former students who graduated a number of years ago and who now are changing life directions (I truly welcome hearing from you—not only when you need something from me:)). The venue of these requests has changed from being asked in person and (in advance) to materials being placed under my office door, email, social media, telephone calls, Face Book messages, email forms from graduate programs–and occasionally via owl! I must admit I like staying in touch with former students, and the ways I keep connected with them have multiplied with the of use of email and the increased use of social networking tools such as Face Book  and Linkedin and David-in-Carroll-land.

There are temptations to streamline, to cut corners, become more efficient, achieve that elusive goal of an empty email box. I conservatively estimate that I was called upon to write 5-6 letters for at least 75 individuals this past year. Easy solutions which come to mind (some of which I have experimented with) include using a template or form letter, using a rating scale or check list, keeping the letter short, limiting the number of letters written per student, being very selective about for whom I write (—or just saying NO), limiting the amount of time written per letter, limiting the format to twitter restrictions of 140 characters, using a haiku format, and/or teaching students ways that they can make my letter-writing easier. Alas, I wish that I were able to follow my own advice!

There exists quite a literature of the art (how does one write convincing letter?) and science (how valid and reliable are they?) of writing letters of recommendations. One of my favorites that I return to time and again immortalizes some ambiguous phrasing I strive to avoid—but am often tempted to use.

Time to go to a meeting of the Board of Trustees in my capacity as a Faculty Oberver to the Board. This will probably be the last time I serve in this interesting capacity at Carroll. I’ve enjoyed getting to know and be known by these dedicated people.

Hope I can stay alert; it was quite late when we returned from the Brewers/ Yankees game at 1:00 a.m! Maybe I’ll plug into this song on my headphone.