Tag: Aging

AgingCognitive TrainingCurious David

Thanks for the Memories

 

I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom this week.  I’m particularly excited about what we may be able to accomplish in my research seminar with the ten students enrolled. The first two weeks will be baseline assessments of my students’ research skills. Reading (the novel, Still Alice—-and watching the movie; published journal articles–exemplary and poor research; popularized science articles), writing (blog pieces with me; self-published books; grant proposals); review (statistics and experimental design–designing DOABLE studies for every design that I teach in my book), and much development of thinking skills

Here are some earlier blogs I wrote as my thoughts began to focus on the topic I want to pursue “Brain Fitness Training Programs. I hope to tap into the knowledge of several Carroll graduates who share these interests.

Can one teach this old dog new tricks?

Is my old brain fit to be tied?

We’ll even tackle Tom Brady’s just gone public cerebral work out!

Time to discuss my plans for the course with Leo as we go for our pre-bedtime walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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).

 

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:

 

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.

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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…

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Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious DavidMemory

Carroll Moments…

Tonight I’ll finish reading Meg Wolitzer’s novel The Interestings. I teased my student assistants recently that I’d love to follow the trajectory of their lives over the next thirty years as Meg Wolitzer does her characters.In some ways I have been able to do that for past students, by comparing where they are now (as conveyed to me by Facebook, Linkedin, and campus visits) with the information I have kept in their advising folders—photos, letters, occasionally even a paper they wrote. Recently I was reunited with a former student (selfie available upon request) whose daughter might well be enrolling this year and might even be assigned to work with me. So many memories triggered by the Carroll chimes, familiar places, and familiar faces. Do feel free to share your Carroll Moments with me…

Below are some photos from a number of years ago. Precious Carroll moments which evoke a number of stories about you!

 

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App GenerationAppsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsPersonal Learning Tools

Reading, Writing, and Watching User Manuals

whetting-my--app-etite----too-many-apps

Maybe it is my aging. Maybe it is a lack of motivation. Maybe it is a lack of focus on my part. Gone are the times when I used to master a new piece of software or a new computer in a few hours—exploring every drop down menu. Gone is my ability (or the time needed) to write a succinct user’s guide for the new machine and feel comfortable being a resident expert of its capabilities. Ah, my TRS 80 Level I machine—sometimes I miss you!

Fortunately now there are increasingly available excellent screencasts which clearly explain features of software. I find of special value MacMost Videos, Screencastsonline.com, and the superb presentations by David Sparks. When I am producing my own screencast I find most useful Screenflow though I am becoming impressed with Clarify‘s didactic potential.

Just downloaded the new OSX Yosemite Operating System onto one of my Mac’s. I find that it is worth the investment to purchase online tutorials that hand-hold one through the different features. I’ll have my undergraduate research assistants go through them before we install it on one of my office machines. In the interim I need to cycle through all my apps and see which ones work with the new OS, which don’t but are essential for my needs, and which ones I no longer need or have totally forgotten



Carroll ReflectionsCurious DavidGraduation

“I’m not sure if you will remember me, but …”

The letter was posted out of state on April 29, 2014. It appeared in my campus mail box a few days later. I glanced at the hand-written envelope (too) quickly, guessed that it might be a (sigh, yet another) solicitation for a letter of recommendation, and didn’t have a chance to open it until the following Saturday while I was proctoring my first final exam.

Dr. Simpson,

     I hope that this letter finds you in good health and spirit. I’m not sure if you’ll remember me, but you did something for me that I’ve never forgotten.

The letter-writer (a former academic advisee and not the academically strongest of students) had graduated three years after I had been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer. Therefore, he might have been aware of some of my health issues while he was a student here.  Alas, he’s right that I am not as good at remembering students as I once was. I suspect that some of that memory failure is age-related; some is caused, I think, by how Carroll has changed. Some by the sheer number of students I have taught in the past 36 years. And though I had no immediate recollection of the particular event he shared, nonetheless I recalled him in some detail even without going to my filing cabinet and pulling out his advisee folder.

In 2004 ,,, I called the College to inquire about online classes. The adviser I spoke with told me that you changed one of my grades allowing me to graduate. You gave me my life and I can never begin to thank you enough. … I never contacted you because I was embarrassed, but always so thankful for it….[B]ecause of what you did I have been able to get my Masters… and have the current job I hold.  I am about to leave for Afghanistan … And just want you to know that I have never forgotten what you did for me and have always tried to earn it and will continue to. Thank you so much. Respectfully,

I have only a vague recollection of the particular circumstance alluded to (but I verified its occurrence).

A student, about to graduate fails a final exam in one of my courses. Were there personal circumstances affecting their performance? Is this part of a pattern? Is there justified reason to give them an additional chance—say, an oral exam?

A student is just a few points away from the next higher grade needed to graduate. This is easier for me to resolve, because of my extensive training in statistics and measurement error I am aware of and sensitive to the imprecision of measurement. I am quite comfortable in this situation under certain circumstances allowing some subjective (human, humane?) factors to enter into my final judgment of the student’s demonstrated abilities and likelihood of future success.

I most assuredly would change a grade if I myself had made a clerical error in assigning a grade. My vague recollection is that the latter was the case in this instance.

Simple acts of kindness, even when unintentional, can have long-lasting effects. This I believe. I was overjoyed to hear from him and communicated my thankfulness for his letter and best wishes for safety while serving our country.

Psychology

Two Simple Studies with Potentially Impactful Results—if Replicated

When I was a graduate student, I would religiously read every article in every journal to which I subscribed. Alas, I have fallen out of that habit. One of my resolutions for the new semester is to invest more time in reading the scholarly journals to which I subscribe—and weaving the knowledge either into my teaching or my life.

As I prepare for a research oriented semester (two sections of Statistics and Experimental Design) and a Research Seminar, two articles in the December 2013 issue of Psychological Science intrigued me because of the simplicity of the experimental design and data analyses and the import of the results (if replicable).

In a short report entitled “Tryptophan Promotes Interpersonal Trust” Colzato et al. exposed 40 healthy adults to either an oral dosage of TRP a food supplement which is an essential amino acid contained in spinach, eggs, soybeans, and fish) or a neutral placebo. After an hour participants interacted in a game designed to measure trust. The participants who had ingested the TRP exhibited behavior indicative of trust to a significantly greater degree than participants who had received the placebo.

In an  equally intriguing group of studies reported in the same journal issue entitled “Aging 5 Years in 5 Minutes: The Effect of Taking a Memory Test on Older Adults’ Subjective Age” Hughes et al. experimentally demonstrated that older (but not younger) adults felt subjectively older after taking (or even after expecting to take) a standard neurological screening test which dealt with memory! Tremendous implications here for future research on the effects of context on self-perceptions of aging.