Tag: Books

book-writingCarroll ReflectionsDesk Top PublishingStatistics and Experimental Design

Still Looking for Ways to Improve Courses After 36 Years of Teaching (Pt.1 of 2)

Proof of Self-Publishable Book I've talked about in progress for the past 30 years!

Proof-reading ready copy of self-published book I’ve talked about being in progress for the past 30 years!

I’m sitting on the porch attempting to complete the bulk of my Fall semester Carroll University course preparation before intentionally disconnecting from the Internet and enjoying five days of pure vacation in northern Michigan a week from tomorrow. This year I shall be teaching two sections of Psychology 205 (Statistics and Experimental Design) and one section of Psychology 303 (Experimental Social Psychology).

Tonight I am focusing on the Statistics and Experimental Design course—-a course that is particularly meaningful to me. For the past 20 years I have used a traditional textbook enhanced by my handouts. Students also have weekly labs to gain hands-on experience using SPSS (The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). I’ve been very pleased by evidence that students learn, and I have received consistent positive evaluations across the years about the course both at the course’s completion and from graduates. But, there is always room for improvement—especially improvement attempts informed by thoughtful reflection from former students. So help me out. Are the two ideas below worth pursuing?

Across the years I have repeated heard from students how much they valued handouts I have distributed. These have essentially been a succinct outline of my notes (though I must confess that I haven’t used notes in 15 years!). The handouts are replete with a congery of Carroll-specific data and data collection exercises.

I have been troubled by the high cost to students of textbooks and bothered by what I see as unnecessary inclusions in textbooks (e.g. color, study guides, constant revisions, and electronic ancillaries of dubious didactic value) which drive up costs. Therefore,  I’ve been recently exploring a number of self-publishing mechanisms (especially Lulu.com and ibooks author). One of the best resources about self-publishing I have come across is Rick Smith’s  (self-published!)  CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass (2014 edition). I found it very useful and useable.

I’ve recently carefully examined Amazon’s CreateSpace.com. I have been very impressed by its ease of use, pricing structure, and quality of physical book production. I am holding in my hand tonight a hard-copy proof of a very physically attractive book —my book—with a glossy cover which I created using Create Space’s Cover Creator software. If I proceed, the book can be printed on demand and/or, if I choose, it can be converted relatively effortlessly to Kindle format (This i have not yet tried). I can pretty much decide the cost to readers (I’ve toyed with the idea of it being free).

  1. Idea 1: I am tempted to give students the opportunity to buy a copy and to help me improve the book by their adding their own data collection examples. Alternatively, I hold off distribution until 2nd semester when I before which time I add information to the book (perhaps with some student/former student collaborators).
  2. Idea 2: I am also considering building into the course this semester formal instruction in using Survey Monkey software now that I have a Carroll account in addition to my Schneider Consulting account. I envision in my last few years’ teaching creating a Carroll Student Statistical Consulting service and this would be one of the tools the use.



BooksCurious DavidLiteratureReading

Preparing for Bloomsday: Reasons for Reading James Joyce

Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

I recently purchased a five-year journal and I’m using it, as a planning tool for things I want to accomplish in the next five years. Inspired by my sister-in-law who a year ago told me that she might attempt to read my late father-in-law’s copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve begun identifying “great books” which I’d like to have read in the next few years. Ulysses is on my short-list at the moment, though I vacillate on whether I should invest the time in READING it. If so, I want to finish reading it by next Bloomsday.

I just finished reading Kevin Birmingham’s excellent The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses and gained a fuller understanding of the importance of the book. I learned a lot from listening to James A. W. Heffernan’s  Great Courses lectures on Ulysses.  I have explored the James Joyce resources on Openculture.com including a recording of his reading from the book. I’ve read The Odyssey (but almost 50 years ago—perhaps I should read the critically acclaimed Fagles translation). My interest has been piqued by the virtual reality project to create an educational video game of Ulysses, and I have discovered Frank Delaney’s audio podcasts reading of the work.  I passed by the twitter edition! Perhaps I’ll attend Milwaukee’s Irishfest. I’ll definitely add in my five-year journal Ireland as one of the countries I wish to visit.

The question, now, is should I commit myself to reading Ulysses—or instead curl up with Robin the Newf and study my dog-eared copy of  Berke Breathed‘s Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989.