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“Assessment” or, a Pedagogy of Possibility

After completing all the readings this week for GRAD 5114, there was one phrase from it all that continued to echo in my mind. “We believe in a pedagogy of possibility,” from Imagination First. Reading their examples of different “deaths” of imagination, such as when the little girl was discouraged by her father from being an astronaut because it is no life for a lady, or when the biologist is discouraged from working on his own project concerning suspended animation in the lab, I remembered instances in my life where my imagination was stifled, but also, when it was encouraged (and even once when it was overwhelmed). I want to share those experiences with you–not because they are better or different examples from those given in Imagination First, but because they might give some deeper insight into the specifics of how to encourage and teach imagination.

I’ll start with the time when my imagination was murdered, just to get the bad out of the way first, but also to demonstrate the major need for a cultural change in how teachers are viewed. As a child, I wanted to do many jobs, mostly related to fashion and the arts. I wanted to be a model, then a fashion designer, then a visual artist, then an art teacher. My parents were very encouraging, especially once I shifted away from model. They even enrolled me in extra art classes outside of school. However, in third grade, I had an amazing teacher. His classroom was unlike any I had ever experienced. He incorporated music and art into all subject areas to make them more interactive and interesting. I felt inspired to do actual school work for the first time ever. In second grade I made Cs in English because I didn’t even care to put periods at the end of my sentences and the only books I read were Junie B. Jones and the Magic Treehouse. But in third grade, I wanted to do more and try more–I tried to check out Anne of Green Gables and Little Women from the school library. The librarian did not let me. However, Mr. Decker and my dad spoke to her and she acquiesced to giving me the books. I read them, passed the Accelerated Reader tests with perfect scores, and was allowed to read whatever I wanted from them forward. I never forgot Mr. Decker, or the way he taught. It was the memories of his classroom that led me to want to be a teacher, so that from 4th grade onwards, whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be, the answer was easy. However, with my newly inspired love of learning, I became good at school. People became certain I was capable of great things. In freshman year of high school, my best friend’s mom asked me what I wanted to be. I said a teacher. She laughed. She asked why I would waste all my knowledge and talents like that. I clearly could find the cure to cancer, so why didn’t I focus on science or inventing? That killed a part of me. At the same time, she was an adult, so I believed her that I might waste my talents as a teacher. In undergrad, my majors were Psychology and Pre-Med. But I still never forgot Mr. Decker. Once I started working as a tutor, I finally realized she was wrong. Being a teacher wouldn’t be wasting my skills–it would be using the best of the ones I have. Mr. Decker changed my whole life–as a teacher, I could do that for my students too.

Now for the times when my imagination was encouraged. Both occurred in high school. For my sophomore English class, I had a new teacher who had just gotten her degree. She was young and could easily pass for one of the students, except for the fact she wasn’t in uniform like the rest of us. She tried a lot of different things for her class to find what worked and what didn’t, always asking for our feedback. Once she even let me teach the class because I had reach and watched Oedipus Rex many times, while she had not, and it’s plot is necessary background information for reading and interpreting Antigone (as we were doing in class). So, I knew that while she was the teacher, she valued my opinions and my ideas. It was honestly the first time I wasn’t terrified of a teacher as the authority figure. Because of this, when it came time to do our final projects for Tale of Two Cities, I asked her if I could do something different from the prompts she provided. In Tale of Two Cities, Lucie is described as the “golden thread.” I am a huge Greek mythology nerd, so wanted to tie this in with the myth of the Minotaur. I built a maze with a golden thread through it, and along the walls were my analyses of how the two stories tie together. This project took way more work and effort than the prompts provided, but I loved every second of creating it and fell like I thought more deeply and in new ways about Tale of Two Cities. In being allowed to create this project and think about how different ideas connect, I started to be able to do the same kind of divergent thinking in other subject areas. I took more risks. For example, in my junior year, I took a dual credit U.S. history class (my high school offered this class at our school, but we got college credit through Spalding University). One major arc of the class focused on the suffrage movement, and culminated in the suffrage project. There was of course a standard list of prompts, but I hated all of them. I asked if I could do something else. Dr. Hall was hesitant to allow me, but I told her I was willing to take the risk. I developed Suffragopoly–yes, a Monopoly board game based on the suffrage movement. I designed the board, property deeds, chance and community chest cards, and box design in Publisher and had them printed. I constructed the board and all the playing pieces. In going around the board, you went through the suffrage movement in chronological order. It was a successful project–on that day we presented our projects, Dr. Hall even let me and several classmates play it for a bit. She also spoke to a friend of hers that is a curator at a museum in Louisville and had it displayed there for awhile. My sister goes to the same high school I did, and now Dr. Hall doesn’t offer a prompt for the suffrage project. She gives some examples of past projects, but let’s students engage with the material in any way they desire. Now, all the projects are super intense and creative. Dr. Hall has thanked me for inspiring her to make that change with my project.

From these stories then, I hope to suggest that by interacting with students on a personal level so that they trust they can be creative in your class, you will get much better projects and learning in students. This is the same message from the TEDx talk by Michael Wesch earlier in the semester–when he allowed his student who was sleeping through class to design a game, the student was much more engaged. I studied many more facts about the suffrage movement to make my game perfect and historically accurate than I would if I just had to study for exam. I also retained those facts far longer, and my game, whenever I play it with my sister (because we do sometimes; in fact, we did this past Christmas break), reminds me of the whole of the movement. I would never keep copies of old exams to look back on for facts (Google is much faster for looking up information), but some old projects I have kept because they are interactive and fun and make me remember much easier (like the playdough model of the parts of the brain I made). So, when the readings for GRAD 5114 suggested doing away with assessment, and grades especially, I think it is possible and could be effective. The focus could be on projects of various sorts (like those suggested in Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning) and the “assessment” of these focused on the evaluative and liking aspects, rather than the ranking (letter grade) of them as suggested by Peter Elbow.

However, as promised in my introduction, I did want to mention one time when my imagination was overwhelmed. In my senior year of high school, a handful of girls from my school were selected to attend a day of the IdeaFestival (specifically the day for students called Thrivals). There were speakers from many different disciplines in science and medicine along with music and slam poetry performances. Several students were even able to compete against Watson, the super computer from Jeopardy. It was exciting and I was exposed to so many innovations and ideas, but I left feeling inadequate rather than inspired. This is because no part of the program focused on telling you how to have these big ideas, and the presence of so many big ideas in sequence made anything I had done seem small and meaningless, especially because I had no idea how to have such big ideas. So, if you want to encourage imagination, rather than stifle it, you have to be a model for students on how to think creatively, and if you are going to create prompts, create them in ways that encourage creativity and sideways learning as described in the readings by Ellen Langer last week. Like the authors of Imagination First, I believe that everyone has imagination and can be taught. I also believe that applying your imagination to material you are supposed to learn can be fun–as teachers, we can inspire students to use their imagination to make course material come to life in just as exciting ways as Mrs. Frizzle does on the Magic School Bus. So, together, in GRAD 5114 and beyond, let’s create a pedagogy of possibility.

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“Engaging the Imaginations of Digital Learners,” or, from teacher to peer learner

When I was in undergrad, on top of a full course load each semester because my major was Psychology and Pre-Med and I participated in the Honors program, I worked 30 hours per week–20 hours in the Bursar’s Office and 10 in the Tutoring Center. I started working in the Tutoring Center the summer after my first year as a Chemistry tutor at the recommendation of my Chemistry professor. At first, the idea of tutoring was terrifying because I felt I was in no way an expert in Chemistry and I did not know how to convey the information any better than Dr. Sinski. Even after attending tutor training (our Center required every tutor be at least Level 1 certified by the College Reading and Language Association), I did not feel much more confident. Of course learning about active listening and learning styles and types of difficult students was interesting, but none of it seemed to relate to what actually happened in tutoring sessions. Yes, I had students with different learning styles and some were “difficult” students and I listened to them actively, but I wanted tips for actually making my specific material easier for them to comprehend.

Eventually, I realized I wasn’t going to get those tips from any training, but from experience with what worked and what didn’t. I had the tools in my toolbox to get students thinking–the Socratic method, scaffolding, etc.–and I could build rapport with students such that they would be honest and tell me. That was when I realized that the mantra from tutor training that always seemed the most annoying–“you are not a teacher, you are a peer learner”–was perhaps the most important. The point of being a peer-learner was that you should not re-teach the material as you are not an expert, you should simply guide students to the correct answers and better learning by providing tricks for studying and remembering. However, this realization made me think that perhaps everyone would learn better and have a better classroom experience if teachers considered themselves peer learners.

A teacher as a peer learner would be the classroom facilitator, but they wouldn’t just lecture. They would lay a groundwork and then let the students guide the course, just like we would let tutees guide our tutoring sessions. In Contemporary Pedagogy class, several voiced how students do not do the reading before class, so it is difficult to have meaningful discussion. However, I feel like this stems from the fact that students expect that the teacher will lecture on the material regardless and they will then have all the information to do as well on the test as they feel they need to do. But what if we undermined this expectation by changing the way that readings are used for class–not as materials to be taught for adequate knowledge as obtained by testing, but as materials for completing learning activities in the class. For example, in two readings for this week’s Contemporary Pedagogy, A New Culture of Learning and Setting Students’ Minds on Fire, the authors mention how basing the course on an active learning paradigm, such as having a show and tell aspect demonstrating projects created using the skills from that week’s readings or playing a Reacting to the Past game where every student has a role in a debate making history come to life lead to students reading materials not assigned and engaging with fellow students about the course. By working on these projects with students, the teacher can act as a peer learner.

As a chemistry tutor, I eventually did find those tips about how to better get the content “point” across to students, but it was by working through problems with them and making mistakes. When a mistake is made, and you work to learn how to fix it, you never make the same mistake again. Eventually I felt like I learned all the pitfalls to solving Chemistry problems (I didn’t, but by final year tutoring, I had found all the ones my students would come across). And I had accumulated many tips for making content easier to remember (I had a great 30 minute spiel about how to name compounds properly and a flowchart for any conversion problem), but I did not develop them by myself. As a teacher now, and in the future, I don’t want to teach in the traditional sense. I want to be a peer learner. Even in my own field, new research will continue to develop and I will never be a complete expert in the sense of knowing everything there is to know about psychology (or even my niche within it, biological psychology). So, because as a peer learner you are humble and accept help from outside sources, the idea of having a digital aspect to the class is welcome, rather than something to worry about as a distraction. We’re all human, we all get bored, and some content just doesn’t excite us no matter how much our peer learner tries to show us how it relates to our life and interests (believe me, the beauty and importance of chemistry is challenging to get across to students who only seem to care about running track). But we can try to make it fun, and inclusion of games is just one way. I often directed my students to Sporcle for chemistry practice, and I frequently use Kahoot in presentations for seminar classes in grad school. Our students should want to win. Like the students at Quest to Learn, if learning is focused on developing practical skills to solve more problems (learning like occurs in video games, where you do not move onto the next level if you are not ready to learn it–like scaffolding in tutoring!), then school work becomes not only much more exciting, but also much more practical for doing jobs in the digital age.

One final point: because our students are digital learners, even if it is difficult (for example, I myself am terrible at games and coding and most things related to technology), we need to embrace digital resources. That’s also part of being a peer learner–you have to meet the tutee where they are. You can only be helpful if you can keep up and make the material applicable to how they live. Truly, technology can make all the difference. I often think back to when I attended Thrivals 3.0 at the IdeaFest in Lousville. The readings for this week aligned so perfectly. A researcher there spoke about how kids could teach themselves as demonstrated by his Hole-in-the-Wall project. Basically, he just stuck a computer in a wall with no instructions for use in a slum and kids quickly learned by working collaboratively how to use it. As a teacher who is also a peer learner, we can both be the provider of the “computer” and one of the kids learning from the group.

“Critical Pedagogy” or, no, no, no, don’t stick to the status quo

TABLE 1

COMPLEX CRITICAL PEDAGOGY GROUP DEFINITION:

Complex Critical Pedagogy (CP) comes from same place as Critical Race Theory in sociology and acknowledges intersectionality and difference.  Rooted in identity, and intersectionality, one’s position and interactions in the larger world are based on this identity. With that understanding, CP identifies intersectional identities and giving right resources to recognize the power structures which they are a part of and to challenge those same structures.  

  • As a teacher, understanding how the local, political, and social environments influence and impact individual learners, and with, and through, this knowledge tailoring methods to engage learners where they are and where they want to go.
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Heather Kissel: Psychology, though it is a field that focuses on individual differences, often fails to focus on what these individual differences mean for a person situated within a particular, time, place, and power structure. In fact, to address these issues, there have been several subdisciplines of psychology that have been created and issues of culture, power, economics, and society are considered the purview of these fringe areas alone, specifically cultural psychology, environmental psychology, and socioecological psychology. However, if psychology is truly going to help insight change in education or itself, it needs to get over its distaste for qualitative methods and desire to distance itself from sociology. The APA realizes this, but only for some variables, for example, socioeconomic status. There is a clear relationship between SES and health and other important outcomes related to psychology. In studying SES in psychology, there are three approaches—the materialistic approach, the gradient approach, and the social class approach. In regards to critical pedagogy, the social class approach is the most relevant. This approach focuses on intersectionality and how having multiple identities leads to further advantage or disadvantage (the experience and opportunities for a white male in America versus a black woman are very different). Access to education differs based on differences in wealth due to historic discrimination (redlining cut off houses as a way to build wealth for African Americans) and just being “colorblind” now does not acknowledge that some people are trying to play the same game but without the same starting resources. As teachers of psychology, we have to realize that our students come from these diverse backgrounds within a certain power structure just as we recognize this in our research. Psychology research participants and researchers are too WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic)—this limits our ability to discover psychological principles that generalize to humanity in general, and better the lives of marginalized populations specifically. Who is in power (the researchers) determine what questions get to be asked. Similarly, who is in power in the classroom (the teacher, generally), impacts what is covered. In critical pedagogy, an equitable community needs to be built and the issues the students face in their particular society need to be addressed. One way to combine critical pedagogy with teaching psychology and performing psychological research is to shift to more community based participatory research (CBPAR), in which community members decide what questions are important and how to study them, rather than being recruited to answer the researchers questions that may not apply to them after the hypotheses and what is deemed to be important have already been determined.

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Davon Woodard:  Cities are the collective physical and social sites of our individual lived experiences.  In applying complex critical theory to teaching urban planning theory and praxis, planners must eschew the notion of the neutral planner and a positivist or monolithic experience of the city.  Instead, while rooted in our own identities, the planner should foster polyvocality, within our complex and interwoven environments. (Image: Polyvocality of Resilience –

Connor Owens: In the dairy industry and classrooms, we seem to be constantly working against the idea of tradition. “This is how we have always done it and it works for us” is commonly heard when my class visits a farm for a case study. This has been applied to either how the farm operates (what they feed or how the cows are milked) or who works where on the farm (men and young boys mostly doing the milking/farm work and women typically being left out of the big decisions). I try to show my students why this “tradition” excuse does not work and how not only can they critically evaluate the dairy farm, but how they can pass on these evaluation tools to the other dairy farmers. I get my students to question why the farm is operating in a certain manner, who is working where, and how, based on the climate of the dairy industry,  can they recommend evaluations to these farmers. Passing on the tools tied to critical pedagogy/critical consciousness on to the students will hopefully provide them the opportunity to pass them on when they work in the industry. It is also key to have my students step outside of the dairy industry and view the farm from an outsider’s perspective. While it is difficult, it is key to getting the students the reasons why certain operations exist in the dairy field and how they are important to the overall operations. It also gets them to view why certain “traditional” practices are actually not beneficial for the farmer or the cow (looking at you tie-stall farming). Overall, I need the students to realize the dairy industry is an interplay of multiple facets that dynamically interact. (image: van der Lee et al, 2014).

Robin Ott:  I believe in the importance of understanding students’ prior knowledge before beginning to teach a class.  Because the class cannot be designed to best work for each student until this information is known. I could expand the definition of prior knowledge to include more information about each student – a sort of demographic view of where they come from and what they believe in.  Having this understanding of each student’s starting point will enable me to create a more inclusive and less dictatorial learning environment, and is my definition of critical pedagogy. All of this sounds straightforward, however, I never have less than 400 students in a single class so I do doubt the likelihood that this plan is scalable to a class of my size.  

Shannon Roosma:The idea of critical pedagogy can be seen in several areas of Counselor Education. Counselor educators place an emphasis on co-creating a learning environment rather than viewing the teacher as the expert and the learner as an information receptacle. Growth and learning happen in the context of a community and require openness to each other and new ideas. In this field learning is largely about becoming, rather than simply memorizing facts without digesting and incorporating them into oneself. Principles of critical pedagogy can also be seen in the emphasis on the unique qualities of the individual, including the culture and background from which they come. Learning is a unique process that cannot be based upon a teacher’s preferences or habits without consideration of who the learner is and how that individual will connect with and apply the information that is being explored.

Adbhut Gupta: I like the example of Einstein ( also because it is related to Physics). All students’ have different types of ways of understanding and thinking and approaching a problem. Einstein felt that school was mainly run by means of fear, power and artificial authority and did not arouse any curiosity or learning in him. He left school because of this reason. If there is  a classroom environment which encouraged critical thinking, an environment which includes perspectives of different students, we could have many Einsteins instead of just one.

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“Anti-Teaching/Mindful Learning” or, psychometrically valid tips for being more mindful yourself!

After doing the readings for this week for Contemporary Pedagogy class, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about for this blog post. I wanted to do something a little different. Rather than just reflect on what the readings revealed to me about pedagogy, I wanted to offer an activity to my readers and classmates! Both the required readings about mindful learning and the optional readings about attention and multi-tasking cited many studies from psychology, which just happens to be my research area. Several of my labmates and colleagues are actually specifically interested in mindfulness and use a self-report questionnaire called the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) to assess it. Hence, for this blog, I wanted to give you a link to the MAIA with scoring instructions to give you an opportunity to assess yourself on the key facets of mindfulness as identified and validated by psychologists.

The developers of the MAIA determined these facets to be:

  • Noticing (awareness of uncomfortable, comfortable, and neutral body sensations)
  • Not-Distracting (tendency not to ignore or distract oneself from sensations of pain or discomfort)
  • Not-Worrying (tendency not to worry or experience emotional distress with sensations of pain or discomfort)
  • Attention Regulation (ability to sustain and control attention to body sensations)
  • Emotional Awareness (awareness of the connection between body sensations and emotional states)
  • Self-Regulation (ability to regulate distress by attention to body sensations)
  • Body Listening (active listening to the body for insight)
  • Trusting (experience of one’s body as safe and trustworthy)

As you can probably tell, most of these have to do with your ability to accurately detect and assess the state of your body. This may seem silly, but failure to properly interpret bodily signals and sensations is related to greater risk of injury, stress, and psychopathology (especially anxiety). Interoception, and treatments that increase interoceptive accuracy are a major tenet of my advisor’s research career and the work of the Mind-Body Lab of which I am a member. Seeing how these practices and ideas relate to education is particularly exciting to me. The body and its physiology are a complex system, but understanding yours and its cognitive and emotional responses does lead to greater attention, and through that attention to all the different variables you can appreciate, you learn better and enjoy the experience more as described by Ellen Langer. So, I hope you enjoy filling out the questionnaire and the self-discovery that comes with interpreting your scores. Once complete, you can use the items as tips for how to become more mindful about your body, how it learns, and how you can inspire students to do the same.

P.S. I also had to give a book recommendation. I went to a Catholic University for undergrad, so of course, Theology courses were a requirement. The book chapter “Embracing Change” reminded me of the book On Religion by John Caputo. Here is a brief description from Amazon:
“John D. Caputo explores the very roots of religious thinking in this thought-provoking book. Compelling questions come up along the way: ‘What do I love when I love my God?’ and ‘What can Star Wars tell us about the contemporary use of religion?’ (are we always trying to find a way of saying ‘God be with you’?) Why is religion for many a source of moral guidance in a postmodern, nihilistic age? Is it possible to have ‘religion without religion’? Drawing on contemporary images of religion, such as Robert Duvall’s film The Apostle, Caputo also provides some fascinating and imaginative insights into religious fundamentalism.” But as to why this book relates, Caputo discusses how and why it is necessary to embrace change to be good, productive people who love our neighbor. So yes, it’s “on religion,” but mostly on how to live life and be comfortable in an age where everything changes so rapidly.

“Networked Learning,” or rather, taking my first step.

As I was completing the reading for my Contemporary Pedagogy class, particularly the blog post “Twitter and blogs are not just add-ons to academic research, but a simple reflection of the passion underpinning it” (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/07/28/twitter-and-blogs-academic-public-sphere/) and the TEDx talk by Dr. Wesch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SP7dbl0rJS0&feature =youtu.be), there were many thoughts that swirled through my head. I’m going to attempt to share them with you in a (hopefully) coherent fashion. To make it easier for you (and me!), here is a list of topics:

1) It can be difficult to take a first step, but once you form a habit, you can do so much more than you believe you’re capable of doing.

2) Dr. E. Scott Geller’s Intro Psych lecture on why pop psychology exists and why psychological scientists must do better—and how they can.

3) From competition to collaboration—embracing group work

Alright, starting from the beginning (a very good place to start). I have always had some difficulty taking the first step in adding some new practice to my life or beginning a long project—even if (really, especially if) the practice or project is important to my goals. For example, I have been distressed at how out of shape I have been since college. However, even though I have had a gym membership since coming to Virginia Tech due to the recreational sports fee included in the tuition and fees, I never went during my first year. I could not motivate myself to add regular exercise to my schedule, even though I knew it would increase my energy and body positivity. I had decided I was too busy. However, despite graduate school’s requirements being such that everyone is very busy, no one is too busy to do things that they prioritize. I was making an excuse to not go to the gym. Similarly in completing research, I’m very slow to come up with new ideas for projects. This is partially because I prioritize what is easier for me—completing class work, grading coursework for my assistantship, etc. Why am I putting off these important things? Following lots of introspection (and lots of watching baby George fall down trying to learn to walk down the steps), I know a lot of it is because I fear failure.

I wish I could pinpoint exactly where this fear of failure began, but I cannot. However, I know I used to be like George when I was a child—I would do anything for learning, regardless of inevitable failure. If I “fell down,” like when I could not complete the necessary number of math problems in 5 minutes, I had my parents get me a book to help with my math skills because I was excited about the possibilities of what I could do with a solid understanding of mathematics. I smiled, like George, at the possibility of picking myself up and trying again until I understood. Eventually, because of putting in so much work for learning, my school work began to reflect it. I think this is when my fear of failure began. I was good at something, and being recognized for it, by my parents, teachers, and peers—I was a “smart kid,” and eventually entered “Gifted & Talented” programs. Now I had a persona to live up to that was honestly separate from my learning—I had to “learn,” but really I just had to be good at knowing how to operate in the school system. Because as Dr. Michael Wesch points out in his TEDx talk, the kind of “learning” we do in the classroom is defined in a very narrow way. Regardless, being forced to conceptualize learning through traditional classroom success with a huge focus on achievement, I lost my love for it. I stopped going beyond the narrow scope of my assignments, I rather just focused on perfecting the work that had to be done, without giving the material the opportunity to interest me and expand my worldview.

Part of that is on me, certainly. But part of it is also on my teachers. One teacher did take the time for me in high school to expand my learning outside of the classroom. She knew I could memorize the historical facts necessary to pass her American History class, but she could tell by my essay responses there were greater connections I was seeking. She loaned me some books, met with me once a week after school to discuss, and helped me make the connections between history, the arts, and my life that I was seeking. Maybe as teachers we cannot give that level of attention to every student, but maybe we can do better about getting them to take the first step towards taking charge of their learning—we can help them smile and get up when they “fail.” Because it is all about that first step—back to my personal anecdotes—all I had to do was go to the gym for the first time this semester, and I have gone every day since. All I had to do was pitch the idea for my Master’s thesis, and now I am organizing the writing of two different publications from it. I don’t know how yet to inspire that first step in students, but I hope to explore that idea further this semester and throughout my teaching career. Hopefully it will be as easy as in this song from a classic Christmas movie I hum to myself sometimes to get me going:

This taking the first step relates to points 2 and 3 that I wanted to discuss (much more briefly). For point 2, I mention a lecture Dr. E. Scott Geller. I was his TA for Introduction to Psychology for two semesters. In both, he would discuss that pop psychology has such influence. Included in the lecture is this slide:

He states that pop psychologists are like consultants; their mastery is in dissemination of information. As researcher’s, we often disseminate our research to the places with the most prestige (academic research journals), which are not accessible nor comprehensible to the majority of the public or those outside of our specific field. So, if all the public hears is pop psychology because those who create it know how to reach and convince large swaths of the public, then that is what the public will believe about psychology. Because of this, Dr. Geller pushes his students and colleagues to be better disseminators of research. Tim Hitchcock suggests in his blog post I mention above that blogs and twitter may be a way to do this. While he focuses on these as a way to connect more to others in your field and share ideas, get feedback, and increase interest before publication, blogs and Twitter are a way to connect to the general public and accomplish the goal of better dissemination of actual research. Starting this blog for this class is my first step in being a part of that change in dissemination practices for the field of psychology. While I have an account with Open Science Framework because I believe in the concepts of open science, we, as scientists, should not just be open amongst ourselves for the purpose of improving the quality of science—we should be open to all, because our work isn’t just for the intellectual elite.

This leads me to my last point about moving from competition to collaboration. Too often in school and even “the real world,” the focus is on competition. Grades are a competition. Publishing an idea before someone else does is a competition. Just having more publications is a competition. Or, outside of academia, getting a promotion is a competition. While trying to reach the top of these hierarchies can be motivating, reaching the top isn’t always rewarding. Always getting a 4.0 gave me recognition, but did not increase my level or love of learning. Watching the animation from Dr. Wesch’s TEDx talk where all students helped each other reach the top of the mountain that was his course and finding they were the final project—that was inspiring though. Because that’s what I’ve wanted form courses and learning for myself and others—the betterment of ourselves as the inherently curious and social creatures we are. I never embraced group work as a student. I, in fact, HATED it. Because the focus of the course was the grade, and I felt I couldn’t count on anyone else to do their part to a sufficient quality (by my standards). But what if group work wasn’t about the final product produced, but about the learning of each group member? I think then all students would be willing to help their partner get on the same page. I’m teaching a lab in psychometrics this semester for my assistantship that involves group work. I’m hoping that I can find a way to make their final project about the learning of each group member, rather than the final product, because everyone should know that the mountain to climb should be exciting, rather than daunting, because even if you can’t pick yourself up with a smile, you have a community of learners to help you make it up. t involves grou

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