Musings While Giving an 8:00 a.m. Saturday Morning Final Exam on the 37th Anniversary of My Carroll Job Interview…

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The Newf

It was a foggy 5:30 a.m. morning when I let the Newf out for her morning “duties.” One of many good reasons for driving carefully to Carroll this Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. I surely would NOT like to hit another deer—nor would Santa or my car.

Deer Me

I can still see fog outside my Rankin classroom. Thirty-seven years ago I was in this very building giving a sample lecture illustrating how I teach as part of my two-day job interview to become a faculty member at then-called Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I still have a copy of that presentation—and I remain at my first and only job for better or for worse. So much has changed—buildings, enrollment, technology, the institution’s name, the organizational structure.  I feel obligated to protect traditions and overriding institutional historical values, but there are fewer and fewer here that remember them. So many of my former mentoring faculty and staff friends have moved on through retirement or from life. I miss their wisdom but try to preserve their gifts to Carroll.

Ghosts of Christmas's Past

And here I sit proctoring an 8:00 a.m.Saturday morning final exam covering “Statistics and Experimental Design” taken by students several of whose relatives (aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters) were former students or advisees of mine. An_Outline_of_Basic__Cover_for_Kindle

There are times when they look and behave very young and I recognize that I am 65-years old. Many other times Assistantsthey keep me young with their energy, willingness to learn, and playfulness. I feel that way especially in the present of my student research assistants—four of whom are graduating this year.

It has been a rough semester. I continue to find challenging teaching three consecutive seventy-minute courses in a row with 10 minute breaks even when two of the courses are the same. And this year I am co-chairing the Planning and Budget Committee (with a delightful colleague and poet BJ Best).

It has been the Dickens of a task: The Wurst of Times and the Best of Times. Younger colleagues like BJ, though, and the fewer and fewer remaining colleagues from my past reinforce my willingness to remain here and make a difference before departing.

Best of Times, the Wurst of Times

The chimes just sounded. 10:00 a.m. Eight students remaining. Very good students among which several, should they wish, might join Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood as student research assistants.

Carroll’s 2014-2015 theme is “Time.” I just finished reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Time to start grading so that I can finishing reading The Book of Strange New Things.

 

Through the Looking Glass: (Ms.)Adventures in David-Land

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S-TEAM

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Amy and David---Photo stored on Google Drive

Phoumany

Two soon-to-be graduates Phoumany and Ryan

Ryan and Phoumany

Amy
Amy Peterson

4 years ago, I anxiously started my career as a Psychology Research Assistant for none other than the “psychology professor with the big beard”, Dr. David Simpson. Our first encounter was delayed because after receiving my assignment and seeing his picture, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work for him, what a typical precocious freshman I was! But after meeting him and learned the ropes from the God-like junior and sophomores, I finally began to feel comfortable in Dr. Simpson’s neighborhood. Looking back, I can hardly believe how much has changed. Time has transformed me, well, all of us really. Now sitting in the office, reflecting on my future after Carroll in December, I’m nostalgic for those years. From silly videos and webcasts, to struggling through SPSS for the first time, to Survey Monkey, and our pilot course in global connections through technology, our accomplishments are innumerable.
Dr. Simpson always brings light and fun into the office, even when he has stuff to do. He always makes time to check in with us, or joke about his Chi Tea Lattes, and of course telling stories about dear Robin, the Newf. Working with Dr. S has turned me from a precocious freshman, to a slightly-cynical, confident, and “sassy” senior with smarts to match-or so he lets me think! Our S-Team is my work family and as a senior, it’s especially odd that Phoumany and Ryan aren’t still here working with us as they had for 3 years prior.
Life in David land is a never ending adventure full of learning, fun and family.

Gracie
Gracie Bubnik

My time in Mr. David’s neighborhood has been fairly limited because this is my first year. I had heard through the grapevine that there was a waiting list to become one of Dr. Simpson’s research assistants and somehow I was given one of the positions! At the time of receiving the email I was really excited to be given this opportunity! Then I was on mycarrollu.edu looking up my class schedule and realized he was one of my professors… I was terrified to begin my time as one of his research assistants. I was nervous that he would bring up class work during work and work during class. But we are here now, 2 months later, and I have found out that I can apply what I learn during work to my classwork and vice versa.
I know I haven’t been here as long as many of the other research assistants but I have found this little lab in the back of his office to be very comforting. And the family type relationship I have formed with the other research assistants and Dr. Simpson is something I look forward to keep building.

Jamie

Jamilyn Smolik

I started this journey with Dr. Simpson in the spring semester of my sophomore year as one of his Psy205 students. At first, I was extremely intimidated by him because I was still a very shy, insecure underclassman with little self-confidence who had a lot to prove. I have learned that he is not as intimidating once you get to know him, and he is always around to help me out whenever I need it. After taking one of his classes, I was then curious if he had any openings for faculty assistants the following year. Because, I was not very assertive or timely, I waited to contact him the following fall when school began again. Long and behold, I received an email back saying he would enjoy having my help and welcomed me to his team.
After being shown the ropes from some helpful upperclassmen, I have grown to be quite comfortable when working in the office. I now also help the newbies get affiliated and comfortable with working in the office. I enjoy helping/working on ‘up and coming’ projects Dr. Simpson participates in outside of the Carroll environment. All of his projects provide great networking opportunities not only for himself, but for us, the student workers as well. As for the other student assistants, I have become very good friends with all of them. It is as if we are one, big, work family. We get on each other’s nerves at times, but just like family, we make up and act as if nothing ever happened. As I finish up my final year at Carroll, I look back and am so thankful for the opportunity I have been granted to work under Dr. Simpson, but also am grateful I took the initiative to push myself in a direction that will impact my future.

Copy of Maxine

Maxine Venturelli

I remember as a freshman being assigned to Dr. Simpson as a faculty assistant for my work-study program. I took a breath and turned the doorknob into Dr. Simpson’s office to meet him for the first time. I was so nervous! What I did not know at the time was that I was walking into a place where I would make some great friendships and learn many things from the one and only Dr. Simpson. Starting off as acquaintances, they soon into my S-team family. See, these people are not just peers, but people who I look up to and admire. For the first few weeks working for Dr. Simpson, I was very quiet and shy, but that quickly changed. I slowly started to open up. Dr. Simpson takes the time to get to know each and every of his faculty assistants. He has challenged me to improve upon my weakness, while encouraging me to use my strengths. Over the years, there have been a multitude of projects that have taught me to collaborate with my fellow workers. Although, we did not always agree, we always ended up finding a solution in the end. One of the most memorable projects that we completed my sophomore year included creating our own course that focused on culture. Along with the project, we were each given an iPad. I loved participating in this project because I desire to become a teacher! Working with Dr. Simpson is a privilege. He involves us in projects and opportunities that are meaningful. I have so many memories that have accumulated over the years. My experiences here have shaped me into not only a better student, but a better person. When I graduate this coming spring, I will greatly miss the times spent in Dr. Simpson’s office.

Copy of Liz

Liz Firkus

Looking back on the past four years gives me such a bittersweet feeling. It seems surreal to think that in just a few short months I, along with several of the other S-Team members will be walking across the stage at graduation. I remember walking into Dr. Simpson’s office for the first time, feeling absolutely terrified. This did not last for long though, Dr. Simpson and the other S-Team members very quickly made me feel right at home. The first two years we had the same six S-Team members who quickly became my family away from home.
As an assistant, we always have work to get done, but Dr. Simpson makes sure that we have a fun time doing so. He is always filling us in on the latest stories about Robin, The Newf, his big black Newfoundland “pup”. Dr. Simpson, being an avid reader, makes it a habit of giving away books from his personal collection, so I always have a new book to add to my collection, a recommendation for something new to read, or someone to discuss Harry Potter with. Dr. Simpson has always played the role as a second academic advisor as well, giving advice about classes to take and what adjuncts he is familiar with and recommends. Working for Dr. Simpson has been an amazing experience that has taught me so much that I will take with me when I leave Carroll. Any future students will be extremely lucky to be one of his student assistants.



I asked my research assistants to indicate their Top Learning Tools: Here is what they told me…

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1. Amy’s List of Top Tools:

“Like Air” that I don’t even think about:

  • Google Search
    • It goes without saying
  • Facebook
    • Key to staying in touch with friends
  • Youtube
    • Mostly for entertainment or “life” tutorials
  • Google Chrome
    • My primary web browser
  • Skype
    • Key for communication
    • My home internet is slow. This is a problem, but I also live in rural Wisconsin.
    • School is a little better.

Tools I use as a student:

  • Notability
    • This should be  higher on the list. It may charge you 3 dollars to get it, but it pays for itself.
    • Don’t need to carry a notebook because I can take notes on the app, organize and divide by category and class.
    • Highlight, type, draw, insert graphs and pictures. download powerpoints.
    • This app meets all my needs as a student.
  • Google Docs/Drive
    • Two words: Group Projects
  • Google Translate
    • More for Tutoring than Student now that I’ve completed my minor.
    • It’s like a dictionary.
  • Powerpoint (But I resent that I have to use it)
    • Most Professors expect it. You have to use it most of the time

It meets needs but lacks in presentation creativity. You follow a script.

Annie’s List of Top Tools:

Everyday Life (‘Like air’)

  •  Google Search
  • Never use Bing.  Google is everything.  If I don’t know the answer to a question, I will to be guaranteed to use Google search.
  • Youtube
  • The website I spend most of my time on anyway…
  • The best way to keep in touch with friends, especially as a freshman.  I still have a connection to many of my dear friends from high school, and I can see what they are doing, how their college experience is developing, etc.
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Usually, when I do a Google search, the first link I click directs me to Wikipedia.  I know Wikipedia is criticized because it is content that can be edited by supposedly ‘anyone.’  However, I dare anyone to make a ridiculous change to a Wikipedia page and watch how quickly it gets deleted.  Especially on celebrity or historical figure pages, they do have people who monitor the information put forth on Wikipedia and they will change it if it is inaccurate/crude/stupid.
  • Buzzfeed
  • Useful as both a tool of entertainment and also highly informative on up-to-date issues (if you look in the right places).  They reported on the ebola case in Texas before most other news outlets.  However, it has a very heavy liberal bias in most of their articles.

As a College Student

  1. Microsoft Word
  • If there is any software that I feel like an expert it, it is Microsoft Word.  Formatting is easy, it looks very professional, and I have never had any issues with lost files or data.
  1. Google Docs/Drive
  • However, it is sometimes easier to use Google Drive, especially if you need to do a group project.  It also saves automatically, which is very useful, but it did have a tendency to crash when I used it in high school.  I did also occasionally lose information from my Google documents, which is always devastating.
  • While doing a group presentation in Google Drive is easy, it is pitifully uncreative and formulaic.  Still, it is easy and useful.
  1. Wikipedia
  • Most professors prohibit using Wikipedia as a source BUT if you scroll to the bottom, you can click the blue citations and find your way to more reliable content.  That is an excellent way to locate good material for a research project.
  1. Easy Bib/Bib Me
  • Out of all of the bibliography makers I have used, Easy Bib and Bib Me are the most user friendly and accurate.  However, between the two, only Bib Me allows free use of APA formatting.  For Easy Bib, you have to subscribe.
  1. TED Talks

Highly informative, always powerful and revelatory

Jamie’s Top 5 Learning Tools:

  1. Google (Everything in Google)

As a student, having access to the internet is extremely important and efficient.  I really like Google because not only does it provide you with a search engine, it also gives you options to share your research with friends and colleagues via Google Drive or Google Hangouts.  In my opinion, everything relating to Google should be wrapped up into one massive tool because if you use one, you’re most likely to use them all, or at least another aspect of it.

  1. PowerPoint

I find PowerPoint extremely useful, especially when giving presentations.  It is organized serially which is pleasing to the eye and easy to follow.  The program, itself, is easy to use and make changes.  Also, there are plenty of settings to mess around with when trying to create your own spin on the design of the final project.

  1. WordPress

I am familiar with WordPress and have used it a little bit with the Writing Center.  I think it is a very good tool to use when blogging.

  1. LinkedIn

I have a LinkedIn account and I think it is a great tool to use when you want to extend your networking.  As students, we want to build connections outside of our university in order to “land a job” or get hired right after graduation.  However, it is also useful to stay in contact with former professors and peers, as well.  In a way, LinkedIn is a shorthand, quick, glimpse of a resume for potential employers to get a sense of who they are about to incorporate into their companies.

  1. TedTalks

I just really enjoy these.  They are short (most of the time) videos about new and innovating ideas and research that people are currently working on.  I find them fascinating and extremely helpful.  I can draw connections from the content I learn in the classroom setting and then have something to apply that new knowledge to in a modern setting.

*I am also trying out Diigo, I will keep you posted about what I think of it…

Gracie’s Top 5 Tools

“Like air” tools:

  • Google Search- Although this tool is very helpful, and I google everything. You never know what can come as result for your search and does not have many credible sources.
  • Youtube-. Who doesn’t like to look up cute dog videos? Has many useful tools but can be highly distracting rather quickly
  • Facebook- The world’s best way to procrastinate. A way to communicate. Especially with those you do not have daily interactions with.
  • Instagram- Documentation of hobbies, likes, and dislikes by photo.
  • Skype- I like the idea of skype but I have had been confronted with glitches. I prefer google hangout.

Tools I use as a student (Gracie):

  • Google Docs- I find google docs to be extremely useful. It makes group projects and communication between multiple people easy.
  • Prezi- Prezi it the cooler version of powerpoint. Most of my newer and younger teachers/professors enjoy prezi over powerpoint.
  • Word- I could not get through college without word. I use it daily.
  • Powerpoint- Although prezi is extremely eye catching and interesting, powerpoint is very professional and a less distracting visual aid
  • Ipad/Apps- My ipad is put to more use that my computer. It has saved me a lot of time and money by just downloading a few apps.

Maxine’s Top Tools:

  • iPad and Apps– The iPad along with its many apps appeals to a wide range of individuals. The iPad is easily transportable and has become a common tool used in school settings today. The apps span a multitude of subjects from games, to educational tools. The apps are endless and can aide individuals in everyday life. For example, there is a Common Core app that allows me to easily access the standards on my iPad that I can apply to the lessons that I create.
  • Pinterest– Majoring in Educational Studies with a minor in Early Childhood, Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas that I can incorporate into the classroom. This site, which is also an iPad app, allows me to browse through a plethora of lesson ideas. Within this site/iPad app I can create boards that allow me to organize the ideas that I find.
  • Facebook– I have learned that Facebook allows people to communicate as well as collaborate with one another. Especially with the various group pages, communities are able to share common information with each other. For example, I follow a page called Collaboration and Inclusion that allows my classmates as well as other educators to share information that they find on the topic.

  

  • TwitterAlthough I do not use Twitter on a daily basis, I hope to utilize it more often. It is a great tool in staying connected to people as well as causes. It provides quick updates as well as links to information that one chooses to follow. I follow the New York Times as well as educational organizations that keep me up to date on the current state of education.
  • All Things Google– Google Docs/Drive, Google Search, Google Scholar, Gmail are all tools that I use on a regular basis. Google Docs/Drive is a great tool to use when collaborating with others. When working in groups, this tool allows individuals to work on the project without necessarily meeting. This is important because finding a time when everyone is free to work on a project is difficult. Whenever I want to find information, I use Google Search as a first stop to finding out information quick. When researching, Google Scholar is a great tool to researching higher quality information. For my school email, I use Gmail and I really like formatting.



I’ve Been Thinking About Bagpipes Lately

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I’ve been thinking a lot about bagpipes lately. Perhaps that is because of my listening to NPR about the Scottish soda Irn Bru. Or perhaps it is because of my incipient interest in exploring my Scottish ancestry.

A wonderful tradition on my campus both on the first day before classes and again at graduation is to have a group of kilted bagpipers majestically lead the students ion to campus. I wonder if my school would like to involve a different bagpiper to campus. He would provide a cross-cultural experience, be energizing, engaging, and quite memorable.

 

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

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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.