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Neutralizing Attitudes

Sounds like a bit of jargon, doesn’t it? It probably qualifies as such but what the term refers to is of interest. Researchers in the 50s who were trying to explain criminal behavior coined the phrase which describes “justifications for deviance that are seen as valid by the delinquent but not by the legal system or society as large.” (These researchers, Sykes and Matza, are quoted on p. 295 in the article referenced below). If deviant actions can be justifiable then the offender avoids moral culpability.

Classroom Climates

I did a workshop this week on climates for learning. It’s a session I love doing. Nobody argues with the need to have one in the classroom and everywhere else around campus. But most of us haven’t gotten past the metaphor (we aren’t talking about the “weather” in our classroom even though we do regularly refer to the “atmosphere” in class and the “environment” on campus). When we refer to the climate for learning what are we talking about?

Evidence of Effectiveness

In a recent editorial in the Journal of Management Education, a discipline-based pedagogical periodical I particularly admire, Jane Wilk-Schmidt identifies four characteristics of evidence valued by the journal. It’s a great list that offers a criteria for looking at the effectiveness of instructional innovations whether you are thinking about reporting what happened in an article or about assessing impact more objectively for your own information.

Revisiting the Purpose of Higher Education and Courses

Noel Entwistle writes in the conclusion of an impressive chapter that provides an overview of key research findings about learning that the evidence leads to “seeing the purpose of higher education as going beyond the acquisition of knowledge and skills; to recognize that for the demands of current society and employment, graduates need to have acquired a personal conceptual understanding of the main ideas and ways of thinking in their area of study so as to experience ‘learning that lasts.’ Only this will provide flexibility in applying knowledge, skills, and understanding that will suffice at a time of rapid change and ‘super-complexity’ in dealing with emerging issues and new problems.” (p. 43)

Pronouncements about Teaching

I had breakfast with a good colleague this morning. We were following up on a conversation we’ve been having electronically. It started when I recommended a book that my colleague said he’d read; however he objected to all the “pronouncements” made by the author. He was referring to how this author tried to distill research

Three Multitasking Myths

Our students seem to be masters at multitasking—they regularly do more than one thing at once, or break from one task to work on another and then move on to a third. Even those of us not so adept at managing more than one task at once can “walk and chew gum,” which makes us all multitaskers to some degree. But our students combine so many disparate tasks: biology book open on their knees, they text a friend while listening to rap in the background. Many of them tell us they can’t study when everything is quiet.