June 29, 2006

Reassigned Time: Musings on Academic Identity....

Why shouldn't academics have a life, too?

Reassigned Time: Musings on Academic Identity....

June 21, 2006

Increase your self-efficacy and increase your motivation

My newsletter today is about flagging motivation, and how increasing your self-efficacy can improve your ability to stay motivated throughout the dissertation and the rest of your career.

If you are interested in assessing whether you need to work on your own self efficacy, check out my "Academic Self-Efficacy Assessment." It is based on research by R. Schwarzer and M. Jerusalem.

Here are some suggestions as to ways to improve your own self-efficacy. This is absolutely vital if you are going to enjoy and flourish in academia.

  1. Imagine yourself succeeding. Be very specific and as visual as possible. E.g. See your self at faculty meetings, teaching, being called “professor” or “doctor.” Imagine people congratulating you on your success.
  2. Be very careful about what you say to yourself about “failure” experiences. Notice that you probably never actually fail. You were not 100% terrible at what you did. Indeed, you might have made several mistakes, but that is not a failure. For example, your advisor may have found many errors in your last chapter. If you say to yourself, “This is hopeless; I’ll never be able to do this,” you’ve planted the seed of non-coping in your brain. It’s much better to say, “When I’ve recovered from that depressing meeting, I’ll make a list of the steps I need to take to fix that chapter, then I’ll fix one item each day.”
  3. Related to number two is this idea: make positive use of negative feedback to motivate you to improve, not to beat yourself up. For example, if you find out you are not good at writing, get a tutor, an editor, or take a class to improve your skills. Don’t fold and give up. This will improve your sense that you can have an effect on the world and that you’re not a victim.
  4. Make sure that you are aware of the “coping strategies” that are necessary to succeed. The strategies I discuss in my newsletter, on my website and on my blog pertaining to organization, effective communication with colleagues, and successful writing are all examples of coping strategies. Knowing that you have adequate coping strategies will help you believe you can perform a task.
  5. Use others as models. You know that graduate student that you hate – the one who is going to finish the dissertation first? Try learning from him or her. In all probability, this person is not a genius. However, he or she probably has great study skills and other techniques that keep him or her moving along the path.
    Do what you can to improve your relationship with your advisor and committee. (See our recent teleclass on getting along with your advisor.) If you haven’t yet chosen your advisor, keep in mind the key role that the advisor will play in your sense of self-efficacy.
  6. Seek out supportive people who believe in you. The corollary is to avoid people who don’t believe in you. Let your friends, relatives and significant others know that you need supportive comments and not just “How’s the thesis going?” or worse, “Aren’t you done yet?” You can even go so far as to tell them to say such phrases, as “I know you can do it, “or” It’s hard but you’ve done lots of other hard things.
  7. Monitor how you perceive your own emotional reactions. Learn to re-label stress reactions as normal, expectable, and able to be changed.
  8. Work on moderating your emotional reactions by practicing relaxation, yoga, meditation, or getting more exercise. Believing that you can effect a change in your reactions will make you feel more self-efficacious.

June 19, 2006

Success in Graduate School With ADD -- The Teleclass

Here is the audio of the teleclass we held today on ADD in graduate school. There was a tremendous amount of interest in this subject. I've noticed that there is very little information available specifically tailored to the graduate student. Feel free to listen to the class, and see the previous post if you are moved to commit to an action step!

If you are moved after listening to this teleclass to get some help in adding structure, support and accountability to your graduate school experience, contact my associate, Jayne London. She has just started a telephone coaching group specifically for graduate students with ADD. Her email address is Jayne@AcademicLadder.com.

ADD and Graduate School

We're having our "Success in Graduate School with ADD" teleclass today, and I'm going to be asking people to commit to one action step that will help them surmount the symptoms of ADD and make progress in their work. Even if you didn't attend the teleclass, you can write in a commitment to taking one small step that you might not otherwise have done.

Action steps should be small and discrete. "Write one chapter" is not an action step. "Write for 20 minutes" is an action step. You could also expand this by committing to "Write for 20 minutes with Internet turned off on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, finishing by 11:00 am."

Put a time that you will complete your action step by, such as "Today by 4:00" or "Thursday at noon." That way you will be able to know that you accomplished it. This also gives you a deadline.

Your action step could also involve putting structures in place. This could include such items as "Find a timer and put it on my desk," or "Call Joe and ask him to be an accountability partner with me for daily check-ins."

Please let us know what you will be doing! Then write back after your deadline and let us know how it went.

June 7, 2006

Why Are Academics So Anxious?