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Showing posts from April, 2007

Report from the Council of Graduate Schools: The devil is in the details

A short article in the Chronicle yesterday alerted me to this recently released report (note: it's a pdf file) from the Council of Graduate Schools. It's entitled "Graduate Education: The Backbone of American Competitiveness and Innovation: A report from the Council of Graduate Schools Advisory Committee on Graduate Education and American Competitiveness." Because of my experience working with graduate students both as a coach, and along with Jayne London, running our Writing Clubs , I became excited reading this report. The Advisory Committee suggested many items in their "Action Agenda" that I endorse. Of course, the devil is in the details. And the funding. The report offers recommendations to those in higher education, business and policy. Here are a few selected tidbits that I liked, with my comments. Interdisciplinary research preparation and education are central to future competitiveness, because knowledge creation and innovation frequently o

Trains and planes: creativity bursts on public transportation

I just got back from a business/pleasure trip to Philadelphia. I took Amtrak from Union Station in D.C. to Philly; a 2-hour train ride. I cannot believe how much work I got done on the train! It's not just the amount of time I spent writing; I was able to revise my book in a much more creative way. What is it about public transportation that is so conducive to creativity, at least writing creativity, for me? One Writing Club member had this opinion: I think people get work done on public transportation because we surrender our control to the driver of the vehicle, which frees us to focus on our other concerns. Also, being in a bubble of sorts (a train car, a bus, a car) kind of feels like a safe place. The fact that the trip won't last for ever puts a limit on how much a person will work (an outside timer or sorts). I agree with everything she says. There is something safe about knowing that you are waiting for a specified period of time, in a place where there are few dist

Better Lectures

The latest message from the Tomorrow's Professor's Mailing List was called "How to Create Memorable Lectures." It was from the newsletter, Speaking of Teaching, produced by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Stanford University -, http://ctl.stanford.edu/Newsletter/ Winter 2005, Vol. 14, No.1. It never hurts to have reminders about how to lecture, because, let's face it, all academics do it. I remember being highly influenced by the best lecturers when I was an undergraduate, many years ago. The whole article is good, but I liked this reminder of how to help students take in the information you're presenting: Once we have students' attention, we need to consider how quickly students can process information. Short-term memory requires time to process the sensory input we receive; students are not sponges and cannot immediately "absorb" new information. Give students short breaks throughout lecture to review their notes and ask question

Helping your students cope with the Virginia Tech Tragedy

The news of the massacre at Virginia Tech hit close to home for me, as I'm sure it did for many of you. Having both of my children graduate from a Virginia university (U. VA), one of them just last spring, I had the immediate thought that most parents have had -- "That could have been my child." You might be wondering how to deal with this in your classes today. I'm a member of POD: Professional and Organizational Network in Higher Education. Today I received an email from their listserv that may help you decide. This is from Dr. Therese Huston, who is the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Seattle University (I'm only quoting part of her letter): For those faculty and faculty developers who are thinking about addressing the tragedy in the days to come, there is [a] resource that might be helpful. Michele DiPietro and I published an article in the most recent edition of To Improve the Academy (2007) that reported on a study examin

Themes from a professor coaching group meeting

I always learn something from the brilliant professors in my coaching groups. 1.) A deep thought from Despair, Inc .: Hard work always pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now. 2.) The difficulty of getting into "flow" in your research and writing, when there's so much external pressure to publish, etc. Paradoxically, you have to let go of caring about what "they" want, in order to enjoy what you really want to be doing for your career. How can you sit down and "dance" with your work in a curious and joyful way (these are my words) if you feel your chair or dean breathing down your neck? For some people, the answer may be actively practicing relaxation, meditation , or self-hypnosis. It takes a real effort to be present and relax into your work. 3.) Coping with the last stretch of the semester when you're burned out but want to keep researching and writing. Yes, 15 minutes day does work, and it's better than nothing. 4.) W