International Higher Education (Future Professoriate Open Blog Post #5)

I wanted to use this open blog post to thank the international students who shared, not only the stories of higher education in the countries, but their own personal stories as well.  It has been extremely interesting hearing and understanding the differences in, not only higher education, but all education in countries such as China, Syria, Jordan, and Greece.  The emphasis put on education at such a young age is mind-blowing to someone who has grown up under the American way of education.  To see how much family and culture play a role in the education of children in some of these countries is fascinating.  The idea that a child’s whole life can be, and is, mapped out in some of these countries according to one test that is taken when the student is a teenager is daunting to say the least.  The cultural and family influences and pressure that is put on these students is something that most people in the U.S. will never know about and certainly can not understand.

The international students who shared their stories actually gave me inspiration and pointed me in a direction to my own education.  I am an unconventional student, who until recently, (I am 45 years old), never knew what kind of career or job I wanted in my future.  For me to know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I was 17 or 18 years old sounds insane to me.  I have traveled to both Europe and Asia and never thought to try to understand the differences in education.  After hearing these stories, from the international students, I have found a new respect for students who can uproot their lives and come to a new country to grasp toward a better future in their own country.  It is astonishing to see international students succeed and thrive under these circumstances.  Leaving your family, your friends, your country, your way of life and striving to succeed away from everything one knows is something that, for me, would be very difficult.

I just want to say thank you, again, for sharing your stories and helping me see that things are not always what they seem and that the human will can achieve so much in this world.  Your stories have not only educated me but inspired me to be the best person I can be, not only in the sense of gaining a higher education but in life, as well.  Thank you!!

Future of the University

As Virginia Tech moves into the future, I would like to see a focus on the student.  What I mean by this is a focus on the higher education that a student receives and the way they are prepared for their future careers.  I do not think it is enough for students to be taught facts and figures.  A full higher education should consist of the development of interpersonal skills, interview skills, workplace skills, and other skills that would ensure the success of students in their chosen careers.  After attending a year of graduate school, I have felt that I have learned much more when it comes to time management, work-life balance, and interviewing skills than I did in my four years of undergraduate education.  These are skills that are easily learned and easily taught.  Professors should be able to instill these skills in their instruction throughout the undergraduate curriculum.

The teaching of these skills is necessary for students to understand the career market and how to succeed in life after higher education.  Not enough of these skills are taught and ‘shown’ to students in the course of the status quo curriculum that is being taught.  Due to the nature of the changing society and job market in most, if not all career paths, the learning of such things as the proper way to write a report, the importance of being on time and professional, and workplace demeanor, are of great importance.  I feel there is a lack of preparation throughout higher education in these specific areas.  Although some students may learn this in the course of an undergraduate internship with a company, others, who may not be able to partake in such an internship may not learn these same skills.  I feel that it is the responsibility of a higher education institution to teach these skills to its student body in order to be looked upon as a desirable place to receive a higher education.

The repercussions of teaching these workplace skills can then be beneficial to the higher education institution, the students, and the community in which the institution serves.  Considering that service to the community is on many of these institutions mission statements it is imperative to ensure that the students who earn a degree are not only taught in the facts and figures of their chosen major but also receive an education in their future careers.

Micro-aggresions (Future Professoriate Open Blog Post #4)

Micro-aggressions are words, expressions, behaviors, and cultural day to day activities that a person may use or be part of that either intentionally or unintentionally belittle or are derogatory to another human being or group of human beings.  An example of this may be for someone to say that ‘she is a great black head coach’ or asking someone where they are from and not accepting the answer.  These micro-aggressions can be harmful and hurtful to  the people around you and can take away form your credibility and likability.  I have talked about knowledge in past blog posts and will talk about it again here.  I think that knowledge is a crucial obstacle in the fight against the use of micro-aggression for me, as an individual, and for society as a whole.  Knowing how something you say or do may be perceived by others is key in understanding their effects.  Micro-aggressions are often unintentional and the intent behind them may or may not be derogatory, however a certain knowledge about how your actions and words can effect others, will cut down on the amount of times that ‘you’ may degrade others and make them uncomfortable in a social setting with you.

Learning how micro-aggressions can make others feel and seeing how others react to these certain micro-aggressions can change one’s thinking and therefore allow for smoother and richer social interaction.  Since many of the micro-aggression are unintentional, I wonder if there is an underlying thought process to using them in all of us.  Knowledge is one way to cut down on the use of these micro-aggressions but a change in the way one thinks and perceives situations and people is another way.  There is a need in today’s society to change the way we were brought up to think about certain individuals.  A shift in societal thinking would help to ensure the lessening of the use of micro-aggressions.  Many people use these micro-aggressions everyday and do not even know that they are using them.  Step in and say something to someone.  Let them know how their words or behaviors are being interpreted.  Add some knowledge and experience to the situation and allow that person who is using these micro-aggressions a chance to explain their intent and a chance to change their view.  Chances are the person or ‘you’ did not mean to be degrading or make anyone feel uncomfortable but because of their upbringing or culture they came from used a micro-aggression out of habit or a cultural vernacular that is part of that person.  As a human being it is something that we all should be aware of and try to change in our own lives as well as the lives of people around us.

Those steps can help to shape society and the world in a way that can benefit all people.  A person can not now how an unintentional micro-aggression makes another person feel without the knowledge and experience it takes to recognize.  A third party can look in and cringe when someone does or says something but until that third party enlightens the doer it goes without change.  Do not be afraid to step in and teach people what they may not see. Listen, understand the intent, and then deliver the knowledge to someone to allow that person to change the way they think in order to better the society as a whole.

Covid-19 (Future Professoriate Open Blog Post #3)

The Covid-19, coronavirus has flipped higher education upside down.  Most, if not all higher education has moved to online instruction amid this nationwide pandemic.  This could be a good thing for higher education, at least in some ways.  It is obvious that technology is the way of the future and this switch to remote learning and teaching can be the push that some ‘old school’ professors need in order to embrace technology.  By no means am I saying that online instruction should take over for the traditional face-to-face teaching that occurs in colleges and universities but there are advantages to adding it to certain curriculums.  It can teach students how to use certain technologies to their advantage in the job market.  Which can then be used once a student enters in the their career to help to achieve a work-life balance when it comes to families, kids and overall well-being.  I am among the educators that believe that face-to-face time with students is invaluable and can not be replicated.  However, I can also see the advantages to online instruction in higher education.

I believe that a smart mix of both can strengthen the educational system as a whole.  It has been said that we must teach students to be capable in jobs that do not exist yet.  The addition of a remote instructional part of many college classes may assist in this goal.  The future of the job world is global.  Globalization is a huge part of the job market and needs to be, not only taught in higher education institutions, but needs to be embraced by students and professors alike.  The learning of new technologies that allow for easy access to other countries is crucial to the future of students looking to enter a job market that is globalized.  Resumes can be built and connections can be made, simply by adding remote instruction as part of the curriculum in higher education.  The reason I believe a mix between both face-to-face instruction and remote instruction is necessary is because I believe that the skills one learns from the in-class instruction is just as important.  Skills like professionalism, being on time, interacting with both the professor and other classmates are skills that can not be learned on line.  These skills are also crucial in the job market and if one does not have or learn these skills it can be detrimental to their future success.  Professors, now, have to be skilled in both face-to-face interactions as well as remote instruction to give the best rounded education to today’s students in higher education. What good is being able to understand and use the technology for a globalized job market if one is unable to understand the intricacies of the cultures that one is cooperating with.  A mix of the two types of instruction can add to the student’s knowledge of the globalized job market, add to their resumes, and make for a more hirable graduate.

This may be a case of looking for a silver lining amid the pandemic that is happening but I believe that it really could be the start to a new look to higher education.  I think that this new look could and will be beneficial to higher education as a whole and to the students who can now experience another avenue in their path to entering a globalized job market.

Technology & Innovation in Higher Education

With the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the United States and the world there has been some astonishing changes in the ways that higher education is taught at the university and college levels.  Many, if not all universities have switched many of their in-person classes to an online format.  This shift is not comparable to anything higher education has seen before and comes with problems that could not have been foreseen in the few weeks that higher education had to prepare for this unprecedented shift.  After doing some research and reading up on the amount of students, teachers, GTAs, and faculty affected by the new reality of online teaching and learning I came across a infographic that I find shows the impact of the pandemic on a global level:

 

 

This infographic shows the growth in online learning in just a month of time.  Although after the initial influx of colleges and universities changing over to an online format the curve will remain a constant, this graphic and graphics similar show the need for technology in today’s world.  As I have spoken about in other blog posts, students come from all over the world to attend a higher education institution in the United States and unforeseen happenings may occur where online (technological) learning and teaching is the only answer.

As with many technological innovations there will be downside to the switch.  For example, students may become less disciplined or motivated without a change to engage one-on-one with fellow students or professors.  I think that professors have to find a way to not only teach and instruct with this new online format, but also to motivate and encourage learning at the higher education level.  It is a new beginning and a hard ask for some, if not most professors that have been in place and may be set in their ways.  But according to the graphic above this shift is happening and will be here for the rest of this school year, at least.  Perhaps this shift to an online learning medium will change the way higher education proceeds into the future.  Allowing for less class time and more online engagement, less lectures and more smaller group interaction, and a different experience over all in higher education.

 

Open Science (Future Professoriate Open Blog #2)

During a panel about the benefits of open access, librarians and scholars discussed how open access to journal articles, essays, and scientific papers may become the future of the science community.  As open access becomes more popular or ‘en vogue,’ I would like to discuss the idea of open science in communication research.  Open science is the notion that research needs to be made transparent to the research community.  The idea behind open science is to allow for other researchers to be able to see and have access to a researchers hypotheses and data before the experiment is conducted in order to aid in the openness, reproducibility, and integrity of communication research.  In previous blogs I have discussed both open access and research ethics and I believe that the idea of open science is one way to help the research community both battle the ethics issue by pre-registering scientific research and aid in the open access of this same research.  Higher education can benefit from this relatively new process of registering data and ideas by extending an easier way for data to be reviewed by peers and to halt the idea of ‘cherry picking’ data in order to prove a hypothesis.

A growing problem in the communication field (and I assume in other fields) is the idea of ‘cherry picking’ data.  This is the practice of just using the data that helps to prove a certain hypothesis or finding a reason to throw out data that may not help in proving a certain hypothesis.  By using open science and pre-registering hypotheses and by sharing data sets in a transparent and easily accessed way other scientists can comb through the data and see that the results have not been ‘white-washed.’  With so many experiments, and researchers studying similar kinds of phenomena, a discrepancy in data can really stand out and be found by peers.  Therefore, the enticements to cheat the system and act unethically, are greatly lessened for most researchers.  Open science, although not accepted by all researchers, can be a new and novel approach to ensuring the ethics of the communication field and its research is not compromised by a few unethical researchers, looking for an easy way to get published.

Like I said, not all researchers in the field accept open science as a viable option but the notion of open science is growing in the communication field.  I think that there are still ‘old school’ researchers that believe that their ways are the best ways and that change is not necessarily a good thing.  Open science does create more work for the researcher when it comes to reporting data sets and a lot of researchers would like to keep proprietary research and data private, which adds another reason why not all researchers are on board.  However, there are ways to keep data proprietary and still report it through the open science framework, it just means more work for the researchers, which is also another stumbling block in open science being fully integrated throughout the communications field.

 

Open Access Blog Post

The International Journal of Communication is an open access journal that while based in the communication discipline, covers an array of topics that tangentially deal with ideas and concepts important to the research of communication.  The IJOC is funded by a commitment from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, located at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles California.  It has since spread to an international audience and group of contributors.  The IJOC relies on peers reviews to maintain its rigorous standards and reputation.

The goal of the IJOC is to provide a journal for established and emerging scholars from around the world to introduce research from a myriad of disciplines that come together to influence and add to the communication discipline as a whole.  Although centered in communications, the IJOC is welcoming to interdisciplinary scholars and research that contribute to the growth of communications throughout the world.  The journal aims to be a place to address the many sub-fields and specialties of the communications.  The IJOC prides itself in being open access and allowing more diverse research than many of the specialized journals within the communications field.

The IJOC is based on the ideas that the open access allows for a wide distribution of research that may not be otherwise seen in the communications field.  The ease and financial viability of the open access system are also considerations that the journal takes into account when providing exposure for working papers and research.  The editors also believe that a high-end, respected open access journal will lead other journals to move in the same direction to help in the growth of communications as a viable field in research and study.  The IJOC also understands that standards are important and call for the rigorous peer reviews and trust of scholars to submit and review all works fairly.  The editors believe this is a key factor in allowing the open access policy of the journal to flourish.

Types of Higher Education (Future Professoriate Open Blog #1)

During the future professoriate lecture, we have learned about many types of higher education institutions.  Having been involved with Virginia Tech for all of my higher education, it is enlightening to learn about the other types of institutions that are available to students.  It is both interesting and exciting to see that higher education can be accessible to many different kinds of students.  The full time student who lives on campus and does not need a side job to afford their education is not the only student who seeks a higher education.  From research 1 universities to liberal arts colleges to community colleges, it seems that there is a place for anyone that seeks out a higher education after high school.

As an unconventional graduate student, myself, I can see a great value in the differing types of higher education.  As of now, I am teaching public speaking in the communications department of Virginia Tech and really enjoy certain aspects of teaching.  However, I am not sure that I would want to spend the rest of my career doing research in an attempt to gain tenure at a research 1 university.  It is refreshing to know that there are some different options for me to continue my teaching in higher education.  Looking into liberal arts colleges and universities that do not look upon research as the main component to being a professor has renewed an outlook of mine to continue teaching into my future.  I would like to find a university or college where I can hone my teaching, classroom, and student interaction skills in order to become a better teacher and not just use teaching as a way to allow me to continue research.

I look forward to learning more about higher education and the ways in which it serves all kinds of students.  When it comes to gaining a higher education, all students that look to better themselves should be given that chance, whether it be here in the United States or overseas.  I believe that the different ways to earn that higher education and the different ways in which teaching that higher education is fostered is a great thing for the future of the United States.

 

Ethics (Neumeister)

A case of misconduct was brought about alleging that Dr. Neumeister of NYU engaged in falsifying information in research that was funded by outside grants.  The part of this case study that I found interesting was the fact that a settlement was garnered.  The settlement included a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement in order to conclude the investigation.  What I find particularly interesting is that by coming to a settlement, Dr. Neumeister never had to admit any wrongdoing.  In a case where outside money is granted in order to conduct what, I’m sure, any organization would assume is legitimate research, I believe that an admission of guilt is in order and possible reimbursement of funds.  Normally, I would not assume guilt but as part of the agreement Neumeister ‘voluntarily’ gave up certain research privileges, which seems to me to be admitting, at least, some negligence.

The bigger picture here is why do researchers commit these acts of ethics violations.  It is not to further science.  Is it to fill a quota of getting published? Is it to try to make a name for themselves? Is it in order to substantiate grant money?  I’m sure some or all these reasons apply in some cases but the crux of the problem ultimately comes down to ethics, both the personal ethics of the researcher and the professional ethics of the discipline.  Especially in the medical field, a case like this should be looked into closer, considering the health risks that are involved.  A settlement and a ‘voluntarily’ 2 year ban on research doesn’t seem to me to be sufficient.  The lack of ethics displayed in this case not only diminishes any future research done by Neumeister but also taints research in the field as a whole.

Mission Statements Blog Post

2/3/20:

Stanford University Mission Statement:

“to extend the frontiers of knowledge, stimulate creativity, and solve real-world problems, prepare students to think broadly, deeply and critically, and to contribute to the world, and deploy Stanford’s strengths to benefit our region, country, and world.”

Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, California, USA and is considered a Tier 1 research university.  Stanford’s mission statement  focuses on the idea that its students are prepared to use critical thinking to help solve real world problems. The statement spotlights the university’s research background and how it can be used to benefit members of not only its own community but also the world.  It really stood out to me that research and knowledge were in the forefront of the mission statement.  Although there are references to a more social use of this research, Stanford seems to value the idea of critical thinking and research.  I believe that listing this first in the mission statement is a clear sign that Stanford wants to be known for preparing its students to think critically and creatively.

Seton Hall University Mission Statement:

“To integrate and strengthen shared fundamental values, practices, traditions and principles that guide moral decisions and offer deeper insights into the mystery of God and his creation.”

Seton Hall University is located in South Orange, New Jersey, USA., and is a ‘R2’ (high research activity) university. The mission statement of Seton Hall focuses on the more social and religious aspects of scholarship.  This is evident in the words used, such as ‘value’, ‘moral decisions’, ‘mystery of God’, and ‘creation.’  There is no mention of research or academia within in its statement, leading one to believe that religion and social values are more apparent in the day to day life of students at Seton Hall.

These two statements differ in that Stanford wants to acknowledge the academic and research aspects of their university and Seton Hall University chooses to highlight the social and religious side to their university.  Although both universities clearly conduct research and look to extend knowledge, Stanford’s mission statement opts to highlight that while Seton Hall’s places research in the background and focuses on the religious effects of scholarship.