Media Madness

Yo! I hope everyone’s having an amazing day! Today I’d like to talk about a product whose use has increased exponentially in the last decade, and that product, my friends, is social media. Social media has become one of the most widely recognized and globally used platforms in the modern age, showing no signs of slowing down. Many of us use social media on a daily basis for hours at a time, but it can also serve as a distraction from our daily duties. Students are quite prone to using social media as a means of avoiding tasks they deem as tedious or boring. As a result, faculty members in higher education have begun utilizing social media platforms to keep students engaged in learning.

 

A study by King, Greianus, Carbonaro, Drummond, and Patterson (2009) showed that integration of social networking into an inter-professional team course in healthcare caused growth in communication skills. Sadaf, Newby, and Ertmer (2012) conducted a study questioning soon-to-be teachers on whether they plan on using social media in upcoming classes; about 51% percent reported that they will, believing that it will increase student engagement. Many graduate students utilize blogging sites such as Ning as a tool to communicate on each other’s work and share information (Brady, Holcomb, and Smith, 2010).

 

Despite there being some apparent use for social media social media in the classroom, some faculty disagree with at the very least, the platform being utilized. In a study by Roblyer, McDaniel, Webb, Herman, and Witty (2010), faculty were less likely to use Facebook in the classroom, stating that students communication about coursework was the least likely to happen on the platform.

 

In this modern world, social media doesn’t appear to be leaving anytime soon. While many view it as a distraction, the new generation of educators have been raised along side it and understand how to properly utilize it. By incorporating social media in to lectures and other educational settings, we can potentially revamp an ancient and outdated system. These are just my thoughts and I’d love to hear yours. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Until next time,

Dr. Chaos, signing off

 

 

Future of the University

Higher education is not a perfect system. There are many flaws at an individual university level, a national level, and a global level. Reevaluating the education system is should be a priority and is something that I plan to contribute to as a faculty member. Of all the things I wish to see change in the future, perhaps what I’d like to see the most is abandonment of the standardized testing system. In my eyes, it makes no sense to spend around 12 years in primary school, only for one singular test to define and limit your options for higher education. This system is in place in countries across the globe and has been for several decades, despite more and more evidence that the scores earned in these exams do not accurately reflect individual intelligence or problem solving skills. Furthermore, the immense amount of pressure placed on students to be successful on the exams is crippling. Excessively trying to make sure students perform well on these exams almost ensures that they won’t. When you limit a student to a silent, fluorescent-lit room and ask them to complete hundreds of (intentionally misleading) multiple choice questions that most adults couldn’t, the results are going to be tragic. Then to limit the student’s higher education options based on this absurd test with outlandish conditions, it just doesn’t seem to be the greatest way to go about it.

I believe that if we develop a more reasonable means of evaluating student skills and knowledge instead of a standardized exam, we can open more doors for youth and allow them to attend universities that better suit their needs.  We should want more students attending colleges; a higher education rate often leads to better jobs and incomes, and perhaps with time, a more intelligent society. Standardized tests themselves are (in my opinion) a misnomer. People do not learn in the same manner as others and education can differ from classroom to classroom. There is no set standard of teaching that that leads to 100% retention. With that being the case, then there should not be a standardized exam but a more personalized exam, catered to evaluate the individual student rather than hundreds of students that actually partake in this exam.

Open-access: The Key to Graduate Student Success

Good afternoon all! I’m here with another topic, and that is open-access journals. Let’s jump right in! Now as you all may or may not know, I am a 2nd year PhD student in the field of food science. A big part of being a grad student is READING PAPERS! Yes, in order to become the future researchers of the world, we grad students must constantly being aware of the scientific advances made in the past. We build our knowledge on the foundations set by our predecessors. Unfortunately, in this world, nothing is free, including knowledge. Many journals require a subscription fee or one-time charge to view the entire article. These prices can be as low as $25 or rise above $100! Now being graduate students, we aren’t exactly rolling in cash, so for us to pay for each article we’d need to read would be just short of impossible. Some universities work out a deal between journals and the library to provide access to students so long as the students remain on the campus server. This is easily feasible by larger universities such as Virginia Tech, but smaller universities have a harder time footing the bill.  Alternatively, there are journals that provide free access to all of their articles; these are known as open-access journals.

 

In my field, I often use manuscripts from the Journal of Nutrition published by the Oxford University press. Now, the Oxford University press (OUP) has made it their mission to widely disseminate the highest quality of around the world, and what better way to do so then to provide articles for free. Some journals under the publishing body have even improved their impact factors and allow for drop box submissions. The OUP aims to continue providing free access to some of its journals and gradually increase the numbers.

 

Providing open-access is critical for the success of graduate students and the creation of new scientists throughout the world. I believe that what the OUP does is a step in the right direction of promoting and evolving the current education system. As always, these are just my thoughts and I’d love to hear yours! Leave me a comment!

 

Until next time,

Dr. Chaos, signing off.

Moral Kombat

Good evening folks! Hope your day was as great as mine!

Today I’d like to talk about an area that is near and dear to my heart: morals and ethics. Sounds like a strange thing to be passionate about, but hear me out.

I work in the field of food science and technology with a focus on functional foods and human health. Suppose I come out with an amazing new study claiming that I can use one of the compounds found in coffee grounds to reduce risk of heart attack by 40%, and I have all the figures, data, and statistics to back this claim. Now lets say that I…tweaked some of my results to be a bit more favorable to my conclusions. Nothing too major, just changing a few numbers to give me a little more statistical significance, maybe i took out some of my low values. No big deal, right? I mean after all, its for the greater good of improving human health? Well that may help me sleep at night, but falsifying data is a serious offense that falls into the category of research misconduct, a major taboo in the scientific community.

Research misconduct is not only illegal, but could also be dangerous in certain fields such as the human health sector. By falsifying results that could eventually get published and cited in other experiments, you could be playing a role in the creation of a new drug or medicine that may not actually work, or even be detrimental to the public’s health! Because of these staggering consequences, organizations such as the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) oversee and monitor research integrity activities within the U.S. Public Health Service on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services. The ORI provides documentation of research misconduct cases to the public as both a reminder of the potential consequences and to serve as an example for anyone in a lab who may want to report an instance of research misconduct. 

I went onto the ORI site and pulled an article that I think illustrates my point, which you can check out here.

From the reading, we learn that Matthew is actually a graduate student, not unlike myself. More than likely, he was trying to get a manuscript published, a very important factor when pursuing a post-secondary degree. Unfortunately, Matthew decided to falsify some of his experimental results, which lead to some consequences. Now, Matthew must be supervised in any research which he could potentially receive funding for, and his employing university must cosign on ALL of his manuscript submissions, saying that the work is legitimate. Some might say that that’s not too bad, but consider this: any university who sees this background could be discouraged from hiring Matthew. After all, who wants to hire a researcher who needs to be watched over every time he wants to publish a paper?

Matthew may have made a mistake, but it isn’t one that is foreign to many graduate students. After weeks, months, years of terrible data, some students have toyed with the idea of toying with the data to produce more favorable results. Not out of malice, but out of desperation to finish their degrees. But these are only my thoughts, tell me what you think? Do you think the consequences are entirely too steep? Or that Matthew got what he deserves? Let me know what you thinl!

Until next time,

Dr. Chaos, signing off.

 

 

Mission Impossible: Planning for college

Yo folks, hope everyone’s having a fantastic weekend!

As the fall starts, one particular memory comes back to me from a long time ago: applying for college.

All throughout the world, rising high school seniors must make one of the important decisions of their young lives: they must decide which college or university they will attend. With over 4,000 accredited degree-granting institutions in the United States alone, this is no easy task; often times, these young students must consider numerous factors in their decisions. For many, the majors provided by the school weigh heavily, while for others, extracurricular activities such as sports play an influential role.

 

With so much competition from other universities, schools must find a way to make themselves appealing to potential new students. One common method of doing so, albeit overlooked, is the school’s mission and vision statement. Typically displayed prominently in bold font on the university’s home screen, the mission and vision statements provide students with a look at what the university can do for them, what kind of students the university puts out, and how they mold and shape them for the future. Professor Julián David Cortés-Sánchez, a principal professor at the Universidad del Rosario’s School of Management (Colombia), conducted a content analysis of themes present in mission and vision statements and found many trends including global influence, emphasis on research and teaching, and focus on the individual’s growth.

 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the mission and vision statements of two universities I previously attended and compare them.

 

Lincoln University

Mission statement: Lincoln University, the nation’s first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU), educates and empowers students to lead their communities and change the world.

 

It does so by:

 

Providing a rigorous liberal arts education featuring active and collaborative learning;

Integrating academic and co-curricular programs with the University’s distinctive legacy of global engagement, social responsibility and leadership development; and

Cultivating the character, values and standards of excellence needed to enable students to become responsible citizens of a global community.

 

 

 

Delaware State University

Mission statement: Delaware State University is a public, comprehensive, 1890 land-grant institution that offers access and opportunity to diverse populations from Delaware, the nation and the world. Building on its heritage as a historically black college, the University purposefully integrates the highest standards of excellence in teaching, research and service in its baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral programs. Its commitment to advance science, technology, liberal arts and the professions produces capable and productive leaders who contribute to the sustainability and economic development of the global community.

 

Both of these schools are historically black degree granting institutions in the northeastern United States. Lincoln University was founded in 1854 while Delaware State University was founded later in 1891. Right of the bat, Lincoln emphasizes its impressive historical landmark as being the first university of its kind. It then goes on to provide an overarching goal for what they desire students matriculating through its program to become. It then provides details on how it will create these students in short and concise points, stressing its academic programs, global/societal engagement, and building student character. Delaware State offers a somewhat similar statement. They also bring up their status as a historically black college, but also provide their status as a land-grant institution. From there, they discuss diversity at the school, express the high standards they hold for the academics provided, and state their commitment to education and producing future leaders.

 

Both statements are inspiring and share a few similarities: They discuss being an HBCU, something critical for young black students to be aware of when searching for an institution of higher learning. They also stress the importance of the academic programs and the type of leaders they wish to create upon graduation.

 

In my opinion, the Delaware State statement just has a bit more appeal, but that’s easily debated. At any rate, the mission statements of schools can be underappreciated and overlooked, but when a young high school student trying to decide where they will be molded into a functioning member of society, reading up on the university’s mission could help tip the scales.

 

Let me know in the comments what other factors you think play a role in selecting a college. Does the mission statement have any impact on your choices?

Until next time, Dr. Chaos, signing off ~