Education and Social Support

In theory, education should enhance society’s quality of life at large and decrease inequality by providing more career and vocational opportunities for individuals, thus the potential for increased earnings. So logically, access to education should have the ability to overcome issues involved in the cycle of social class reproduction.  However, outside societal forces that have nothing to do with cognitive ability can influence an individual’s ability to attain higher education.  I am very interested in intergenerational issues involved in inequality and unequal access to education.  Although many factors are involved with generational influences associated with educational attainment, I decided to focus on social support issues for this blog post.

With social support in mind for this assignment, I initially read an article by Li et al. (2018) that researched the link between social support, educational achievement, and emotional exhaustion.  This article can be viewed at the following link:’_Academic_Achievement_and_Emotional_Exhaustion_The_Mediating_Role_of_Self-Esteem)

This article discussed the importance of social support and social capital in avoiding emotional exhaustion and burnout related to educational achievement.  In this, I often think about nontraditional students that often lack social and emotional support.

This direction of thought also leaves me pondering the double-edged nature of social capital and education.  So, I decided to read the following article “10 Strategies for Strengthening Academic and Social Support” ( This article seemed to focus on things like building time management skills, positive peer groups and relationships, “develop academic mindset and culture,” promote educational aspirations, etcetera. These strategies seem to miss the mark on creating social support in a more inclusive environment that can address inequalities, especially those that involve generational influences involved with educational attainment.

Social capital is associated with educational achievement, positive collective consciousness, and community cohesion. It is important to note that social capital can act adversely in its collective nature and bind individuals with diverse backgrounds and needs to community expectations that reinforce ideological principles of the dominant culture that perpetuate social class reproduction.  These considerations should be accounted for in creating social support structures in academic institutions and in addressing inequality. Although this is not my area of expertise, perhaps social capital is not the ideal term or goal/outcome conceptualized in this type of framework.



Ark, T. V. & Ryerse, M. (2017). 10 Strategies for Strengthening Academic and Social Support. May 16, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2020.

Li, J., Han, X., Wang, W., Sun, G., & Cheng, Z. (2018). How social support influences university students’ academic achievement and emotional exhaustion: the mediating role of self-esteem. Learning and Individual Differences, 61, 120–126.


Virtual Field Projects

A curriculum that has historically relied heavily upon real-world experiential learning had to quickly revise lesion plans and practices to accommodate current COVID conditions.  I have personally been involved in putting together virtual field trips to accommodate learning objectives while adhering to safety protocol both as a TA and hosting as a graduate student as a part of a class I am attending.  During this process, I have learned that video editing is not an intuitively obvious art. Video file size and video editing apps create many challenges of their own and, in my case, required upgrading my computer capacity. Also, issues of sound quality and video quality often involve expensive equipment, practice, and training.  These barriers can be cost-prohibitive, time prohibitive in learning the necessary technology, and are genuinely an overall art form.  There are other access barriers in that many hosts may not allow access to allow for a virtual tour due to safety or privacy concerns.   These virtual tours ideally involve a host who is willing to participate in a virtual tour asynchronously with the students, which can be somewhat challenging to accommodate for the schedule class slot times.

As I spent hours putting together various field trip clips for students to attend asynchronously, my son would tease, “you just took everything fun from a field trip and turned it into WORK for everyone else.” However, I have to disagree with my son’s assessment and acknowledge that these virtual experiences provide a safe forum for students to experience environments that may not otherwise be accessible.  For this reason, I decided to focus on virtual field trips for this blog post.

Oregon State University’s ( article discusses the difficulty of creating a virtual learning environment for STEM learning.  Over the summer, 50 field stations in 6 different countries took on a “virtual field project.”


1. Create ecosystem exploration videos to teach students to find and observe evidence of key ecological concepts.

  1. Host live-streaming cross-site events with researchers to discuss the process of field research with students.


  1. Share existing virtual materials and events with faculty at universities across the U.S. produced by a variety of organizations. A virtual field portal will act as a signpost, catalog, and calendar for faculty, students and community.


  1. Evaluate the efficacy of virtual field materials to set the stage for further cross-site virtual field learning initiatives”



This article states that these virtual field projects will continue after the COVID pandemic. It is a way to increase the diversity of environments studied worldwide while concurrently providing broader access to students at large in a way that enhances collaborative learning and research.

On a personal level, I agree with this assessment. As a graduate student in a class that required all students to go out and film a virtual field trip to share with the course, I could view environments that I otherwise would not have traveled to visit.  It was interesting to see how various areas handled similar issues centered around class themes.  I would say that this provided all students an enhanced learning environment that allowed for exciting collaboration in idea-sharing after each virtual field trip.


Online article source:


For this assignment, I  reviewed the case summary of Wang, Zhiwei

Zhiwei Wang, MD, was investigated by Wayne State University for conduct committed. At the same time, he was working with the Karmanos Cancer Institute, in the Department of Pathology as a postdoctorate fellow.  The office of Research Integrity found that Dr. Wang was guilty of the research misconduct of knowingly and/or intentionally falsifying/fabricating information in relation to the following instances:

  • Data that was provided in grant applications, PhD dissertation and 14 publications
  • Images used in experiments designed to identify underlying cell processes associated with apoptosis cancer. In this, there are several pages of reused and relabeled instances of this misconduct.

Honestly, must of the specific information involved in Dr. Wang’s misconduct is beyond my competency to interpret.  However, he built an entire career from falsified information.  I wonder if it was initial laziness that led to future research being built on falsified information from prior work or if his work was consistently and continually falsified in all the investigated instances of misconduct.  The punitive action was taken to revoke Wang’s PhD and all “affected papers” except one. In addition, Dr. Wang agreed to a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement that excluded him for 10 years to contract or subcontract with and United States Agency, serving in an advisory capacity to “PHS” and to correct the before mentioned one paper that was not revoked in this ORI case.  It is curious to me that the penalties were not harsher.  This is medical research that has dire human consequences.  In addition, how many others attempted to build knowledge form his falsified work.  This effects not only his career but all work by others that was expanded from his findings.


Case Information:

Open Access

For this open-access blog assignment, I chose to use a journal that invited my advisor to write an article for a special edition journal.  I am familiar with this journal because I worked with my advisor on this project.  The organization “Frontiers” offers a wide array of journals geared toward specific and disciplines, along with multidisciplinary journals.  In the before-mentioned instance, my advisor and I worked with the “Frontiers in Built Environment” and “Frontiers in Environmental Psychology” journals.  I will discuss the “Frontiers in Built Environment” journal for this assignment.  The field chief editor for this journal is Izuru Takewaki. He is with Kyoto University, located in Kyoto, Japan.  This journal states that it is a multidisciplinary journal that allows open access with the goal of “disseminating” knowledge across disciplines and the public at large.  This journal publishes peer-reviewed research relating to building systems and sustainable communities.

Their Open Access Statement is as follows:

“Frontiers’ philosophy is that all research is for the benefit of humankind. Research is the product of an investment by society and therefore its fruits should be returned to all people without borders or discrimination, serving society universally and in a transparent fashion.”

This journal is indexed in:

  • Scopus
  • Google Scholar
  • DOAJ
  • ESCI
  • NSD
  • DOAJ
  • Cross Ref
  • Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory.


I feel that this journal does hold to their scope and mission statement because I am familiar with their special edition Environmental Psychology in Built Environments addition.  It appears that Frontiers does make an effort to bridge disciplines and provide resources not only to individuals interested in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work but also to those that seek to build a transdisciplinary orientation.  I am very heavily involved in interdisciplinary research.  I do not fit into any specific disciplinary box, not even a disciplinary box that is context-specific. So, I am grateful for the resources that Frontiers and other open access journals provide to individuals interested in bridging disciplines in the quest to find solutions to practical problems that so desperately need to be addressed in our society.


Frontiers in Built Environments:

Mission Statement

For this blog post, I wanted to compare the mission statements of a public and private higher education institutions located in Virginia, United States of America.  For this reflection I used the University of Virginia as an example of a public institution and Washington and Lee as an example of a private institution.



University of Virginia’s Mission Statement Page contains the following information:


The University of Virginia is a public institution of higher learning guided by a founding vision of discovery, innovation, and development of the full potential of talented students from all walks of life. It serves the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world by developing responsible citizen leaders and professionals; advancing, preserving, and disseminating knowledge; and providing world-class patient care.

We are defined by:

  • Our enduring commitment to a vibrant and unique residential learning environment marked by the free and collegial exchange of ideas;
  • Our unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect; and
  • Our universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.

Statement background: The Faculty Senate, with the concurrence of the president, approved revisions to the University’s mission statement on May 15, 2013, to replace the statement that had been in effect since May 31, 1985.  The Board of Visitors, after making additional modifications, approved the mission statement on November 15, 2013.  The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approved the mission statement on January 14, 2014, to be effective 30 days following adjournment of the 2014 General Assembly.”


Washington and Lee’s Mission Statement Page contains the following information:


“College Mission Statement

The College provides a liberal education in the arts and sciences and fosters a collaborative environment for faculty and student inquiry. Dedicated faculty members challenge students to sharpen their critical thinking skills and to develop their capacities for clear communication and creative expression. The College faculty is committed to advancing our teaching, curriculum, and campus culture in order to meet the educational needs and aspirations of students in a rapidly changing world.

The hallmarks of a graduate of the College include:

  • A resourceful intellect and talent for independent thinking
  • The capacity to evaluate information critically and to convey it effectively
  • Competence in many methods of defining, approaching and solving problems
  • A lively curiosity about and mature respect for varied cultures and intellectual perspectives
  • A lifelong commitment to learning, to health and well-being, and to the values that inform a W&L education.


University Mission Statement

Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students’ capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”


Note:  The date of Washington and Lee’s Mission statement was not made available on this page.


What I initially noticed about the University of Virginia’s mission statement is their commitment to “development of the full potential of talented students from all walks of life,” along with a “universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.”  However, accessibility, affordability, and inclusivity language seem to be distinctly absent from Washington and Lee’s mission statement.  Washington and Lee’s focus seems to be on meeting the “educational needs and aspirations of students,” and I wonder if this exclusionary if accessibility is not a stated goal of this institution.  Perhaps, Washington and Lee is committed to accessibility, affordability and inclusion, but that is not their target market audience.  I really don’t know.

I then noticed the University of Virginia’s mission statement further elaborates upon their “unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect.” However, Washington and Lee’ mission statement declares that a graduate of their College should have “A lively curiosity about and mature respect for varied cultures and intellectual perspectives” and are prepared for “engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.”Curiosity,”  “respect,” and “engagement” without actually having a “collaborative, diverse community” is a form of oppression, to my mind seems exclusionary, and something that could potentially perpetuate social class reproduction. Again, Washington and Lee may be very successful in the recruitment and retainment of a diverse student body and may be very inclusive.  However, the mission statement could be worded better to reflect these values.

Lastly, I did like that Washington and Lee seem to promote critical thinking and transferable skills, as is common with liberal art schools. In contrast, the University of Virginia seemed more focused on innovation.


Washington and Lee’s Mission Statement: Retrieved September 14, 2020.

University of Virginia’s Mission Statement: Retrieved September 14, 2020.