Technology and multitasking

This week’s reading is about attention and multitasking in class. I really like the article “The Myth of the disconnected life” as it reflects the facts in our daily life. It mentions how it is necessary and helpful to disconnect from internet, cellphone for sometime and spend more time with family and people around us. I can see how it’s the same for students in the classroom, they should disconnect from the facebook, wechat or whatever on the internet and focus on the class content.

I agree with the author’s opinion, however,  I think technology is just the surface level of the multitasking issue in class, we need to address the deeper factors. In my opinion, technology is not the causal factor of multitasking or distracting factor in class or in our lives, instead, it should be a useful tool. For instance, for students who are studying in places far away from their family, technology is an important way for them to connect with their family.  They rely on the internet or cellphones to spend time with their family or friends who are far away. In this case, disconnect from technology may mean less contact with their family. For people with family  around, they can use technology to improve their quality of life and the time they spend together.

Similarly, for students who use laptop during class time, the information they get from internet might be more interesting or useful than the lecture that the instructor gives. From my own experience, I have been students for so many years, I have met professors who require no technology in the classroom and professors who allow technology or encourage technology use in the classroom, the key factor of technology use in the classroom is not the instructors’ rules, but the quality of class. In a boring class, even though the instructor bans the use of technology, the students will do something else, such as drawing pictures, reading novels, sleep, or chatting with neighbors in writing. On the contrary, when the class is interesting and engaging, the students are active in learning and they will stop browsing the internet. In the article Students Stop Surfing After Being Shown How In-Class Laptop Use Lowers Test Scores, the author talked about how effective when the professor showed students laptop use in class lowered test scores,  when I worked as a teaching assistant, the professor I worked for used this strategy, and I could tell that it was effective for a while, but it was not the problem solver.

The findings ” media multitaskers pay mental price”  showed by Stanford study was a surprise for me, I didn’t know this before, but the article and the study do make sense and it is very convincing. I guess I’ll show the findings of this study to my students next semester!


GRAD5114: When I am a Diversity Contributor

I really like this week’s reading and I appreciate the awareness of diversity by faculty and students in higher education. I feel very lucky that I have had some positive experiences in terms of diversity during my graduate study that have changed my life.

Before I came to U.S. , diversity is not something in my life that I pay any attention to, as I grow up in a middle sized city in China and I spend most of the time in school where the students around me were all similar to me, all Chinese students, similar age, came from similar family background,  and even though I spent four years in Beijing which is a large city with diverse population, during my undergrad study, I still did not aware of the experience of diversity.

When I was in Washington University in St. Louis for my master’s degree, I not only learned a lot about diversity but also experienced myself. As I was studying social work, which emphasizes on social justice and equality, so the first course I took is Social Justice and Human Diversity, In that class, we learned different cultures, social class, sexual orientation, poverty, gender, and other factors essential to social work practice. I learned that it is critical to  have the ability to assess different people’s  values, preferences, and characteristics as a social work student.

However, as a minority in all my classes, I felt the stress myself and sometimes I became anxious. One of my favorite professors in WUSTL really helped me with this issue. I still remembered how he encouraged me to “advocate for yourself”. He told me how he understand the difficulties and challenges of studying abroad, how I made contributions to the classes that I took and finally he said “you know, social workers always advocate for our clients, but we also need to learn how to advocate for yourself!” After talking with that professor, I realized that what he said was true in many ways. As the readings indicates it important to know that diversity has lots of benefits for higher education, but when we are the minority, we can’t assume everyone has taken Diversity courses and appreciate the benefits of it, we need to advocate for ourselves, no matters it’s apply for graduate programs, future jobs or just in our daily life, we need to express our values and opinions, so that people will understand each other better.

GRAD5114: Know yourself and your students

I have taught online classes and have worked as teaching assistant for four semesters and I’ll be teaching my first in-class course in Spring 2016 semester! I am really excited about it and I also start getting prepared for it this semester. This week’s reading is really helpful for my preparation and makes me think about my own teaching style and imagine myself teaching my own class.

I have given several guest lectures about different topics in aging, and my teaching supervisors have given me great feedback and suggestions about my teaching. I admit that discover my authentic teaching self has always been challenging.

At first, I was really concerned about teaching in English as English is my second language. I wasn’t confident enough about giving lectures or answering students’ questions, so before giving guest lectures, I practiced my lecture many many times, just like preparing for a conference paper presentation. However, after several guest lecture, I found that even though you need to be really fluent in English, teaching needs really more than that! It’s not really the language that I am using, it’s the content, teaching skill and techniques that matter the most. I also noticed that when I was passionate about the topic that I was teaching, I’d be less concerned about the language that I was using, and I could still explain issues and answer students’ questions clearly. Instead, if I wasn’t confident about the teaching content, then no matter how many times I practiced in English, I could still got stuck in certain points. So later on, I concerned less about speaking in English, instead I focused on the content and the materials that I’d be using during classes.

Once I gave a guest lecture about international aging issues,  I realized that even though I was so passionate about the content and I knew it so well that I could talk about in very confidently, the students were not intrigued by my lecture. After the lecture,  I talked with my supervisor who observed my lecture about my concerned, and he told me that my lecture was great, but I didn’t talked about how those issues could be connected with the students in my class. For instance, I talked about the aging population in China was huge, but obvious the the single  statistical number did not really mean anything the students, so next time I added the number of older adults in the U.S. and compared that to the aging population in other countries, then the students had a better idea of those numbers. Later on, I also found that when I know my students better, I can use different ways to get them focused on the topic and have a better understanding of the issues that I want them to know.

I do think guest lectures are quite different from teaching the whole class. I’m still working on discovering my own teaching self, and I look forward to teaching my first own in-class course this coming semester!


GRAD5114: Review of Online Gerontology Courses

I didn’t realize that our blog posts are about the coming week’s reading until last week, so I have been writing reflections after class in previous four weeks! As we did that in our Preparing Future Professoriate class…so I guess I am a victim of rigid thinking that I gained from so many years of education.

This  weeks’ readings are really interesting. I agree with both Robert Talbert about the four good aspects of lectures and Mark Carnes about active learning. From the video “Digital Medias: New Learners in the 21 Century”, we can see that  students in current generation have more opportunities and more access to use technologies like cellphones, laptops and internet and these rapid developing technologies have high impact in their daily lives. For instance, due to the advancement of information and computer technology, online courses are being developed and implemented by many higher education institutions, with a wide variety of methods under development for different academic field. As part of future educators, we should keep ourselves updated about the changes. I have taught gerontology course online for several times, but I want to learn more about current online teaching strategies that can promote active learning, so I read previous research that talked about online gerontology courses.

Online educational courses are relatively new for many residential colleges or universities, and are often offered to supplement or directly replicate classroom-based courses in their content and structure. The majority of online gerontology courses are adaptations of existing curriculums into the online format while retaining adherence to pre-existing course syllabus and procedures, student online learning strategies may be negatively impacted or ineffectively motivated (Carrillo, & Renold, 2000; Henke, 2000). In order to determine the impact of online gerontology courses and inform the potential development of gerontology-specific online course methodologies, several studies have been conducted to explore the implementation of concepts specific to gerontology. For instance, Barrett and Pai (2008) discuss the strategy of teaching ageism through an online gerontology course. The researchers evaluated the strategy of using portrait of older adults created by students as a method to stimulate discussion about ageism in an online forum. Although this exercise received positive feedback from students, the authors found that the portrait exercise, along with other techniques of teaching gerontology concepts adapted from standard classroom exercises, fulfilled the necessary role in stimulating discussion for their online course. However, these teaching strategies were insufficient towards the goal of fostering a better conceptual understanding than would result from classroom-based instruction.

These findings reinforced the earlier observations of Carrillo and Renold (2000) of student activity in University of Southern California’s online and traditional gerontology coursework. Carrillo and Renold (2000) emphasized on the importance of using localized contextual considerations of both students’ and instructors’ separate expectations and goals during the development of online gerontology courses. As indicated by previous researchers (Kittleson, 2009; Siegal & Kagan, 2012), a generational gap exists between millennial undergraduates’ expectations for online courses and previous undergraduates enrolled in classroom-centered coursework. Siegal and Kagan (2012) identifies three key aspects for these differences: the structure of the modern educational landscape, millennial communication patterns, and disparity between the technology backgrounds of students and their instructors. As a result of generational differences, traditional education strategies designed for use in classroom instruction, such as didactic lecture or small-group discussion, are unlikely to stimulate desired educational outcomes for millennial students enrolled in online courses (Ehlman, Moriello, Welleford, & Schuster, 2011; Haber, 2008; Henke, 2000).

While there is ample discussion of development for online-learning methodologies, there has been limited discussion for developing techniques specific to gerontological concepts and theories. So I think that will be my future research work in gerontology education.



Thoughts about mindful learning

In this week’s class, we learned about mindful learning and anti-teaching. I also learned about Wordle which looks really cool,  even though it didn’t work on my computer. I liked the  articles we read in class.  Among those, I really like Langer (2000)’s article about mindful learning, as it makes me reflect on my own education history and teaching experiences.

As he stated in the article mindfulness is “a flexible state of mind in which we are actively engaged in the present, noticing new things and sensitive to context”, I realized that I have been mindless in learning for so long, even though I am in my third year of my PhD program, because I have treated my education as a rigid and structured process. I take it for granted or mindlessly that after primary school, I should go to high school, and then college and then graduate school, without even asking why. I also agreed with how the author discussed about the ways mindfulness come about: repetition and single exposure. When I was younger, I learned knowledge and skills by repetition and we were taught that repetition was the golden way to memorize information. So if we did something in the “wrong way”, the teachers would asked us to repeat in the “right way” multiple times until we memorized it.  In the end, we rely on our mind-set for how to accomplish the goals. We have been given information in certain ways that don’t encourage us to ask questions.

Mindful learning advocates for learning information from different perspectives and be aware of the uncertainty inherent in the facts. Like the author indicated when he talked about the first myths about learning: “the basics should be learned so well that they become second nature”. We have learned so many Basics even from primary school, and we were asked to learn about them instead of how to use them in creative ways. As educators in the future, we should encourage students to think about variation from different perceptions.

I also liked how the author discussed about the attention issue among children and adults, as it intrigued me to connect that with my research interest which is about older adults with dementia. I think mindful learning and training could be a good way to help  improve attention in older adults with memory problems.


GRAD 5114: Thoughts about Standard Test

In our second class, we watched an interesting TED talk and debated about whether we should keep standard tests and what are the best ways to evaluate learning process and the qualification of students for college or graduate programs.  It was a good discussion, even though I agree with many of the opinions about why we should remove standard test, I still think there are many reasons that we should keep them.

First of all, we need to think about the specific field of study, for instance, for field like math, biology, chemistry or physics, I do think that standard test is a still good way to show whether students have gained the skills and knowledge, especially for elementary or foundational education. However, it might not be a good way to evaluate students’ learning in arts or literatures by standard tests.  So we cannot simply say that standard tests are all not good educational methods, as they can serve as a good tool to help students learn and memorize knowledge and practice basic skills, like mind calculation in math. Personally, I have good memories and experiences about the standard tests that I took along my education path.

Second, to some extent, from the social perspective, standard test maintains some equality in the society. As I studied social work for my master’s program, I always think about the social equality issue in our lives. As getting higher education is still a privilege for certain percent of people in many societies, not everyone has the chance to go to college.  Standard tests like SAT, GRE in the U.S. and the national standard college entrance test in China play an important role in college admission process. Currently, many people both in the U.S. and China are complaining that we focus too much on the scores of the tests and we should change the admission process by adding other evaluation tools or methods. I agree that we should not evaluate students’ qualifications for college or graduate programs merely based on their test scores, but we should also be cautious about the factors that could potentially lead to social inequality, when we think about revising the admission process or get rid of standard tests. For instance, in China, all of the best universities are public schools currently, and the students from lower social economic status (SES) background could still be able to and have the opportunity to take the national standard college entrance test and go to the best universities in China. If the standard test is cancelled and replaced by other means of evaluation, like cumulative evaluations through out high school years, or add some interviews to the admission process, many those students will be put into a disadvantaged situation only because of their lower SES background, which is a very complicated issue. It’s might be the same in other societies, as we cannot eliminate potential inequalities due to human weaknesses, money, power, family relationships, etc.

I have always been a little conservative and cautious when thinking about education process, so my thoughts and opinions could seem very “old” and traditional. I expect that many people might be disagree with me, so thank you for your understanding and discussions are welcomed.


Grad 5114: Thoughts on First Class and Connected Learning

I have been looking forward to our contemporary pedagogy class since I took the Preparing Futures Professoriate (PFP) class last Fall Semester and the first class showed me how fun and useful this class will be!  Tonight’s class was great, I enjoyed every minute as it was so different from traditional classes that I have been taking all these years. I enjoyed the interaction between students and with the instructors. The stories of every student’s names were fascinating. I really appreciate that we are given this opportunity to share and learn different culture and lives of our classmates. It’s great to know that our classmates come from all the places in the world!

One of the new concept I learned in today’s class in connected learning.  Even though I am familiar with all the social networks, technologies, online classes, etc., I have never read or used the word “connected learning” before. The two videos that Dr. Nelson showed us today were really inspiring. As I am dedicated to become an educator in the future, I want to learn and utilize the best education strategy in my future education career. As was demonstrated in the video, our life is changing by the rapid developing technology, so we should be open-minded and try our best to keep balance of old and new ways of learning.

We have discussed about things like E-journals and everything going electronically in our PFP class. I am still not a big fun for that from the educational side, as I believe that some of the traditional ways of learning are essential for students, especially when they are at a younger age. For example, due to the massive use of laptops, computers, ipads, typing are replacing writing in many ways, which is not a good sign for human development. I still believe that our future generations should be able to write on papers.

However, I am not against connected learning, or at least the concept or idea that they are trying to express. I think it would be an efficient way to deliver knowledge and information. In addition, I think it’s a good way to help improve social equality. Connected learning would give more people more opportunities to learn what they want to know and gain the skills they want to develop, so people will have more chances to choose their careers or types of works they want to do.

As a gerontology student, I care about aging issues a lot, so whenever I learn something new, I tend to think about their relationships with aging issues. After learning about connected learning, I have this idea that it could be combined with caregiving as well. I think it would be great to develop the concept of “connected caregiving”. Things could be easier when everything is connected! For instance, when the adult children are the caregivers of their older parents, if connected caregiving model is established, then they would be able to know how well their parents are doing, and know their concerns at the first time. The older parents are also connected with the community, so they can have access to the community resources and services.

Anyway, tonight’s class was really fun and I feel that I have learned a lot new things in a short amount of time.



GRAD5014: Week 15: Reflection on Final Project

For the final project, I want to discuss about the  authorship issues. I want to explore the following questions:  a) What are the students’ experiences of authorship issues? b) What are the potential reasons that causing problems? c) How authorship issues be addressed in the higher education?

The purpose of my final project is to explore the process of determining authorship credit and authorship order on research collaborations; to explore graduate students’ experiences of determining authorship credit and authorship order; and to discuss the potential reasons that lead to the issues and what need to be done to avoid this issue.

In order to answer these questions, I searched and conducted a literature review about determine credit and authorship orders on research collaboration.  Peer-reviewed articles published after 2000 are included, and I identified about 30 articles. I briefly reviewed all the articles and then I did four face-to-face interview with graduate students, as this is project is for class-use only, not for publication, I didn’t record and transcript the interview, I just wrote down their answers, and summarized their stories.

The interview questions are as follows:  1) Have you experienced any authorship related issues before? Could you tell me more about it? 2) What do you think are the potential reasons for this? 3) What do you think will be helpful for you to learn more about authorship issues?

Based on their answers, I analyzed three cases and then made the following recommendations:

  • To be included as an author, a student should make a professional contribution that is creative and intellectual in nature.
  • Authorship decision should be based on the scholarly importance of the professional contribution and not just the time and effort made or whether they were paid.
  • Agreements regarding authorship should be made early in the collaboration process.
  • Every student should take GRAD5014: Ethics and Scholarly Integrity class!  🙂

I look forward to our final class presentation, so I can get some constructive feedback from other students in our class! 

Future of the University-GRAD5014

I think the future university will be more technology oriented, more online course will become available and innovative strategies of engaging students will be created. As the students become millennial,  a generational gap exists between millennial undergraduates’ expectations for education and courses courses and previous undergraduates enrolled in classroom-only courses.

Siegal (2012) identifies three key aspects for these differences: the structure of the modern educational landscape, millennial communication patterns, and disparity between the technology backgrounds of students and their instructors. As a result of generational differences, traditional educational strategies designed for use in classroom instruction, such as didactic lecture or small-group discussion, are unlikely to stimulate desired educational outcomes for millennial students. So innovative teaching strategies will be created to engage the students in the learning process.

The traditional course structure or classroom set will be changed, as new teaching strategies are launched. Specially designed classrooms and course outlines will be available. For instance, traditional lectures will disappear, and instead, interactive type of teaching methods will emerge, so the students will enjoy more about the courses and the learning process.

As more and more classes will be available online, so the semester system will be changed as well. Students can complete classes based on their own learning pace, and available time and resources, so the the students will feel less stressful during the who education process.


Siegal, B., & Kagan, S. H. (2012). Teaching psychological and social gerontology to millennial undergraduates. Educational gerontology, 38(1-3), 20-29. doi:10.1080/03601277.2010.515896

Technology and Innovation in Higher Education-GRAD5104

Due to the development of technology and increased resources on the internet, technology are being used as an vital option for teaching in today’s universities and colleges.  However, the effect of the use of technology are not clearly studied in previous research.

I found one article by Bowman (2009), that  explored if posting  PPT notes on a web-based course management system was related to enhanced performance or increased absences by analyzing grade earned and class attendance records. The findings of this study is really interesting.  The researcher indicated that there were no differences in either grades or absences between classes that had notes posted and those that did not. However, results indicated grades were positively related to attendance. 148 students (109 women, 39 men) who had access to lecture outlines online performed more poorly on exams than students who did not have access to online materials.

In addition, online courses are also becoming popular. Even though faculty play a major role in teaching an online course,  many faculty are not aware of the need of online learning courses as a viable alternative to traditional in-classroom courses based upon the needs of students and the ever increasing demand on the university and related resources. Many faculty are resistant to new approaches and technology, have prejudice and fear about teaching online courses. In addition, many educators who are highly skilled in teaching traditional classes have discovered that teaching online classes can be a significantly different experience. Some faculty may feel a loss of autonomy when they can no longer have complete control of their course. In many respects, faculty may need more training than students in acquiring the skills necessary to utilize online courses (Carrillo, & Renold, 2000). Faculty who are well-trained and motivated to utilize online education techniques are needed.


Bowman, L. L. (2009). Does posting PowerPoint presentations on WebCT affect class performance or attendance? Journal of Instructional Psychology, 36(2), 104.

Carrillo, F. R., & Renold, C. (2000). Distance education: Understanding faculty and students. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 20(4), 55-61. Retrieved from