Lack of sleep and unethical conduct

I thought this was an interesting topic and article that folks might like to read. This work is being led by folks here at VT. The full text is available via the VT Library. I guess this means there are greater benefits than just feeling rested to getting a good night’s rest.

Lack of sleep and unethical conduct

By: Christopher M. Barnes, John Schaubroeck, Megan Huth, Sonia Ghumman

Published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115 (2011) 169–180

We draw from the Ego Depletion model and research on sleep physiology to predict a relationship between lack of sleep and individuals’ unethical behavior. Laboratory studies showed that sleep quantity is positively related to self-control resources and negative associated with unethical behavior. In a cross-sectional field study examining unethical behavior in a variety of work settings, low levels of sleep, and low perceived quality of sleep, were both positively related to unethical behavior as rated by the supervisor, and cognitive fatigue mediated the influence of sleep quantity. In an experience sampling field study, we found similar effects within-individuals. We discuss the role of lost sleep in better understanding unethical behavior in organizations.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , ,

The future isn’t something hidden in a corner…

“The future isn’t something hidden in a corner. The future is something we build in the present.”  – Paulo Freire

Really…? Well sometimes I think the academy could learn a thing or two from this statement. While we weren’t able to fully get into the topic of critical pedagogy, I really enjoyed taking a look at the resources on Scholar, reading them, and going over the PPT Shelli put together. A very different and inspiring way to think about things for me. A different way to think about the dynamics between ‘teacher’ and ‘student.’ A different way to fulfill the mission of the university. And a different way to be a good faculty member, mentor, colleague, and friend.

Since doing the readings and looking at the resources, this quote is something that has stayed with me. It is something that I have grown to feel strongly about. I feel like it sums up the need for, and possible ways in which the academy could change. I’m not into corny clichés but I feel like I could use this quote in a job interview and tell people, “This is how I want to work with you, the students, and our colleagues across the university.” I want to build the future in the present.

I’m not talking about the future like some far off distant abstract concept that someday will come to fruition. Someday my schedule will be clear enough for us to have the relationship that I think, and tell myself, we have. Someday I will be free of the influences that I can’t even recognize, or at least won’t admit to others, that exist outside of my fragile little head.

I want to be a teacher who sees the opportunity of developing relationships with students and provides for the opportunity to do just that. Building the future in the present, together, as a community of learners, in an authentic and real way. Without walls, power trips, political games and pastoring that no one likes.

Just saying you value justice, student’s opinions, the work and long hour’s student put in isn’t enough for me. It isn’t enough to be happy only after you have had your ego stroked for a few hours. What I want to see is the sacrifice of not always doing what is politically expedient but doing what is right.

Thinking hard about this quote grounds me into thinking the right way about teaching, about being faculty, and keeps the reasons I came to graduate school at the forefront of my mind. For me, being faculty at a university is tremendous privilege to harness the opportunity it gives you. And to truly build the future in the present. Nowhere else could I see this opportunity more true and available.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , , ,

Just about half-way through…

In my department, the preliminary or comprehensive exam to move from Ph.D. student to Ph.D. candidate entails writing a series of four 20-page papers over four weeks on four different topics. One of the papers must be related to methodology and the other three papers should be related to your focus on concentration within the degree. The committee comes up with questions and your chair sends them through email on a weekly basis. Six days to write. One day of rest. At the end of the process, you have a two hour oral defense with your committee.

I am just about half way through, about to turn in my second paper, and so far it hasn’t been too bad of a process. To keep me motivated, I keep telling myself the faster I write, the less stress I have, and the faster I will complete the process. I tend to get a little less-motivated over the weekends, but thankfully I have still been able to make a lot of good progress during this time. It’s the quietest too which is great.

The most difficult part of the process has been juggling the writing with my coursework since I am still enrolled in classes and taking three of them. For the most part, my professors (especially Shelly!) have all been very accommodating and willing to work abound my schedule. I guess this process is a right-of-passage but it still does seem like a little bit of a hazing. If you are planning to complete these kinds-of exams while still taking classes, here are a few suggestions based on my experiences. Don’t worry too much, you can do it! Take these suggestions for what they are worth. I don’t think this process will ever be great for anyone but being able to plan and manage your time has helped me (so far)…

  1. Try and work ahead in your classes early in the semester. If you can, try and complete assignments prior to the exam writing. Even if this means working more weekends, nights, and vacations. It will help you write and be less stressed during the exam.
  2. Tell your professors that you will be taking preliminary exams. I wasn’t sure about this but my advisor suggested I tell them so I did. At the very least, this gave them a heads up that I may not do all the reading as thoroughly as I might, not having prelim’s. They can also work around your schedule for assignments and not look to you during class to be as active in the discussion.
  3. If you are on an assistantship, try and work ahead early in the semester. Things always come up no matter how hard you try to work ahead but if you can complete a few projects or lesson plans before the exam, it again helps you write and be less stressed.
  4. Try and maintain your normal work schedule. This is probably impossible to do fully because of the sheer amount of work to complete. However, getting up a little bit earlier, staying at the office a little later can help keep you from having to pull all-nighters.  Trying to keep your diet and exercise routine about the same has also seemed to help me.

This feels a bit like something I would read online in The Chronicle. Not sure why… In any case, my over point is that prelims can be done during the semester with classes. If I can do it, so can you! Planning a head a little has certainly helped me. Well, at least with the first two questions. All bets are off with the next two!

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged , ,

So what makes a teacher, good?

And who decides…? On March 3, 2012, the New York Times ran an article titled, “Confessions of a Bad Teacher.” Below is the web link to the article.

Initially, the title of the article grabbed my attention. I thought to myself, ‘wow, this should be interesting.’ But after reading the article, it still struck a chord. The author artful discusses most of the major factors concerning education today— lack of funding, lack of resources, evaluation, social influence etc.

Within the article, I especially liked how he was able to use his own experiences, both growing up as a student, and now as a high school teacher, to reflect on student learning and teachers teaching. For example, the author thinks back to who some of his best teachers were, and what they did. He states that “my best teachers… exposed me to new and exciting ideas. They created classroom environments that welcomed discussion and intellectual risk-taking.” When I think back to the best teachers in my life, I discover very similar traits. It wasn’t so much about the material, but how they made me feel.

The author’s argument that student decisions outside of the classroom also heavily influence learning also resonated with me. The author describes student decisions such as to stay up late, play video games, or talk on the phone with friends as factors that determine and impact student learning. He acknowledges that they are uncontrollable by teachers. But somehow, the teachers are supposed to control for them. Although I had never really stopped to think of it this way, I agree with his sentiment that this is impossible and wrong.

In the end the author sees the current evaluation system from federal policy to administration observing his classroom as a system that is highly flawed. Having a brother who is a high school principle, I thought about sending this article to him.

Even though the article highlights the role of high school teachers and K-12 education, I believe similarities can be drawn to higher education. Primarily because I think this article does a nice job at discussing the larger phenomenon education is currently experiencing… The lack of attention and resources paid devoted to education and its decreasing importance to society as a whole.  Not to get political, but one of the Republican candidates for President of the United States called the current President a “snob” for wishing that everyone kid growing up has the opportunity to go to college. For me, it’s scary to think of our country in which education is no longer valued and encouraged.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged ,

A Transformation towards Learner-Centered Teaching

I didn’t even know the transformation was happening. And for being a person who prides themself in being in touch with their feelings towards a topic, it snuck up on me like a bear in the night. Without even knowing it, I have become open to, and actually a proponent of/for, learner centered teaching. Let me take you back to a moment in class last week… It was in a course about non-formal learning theory. And we were discussing situated learning. A fellow classmate was arguing that we should not teach students calculus (or any other hard science) using situated learning strategies because only the teacher really knows what they are doing to provide enough guidance and help everyone with their problems. They were arguing for good olde’ stand and deliver lecture as the best format for teaching science.

What’s funny is about a year and I half ago, I can remember making this same argument. It was in a class about rural development. My professor was a really good lecturer (I know, weird right) and I was telling someone how much I enjoyed his lectures. How I thought it was a great way, perhaps even the best way to learn. I still believe I enjoyed his lectures but I can see other, perhaps more successful (i.e. better) alternative teaching techniques.

In any case, in class last week… I found myself being the one who was trying to open up my fellow students eyes about the possibility of situated learning (i.e. using student or learner center strategies) being quite successful to teach calculus. It was an almost surreal moment. I was like, WOW!

Two major ideas standout to me about this case and point. One, today, I am now much more open to learner centered teach strategies. I see them being a great way to not only teach the material, but a great way to create much more engagement and excitement in class. Two, change is a slow process and can happen without you even knowing it. My time here at Virginia Tech to date has largely been an experience of transformation. What  I thought I was interested in has changed. What I want to do has changed. My bookshelf has gotten much broader, richer, and deeper. And my positioning for hopefully a future career in academia feels right. Well, at least for this week…

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged ,

Being a PhD Student

Being a second year Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech is both a rewarding and exhausting experience for me. Trying to balance the demands of classes, research, and assistantship usually keeps me fully engaged in campus activity seven days a week with not a lot of time for jet-setting and all-night partying. However, it is also personally a very rewarding experience for me when projects come together to produce new information or improve people’s lives. Since going back to school in August 2010, I feel like I have had the privilege and opportunity to really dive into the research. I have taken the time to try and figure out what I want to build my career around, as well as decide what I would like to explore for the next couple of years. Reading the literature to learn about how other researchers and scholars have approached an issue or designed a study still fascinates me. I think it probably always will. Having the creativity to self-explore the literature and then put your ‘own take on things’ is still the primary reason why I chose to pursue a career in higher Ed. So how about you, why did you decide to continue on in a graduate program? The money and fame…? Smilie: :)

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged ,

Professional Development at 2012 SAAS Meeting

This past week I was fortunate to attend the Southern Association of Agricultural Sciences (SAAS) meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. I primarily attended the Southern Rural Sociology Association Conference but also dabbled into other sections such as the Southern American Association of Agricultural Education and the Southern Agricultural Economics Association Conferences. It was an excellent opportunity to broaden my knowledge about a variety of topics and see what other folks are researching, as well as see how other folks are working on issues. A lot of active and thought provoking learning occurring. I was also fortunate to present some preliminary work on my dissertation and co-present about work within a grant that supports my assistantship. Overall, interest in both projects was high and we received a lot of good questions, comments, and feedback. Besides catching up with old friends and colleagues, the best part of the conference was learning what other faculty and graduate students are working on. It’s great to see other folks as passionate about their work and topics as I am about my work. In the future, I would really like to see SAAS provide more opportunities for cross-disciplinary conversations and bring together the distinct disciplines under one tent. I can understand there are probably some good reasons for structuring the conference with each individual association meeting by discipline but in this changing and dynamic world, and with the growth of inter, multi, and trans-disciplinary collaborations within higher education, I believe there is a lot of real value in bringing the different disciplines together. Instead have ‘tracks’, rather than individual conferences. I am already looking forward to attending a few other conferences this summer which will once again provide great opportunities for learning, networking, fellowship with friends and colleagues, and professional development. All and all, a success!

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged