Weekly Journal of Sihui’s reflections about higher education

I was late to register this course for 2 weeks, so my reflections will begin on Feb, 9, 2015. Thank you to Dean DePauw and Brenda Harris, the Registration and Program Specialist, for force-adding me and baring with me for being 30 min late for every class due to another class schedule conflict.

2/9/2015

I was introduced to this course, and the Future Professoriate graduate certificate program by a senior student in my department. I think it will be interesting to see the graduate students from the other departments, and to be prepared before I graduate.

During my first class, we talked about the university system in the United States. It is interesting to know that the role of president, and how the president is appointed, since they are much different what we do in China. We also talked about the role of provost, dean, faculty, and staff in a university. The appointment by searching is new to me. It also reminds me that I should put the key words in my resume or linkedIn profile, so that I can be searched someday. The introduction of tenure promotion explains why the young professors in my department are busier and more stressful than the senior ones.

Only excellent professors in China have a lifelong position, similar to the Emeritus professors here. Other professors work for universities under contract. I am critical about the tenure promotion. I see some professors with tenure are not as hardworking as the young professors, but they are expected to contribute more since they are more experienced. Self motivation is less effective than the outside pressure at some point. However, tenured professors deserve better salary and compensation for years of efforts.

2/16/2015 I was absent for this class.

2/23/2015 GLC Room G, Communicating Science

We played games in class leading by the teacher, which are funny and new to me. I did not have an interaction class to this extent in China. We played “yes”, “I am”, and “performance” games. We also talked about our own research projects and hometowns privately, and in front of a group of people. I am a bit shy, and I should practice to talk louder publicly. I am very curious to learn the other graduate student study on black bears, and he shared the dumb bear falling in the cliff story with us. If graduate students keep work on their project for a very long time without sharing or talking with other people, we may feel boring or upset about our project. But when the audience show their interest or respect to our research, it encourages and motivates us to work hard because we gain the recognition. I am appreciated that the importance of communicating skills are emphasized in this class, and as an international student we need to strengthen our weakness in communicating in English.

3/2/2015 We continued and finished the overview of higher education (topic one), introduced academic responsibilities such as academic duty, academic freedom, tenure and talked about ethics and professional behavior. For the discussion part, some students brought up the topic of self plagiarism. I have heard about courses covering on ethic for many times since I got here, so I believe this part is extremely important.

3/9/2015 Spring break, no class

3/16/2015 No class

3/23/2015 We talked about the professional expectations, and I feel like I am not ready for job hunting. Not only my research skills, but also I need to improve the communicating skills, to build my confidence, to be stronger to over come the difficulties.

We also talked about the freedom of speech. There is a famous Chinese saying, disasters always come out of human mouth, which reminds us to be cautious on the words.  The Great Pretender story shocked me, and it is our duty, as individual researcher, to stick to the ethic rules. I am appreciated that my department offers the course Professionalism in Food Science and requires every new graduate student to take the course at the first semester in graduate school. I learned the DOs and DON’Ts at the beginning of graduate school.

3/30/2015 International student talked about the higher education in their own country. I admire the student who is the single student from his country, or only a few students are from the same country. The governmental scholarship or the assistantship from Virginia Tech are very helpful. They will not only benefit a single student, his or her family, but also the influence of educated person will expand to the community around him or her. We may say, the life of international students are not easy, but you can help us even with being patient when we are talking to each other. I am lucky that my colleagues in Food Science and Technology Department are very friendly and kind, and my lab mates are interested in Chinese culture and we often talk about the difference between China and the States. They are helpful to correct my pronunciation and bare with my poor English. They show me the interesting things that I never heard of, invite me to parties and football games, and help me search the targeted car and insurance and I can not settle down and live happily without them.

4/6/2015 Two Chinese students, as representatives, talked about the higher education in China. I was late 30 minutes to the class as usual, and they were talking in the front so I did not join them. But we discussed what to cover in emails over the weekends. I am glad they introduced China to the other students, and I am surprised to know that American students know China less than we know about the United States.

4/13/2015 I viewed “Everything is a Remix” Ted Talk by Kirby Ferguson before class. We talked about Open Access in class. I am curious about how the publisher can survive if all the published papers are free to read and the databases are free to access. It was surprised to me that the publishers do no charge any money to the authors if they want to publish a paper on the journal, because in China all the authors pay the journal to get their work published.

4/20/2015 No class

4/27/2015 Two guests from Africa were in our class and talked with us and observed for a while. I think it was much better to interact with students than just talking with the administrators in the university for the visitors who want to know how the higher education system work and bring the good things back to their country. We did the How Millennial Are You? quiz, and the whole class got 95, but I got 92 in this quiz. The idea of cheaper freshman year online courses in Arizona State University is an example for open access and technology applied to education. I do not like to take online courses, since the interaction part is less than the class taken in actual classroom with a real professor and classmates.

5/4/2015 We talked about the pros of cons of Scholar and Canvas. I like Canvas more personally, because the webpages load quicker in Canvas than Scholar. In Scholar, the grade pages load extremely slowly. Feedbacks were collected at the beginning of class. Then we began the topic about what needs to be changed in higher education. Students brought the tenure debate again. I talked with one professor in my department, and he worked in France for a few years and then came back to the United States still being a faculty.  He told me his own experience as a faculty in the United States, the tenure track, and in France, the non-tenure track. In France, he was less stressful because there was no pressure of getting tenure at the first a few years. The research faculty got fundings from the government or industry or third party institutions without applying or summiting the proposal. But the research projects were fixed, and he did not have the choice to choose the interesting field that he wanted to explore sometimes if the assigned projects did not match his research interests. Compared in the United States, the young tenure tracking professors are flexible to apply for the interesting projects, although the funding are highly competitive. I think the tenure system is better and more encouraged for talented researchers and ordinary researchers are pushed to work hard this way. We discussed more questions from students. We are more interesting on how to find and get a faculty job. My department is trying to hire 2 new faculty member recently, and one potential candidate is visiting our department this Friday. I will go to the research and teaching seminar and the welcome meeting to see how the process is.

I really enjoy this course, especially the discussion interaction during our classes.

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