Improving Higher Education

The question I’d like to talk about is gender differences in academia. Recent decades have experienced a great change in schools, higher education, and academia. Gender equality has become an important consideration in a lot of programs in universities. Indeed, women have enjoyed the positive outcomes of the fight for their rights in academia. More and more women got and are getting their success in different positions of higher education. However, gender inequality still exists in a subtle way.

Ecklund et al. (2012) examined the data from a survey  and interviews of scientists at top graduate programs in US and found that gender is more salient than discipline in determining reasons scientists provide for gender disparities between disciplines. Further, these authors suggested that gender is the primary factor shaping the experiences of scientists regardless of their own gender. This study revealed a complicated mechanism underlying seemingly gender equality in academia. A lot of people may think nowadays women and men already have had the same opportunity to learn knowledge and develop professional abilities to obtain success in academia. However, when we look at the current situations in the academia, we could find that the cognition of concepts such as “science”, “engineering”, and “academia”, is still gender-marked. The stereotype of women is still incompatible with people’s understanding of science.

The reason for this phenomenon may be more than policies in recruiting female faculty in universities. Some social and cultural factors also contribute to this problem. As far as I am concerned, this is one thing needs to be improved. To solve the problem, we can not only address the issues about gender equality in higher education. We need to find the solutions in a wider range. However, we should start with higher education. Indeed, higher education is a pathway for people to recognize the problem.

Social Media, MOOCs, and other Disruptive Tech

The article I found about social media, MOOCs, and disruptive technologies is “Making ‘MOOCs’: The construction of a new digital higher education within news media discourse” published on the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning in 2014. In the article, the authors argues that a critical analysis of MOOC discourse throughout the past two years highlights broader societal struggles over education and digital technology—capturing a significant moment before these debates subside with the anticipated normalization and assimilation of MOOCs into educational practice. I agree with the authors on that we should not dismiss the discursive construction of MOOCs in the established news media sources. On the contrary, these old media are still sites where the vast majority of the general public are exposed to the notion of ‘MOOCs’.

An Open Access Journal in Psychology

I study psychology at VT. An open access journal I found in my area is Frontiers in Psychology (FPSYG). FPSY is published by the Frontier Editorial Office (FEO) located in Switzerland. FEO publishes a series of journal of various areas. The current field chief editor is Dr. Axel Cleeremens from Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium.

According to the introduction of FPSYG, the journal aims at publishing the best research across the entire field of psychology. One feature of FPSYG is diversity. Psychology is becoming increasingly important and highly interdisciplinary at all levels of society, from the treatment of clinical disorders to our basic understanding of how the mind works. The journal publishes academic articles in any domain of psychological science, which makes the content of FPSYG diverse.

For open access, philosophy of FPSYG is that all research in this area 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 is the reason why all articles in FPSYG are online free and open for the society.

FPSYG is important in the open access movement for the area of psychology. A couple of years ago, I didn’t know any open access journals in psychology. We have access to the journals in specific areas of psychology and no access to other areas and the areas outside psychology. Let alone people who are not in academia. With the present of Frontier journal series, we are able to read academic articles in other areas, which facilitate our own research. More importantly, the whole society can benefit from academic research directly.

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct

I found the professional code and ethic statement for psychology on the website of American Psychological Association (APA, http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/). In the statement, ethical principles and conduct of any person who is involved in psychological research are defined and explained. There are five general principles: a) psychologists strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm; b) psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work; c) psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work; d) psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work; and e) psychologists establish relationships of trust with those with whom they work.

I’ve learned some of the principles in other places, but I did not systematically study the ethical principles and code of conduct before. As far as I am concerned, these principles have to with two major domains of psychologists’ conduct related to research. First, psychologists need to obey the principles that define the relationship between them and their subjects. In psychological research, researchers have a lot of chances to conduct studies in which human are subjects. At these times, it is extremely important to respect the rights of participants. I’ve been trained in the Human Subject Training Program of the IRB at VT  and of NIH. The contents of the training as well as the principles of APA emphasize that psychologists have great responsibilities to protect human subjects.  Second, the APA statement defines the behavior of psychologists relating the results of their research. Psychologists need apply their results properly. At same time, like any other areas, psychologists should be honest in publishing their results. Studies should be original, and the researchers should give credits to any material they borrow from somewhere else.

In sum, after reading the professional code and ethic statement for psychology, I found that being a researcher in psychology is much more than reviewing literature and conducting experiments. For one thing, we need to respect the subjects, human or animal. For another, the results of our research should benefit the society and entire human-being.

Two Mission Statements

The two mission statements I found are the statements from the Ohio State University (OSU) (http://oaa.osu.edu/vision-mission-values-goals.html) and College of William & Mary (W&M) (http://www.wm.edu/about/administration/provost/about/mission/). The main campus of OSU is located in Columbus, Ohio. It is a public research university and founded as a land-grant university in 1870. W&M is located in Williamsburg, Virginia. W&M is also a public research university, although it was privately founded in 1693.

My impression of the mission statement of OSU is that OSU emphasizes technology, innovation, and use of technology and innovation to improve human well-being. This makes OSU an open and comprehensive institution. Research constitutes a considerable part of OSU’s mission, just like other research I universities.

Although W&M is also a public school, its mission statement highlights the preeminent history. W&M emphasizes undergraduate program and liberal education. It also aims to apply results of research to benefit human being. But it seems that the primary goal of W&M is to expand students’ capacity as individuals.

The two mission statements share a lot of common points, such as pursuit of knowledge, openness, collaboration, and diversity. However, as I am concerned, compared to land-grant universities, the mission statement of W&M give more credits to liberal education and undergraduate program. Because W&M is considered as one of “public ivies”, the difference between W&M and OSU may represent the difference between elite education and the idea of education that has been taken by more recent universities in U.S.. Virginia Tech is more like OSU. Both are land-grant state universities and focus on research. However, there are many things we can borrow from the mission statement of W&M. We should care what students can contribute to society after graduation as well as intellectual development of students as individuals.