Category Archives: #pfpvt

PFP#9: PFC vs Limbic System

 

Below, there is a nice chart named 50 ways to think creatively. As I did loved most of them, and am willing to integrate them to my teaching practice, I am also considering in which phase of the education we should promote them as the educators? Ugur Mumcu, a journalist from Turkey, argues that “An idea is not possible without proper knowledge”. Also Bloom’s taxonomy puts CREATE cluster at the top stage of the learning process.. Thus, to the later phases?

It is so very interesting that, prefrontal cortex (responsible for cognitive processes, knowledge, morality etc) is the part of of the brain which develops the last (and may be the least), as opposed to the limbic systems (responsible for emotions, and creativity as well). And we argue that the education should target the PFC development first, and then should promote limbic system activation.. We are all about balance, ha <3

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PFP#8: Critical Thinking vs Synthesizing Thinking

 

As the social science instructors, we have been discussing on the value of critical thinking. In my classroom, I am using the resources from the website http://www.criticalthinking.org in order to describe what critical thinking is and how it helps and how it can be improved.

There are various methods to improve critical thinking, and to my experience of teaching for more than 2 years, providing an anti-thesis for a given thesis is not the most difficult part of the “effective thinking skills” . What I would like my students to work more on is the synthesizing thinking skills, which I define as combining the theses and anti-theses, and coming up with a synthesized understanding, which is open to the anti-theses and thus, to further development.

Although synthesis is considered as a part of the critical thinking skills, I am not sure they refer to the same constructs. In a lot of the cases, while asking for critical thinking capacities, we are asking the students to come up well-grounded counter-arguments, and we value counter-arguments, and the conversation usually end up there. I believe, it is better to encourage syntesis approach in education. Asking the students to come up with new questions, new definitions, and new understandings of the phenomenons..

 

 

PFP#7: Education Systems in Dfferent Countries

 

The discussion on the education systems on different countries were very inspiring and intriguing to me, creating a sudden AHA moment to many of my struggles with regard to teaching in the US context. I learned that many countries like China, Taiwan, besides Turkey,, are primarily using the public school system, with standard examinations.

One take away from the ONE exam format, determining which area of study the student is going to follow (which indirectly determines, the career path of the individual as well), I got is, although it seems like a “One Shot” or a “Risk”, it seems to create a sense of determination from early on, and eliminates many socioeconomic factors that influence the career path of the individuals. That is, no matter what your SES level is, if you can not have a high score in that particular exam, you are basically choosing a moderate path. It is based on success, determination, dedication, and performance.

However, in the private school based contexts, the path seems to be more freedom based, but behind the curtains, it is much more risky and unfair. The promoted social structure is more likely to “preserve” the existing ones, and overall making the rich richer and the poor poorer across the generations.

All these makes me question the “freedom” in the so-called liberal contexts? To what extent we are “free” to choose? What are the determinants of our choices, with regard to educational opportunities? Something to consider..

PFP#6: Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs in Education

So, I will write my remaining blog posts on some tips and techniques on teaching.

First, many of the education improvement researchers argue that, structuring the class on the basis of Bloom’s taxonomy verbs helps the students to benefit most.

Bloom’s taxonomy verbs are grouped in 6 groups, as seen at the image below:

Bloomtaxonomy

In the classroom context, according to the the book named Assessing Critical Thinking in Middle and High Schools, the Bloom’s Taxonomy can be used in a variety of creative ways. I will provide some examples for the college context.

the REMEMBER verbs can be used in the form of memorizing the information, in the form of multiple choice and true false exam questions and class activities.

The UNDERSTAND cluster can be used in the form of activities asking the individuals to describe the key components and characteristics of particular processes. For instance, asking the students to describe how the ecological system works.

The APPLY cluster can be used in the form of activities like asking the students to build a structure, or carry a conversation by the means of using specific rules and instructions. For instance, the students can be introduced to the five effective components of effective communication, and can be asked them to practice these components in one-to-one interactions.

The ANALYZE cluster can be used in the form of activities, encouraging the students to analyze (as it sounds) a specific situation or condition. For instance, the students can be asked to analyze the sociopolitical context during the World War I period, by focusing on the socioeconomic factors influencing the relationships between the countries.

The EVALUATE cluster can be used by asking the students to evaluate a given situation based on specific criteria. For instance, the students can be given a particular observational treatment integrity rating scale of a particular treatment style, and asked to evaluate a therapy session effectiveness.

And lastly, the CREATE cluster can be used by encouraging the students to organize the information in a specific way. For instance, the students can be given some instructions, like building a group and asked to use specific information in their creation.

The CREATE cluster is considered the peak of  learning process, as it encourages independent, creative, and critical thinking. Developing a class based on these principles would be very helpful.

 

PFP #5: Inclusiveness

I think most of the non-inclusiveness comes from just lack of experience and fear. Fear of all sorts, but basically fear of unfamiliar. Difference is just anxiety provoking and it is innate. And all we are just experiencing this uncanny feeling when we confront with an unfamiliarity. Many research also support this hypothesis, including the well known harvard implicit racism test that can be found here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ , which reflects that racism (and other non-inclusive attitudes) are strongly correlated with unfamiliarity and fear.

Freud describes the fear of unfamiliar with the term “unheimlich” that can be translated as uncanny, and Lacan sets the uncanniness, the anxiety at the core of human existence. As does the various philosophers including Heidegger, Husserl, and Sartre. So, I think, before heating the discussions with divisions, we need to sit and listen the other being (whether s/he is inclusive or not, or familiar to us or not). Since we are all humans, eventually the familiarity will reveal itself, that will soothe the anxiety.

In this regard, I do think that the strongest tool to promote inclusiveness as a mean to reach the best versions of ourselves and help people do/be their best is to work on the principle of familiarity. Neurologically speaking, without including limbic system (aka emotions), and just focusing the prefrontal cortex (aka thoughts), we can not create effective learning. Learning happens when the brain is involved in the process as a whole. Thus, rather than setting signages for human zoos, we can invite and welcome the personal stories and highlight the similarities, rather than getting lost in the rabbit holes of differences. Here is an amazingly wonderful speech by Chimamanda Ngozi, named The Danger of Single Story, showing how the prefrontal cortex focused training induced educated-blindness effects the relationships and providing some delicate insights on how similar we humans actually are, enjoy if you did not before.

 

 

PFP #4: Technology Use in Classrooms

 

As a life-long student who learned the concept of “edutainment” in United States, I have pretty ambivalent feelings about using technology in the classrooms. I believe, as educators and current professors, we need to be mindful about the purpose of using technology in the classrooms.

I recently facilitated a conversation session at the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy (CIDER), on the use of technology in the classrooms, in which as the educators we discussed the pros and cons, and brainstormed for ideas for a “digitally informed and productive” classrooms.

The upcoming ideas from the conversation session was similar to most of the research findings: Yes, the students do like to use technological devices in classrooms, but the effectiveness of this practice is still questionable (Bullen et al., 2008; Cuban, 2001Rutherford, 2004; Tan, 2013).

There is still a need for a comprehensive pedagogical models with regard to effective use of technology in the classrooms. Here is an iconographic on the possible ways to use social media in classrooms

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social media teachers

PFP #3: Ethics

Here is a new funding opportunity for conferences and workshops, designed to stimulate ethical research:

http://www.grants.gov/custom/viewOppDetails.jsp?oppId=280981 

Description: In accordance with 42 C.F.R. Part 93, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) seeks to support conferences to develop multi-disciplinary networks to build upon existing evidence-based research and stimulate innovative approaches to preventing research misconduct and promoting research integrity. ORI is especially interested in supporting conferences that lead to extramural grant applications on research on research integrity and peer-reviewed publications. Conferences or workshops must be designed to provide a forum for discussion and produce tangible outcomes related to at least one of the following themes: 1) responsible conduct of research training; 2) fostering an environment that promotes research integrity; 3) prevention of research misconduct; 4) handling of research misconduct allegations; 5) whistleblowing; 6) international issues in research integrity; or, 7) other topics clearly linked to research integrity and compliance with 42 C.F.R. Part 93.

Glad to see that research integrity is taken very seriously, and aimed to be highlighted through various funding campaigns.

PFP #2: Open Access Journals

The journal I found is named as “Clinical and Experimental Psychology”

http://www.omicsonline.org/clinical-experimental-psychology.php

Here is the information about the journal:

“• The main aim of the Clinical and Experimental Psychology(CEP) is to publish high quality research works and provide Open Access to the articles using this platform. The Journal offers a rapid and time bound review and publication that freely disseminates research findings related to Clinical Psychology research. CEP caters to the requirements of the medical practitioners, behavior therapists, researchers, lab professionals, students, academicians, and industry that are involved in Medical and Pharmaceutical studies. No matter how prestigious or popular; it increases the visibility and impact of published work. It increases convenience, reach, and retrieval power. Free online literature software facilitates full-text searching, indexing, mining, summarizing, translating, querying, linking, recommending, alerting, “mash-ups” and other forms of processing and analysis.

The Editorial Board is composed of members from a variety of universities including Uppsala University (Sweden), University of California (US), and The University of Auckland (New Zealand).

The journal’s statement regarding open access is as following:

“• All works published by OMICS International are under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This permits anyone to copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the work provided the original work and source is appropriately cited. CEP strongly supports the Open Access initiative. All published articles will be assigned DOI provided by Cross Ref. CEP will keep up-to- date with latest advances in the field of Clinical Psychology Research. Abstracts and full texts (HTML, PDF and XML format) of all articles published by CEP are freely accessible to everyone immediately after publication. CEP supports the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing.”

Personally, I am supportive of open access movement. As the university students, we are not experiencing the challenges of the “subscribed” journals, since the university provides many opportunities for us. However, the situation is pretty challenging for the individuals outside of academia. Most of the clinicians for instance, has to confine themselves to the google-based info which can be misleading many of the times. Open access would provide the “real” (at least more accurate) information to be on circulation.

PFP #1: Mission Statements

The mission statements I found are from

Virginia Tech: http://www.president.vt.edu/mission_vision/mission.html

Mission Statement

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) is a public land-grant university serving the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. The discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are central to its mission. Through its focus on teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement, the university creates, conveys, and applies knowledge to expand personal growth and opportunity, advance social and community development, foster economic competitiveness, and improve the quality of life. 2001 Mission Statement adapted in 2006, by the Board of Visitors

Bogazici University: http://www.boun.edu.tr/en-US/Content/About_BU/Vision_Mission.aspx

Mission

The mission of our university is:

1. Educating individuals who endorse our institutional values, who respect ethical standards, who are environmentally conscious, who can think critically and who, with their academic and cultural formation and self confidence, are versatile, creative and capable of being successfully employed in academic institutions and in public or private sectors.

2. Generating universal knowledge and contributing to critical thinking, science and technology while serving humanity

3. Expanding the scientific horizons in Turkey and contributing to the insitutionalization of science, art and culture in our society.

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The mission statements from Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) and Bogazici University (Istanbul, Turkey) seem to reflect both universal and context specific value systems.

Both mission statements highlight the themes of serving (the region, nation, and humanity), generating new knowledge, through creativity, and applying the knowledge to personal and societal world. Both statements seem to clearly state that universities are where the knowledge is constantly practiced, generated, and re-generated.

The mission statements slightly differ, as a reflection of their contextual and historical traditions. VT is basically a technical-oriented landgrant university, whereas BU is more likely to be a liberal arts-management based university. While BU includes “art” in its statement, VT does not have such a claim.

Along these lines, BU highlights the essentially of critical thinking in its mission statement, while VT does not overtly state the role of critical thinking. Also, may be along with the role of slightly-more collectivist culture of Turkey, BU seem to highlight “serving the humanity” piece as an ultimate goal. Whereas, in VT’s mission statement, the humanity’s welfare is conceptualized as sth to be reached through the gradual development of the people.