Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1325. 'Great experimentation' predicted for online learning


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President John Hennessy shared a stage with UC-Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks last week as the two discussed online learning. Higher education, Hennessy said, is in a "period of great experimentation." 

1325. 'Great experimentation' predicted for online learning

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below looks at some comments by Stanford President, John Hennessy and others, on some future aspects of online learning. It is by Kathleen J. Sullivan and is from the March 11, 2014 issue of the Stanford Report [http://news.stanford.edu/]. © Stanford University, 2014. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. 

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu


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UP NEXT: Top 10 Flashpoints in Student Ratings and the Evaluation of Teaching

Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning

---------- 633 words ----------

'Great experimentation' Predicted for Online Learning

Higher education is in a "period of great experimentation" in the field of online learning, President Hennessy told a Berkeley audience last week, adding that he is confident its successes and failures will lead to new approaches to teaching that will benefit students.

"We're going to invent the future," Hennessy said, speaking during the opening Q&A of an online summit held March 7-8 at the University of California, Berkeley, "How Technology Impacts the Pedagogy and Economics of Residential Higher Education."

Speaking during a "fireside chat" with UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, Hennessy said that colleges and universities will be taking a more scientific approach to online learning than in the past, relying on their schools of education to measure student learning and to provide feedback.

"I'm actually pretty confident that we're going to come out with pedagogical approaches that are truly a step forward in terms of helping our students be better learners - and that will really be refreshing," Hennessy said.

The invitation-only summit, which attracted more than 150 people, was sponsored by UC Berkeley, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford.

The event featured panels of online-learning leaders from across the country, including senior administration officials, and professors of education, human computer interaction, cognitive studies and sociology.

Candace Thille, an assistant education professor and senior research fellow in the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning at Stanford, organized a panel on learning analytics that featured faculty from Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University.

In response to questions from Dirks, Hennessy said massive open online courses (MOOCs) - as well as video conferencing - present a great opportunity to provide something of real value in professional education and to generate enough income to cover their costs.

Within the general public, he said, "communities of learners" could form around MOOCS.

"Imagine that 'Book of the Month Club' becomes 'Course of the Month Club'," Hennessy said. "With a little bit of technology, a community of learners self-assembles around a course and forms a group. They do peer grading. They interchange. They exchange conversations and they learn the material together. I think we'll see this happening. It would be a wonderful thing and great for the world."

Hennessy also discussed the challenges faced by instructors whose MOOCs attract students with a dynamic range of abilities - some without the background necessary to succeed, some who would like to move more quickly through the material and others who need to move more slowly. Sometimes instructors don't know there's a problem until exam time.

At UC Berkeley and Stanford, he said, faculty members design exams to challenge students."Now, take that exam to a school where perhaps the students are not quite as capable and give them that exam and you're going to crush them," he said.

"So we've got to figure out how to tailor and customize these courses much more appropriately for the level of the student, the rate at which the material is going to go, the rate at which the students are going to move. Over time, this will happen. We've just got to continue to push it there and make the adaptation to individual ability and to the classroom setting in that particular institution."

Hennessy said one thing that MOOCs do very well is "educate the educators" in other parts of the world, allowing them to use the material to prepare courses for their students.

In response to a question from the audience, Hennessy said some faculty have reported that more students are attending classes when they have "flipped" the classroom - delivering lectures online and meeting in the classroom for one-on-one interaction and hands-on projects. While those early indicators are positive, he said, controlled experiments would be the key to understanding how well students are mastering the material in those settings.

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1324. Mindsets Toward Learning


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It is possible for humans to become smarter all the time and in any area of study.  Some subjects will be harder for you to learn than others, but learning in any area is possible.  Intelligence is not a fixed quantity that you got at birth and are stuck with. You become smarter every day, and the intelligence you achieve in your lifetime is unknowable. 

1324. Mindsets Toward Learning

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below is a series of excerpts on a very important subject, mindsets and how they impact learning.  The excerpts are from Chapter 7: Mindsets Toward Learning, in the book, The New Science of Learning: How to Learn in Harmony With Your Brain, by Terry Doyle and Todd Zakrajsek.  Published by Stylus Publishing, LLC.  22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, Virginia 20166-2102. Copyright ©2014 by Stylus Publishing, LLC. http://www.styluspub.com/Books/Features.aspx All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.. 

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Rick Reis

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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
--------- 2,623 words ----------
Mindsets Toward Learning 

In addition to adopting the strategies and techniques that will help you grasp and remember information, you need to understand something about yourself as a learner that we believe will result in a fundamental change in the way you learn.  Gaining this understanding is so important that it will likely influence many other aspects of your life as well.  The information in this chapter relates to a concept researchers call mindset.  A mindset is a view you have of yourself as a learner, and it affects all the decisions you make about your learning-the effort you put forth, the risks you take, how you deal with failures and criticism, and how much of a challenge you are willing to accept.  Mindset was first described by Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University.  Dweck (2006, 2009) explains that your view of yourself as a learner was likely formed in middle school (or even earlier) and has been affecting your learning ever since.  As you read this chapter, reflect on the concepts presented and try to figure out what kind of mindset you have and how you can develop a mindset that leads to optimal learning for you. 

Mindset and Intelligence 

One thing about human intelligence is absolutely certain: it is malleable, meaning it can be changed through exposure to new information or even by looking at what you already know in a new way.  There is no limit to what you can learn, and, contrary to what some may think, nobody's brain has ever been "filled."  The brain continually changes by making new neuroconnections between its cells, which represent new knowledge or skills, and when this happens, we say someone has become smarter.  It is possible for humans to become smarter all the time and in any area of study.  Some subjects will be harder for you to learn than others, but learning in any area is possible.  Intelligence is not a fixed quantity that you got at birth and are stuck with.  You become smarter every day, and the intelligence you achieve in your lifetime is unknowable.  That said, it does appear that your mindset about learning will have a heavy impact on how much you will learn - and just about everything else in your life. 

Your mindset is your view about your own intelligence and abilities.  This view affects your willingness to engage in learning tasks and how much, if any, effort you are willing to expend to meet a learning challenge.  Dweck has spent more than 30 years researching learners' mindsets and their individual views of their intelligence.  She noted that mindsets fall into two categories: "fixed mindsets" and "growth mindsets."  A person with a fixed mindset "believes that intelligence is a fixed trait," despite hundreds of studies that have found otherwise.  In this view, either you are smart in a given area or you are not; there is nothing you can do to improve in that area.  Individuals with fixed mindsets believe their intelligence is reflected in their academic performance (Dweck, 2006).  If a student doesn't do well in a class, it's because he or she is not "smart" in that area.  Individuals with fixed mindsets mistakenly believe either that they shouldn't need to work hard to do well because the smart students don't have to (although when researchers asked students who consistently achieved high grades about their work, they reported working very hard at academic material) or that putting in the effort won't make any difference in the outcome ("I'm just not good at math").  In fact, individuals with fixed mindsets see putting in effort as indicating that they are not smart.  They have falsely come to the conclusion that learning comes easy to the students at the top of the class and that they were born that way. 

People with growth mindsets, in contrast, believe that intelligence grows as you add new knowledge and skills.  Those with growth mindsets value hard work, learning, and challenges and see failure as a message that they need to change tacks in order to succeed next time.  Thomas Edison is reported to have tried hundreds of times before he got the lightbulb to work.  At one point, he was asked by a New York Times reporter about all his failures and whether he was going to give up.  Edison responded, "I have not failed 700 times.  I've succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a light bulb" (as cited in Ferlazzo, 2011).  Shortly after this interview, he was successful, and we have all since benefitted from his growth mindset.  Individuals with growth mindsets are willing to take learning risks and understand that through practice and effort-sometimes a lot of effort-their abilities can improve.  Those with growth mindsets believe that their brains are malleable, that intelligence and abilities constantly grow, and that only time will tell how smart they will become. 

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The significance of Dweck's research for college students is profound. Each fall, tens of thousands of students enroll in classes that they believe they do not have the ability to pass.  They also believe that hiring a tutor, visiting the professor during office hours for extra help, or even working harder will make no difference.  They hold this belief because they have a fixed mindset in that area. 

The next time you take a class on a subject you fear because you think you are not "smart" in that area, keep in mind that practice can make a huge difference in your learning success.  The class may not be easy for you, but if you have some background knowledge in the subject or take the time to learn some background information (e.g., through learning development courses or tutoring) and you work hard (keep a growth mindset), there is no telling what you will achieve. 

Fixed Mindsets and Laziness 

College and university professors often see lack of effort as laziness. Not going to tutoring or taking advantage of a professor's office hours is seen as irresponsible and immature.  In fact, it may be that a student's fixed mindset is causing many of his or her problems.  If you have always struggled with reading, you may believe it is because you are simply "bad at reading" or "not smart in that way."  A person with this mindset sees tutoring and extra work as wasted effort.  Other students with similar mindsets may work hard but tell themselves, "This is hard.... I can't get it.... Maybe I should drop the class."  We don't have to tell you that studying with that attitude is not productive at all.  In contrast, those with growth mindsets work hard, even on work for classes they don't like, and because they know the effort will likely produce improved results, they see greater success.  Those students are not smarter; they just see themselves differently.

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Changing to a Growth Mindset 

Nearly everyone has at least one fixed mindset, and there are things you can do to change your fixed mindsets into growth mindsets.  As was mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, intelligence is malleable and can be changed, meaning you can in fact "grow your brain."  Jesper Mogensen, a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen, has found that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections (Mogensen, 2012). You need to understand that you are an agent of your own brain development. 

Dweck's research has found that students of all ages, from early grade school through college, can learn to have growth mindsets.  It is important to recognize that your intellectual skills can be cultivated through hard work, reading, education, the confrontation of challenges, and other activities (Dweck, 2007a).  Dweck explains that students may know how to study, but they won't want to if they believe their efforts are futile.  If you accept that effort will pay dividends then you are on your way to greater academic and life success. This does not mean that you will enjoy all subjects that you study, only that everyone can improve as they work in different academic areas.  Even your teacher was a novice at one time and had to spend a good deal of time studying in order to become an expert in his or her field.  Researcher Joshua Aronson of New York University demonstrated that college students' GPAs go up when they accept that intelligence can be developed (Dweck, 2007b). 

The following are several aspects of a growth mindset that are important for you to know: 

1. Success most often comes from effort and learning strategies, not intelligence.  If intelligence earned you a grade of A on the first test and then you failed the second test, did you suddenly become stupid? Of course not.  For the first test, you used the right study strategies and put in enough effort to earn an A.  When you failed, something was wrong with your level of effort and strategy.  It may be that the material was more difficult and needed additional effort. 

2. You can grow your own brain.  Neuroscience research findings clearly show that new neuron networks are created and become permanent through effort and practice (Goldberg, 2009; Ratey, 2001).  These new networks make us smarter.  This knowledge is the key to shifting yourself away from a fixed mindset toward a growth mindset. 

3. Failure can point you toward future success. When you fail, focus on the strategies you used and the time and effort you put forth to see what caused the failure.  Ask for feedback from the teacher.  Taking advantage of failure is a key ingredient in creating a growth mindset.  When you focus on how you can improve-by finding a new strategy, getting a study partner, reviewing on a daily basis, or putting in more time and effort-you can discover how to overcome the failure.  Your ability to face a challenge is not dependent on your actual skills or abilities; it's based on the mindset you bring to the challenge.  You need to be willing to take learning risks and be open to learning all you can from your experiences.  This message can be difficult to accept, but it is crucial to your growth and development as a learner. 

4. Your performance reflects only your current skills and efforts, not your intelligence, worth, or potential.  Weight-lifting improvement comes solely from improved technique and increased effort.  The more you practice and the better your technique becomes, the greater the amount of weight you can lift.  Being a weakling is simply a current state of performance, not who you are.  College classes are often like weight lifting.  You start small, and with repeated practice, you keep building brain muscle. 

How to Help Yourself

The way you help yourself is to use self-talk.  Carol Dweck (2009) offers the following suggestions: 

Step 1.  You need to learn to hear your fixed mindset "voice."Students can learn to listen and recognize when they are engaging in a fixed mindset. Students may say to themselves or hear in their head things like, "Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don't have the talent," or, "What if you fail-you'll be a failure."  Also, catch yourself exaggerating the situation, as that can signal a fixed mindset.  Some individuals indicate they can't do math.  Although it is possible geometry, algebra, or calculus might be challenging, it is difficult to believe a college student can't do any math.  A person with a fixed mindset will say things like, "I can't give presentations."

Step 2. You need to recognize you have a choice. How you interpret challenges, setbacks, and criticism is a choice.  You need to know you can choose to ramp up your strategies and effort, stretch yourself, and expand your abilities.  It's up to you. 

Step 3.  You need to talk back to yourself with a growth mindset. THE FIXED MINDSET says, "Are you sure you can do it? Maybe you don't have the talent." THE GROWTH MINDSET answers, "I'm not sure I can do it now, but I think I can learn to with time and effort." FIXED MINDSET: "What if you fail-you'll be a failure."GROWTH MINDSET: "Most successful people had failures along the way." 

Step 4. Students need to take growth mindset action. The more you choose the growth mindset voice, the easier it will become to choose it again and again. 

Chapter Summary 

This chapter introduced the concept of mindset to students.  It explained what a mindset is and how and when mindset is formed. The chapter also explained how students can determine which kind of mindset they have, fixed or growth, and how they can change to a growth mindset if they need to. Following are the key ideas from this chapter: 

1. A mindset is a view you have of yourself as a learner, and it affects all the decisions you make about your learning-the effort you put forth, the risks you take, how you   deal with failures and criticism, and how much of a challenge you are willing to accept. 

2. Mindset was first described by Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University.  Dweck explains that this view of yourself as a learner was likely formed in middle school (or even earlier) and has been affecting your learning ever since. 

3. One thing about human intelligence is absolutely certain: it is malleable, meaning it can be changed through exposure to new information or even by looking at what you  already know in a new way.  There is no limit to what you can learn, contrary to what some may think. 

4. Dweck noted that individuals' views of themselves as learners fall into two categories: fixed mindsets and growth mindsets. 

5. Those with fixed mindsets "believe that intelligence is a fixed trait" (Dweck, 2006, p. 96).  In their view, you are either smart in a given area or you are not, and nothing can be done to improve in that area.  Students with fixed mindsets usually put forth much less effort in a course if the course is viewed as difficult because they believe they are not smart enough to pass. 

6. People with growth mindsets believe that intelligence grows as you add new knowledge and skills.  They value hard work, learning, and challenges and see failure as a message that they need to change tacks in order to succeed next time. 

7. These views of intelligence begin to surface in middle school, when more stringent academic work appears in the curriculum.  

8. Dweck is careful to point out that these mindsets are context specific. That is, a person can have a growth mindset in one area and a fixed mindset in another. 

9. A fixed mindset, which often causes students to put in less effort and to avoid going to tutoring or using a professor's office hours, is often mischaracterized by college and university professors as laziness, irresponsibleness, or immaturity.  Students with fixed mindsets often take on only easy tasks, try to make others look dumb, and discount others' achievements to protect their self-image. 

10.Jesper Mogensen, a psychologist at the University of Copenhagen, has found that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections.  You need to understand that you are an agent of your own brain development. 

11.When you fail, focus on the strategies you used and the time and effort you put forth to see what caused the failure.  Ask for feedback from the teacher.  This is a key ingredient in creating a growth mindset. 

References 

Colvin, G. (2006, October 19). What it takes to be great.  Fortune.  Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/10/30/8391794/index.htm

Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House. 

Dweck, C.S. (2007a). Interview in Stanford News.  Retrieved from http://news.stanford.edu/news/2007/february7/videos/170_flash.html

Dweck, C.S. (2007b, November 29). "The secret to raising smart kids."  Scientific American.  Retrieved from http://homeworkhelpblog.com/the-secret-to-raising-smartkids/ 

Dweck, C.S. (2009). "Mindset: Powerful insights.  Positive Coaching Alliance."  Retrieved from http://www.positivecoach.org/carol-dweck.aspx

Ferlazzo, L. (2011, June 11).  What is the accurate Edison quote on learning from failure? [web post].  Retrieved from http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2011/06/11/what-is-the-accurate-edison-quote-on-learning-from-failure/

Goldberg, E. (2009). The new executive brain: Frontal lobes in a complex world.  New York: Oxford University Press. 

Mogensen, J. (2012).  "Cognitive recovery and rehabilitation after brain injury: Mechanisms, challenges and support."  In A. Agrawal (Ed.), Brain injury: Functional aspects, rehabilitation and prevention (pp. 121-150).  doi: 10.5772/28242

Ratey, J. (2001). A user's guide to the brain.  New York: Pantheon Books. 

Richards, M. (2007, May). Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset: Which one are you?  Retrieved from http://michaelgr.com/2007/04/15/fixed-mindset-vs-growth-mindset-which-one-are-you/

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1323. Get to Know Your Publication Embargoes


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Taking time to know your embargoes rises almost to the level of a categorical imperative. While many yearn for open access, publishers already allow accessible versions to be made available. It is the author who must take action.    

1323. Get to Know Your Publication Embargoes

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below looks at an important but not often discussed aspect regarding the availability of published works. It is by Matthew Thibeault, assistant professor of music education and curriculum and instruction (affiliate) at the University of Illinois and is from his blog that can be found at: http://matthewthibeault.com/. Reprinted with permission.

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu


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UP NEXT: Mindsets Toward Learning

Tomorrow's Research

---------- 597 words ----------

Get to Know Your Publication Embargoes

 

I typically announce my publications on this website, and one comment last year from a user named Jill caught my attention:

I really want to read this article and use it for my research paper on copyright law and music education. But $36?!?!? That's INSANE! Maybe you should think about creative commons [sic]...

In an ironic twist of fate, much of that article is devoted to the use of Creative Commons. I sent Jill one of the PDF copies allowed by the publisher's agreement, but her comment spurred me to find better ways to open access to my work.

While authors typically sign away copyright for academic publications, and I have blogged about the politics of journal publishing in music education before, authors often retain the right to make some version of their work freely accessible. The SHERPA/RoMEO website maintains a database of the accessibility policies of publishers and journals, and a post on the Chronicle's ProfHacker blog explains the site. Most journals in my field of music education allow post-print versions (the final draft post-refereeing, often a PDF of the DOC file but not the typeset PDF posted by the journal) to be posted in 12 or 18 months. Most also allow a pre-print version (the first submission, before any editorial input) to be posted with no wait period. Sometimes peer review does not produce many changes, in which case I post the preprint version; other times I have changed the article so drastically that waiting for the embargo to expire is the only sensible option.

Sharing a post-print version can take time if you need to reassemble separate uploads of the abstract, bio, keywords, figures, and body text required for submission. For the article Jill wanted, it took about an hour to reassemble the parts, add a cover page that links to the definitive version, and upload the PDF to my institution's scholarly repository.

Authors can plan to share their work at the time of submission through several habits. I now try to assemble a post-print version at the time I sign off on the final changes, when I can easily still post everything. I take a moment to check the publisher embargo through the SHERPA/RoMEO site and add a reminder alert for every article I publish to my calendar, to remind me when the embargo lifts.

Taking time to know your embargoes rises almost to the level of a categorical imperative. While many yearn for open access, publishers already allow accessible versions to be made available. It is the author who must take action. A substantial body of scholarship currently exists in this cruel limbo-versions publishers allow to be shared still unavailable due to authorial complacence. Of course, publishers might choose this path precisely because they know authors are complacent, and publishers could offer to post open access versions after embargoes expire for authors, which might be a worthy project to pursue for those who serve on the boards of journals (additionally, publishers could post or link to embargo policies, or build in language to their copyright agreements, still more worthy projects for those in positions of power). For now, making these versions accessible is up to authors.

While charging $36 for access to an article can seem insane, it is especially so when a free version that is allowed by publishers has not been made available by the author. Without Jill's comment, I might never have learned that my article's embargo expired on September 22, 2013. For Jill and the many others like her, your free version now awaits you right here.

 

 

 

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1322. Concerns and Opportunities for Online Student Retention


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Once a student is enrolled in an online program, the model can be used to recognize external factors to help with student persistence.  External factors include non-school issues that conflict with academic life, such as financial need or child care arrangements.  Internal factors are affected by the student's needs and include consistency and clarity of online programs, policies, and procedures; self-esteem; feeling of identify with the school; social integration; and ready access to support services.  

1322. Concerns and Opportunities for Online Student Retention

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below looks at factors that contribute to low retention in many online courses and offers some suggestions on how they can be addressed.  It is from Chapter 1: Concerns and Opportunities for Online Student Retention, in the book, Motivating and Retaining Online Students: Research-Based Strategies That Work, by Rosemary M. Lehman and Simone C.O. Conceição. It is part of the Jossey-Bass Guides to Online Teaching and Learning. Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand. One Montgomery Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94104-4594. [www.josseybass.com/highereducation] Copyright © 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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Rick Reisreis@stanford.edu


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Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
---------- 1,782 words ---------- 
Concerns for Online Student Retention 

Online student retention has been a major topic of discussion in higher education for more than a decade. This discussion has focused on student dropout (or attrition) and persistence.  Most articles have provided anecdotal information or individual studies carried out by universities (Angelino, Williams, & Natvig, 2007).  In the past decade, there have been a few national reports on student enrollment, but none has focused specifically on dropout or persistence.  What has been widely addressed in the literature is the comparison between the effectiveness of online learning and traditional learning. 

Although studies support the effectiveness of learning online compared to learning in the traditional classroom (Hobbs, 2004; Tallent-Runnels et al., 2006), students often fail to complete online courses. In some studies, it is noted that as many as 50-70% drop out of their online courses or programs (Carr, 2000; Roblyer, 2006; Rovai & Wighting, 2005; Simpson, 2004).

Among the reasons for student dropout are feelings of isolation, frustration, and disconnection; technology disruption; student failure to make contact with faculty; inadequate contact with students by faculty; lack of student and technology support; lack of instructor participation during class discussion; lack of clarity in instructional direction or expectation; and lack of social interaction.  Another way to view the dropout problem is to look at the factors for student persistence in online education.  

These factors can help us determine what strategies are needed to retain students, reduce dropout rates, and help students persist in online courses or programs. 

Reasons Online Students Drop Out 

A review of the literature reveals many reasons for online student dropout.  For example, Hara and Kling (2001) and Palloff and Pratt (1999, 2005) address the physical separation of individual students in online education as a reason for their feeling isolated and a major cause of student confusion and anxiety, leading to problems with course retention.  The findings of Motteram and Forrester (2005) and Abel (2005) reveal that technology failure and lack of instructor feedback are also reasons for online student dropout.  In the online environment, students tend to become frustrated when technology does not function well and lose confidence in their work when they do not receive instructor feedback.  For these reasons, technology and student support are essential. 

One way for providing support for students is through contact.  Motteram and Forrester (2005) say that students rate contact with faculty as more important than contact with other students.  Contact can be either proactive or reactive (Simpson, 2004). 

While proactive contact or intervention means "taking the initiative to contact students either in a teaching or an advisory environment" (p. 80), reactive contact involves responding to student-initiated communication.  Proactive contact with a student or interventions from the institution can have an impact on the retention of online learners.  Although both proactive contact and reactive contact are important, proactive contact is gaining more attention because students who do not make contact with available systems may be more likely to drop out (Simpson, 2004).  

Another way to support students is related to instructor assistance.  Chyung and Vachon (2005) found that lack of instructor participation during class discussion and lack of clarity in instructional direction or expectations can cause confusion and frustration and are reasons that students drop out.  Inadequate assistance from instructors can also create student dissatisfaction in the online environment and has implications for student retention. 

Other reasons that online students drop out were described by Muilenburg and Berge (2005), who identified eight barriers to online learning.  We grouped the eight barriers into three categories: skill level, motivation, and support.  In Muilenburg and Berge's study, students identified the barriers to their skill level as academic and technical.  In the academic area they lacked skills in reading, writing, or communication.  In the area of technical skills they feared the use of new tools and software and their unfamiliarity with technical tools for online learning. 

Motivation barriers were intrinsic and extrinsic.  Intrinsic motivation barriers included the characteristics of procrastination, selecting easier aspects of an assignment to complete, or the feeling that the online learning environment was not innately motivating. Extrinsic motivation barriers involved social interaction in which the students felt a lack of peer collaboration online, absence of social cues, or fear of isolation in online courses (Muilenburg & Berge, 2005). 

In the area of support, administrative, financial, and technical issues were considered barriers (Muilenburg & Berge, 2005). Administrative issues merge when administration had control over course materials and the materials were not delivered on time, when academic advisors were not adequately available online, and when there was a lack of timely instructor feedback. Financial barriers occurred when access to the Internet was too expensive.  Technical issues arose when there was a lack of consistent platforms, browsers, and software; in addition a lack of technical assistance caused obstacles to learning. 

The barriers cited in Muilenburg and Berge's (2005) study are basic reasons for online student dropout.  These reasons can create student frustration, dissatisfaction, lack of confidence, loss of focus, and lack of motivation and have implications for the ability of students to persist in online courses and programs.  Table 1.1. summarizes the common reasons for online student dropout and how they affect students. 

Table 1.1.  Common Reasons for Online Student Dropout

Common Reasons for  Online Student Dropout                 How Reasons Affect Students

Physical separation                                    Feeling of isolation and disconnection

Low academic skill level                            Leading to remediation in reading, writing, or comm.

Low technical skill level                             Fearing technology and new software

Lack of intrinsic motivation                       Leading to procrastination

Lack of extrinsic motivation                      Feeling of isolation

Lack of faculty contact with student          Leading to dissatisfaction

Lack of clarity in direction                         Leading to loss of focus

Lack of expectation                                   Feeling of confusion

Technology failure                                     Feeling of frustration and loss of confidence

Lack of administrative, financial, and tech support   Causing obstacles to learning 

Lack of instructor feedback                        Feeling of frustration and loss of confidence

 

                                          Factors for Student Persistence in Online Education 

Persistence means continuing decisively on a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.  Findings from several studies of student persistence in online higher education have helped us look at the factors involved in retaining students and reducing dropout rates. One model that struck us in looking at persistence in the online environment was Rovai's (2003) composite persistence model, a combination of other models related to persistence.  

In his model, Rovai (2003) includes the following elements: student characteristics and student skills (prior to admission) and external and internal factors (after admission).  Using this model, institutions can detect students who are at risk to become dropouts and determine intervention methods.  For example, if an institution knows the deficiencies in an online student's academic preparation and skills prior to admitting the student, the institution can rectify these deficiencies with early intervention. 

Once a student is enrolled in an online program, the model can be used to recognize external factors to help with student persistence.  External factors include non-school issues that conflict with academic life, such as financial need or child care arrangements.  Internal factors are affected by the student's needs and include consistency and clarity of online programs, policies, and procedures; self-esteem; feeling of identify with the school; social integration; and ready access to support services. 

One study that addresses persistence from the student's perspective on online participation is Tello's (2007).  His study found that student perceptions about their contributions in asynchronous discussion forums and students' frequent use of the forums accounted for 26% of the variance in course persistence rates.  This finding shows that the interactive strategies used in the course affected student attitudes and helps explain why students persist or withdraw from online courses. 

Another study that caught our attention was Müller's (2008) investigation of undergraduate and graduate women learners' persistence in online degree completion programs.  Her findings suggest that multiple responsibilities and insufficient interaction with faculty, technology, and coursework are the major factors for women's lack of persistence.  However, motivation to complete degrees, engagement with the learning community, and gratitude for the convenience of completing a degree online supported persistence.  It appears that a learning community approach in an online course or program can be a strategy for retaining students (Brown, 2001). 

Park and Choi's (2009) study on factors influencing adult learners' decision to drop out or persist in online learning revealed that persistent learners and dropouts differ in their individual characteristics, course design factors, and workplace support factors.  In their study, females accounted for 74.5% of persistent learners and 65.3% of dropouts.  Learners in both groups ranged in age from 20 to 39 years old. In the dropout group, age ranged between 20 and 29 years old, the equivalent of 26.5%.  Their findings showed that by addressing course design, such as enhancing the relevance of the course, institutions could have lower dropout rates.  The results also indicated that adult learners need support from their workplace to persist in and complete their online courses. 

Another study that addressed factors in online student persistence was McGivney's (2009) investigation of the persistence of online adult students in two community colleges.  This study showed that the strongest predictors of course completion were the desire to complete a degree, previous experience in online courses, and assignment completion.  These findings give us clues about how important it is to understand learners' characteristics and how prepared students are for the online environment to help them persist in their online courses and programs. 

Rovai's (2003) composite model provides us with a framework to create an environment conducive to a successful online learning experience.  It is critical for institutions to recognize student characteristics and skills prior to admitting a student to an online program.  As McGivney's (2009) findings indicate, previous experience in online courses is a predictor of persistence. It is also essential for institutions to be aware of factors that influence student academic life.  Müller's (2008) findings cite students' multiple responsibilities, and Park and Choi's (2009) findings address the importance of workplace support.  These factors influence how well a student can do after admission to an online program. 

The internal factors in Rovai's (2003) composite model encompass institutional interventions and are the ones over which institutions have the most control.  Institutional interventions are based on student needs, pedagogy, and institutional support, which can be translated into design, instructional, and support strategies in the classroom.  Based on the persistence literature, there is no simple formula to guarantee student success in online learning because success involves a variety of factors. Institutions control the services they provide, but not external factors.  When factors external to the institution come into play with factors internal to the institution, however, the institution needs to understand its learners, use appropriate strategies, and provide effective support in order to retain students and avoid dropout. 

References 

Abel, R. (2005).  Achieving success in Internet-supported learning in higher education: Case studies illuminate success factors, challenges, and future directions.  Lake Mary, FL: The Alliance for Higher Education Competitiveness, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.msmc.la.edu/include/learning_resources/online_course_environment/A-HEC_IsL0205.pdf

Angelino, L.M., Williams, F.K., & Natvig, D. (2007).  Strategies to engage online students and reduce attrition rates. The Journal of Educators Online, 4(2). 

Brown, R.E. (2001).  The process of community-building in distance learning classes.  Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 5(2), 18-35. 

Carr, S. (2000).  As distance education comes of age, the challenge is keeping the students.  Chronicle of Higher Education, A39. Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v46/i23/23a00101.htm.

Chyung, S.Y. & Vachon, M. (2005).  An investigation of the satisfying and dissatisfying factors in e-learning.  Performance Improvement Quarterly, 18, 97-114. 

Hara, N., & Kling, R. (2001).  Student distress in web-based distance education.  Educause Quarterly, 3, 68-69. 

Hobbs, V. (2004).  The promise and the power of online learning in rural education.  Arlington, VA: Rural School and Community Trust. 

McGivney, R.J. (2009). Adult student persistence in online education: Developing a model to understand the factors that affect adult student persistence in a course.  Open Access Dissertations, Paper 17.  Available at http://scholarworks.umass.edu/open_access_dissertations/17

Motteram, G., & Forrester, G. (2005).  Becoming an online distance learner: What can be learned from students' experiences to distance programmes?  Distance Education, 26(3), 281-298. 

Muilenburg, L.Y., & Berge, Z.L. (2005).  Student barriers to online learning: A factor analytic study.  Distance Education, 261), 29-48. 

Müller, T. (2008). Persistence of women in online degree-completion programs.  International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 9(2), 1-18. 

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (1999).  Building learning communities in cyberspace: Effective strategies for the online classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 

Palloff, R.M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community.   San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Palloff, R.M., & Pratt, K. (2011). The excellent online instructor: Strategies for professional development.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Park, J., & Choi, H. (2009).  Factors influencing adult learners' decision to drop out or persist in online learning.  Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 207-217. 

Roblyer, M. D. (2006).  Integrating educational technology into teaching (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall. 

Rovai, A.P. (2003).  In search of higher persistence rates in distance education online programs.  Internet & Higher Education, 6(1), 1-16 (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ666602). 

Rovai, A.P., & Wighting, M.J. (2005).  Feelings of alienation and community among higher education students in a virtual classroom.  Internet & Higher Education, 8(2), 97-110 (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ803728). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2005.03.001.

Simpson, O (2004). The impact on retention of interventions to support distance learning students.  Open Learning, 19(1), 79-95. 

Tallent-Runnels, M.K., Thomas, J.A., Lan, W.Y., Cooper, S., Ahern, T.C., Shaw, S.M., & Liu, X. (2006). Teaching courses online: A review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 76(1), 93-135. 

Tello, S. (2007).  An analysis of student persistence in online education.  International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education, 3(3), 47-62. 

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1321. Can Online Teaching Improve Face to Face Instruction?


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In general, online courses require greater planning, more extensive resources, more formalized communication, and more detailed organization than do face to face courses. But, the work that goes into creating an online course, and the insights forthcoming from comparison of online and face to face versions of the course, can make the face to face course better in many ways.

1321. Can Online Teaching Improve Face to Face Instruction?

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below looks at how the teaching of online courses can have a positive impact on the teaching of face to face courses.  It is by Michael L. Rodgers and Mary Harriet Talbut Southeast Missouri State University and is #69 in a series of selected excerpts from The NT&LF reproduced here as part of our "Shared Mission Partnership." NT&LF has a wealth of information on all aspects of teaching and learning. If you are not already a subscriber, you can check it out at [http://ntlf.com/about.aspx] The on-line edition of the Forum - like the printed version - offers subscribers insight from colleagues eager to share new ways of helping students reach the highest levels of learning. National Teaching and Learning Forum Newsletter, December, 2013, Volume 22, No. 7. Copyright ©John Wiley & Sons, Professional and Trade Subscription Content, One Montgomery Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94104-4594. Reprinted with permission. 

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Rick Reis

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Can Online Teaching Improve Face to Face Instruction?

As part of my job,[1] as directed by Faculty Senate, I meet with every faculty member when a course is taught online for the first time or if the instructor is teaching online for the first time. A faculty member came to the program with a reputation as a poor teacher in his face to face class, so I wasn't sure what to expect when working with him. Even after classes began, I was unable to get him to meet with me. In fact, he had not even put anything in his online course website for students to read! Indeed, there was nothing in the online course to foster any sort of communication with the class. After many tries, I finally met with him. I employed as much pressure as my position at the University allowed, and I was at last able to get him to put something online, including an introduction of himself to his students, a reading assignment, and a list of questions about the assignment in a discussion forum. A few days later, he returned to my office, and I helped him grade the forum posts.

In the process of setting up the initial discussion forum and content, it became clear that the instructor had given little thought to his students' need to know what they were to do for the rest of the semester. He had not thought about due dates. He obviously had not considered how a student taking a class online might differ from one who takes the class face to face. I asked him how he gave information to his face to face class, and how students in his face to face class would know what was important. The expression on his face registered complete surprise. Although his content expertise was laudable, his disengagement from good teaching practices prevented him from serving as an effective teacher. The assignment to teach online required him to think about pedagogy in the online context, and in doing so, created an opportunity to think about teaching in his face to face class. After he came back several more times, and we had more discussions about teaching online, he mentioned that he was implementing some of what he had learned about teaching online in his face to face class: a breakthrough!

I Never Taught This Way in Grad School!

Most faculty have had at least some training on how to teach in the traditional classroom setting. Some institutions offer pre-service training to new hires. As graduate assistants, future faculty members may have gained experience grading assignments, facilitating recitation sections, or supervising laboratories. Some graduate students have taught entire courses solo. But, experience teaching online is less common. Skewing graduate assistant experience toward face to face instruction may have some benefits, insofar as face to face instruction remains a largely self-contained enterprise in which the instructor personally experiences all aspects of the course, from design to implementation to assessment. If the goal is to provide the graduate student with end-to-end responsibility for a course, face to face teaching is probably the way to go. A face to face instructor typically sets up the course and after a semester or two, merely tweaks the course for a new edition of a text, or perhaps a new discovery in the discipline. The course is created from notes taken when the instructor was a student in the same (or a similar) course. As Lortie long ago noted when describing the apprenticeship of observation, teachers teach as they were taught.[2]

It might seem that experience with online teaching would not improve face to face teaching. New faculty are likely to have very limited experience with online teaching, and opportunities for mentoring may be limited. Online students differ from face to face students in important ways. Online course development tends to follow very different processes than those used to develop face to face courses. As it has evolved, online pedagogy frequently involves consultation and close collaboration with a host of support personnel; among the collaborators are instructional designers (project managers), e-producers (web programmers, graphic designers, for example), and librarians, many of whom provide design and implementation assistance to instructors or subject-specific research assistance to online students. In effect, they help create an instructional system. This collaboration is very different from that found in face to face courses, in which the roles of instructional designer, organizer, and teacher fall almost solely to the instructor in a face to face classroom.

Despite the differences, experience with online teaching can provide the instructor with an alternative expression of the course that reveals much upon comparison. The relative dearth of experience with online teaching (including a lack of mentors) requires the instructor to construct a workable pedagogy, or face numerous negative consequences. Few instructors prefer a teaching environment in which students are confused and discontented, and where students rate instruction as poor. The more highly collaborative course development process for online courses puts the instructor in contact with experts and established good practices, along with either explicit or implicit accountability for the quality of teaching. People generally perform better when others are watching.

Basic Lessons from Teaching Online that Make Better Face to Face Teachers

Many features of online courses that are deemed to be indispensable are also highly desirable and beneficial in face to face courses.

Organization - Without common sense and consistent organization of both content (such as learning objectives and chapter readings), and administrative components (such as assignment due dates and grade displays), an online course will almost certainly lapse into a confusing, demoralizing state. Every activity, assignment, quiz and forum should tie back to the course big ideas in a more deliberate way online than in a face to face course, primarily because online courses lack the immediacy of classroom questions and answers, and the richer sense of context available in face to face communication. Careful organization in an online class can't help but carry over to the face to face class.

Comprehensive Materials - Much of the popularity of online courses among students derives from their perceived convenience. Convenience arises from the Internet's "anytime/anywhere" accessibility, but also from the aggregation of course materials into an ordered listing, typically with hyperlinks to take the student directly to the materials. Such a listing is mandatory in an online course, but after producing it for the online course, the same materials can also serve the face to face class. A comprehensive listing can serve as a content-rich course outline, and it can remediate content coverage for students who missed class.

Tools - Instructors who teach online may find that essential software, simulations, and administrative tools are also useful in the face to face classroom. Forum discussions, Voicethread, online homework systems, assignment dropboxes (which timestamp and track submitted work), and anti-plagiarism services, all support multiple strategies of assessment,[3] delivery of materials, and methods of coursework submission, which are all necessary in a quality online course. These same tools can be used to good effect in a face to face course. For example, students in an online chemistry course at our institution must visualize three-dimensional molecular shapes in their study of the relationships between structure and properties. However, the students have no access to traditional molecular modeling kits. Instead, they use "Molecular Playground,"a free online tool developed at Ohio State University, [4] to create easily manipulated pseudo three-dimensional "Jmol" structures. Unlike the online students, those in the face to face course have some access to traditional modeling kits. Even so, students use the online tool to create Jmol structures at times and locations for which the traditional kits are not available. Additionally, the instructor uses the tool during class to support discussions, by creating structures much more rapidly than can be done with traditional ball-and-stick kits. Distinct from the structures created from ball-and-stick kits, Jmol images are resizable to be visible in any classroom. The need to implement the Molecular Playground in the online course sensitized the instructor to benefits that the tool could bring to the face to face course.

Student-Student Interaction - Good online teaching encourages the instructor to create a place where students can introduce themselves to the class. As part of the introduction the instructor may ask students to share their favorite website, something for which they are proud, or an obstacle they had to overcome. Such activities improve civility and reduce resistance to collaboration. An instructor in a face to face class uses the same activity because he found that students who knew something personal about the other students in the room treated one another better in classroom discussions and debates.

Formative Assessment - The absence of body language and other subtle cues and clues about student understanding in the online environment puts a premium on quizzes, forum posts, and peer evaluations when looking for signs of student progress. The same examples and tools can also be used in the face to face class. Students may faithfully attend class, but attendance does not indicate understanding. By providing online opportunities to get feedback, the instructor can gain better understanding of student progress prior to exams or other summative assessments.

Conclusion

In general, online courses require greater planning, more extensive resources, more formalized communication, and more detailed organization than do face to face courses. But, the work that goes into creating an online course, and the insights forthcoming from comparison of online and face to face versions of the course, can make the face to face course better in many ways.

CONTACT:Michael L. Rodgers, PhD Director, Advanced Placement Teacher Development and Professor of Chemistry Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, MO 63701E-mail: mrodgers@semo.edu Telephone: (573) 651-2360 Web: http://cstl-csm.semo.edu/rodgers/

Notes:

1.Actual events; narrative by Mary Harriet Talbut, Instructional Design Specialist at Southeast Missouri State University. 

2. Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study by Dan C. Lortie. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975.

3. See, for example, the Quality MattersTM Higher Education Rubric, https://www. qualitymatters.org/rubric.

4. https://undergrad-ed.chemistry.ohio-state.edu/2D-3D/jme-jmol.php

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1320. Step Online in Style: Techniques for Mastering MOOCs: from 'Lecturelets' to Stage Presence


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Evidence from the field suggests shorter is sweeter. New data from edX, a nonprofit MOOC provider created by MIT and Harvard, for instance, put the optimal length for lecturelets at 6 to 9 minutes. Median viewing time, where half the students watch the entire clip, peaks at 6 minutes, then falls rapidly. The edX data also reveal that mixing talking heads with computer screenshots or slides is more engaging than screenshots with voice-overs. 

1320. Step Online in Style: Techniques for Mastering MOOCs � from 'Lecturelets' to Stage Presence

Folks:

Rick ReisThe posting below gives some useful tips for potential MOOC faculty.  It is by Mary Lord and is from the Teaching Toolbox section of the December 2013, issue of Prism, the magazine of the American Society for Engineering Education. [www.asee.org] 1818 N Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036-2479. ©Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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Rick Reis
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--------- 1,689 words ----------

Step Online in Style: Techniques for Mastering MOOCs - from 'Lecturelets' to Stage Presence

What would prompt a tenured faculty member to stare into the camera's unblinking lens and teach a course that requires prodigious amounts of preparation, yet conveys no credit or extra pay? 

For John Owens, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Davis, it was the "phenomenal" opportunity to reach thousands of students and help shape the future of education rather than have to comply with some top-down directive later. Altruism, specifically a "corny" desire to expand access to learning and "maybe excite high school students" about engineering, spurred Georgia Tech mechanical engineer Wayne Whiteman's studio debut. Whatever the reason, the rapid rise of massive open online courses - Coursera alone claims 5 million students worldwide - means there may be a MOOC in your future.

MOOCs are "a very different experience than teaching in a classroom," cautions Owens, who became the first MOOC maker on campus with the launch of Introduction to Parallel Programming on Udacity in February. In a real classroom, instructors can see if students look puzzled and come up with different examples or explanations on the fly. Not so with a one-way MOOC broadcast. Also, "you can't just take your lecture notes for class and read them on camera," advises Whiteman, whose five-week Introduction to Engineering Mechanics debuted on Coursera last spring. 

The rewards - from institutional, departmental, or personal prestige to improved pedagogy and learning outcomes - seem worth the effort, however. These tips from the MOOC masters should help engineering educators step online in style. 

Keep It Short 

Think of MOOCs as educational TV for channel surfers: Attention and attendance wane quickly. "Signing up is really a low bar," notes Georgia Tech's Whiteman, whose first online offering attracted 17,000 registrants, with 2,000 sticking through all five quizzes and 1,500 earning a statement of accomplishment. While that's still "more students than I've touched in my statics courses in my entire 30-year career," he says, falloff is significant. Moreover, MOOCs attract a wide spectrum of ages and experiences. Whiteman's, for example, enrolled students as young as 10 along with 4.5 percent who were academics or had Ph.D.'s.

To captivate such a diverse audience, "it's good to have bite-sized content," advises Whiteman, who has distilled basic mechanics into short modules and "edu-bytes" of no more than 10 minutes. Armando Fox, professor in residence in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, reorganized his 90-minute lecture into 8-to-12-minute video segments or "lecturelets" for his software engineering MOOC, each covering a topic with one or two self-check questions. Evidence from the field suggests shorter is sweeter. New data from edX, a nonprofit MOOC provider created by MIT and Harvard, for instance, put the optimal length for lecturelets at 6 to 9 minutes. Median viewing time, where half the students watch the entire clip, peaks at 6 minutes, then falls rapidly. The edX data also reveal that mixing talking heads with computer screenshots or slides is more engaging than screenshots with voice- overs. 

Plan Every Move 

MOOCs require "a huge amount of work," says UC Davis' Owens, who devotes two full days preparing each 60-to 90-minute lecture. To maximize his instruction time, he writes eight pages covering not only exactly what he will say, including jokes, but what he will draw. It takes eight hours to record the lecture, stopping, starting, and rewriting as necessary. The editing crew needs 32 hours to synchronize the audio, screencasts, and video into a complete lecture. Online education veteran Autar Kaw, a mechanical engineering professor at the University of South Florida, estimates that it takes five to 10 hours to produce each hour-long lecture video beyond the time needed to develop textbooks, simulations, and real-world problems. 

"It can be overwhelming," agrees Georgia Tech's Whiteman. "Focus on clear, precise delivery of basic concepts," he recommends, but "don't dumb down the material." His course isn't "statics for dummies." 

Production Values Count 

"Do not do it all by yourself," says Kaw. "That is a simple recipe to give up making a MOOC." Get all the technical help you can, and let others produce the videos and type the textbook. Even without glitzy graphics, online courses require high-quality sound studios, video editors, and programmers. Lighting must be adjusted and microphone wires hidden. "This would be impossible to do on my own to this level of quality," says Whiteman, who goes through dry runs before taping several modules at a stretch in the campus studio. To simulate the classroom experience, he reviews the script with the tech crew, noting where the lug wrench, cherry-picker truck, or other physical example will sit on his desk and when he will refer to them. He also meets twice a week with a graduate teaching assistant to review all materials before uploading them at the beginning of each week. Still, he admits, "it's really weird at first to talk to the camera and no students are around." 

While few MOOC stars undergo media training or use TV makeup - "It would not have done any good anyway!" jokes Autar Kaw - most develop stage techniques that improve engagement and streamline production. Kaw practices "like crazy." He makes sure to wear dark solids and ties that are light orange, green, or blue. "Avoid stripes and very shiny clothes at all costs," he warns. John Owens tapes a sticky note that exhorts "Energy" above the camera to keep him as animated on screen as he is in class. "You really have to crank it up," he says, noting that his online students mostly see his hand sketching "crummy" drawings while he talks. "As far as the students in the class know, I could be a robot above the elbow," he joked on his blog. 

Mix It Up with Students 

Although they lack the give-and-take of live classrooms, MOOCs can engage students. Whiteman, for example, includes as many visual examples as possible to explain concepts, from brandishing a lug wrench to displaying a 3-D model of the x, y, and z axis along with the mathematics of calculating force equilibrium. He pauses every few minutes to have students reflect on a question, starting in Module 1 by asking them to jot down the difference between engineers and scientists. (His answer, drawn from aeronautical engineer Theodore von Karman: The scientist describes what is, the engineer creates what never was.) 

Autar Kaw recommends presenting materials in different forms and letting students express themselves in multiple ways. "I know students are engaged when they ask me questions via YouTube and email." Owens promotes interactivity by joining his students' "lively" online discussions, posting hundreds of comments. An experienced MOOC instructor advised him to wait an hour before jumping in when a student posts a question. Chances are another student will have provided the answer, freeing Owens to respond to the hardest, most interesting questions. 

Amy Schmitz Weiss, an associate professor of journalism at San Diego State University who co-taught a MOOC on data-driven reporting, urges instructors to state up front how quickly they will respond to inquiries; send a welcome message at the beginning and end of each week; and provide multiple ways to participate, including using social media; and consider holding virtual live chats. Above all, she says, review forum postings, and participate in the discussions. 

Occasionally, "vocal jerks" hiding behind fake email addresses can wax rude and crude in the discussion threads. "Don't let their behavior get you down," stresses Armando Fox, "and don't let it sour the experience for the vast majority of students." 

Recruit Student TAs 

Fox, who has co-taught software engineering courses on Coursera and edX, notes that the "cross-cultural, cross-time-zone reach of MOOCs obliterates" the normal rhythms of sleep, exams, and holidays, making it hard for professors to check forums and post frequently. Moreover, MOOCs don't have formal office hours. To keep abreast of traffic and help students enrolled in his first MOOC offering, Fox had undergraduates who had done well in the on-campus course monitor online forums. Subsequently, he recruited "World TAs" from the highest-scoring MOOC students and deputized an undergraduate to serve as head TA and organize them using a Google Group mailing list. Result: Nearly 24/7 global coverage by multilingual students, "and we get to have a life," reports Fox. 

Embrace Online Assessments 

Though "not fond" of multiple-choice tests, Whiteman finds "they work well in the MOOC environment." Besides, he adds, "there's no way I could grade 4,000 exams!" Beyond generating "tons of data," online quizzes are graded automatically, providing rapid feedback to students and instructors. An uproar ensued, for instance, after students discovered a wrong answer in Whiteman's first quiz. He quickly regraded and gave credit, but "it was high adventure for a few hours." Some MOOCs have a peer-grading option, but the system seems impractical when capabilities range from elementary to graduate students. 

Cheating remains a concern, since instructors have no way to know if the person taking a quiz is copying answers or is even the genuine registrant. However, MOOC providers are developing signature-tracking certification and other methods to verify identity. Online proctoring services also are springing up. In addition, the barriers to hands-on labs are falling with the incorporation of smartphones and other technology. 

So far, many MOOC pioneers find their investment yields dividends for their on-campus students. "It's another resource," says Whiteman, who has had undergraduates taking a Georgia Tech statics course and using his MOOC at the same time. Autograding frees up TAs to spend more quality time for Fox's on-campus students, while breaking classroom lectures into short lecturelets has made them "livelier and better-attended." Fox reports that ratings for both his teaching and the on-campus course went up when MOOC technology was integrated. 

After more than a decade of online teaching, USF's Kaw still prefers the "social experience" of the traditional classroom but says it's like choosing between going to the movies and watching Netflix: "I like both." MOOCs clearly are shaking up the status quo, promising to transform engineering teaching and learning. Says Georgia Tech's Whiteman: "Like it or not, the train is moving, so you might as well get on it and be part of where it's going."

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1319. A Call to Embrace Silos


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Jerry A. Jacobs, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, wants to end the interdisciplinary love fest. His new book, In Defense of Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University (University of Chicago Press), challenges the conventional wisdom that academe needs to get out of disciplines to solve the most important problems and to encourage creative thinking. 

1319. A Call to Embrace Silos

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below offers a counter argument to the emphasis on interdisciplinary research in higher education. It is by Scott Jaschik and it appeared in the February 26, 2014 issue of Inside Higher Ed, an excellent - and free - online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. You can subscribe by going to: http://insidehighered.com/. Also for a free daily update from Inside Higher Ed, e-mail <scott.jaschik@insidehighered.com>. Copyright ©2014 Inside Higher Ed. Reprinted with permission.

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu


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Tomorrow's Research
---------- 1,284 words ----------
A Call to Embrace Silos

Everyone, it seems, wants to promote interdisciplinary work. College and university presidents love to announce new interdisciplinary centers. Funders want to support such work. Many professors and graduate students bemoan the way higher ed places them in silos from which they long to free themselves, if only they could get tenure for interdisciplinary work.

Jerry A. Jacobs, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, wants to end the interdisciplinary love fest. His new book, In Defense of Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity and Specialization in the Research University (University of Chicago Press), challenges the conventional wisdom that academe needs to get out of disciplines to solve the most important problems and to encourage creative thinking. The most significant ideas (including those related to problems that cross disciplines) in fact come out of specialized, discipline-oriented work, Jacobs argues. Further, he says that the idea that disciplines don't communicate right now is overstated -- and that such communication can be encouraged without weakening disciplines.

Take climate change. The approach in vogue today would be to say that the problem should be tackled by environmental sciences programs, which indeed have proliferated. Jacobs said that a research university doesn't need such a program to contribute. "We need people to drill into Arctic ice. We need people to come up with cap-and-trade agreements. We need people to develop better solar panels. And we need people to study ocean currents," said Jacobs, ticking off just a few of the areas of expertise that some universities would group together.

Jacobs doesn't dispute that all of these types of expertise are important. He just questions whether the cap-and-trade expert should be removed from the political science or economics department, and whether the person drilling into the ice needs to be hanging out with the scholar focused on the sun. "Really, does the solar panel guy need to know how to go up to the North Pole? If they learn more about the North Pole, will that make them better at solar panels?"

There is some irony to Jacobs offering a critique of interdisciplinary work. He wrote the book while serving as the founding president of the Work and Family Researchers Network, an interdisciplinary association itself. He said that he's not so much "against interdisciplinarity" as he is trying to defend disciplines. "Interdisciplinarity depends on strong disciplines," he said.
He said he became interested in the topic while serving as editor of American Sociological Review. He wanted to see if the articles in that journal were showing up as citations in the work of non-sociologists, and found that they were, leading him to question the idea that disciplines don't communicate with one another. Using National Science Foundation data, he looked at where science journals are cited, and found that a "substantial minority" of citations come in other fields.

Citation Outside of Disciplines

Discipline                                      % of Citations From Outside Field

Physics                                                    18.3%

Chemistry                                                31.0%

Earth and space sciences                         16.8%

Mathematics                                             22.6%

Biology                                                     38.3%

Biomedical research                                  24.6%

Clinical medicine                                       28.6%

Engineering and technology                      38.1%

Psychology                                                34.5%

Social sciences                                           22.7%

Jacobs then analyzes the various social sciences, and finds that scholars in the interdisciplinary field of area studies are more likely to cite non-area studies work than their own fields, while economics scholars are mostly likely to cite their own field. "These data on cross-field citations raise an important question for advocates of interdisciplinarity, namely whether the fields that are most open to external ideas are also the most intellectually dynamic," Jacobs writes. "If this were true, area studies would be the envy of the social sciences, and economists would be busy trying to figure out how best to emulate the success of areas studies scholars. In fact, the reverse is true: economics is the most influential field in the social sciences, and it is also the most inwardly focused."

This doesn't mean that scholars should look down on other fields, Jacobs said. As a sociologist, he depends on the work of statisticians, for example, but that doesn't mean that statistics and sociology should be a single discipline.

Disciplines, he said, should award doctorates and teach undergraduate majors, and have departments that hire the Ph.D.s trained in the field. This, he said, produces a coherence that is needed and a differentiation from other disciplines that allows them all to make contributions.

Jacobs devotes considerable space to American studies and questions whether it has become a discipline. He notes that much of the work it publishes comes out of literature and history departments, and many of the instructors come from literature or history Ph.D. programs, and that these Ph.D. programs must remain close to those fields to place their graduates. This suggests a lack of independence, he writes.

There is no dispute that good scholarship has appeared through American studies and other interdisciplinary programs, so why worry about the trend? First, Jacobs said it is important to note that there are many different types of interdisciplinary programs, each with their own risks and rewards. But one division he makes is between "rich man's interdisciplinarity" and "poor man's interdisciplinarity."

The rich version is "let's go build a nanotechnology center," and this is the kind of effort that "presidents and provosts love to talk about." These efforts are typically well-funded, although Jacobs warns that, in many cases, true success at building such a center may take longer than a president's tenure, potentially leaving a program without backing by the next administration.

Then there is interdisciplinarity that involves grouping together departments that are viewed as too small (sociology and anthropology on some campuses, physics and astronomy on others, many language programs). "This is about programs that don't have quite enough students getting smushed together," Jacobs said. "It usually doesn't save a lot of money unless faculty lines are cut, but it cuts a secretary's position" -- hardly enough to balance a college's budget.

And both types of interdisciplinarity involve ceding control from faculty-led departments to administrators. "When we hire a sociologist, that's my field, and I have some say in that," said Jacobs. "If we are going to appoint someone with the Wharton School and sociology, the dean is involved." And when new units are created, senior administrators are involved in selecting topics, areas of expertise and the curriculum. While many faculty members are excited about interdisciplinarity, they should be more skeptical, he said.

The push for interdisciplinarity "fits with current managerial ideology, and increases the power of administrators."
His goal with the book is not that academe should shut down all interdisciplinary programs, but that professors and administrators shouldn't rush so quickly to assume everything interdisciplinary is good or that we would be better off in a post-disciplinary world. "Research universities are one of the greatest things ever created, and they are built on disciplines," he said.

Jacobs is well aware that not everyone is convinced.

Another new book on interdisciplinarity takes a much more favorable review of the landscape. Sustainable Knowledge: A Theory of Interdisciplinarity (Macmillan) is by Robert Frodeman, who is founding director of the Center for the Study of Interdisciplinarity at the University of North Texas.

He sees a very different future than does Jacobs. "Disciplines will not disappear. But disciplinarity, the belief that academic work is complete when it has met standards internal to a given discipline, will," he said, via email. "We live in an age where academic autonomy will increasingly be hemmed in by demands for greater accountability to society. Academics would do well to recognize these trends and work with them, rather than mindlessly opposing them."

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/26/new-book-calls-higher-education-defend-disciplines-not-weaken-them#ixzz2uTOZe4xC
----- 

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1318. Align Projects with Priorities


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You probably already had many committed projects before you started following these guidelines for picking new projects. As you create your ideal life, there is a stage where you can begin to see a clearing in the woods but still have a long walk through trees to get there. You can't just hop to the new area, ignoring your present commitments. Instead, you might have to live a bit of a double life for a while, completing your present commitments and clearing out the debris from the habit of doing too many things at once.   

1318. Align Projects with Priorities

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below gives some great guidelines on choosing new projects to undertake. It is from Chapter 8, Align Projects with Priorities, in the book, The Peak Performing Professor: A Guide to Productivity and Happiness by Susan Robison. Published by Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Brand. One Montgomery Street, Suite 1200 San Francisco, CA 94104-4594 [www.josseybass.com]. Copyright © 2013 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu


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Tomorrow's Academic Careers
---------- 2,447 words ----------
Align Projects with Priorities 

This chapter will help you discern which projects to spend your time on and how to decide on priorities. Having clear priorities would keep you focused on what activities will move you toward your most important goals. 

Which Projects Further Your Visions? 

Once you have decided which vision statement or statements to work on, examine the pages of your Dream Book pertaining to the chosen vision or visions to see whether any projects emerge from the sticky notes parked there. In this context, project refers to a single large goal under a vision with many smaller, interconnected sub-goals that will move the larger goal toward completion. For example, writing an article is a project. It involves many tasks of researching, outlining, rough drafting, and revising.  Similarly, remodeling your kitchen involves collecting ideas, designing, getting estimates from contractors, budgeting, picking appliances and lighting, and so on.  

These discernment questions will help you set priorities about which projects from your highest priority vision statement or statements are worthy of your time. You won't usually need to answer all of these questions to pick an area or two to work on. 

Visions to Projects 

* What is the prime activity or set of activities I need to do to move this vision along? Your choices might range from the many steps involved in a huge project to one very small step. 

* Are there any projects under a vision that would narrow the alignment gap, bringing me closer to my ideal life? Are there any small goals unconnected to any projects that are worthy of my time and effort right now? 

* What are my five top priority goals (for example, income, promotion, new job, happier marriage, a scholarly project)?

* What activities will get me closer to my top goals? 

* What is the next actionable step on each of those top goals? 

Cost-Benefit Analysis 

* Which project or projects have the potential for the greatest return on investment (ROI) for the resources expended (time, money, energy)?  Which will bring me closer to my goals compared to resources expended?  What will be the benefits to me and to others if I work on these goals? 

* What is the opportunity cost - the loss of time, money, energy, and attention that taking this opportunity might mean for other opportunities that I am considering? What is the opportunity cost if I do this project and if I don't?

* Are the costs or sacrifices proportional to the gains?  (Sometimes it is hard to tell what the costs and gains will be in advance, but think it through as well as possible.) 

* What projects, if not done, will bring the most pain? For example, could taking on the department chair role cost you promotion or tenure because of lost research time? 

* Will I gain or lose the good will and support of key people if I take or don't take this opportunity? 

Planning Perspective 

* How does this project fit my long- and short-term goals (Pyramid of Power)? 

* What resources and commitment (time, money, energy, people, and attention) do I need to pursue this project? 

* How will I get those resources, especially time, to do this project: get rid of other tasks or say "No" to other opportunities?

You won't need to answer all of these questions, but after answering a few of them, you should become clearer on what you need to be working on at this point in your career and what you should reject or defer until later. 

While you are working on your most important priorities, new ideas will keep occurring to you about your other vision areas. If it is not the right time to work on those ideas, capture them on sticky notes and park them in your Dream Book so that they will be available if those visions become a higher priority. Sometimes new opportunities seem so urgent, and so right, that they cause you to reorder all of your priorities and possibly to rewrite sections of your Pyramid of Power. 

Plan the Goals Within a Project 

By now you have selected a project to work on. You may have started with a big idea, then generated the steps towards its completion (inductive process), or you may have collected a set of seemingly random goals that matter to you to see whether they have a connection (deductive process). Timing is important. You can increase the pressure later, but for now don't commit to more than three projects at this time.  A big project such as writing a book should probably not be done in the same semester as a major course revision, but if you budget your time appropriately, a big project could be worked on during a semester when you are teaching already well-designed courses. 

Here are the steps for working on a project: 

* Once you have a project, name it - for example, "article for Journal of Environmental Science." 

* Use a mind map to outline the scope of a project and capture the beginning thoughts about the project (Buzan & Buzan, 1996). 

* Place the title of the project in the middle of a piece of paper, circle it and then use the circle as a hub of a wheel with spokes radiating out.  Print key ideas on each spoke.  Print secondary ideas on lines drawn out from the spoke lines.  Write the tertiary ideas on lines drawn from the secondary ideas.  You can use different-colored pencils or draw pictures as you go.  This brainstorming technique will allow your brain to fire ideas at random in no particular order while a loose structure gradually emerges. 

* List everything that needs to be done to complete the project.  Break down those goals into sub-goals and the sub-goals into smaller and smaller tasks by writing them on sticky notes.  You can either break down all of the sub-goals from a branch on the mind map or jump around to different goals - whatever you find works the best for you. 

* Using sticky notes on the mind map gives you the ability to move the items around on a "storyboard" on the wall, desk, or paper until you are satisfied with the steps leading to the completion of the project.  Picture a novelist's storyboard or the TV detective's crime board, with sticky notes in radiating lines out from a central theme (the name of the project).  This storyboard is sometimes called a concept map. 

* Lay out the goals for the project in logical order and use the Tracking Sheet technique described later in Part 2 to track all the tasks of this and your other projects, personal and professional, in one place so that you can see at a glance when their time lines and deadlines intersect.  Prevent overloading yourself with too many tasks at the same time. 

* Park the mind map and Tracking Sheet for the project in your Dream Book so you can refer to them as you complete the small goals on your Tracking Sheet.  Archive the completed goals on the back of the relevant pages in your Dream Book.  As you pull out more goals from the mind map, move them to the Tracking Sheet. 

* When this project is complete, dip into your Dream Book for other projects and repeat the process. 

Byron chose to work on two of his vision areas concurrently, family and teaching.  His project in the family area was caring for his elderly father.  This family project required many sub-goals to implement his father's care such as decisions about medical treatments, housing, and staffing for home health nurses to check on his father. 

His project in his teaching vision was a new course design.  In this project there were also many tasks.  Starting with exploring the Big Questions about why the course mattered, he went on to define the course goals, study possible textbooks, review sample syllabi from other teachers, design learning activities and assessments, and explore media resources.  During this time period, while he committed to these two new projects drawn from his two vision areas, he kept his six other vision areas on a maintenance level.  He taught his classes, completed some preliminary writing on an article he was already working on, grocery shopped, and played with his kids.  But he didn't commit to any other big projects until his father's care and his new course were at the maintenance level. 

Anchor Your Projects with a Time-Focused Theme 

Once you have picked some projects from your vision categories, you might create a sense of urgency by fitting the projects into a specific time frame such as a year, semester, or month.  Here are several suggestions about how to establish a theme for the year (semester, month). 

* Look backward in time to see if you can see a theme for a previous time period (week, month, or year) that lays the foundation of a related theme for the next period. Does any theme summarize your accomplishments of this period?  If last year was the "year of the tenure application," this year might be the "year to reconnect with my long term research project." 

* Establish a central theme for the current time period, e.g. "the year of course revision." You might create one theme around work and another for home.  Your teaching theme might be to "get graded papers back within two classes," while your home theme might be to "monitor children's homework while dinner is cooking."* Ask yourself what you would like to be able to say about the present time period at this time next year. 

Once you have established a theme for the time period, ask yourself, "If this is the year or semester of this theme, what should I be working on?"  The answer will help you break the theme down into projects, goals, sub-goals, and tasks. 

Amy, a midcareer professor at a leading medical school, decided on this theme: "the year of recognition."  Amid working on her normal job requirements, she spent some time that year applying for and receiving awards that her research deserved but that she had not taken time to pursue.  The increased visibility of the awards at her institution resulted in cinching her promotion to full professor and got her several outside grants and consulting jobs that brought money into her school and led to a book contract. 

Live Your Double Life - Temporarily 

You probably already had many committed projects before you started following these guidelines for picking new projects. As you create your ideal life, there is a stage where you can begin to see a clearing in the woods but still have a long walk through trees to get there. You can't just hop to the new area, ignoring your present commitments. Instead, you might have to live a bit of a double life for a while, completing your present commitments and clearing out the debris from the habit of doing too many things at once.  

As you gradually pursue your new life, the key to closing the alignment gap and decreasing its related anxiety is to work from meaning and purpose in your new ventures at the same time as you complete your current projects.  Eventually, a clearing in the woods will appear where you will no longer feel perpetually overwhelmed. 

While you are living this double life, these questions will help you integrate the new projects with the old. 

* What are the most important projects I have already committed to that I need to complete or maintain while I begin to establish the new priorities of one or two vision areas? 

* Do I need to replace or postpone some of my current commitments until I complete some projects from my new vision or theme?* Which new projects do I need to postpone until I complete the ones that fit my current priorities? 

* What new roles, professional as well as personal, are most important to me at this time in the cycle of life? 

Allen, an accounting professor, consulted me because of an interesting dilemma over priorities.  He had an idea for an accounting textbook based on material he had developed for his workshops at accounting conferences, but he felt conflicted about making such an intense commitment to a book at the same time as taking on a new role of half-time director of a new faculty development center.  It seemed obvious that the book writing needed to be deferred until he settled into the new job description. 

However, a publisher was interested in his ideas and Allen was afraid to let the opportunity slip by. Following my suggestions, Allen continued his conversation with the publisher, while he gradually built a file of ideas, exercises, and scholarly support related to the book.  Because he was still teaching 50% of the time, he auditioned these new materials as handouts and worksheets in his classes.  After a year in his new job, he had developed ample class materials to form the foundation of the book and was ready to write a contract-winning book proposal. 

Relate Your Ancillary Goals to Your Top Priorities 

While your goal is to spend a good part of each day or week working on your highest-priority projects and goals, not every minute of every workday will be spent in total bliss connecting your vision and mission.  There are many ancillary activities that support a good alignment between your Pyramid of Power and your activities. 

Here are the principles for staying close to your priorities as you attend to tasks: 

* Meaning and Purpose: What level of meaning and purpose does this task have for you - direct, indirect, remote?  Stay close to tasks that are directly or indirectly connected to your purpose.  Be cautious about engaging in tasks that are only remotely connected. 

* Essentialness:  Is this task essential to your projects?  If not, reconsider whether to do it. 

* Uniqueness: Where are you most uniquely needed or indispensable (sitting with your child during a medical procedure or attending a campus-wide faculty meeting)? This question can help resolve conflict between two worthy tasks.  (I am presuming you are not the provost running the faculty meeting and that you normally attend such meetings.) 

* Source:  Who is the source of this task?  You will sometimes do things that are only remotely connected to your sense of meaning because your boss asks you to, but beware of doing things for everyone no matter who they are. 

In a pinch, when time is limited, those principles will help you resolve most conflicts.  Only you determine their relative weight. 
Robison's Rule Put first things first. 

Buzan, T., & Buzan, B. (1996). The mind map book.  How to use radiant thinking to maximize your brain's untapped potential. New York, NY: Plume.

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1317. Writers Groups: Composing a Balanced Faculty


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Writers groups can bring faculty members together for dedicated individual writing time, team brainstorming sessions, reading and discussions of books designed to improve writing productivity, and peer review of works in progress. 

1317. Writers Groups: Composing a Balanced Faculty

Folks:

Rick Reis

 

The posting below looks at the benefits of creating faculty writing groups to address several areas of faculty responsibility. It is from Chapter 11 - Writers Groups: Composing a Balanced Faculty, by Brenda Refaei, Susan Sipple, and Claudia Skutar in the book, Developing Faculty Learning Communities at Two-Year Colleges: Collaborative Models to Improve Teaching and Learning, edited by Susan Sipple and Robin Lightner. Copyright © 2013 by Stylus Publishing, LLC. Published by Stylus Publishing, LLC. 22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, Virginia 20166-2102.

Regards,

Rick Reisreis@stanford.edu


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Tomorrow's Research
---------- 2,595 words ----------
Writers Groups: Composing a Balanced Faculty  

 

Consider this scenario: a college seminar room filled with faculty members from a variety of disciplines and career stages. Some sit at laptops; others write diligently with pen on paper. Over in the corner, two colleagues meet to talk about the assignment they're drafting for the class they're co-teaching. Occasionally, from the seminar table, someone breaks the silence to ask, "Did anybody see that article in the Chronicle," or "What's a better word for . . . ?"  Over the past several years, colleges and universities across the country have been implementing writers groups to help busy faculty find time and space to work on writing related to all aspects of what they do: teaching, scholarship, or service. Faculty meet regularly to work together on individual or collaborative writing projects. While many faculty members work well on these projects alone, writers groups can allow for collaboration and provide the kind of schedule and structure that many faculty need to keep their work moving forward. These faculty learning communities (FLCs) can be particularly useful on two-year college campuses, providing faculty there with the kind of balance they need in their professional lives to complete a variety of writing tasks. 

The "publish or perish" adage is familiar to all academics, though not every college professor is bound by it in the same way. Some two-year college faculty-particularly those at university branch campuses-must publish moderately to achieve promotion and tenure; other two-year college faculty have no administrative mandate to publish, yet they have a personal professional interest in doing so. Furthermore, even two-year college faculty who do not intend to present papers at conferences or publish their work in scholarly journals have a variety of writing tasks related to teaching and service that they cannot always fit into their busy schedules. An interest in writing does not always lead to a completed grant proposal, a new classroom assignment, or a peer-reviewed publication; in fact, it does not necessarily lead to the actual act of writing. 

As so many two-year college faculty know, the demands of heavy teaching loads and committee service leave little time for sustained writing no matter how great the inclination or how forceful the mandate.  However, they might also sense that without the creative pursuits writing can offer, they could burn out. The National Faculty Stress Research Project (Gmelch, Lovrich, & Wilke, 1984) found that among the three most common faculty responsibilities-teaching, service, and research-the most stressful role is teaching. In addition, Talbot (2000) and Quick (1987) have found that large universities and small colleges differ primarily in time spent on scholarship versus teaching, with university faculty being far more research-oriented and college faculty more teaching-oriented. Two-year college faculty, then, need to achieve some kind of balance in their roles, if only to ward off stress or burnout. 

One way to encourage two-year college professors to find time to engage in writing is to form writing groups, as we did at our two-year branch of a major research university. Writers groups can bring faculty members together for dedicated individual writing time, team brainstorming sessions, reading and discussions of books designed to improve writing productivity, and peer review of works in progress. By creating a supportive interdisciplinary group for idea exchange, writers groups rely on internal expertise, inspire interdisciplinary discussions, and create community (Benson-Brown, 2006).  In addition, scheduled writing time that leads to peer review of works in progress creates accountability that helps some faculty finish writing projects that otherwise might have languished. 

Since the two-year college mission places an extraordinarily heavy emphasis on teaching and learning, many professors find reasons to dedicate time outside of the classroom to tasks that are linked more clearly to immediate teaching concerns: class preparations, grading, or student conferences. For that reason, writers groups on two-year college campuses will more easily garner the support of administration and attract and keep devoted teaching faculty by exposing clear links between writers group activities and teaching excellence. And these groups do encourage new insights about teaching and new potential for improved teaching practices.  Writers groups raise awareness in participants by helping them to see challenges faced by student writers and by offering them an opportunity to reflect on teaching through their writing activities. 

[Note: In the chapter, two sections follow the above excerpt, one on Literature Review and one on Impact on Teaching and Learning. I have skipped these sections here but if you would like an electronic copy of them just let me know. Rick  Reis, reis@stanford.edu]

Implementing a Writers Group on a Two-Year College Campus 

Any administrator, faculty developer, or faculty member interested in implementing a writers group on his or her two-year college campus will likely find that these groups need little in terms of resources. However, as Miller, Finley, and Shedd Vancko (2000) warn, "good ideas do not implement themselves; people do. The best designed systems will flounder if implementation is left to chance" (p. 90). With that in mind, anyone initiating and attempting to maintain a writers group over time would be well-advised to consider a few fundamental ideas. 

Finding faculty with the desire to join a writers group is probably the easiest part of starting one of these FLCs. Once faculty meet for the first time, however, a variety of individual needs and expectations for the group are likely to arise. Just as individual writing processes vary, so do individual needs from writing-intensive FLCs. Some members will want time to sit with others and write quietly; some will want the group to provide peer review of works in progress; others will look for the FLC to provide accountability to make them responsible to get writing done. Others might (somewhat problematically) view it as a social hour.  Any institution considering implementing a writers group should consider what flexibility could attract members to the FLC and make the community long term.  Since faculty development programs work best when they are individualized to meet the specific needs of the faculty, it makes good sense to craft a writers group with the faculty and even the college mission in mind (Miller et al., 2000; Murray, 2002). 

To support the writing of faculty at our college, the Learning and Teaching Center director initiated a faculty writers group as an ongoing FLC. This group aids its self-selected faculty members through mutual support and accountability to write for teaching, service, research, publication, and presentation. Since its inception, the group has tested a number of ways to support this and has experienced both successes and failures. What has been key to the group's continuance and its growth (and it has grown steadily, both in number of participants and in meeting times and formats) is that it has paid close attention to its trial-and-error search for what works. Rather than set an unchanging structure, the group has remained organic and responsive to what members need by keeping things that work and throwing out things that do not. 

One basic success has been use of a facilitator to set meeting schedules, obtain meeting space, and keep group members on task via their commitment to participate at regular times.  This job is not overly taxing, but it is essential to the success of the FLC. While the group meetings function well with minimal intervention by a facilitator, someone must do the necessary work of promoting the group to faculty, requesting funding (if any) from administrators, scheduling meetings and retreats, e-mailing members, and providing evidence of participation in the form of letters or certificates to members who may need documentation for promotion or tenure. At colleges where a writers group is faculty driven, the leader is unlikely to be compensated by anything more than a line on his or her curriculum vitae, though perhaps this is not insignificant, given that leadership roles are frequently considered in tenure and promotion. At our college, the Learning and Teaching Center director took on this responsibility for the first years of the writing group, and other faculty members took over the leadership role as the group evolved. A good leader can help faculty members be more productive in the FLC.  One member explained that participation in regularly scheduled writing sessions has been useful because it provides deadlines for completion of his work.  Without facilitators, deadlines would exist as self-imposed requirements for individual faculty members working alone in isolation.  In fact, the use of facilitators has worked so well that the group currently has two to manage growth in size, meeting times, and meeting format. 

While there is no question that ongoing faculty development is a necessity at two-year colleges, administrators are frequently concerned about the cost of these opportunities (Miller et al., 2000).  Like other FLCs, writers groups can be relatively low-cost endeavors, conducting their work with free or inexpensive resources; this has certainly been one of the successes of our group.  Despite the fact that little funding is available, the facilitators have been able to maintain the essential flexibility that stands as a hallmark of our group.  Facilitators use college meeting rooms as faculty gathering spaces with a subgroup meeting at local coffee shops for peer review.  Using what faculty development money is available, facilitators organize biannual off-campus retreats locally. 

At our college, a continuity of meeting times has worked well, with an initial twice-a-quarter schedule as a faculty writers group starts up, moving to a bimonthly schedule as the group developed. Additionally, facilitators currently designate specific monthly meetings on the same days and times for the academic year. This setup technique, accompanied by monthly reminders, has helped busy faculty to build the dates into their calendars.  Participants commit to attend only one of the two sessions but are welcome at both. Group participants sign in for their session and note the task on which they plan to work. When signing out, they note whether they were able to complete their task.  Facilitators designed this sign-in as a simple technique for maintaining accountability, something that can help some writers maximize productivity. Originally, facilitators introduced the idea of accountability by asking members to keep a running record of writing conducted or completed during sessions.  Members seemed to like the freedom to move among their many writing tasks without reporting specifics to colleagues, but for some, keeping the log was one more item on an already lengthy professional to-do list. Facilitators dropped the log in favor of the sign-in sheet, a simpler way to track participation and encourage attendance. 

While some faculty in writers groups participate because doing so helps them to schedule time to work on projects, others need something different from the community: a group of peers who can review drafts and offer feedback for editing and revision. Even in interdisciplinary FLCs, the peer-review function can be very useful to members, providing them with commentary from a variety of perspectives.  In our writers group, our first attempt at creating a regular peer-review process involved creating a buddy system that paired all participating faculty members for additional peer critique sessions. This system was based on the idea that, ultimately, all participants should be shaping and reviewing their writing products for use in the classroom, presentation, or publication. Yet participation was low, because only a few members wanted regular peer review; some who wanted peer review did not have the time, and some busy faculty wanted time simply to write. 

Facilitators dropped this system and moved instead to a small self-selected subset of the entire faculty writers group that meets twice a quarter to peer-review work.  Faculty who wanted the opportunity to talk about their writing projects were invited to join this small subgroup, playfully nicknamed Will Write for Coffee, which meets at a local coffee shop to review drafts in progress.  One week before the group meets, members send short drafts-around five pages-of current manuscripts. Participants write comments, suggestions, and other feedback on each other's drafts. At the coffee shop, members first discuss their positive reactions to the piece and then move into supportive comments to help the writer revise the manuscript. The group works best when it has between three and seven participants. Fewer participants yield less useful advice, while a larger size does not allow enough time for the manuscripts to be discussed thoroughly. Although membership of this group varies, there are always enough participants from the larger writing group to give constructive feedback. 

This shift in format succeeded and meets the needs of its participants and motivates them. Regardless of the format, those who have taken part in peer review as part of the writers group have found it useful.  One person valued the interdisciplinary feedback, observing that she benefited most from peer review from people both within and outside her discipline. A colleague agreed, stating, "It is good to hear comments from individuals other than those in my area of expertise so that I can better develop writing skills that can cross disciplines." Another appreciated both the accountability that attends the feedback process and the objectivity of his reviewers.  Clearly, peer review of writing has been an important attribute of the faculty writers group. 
Successful writers groups may function entirely as on-campus FLCs; however, some groups could find it useful to meet off-campus, at least periodically. Our faculty writers group does. Our off-campus retreats started with annual daylong sessions to provide space and longer time for writing; participants found them so productive that sessions evolved into biannual retreats that now garner about a dozen participants.  Using a small college faculty development stipend, the group rents space and purchases lunch at a local retreat center, with no Internet accessibility.  Faculty literally retreat to this setting to write for an entire day. One of our group members remarked, "The retreat in particular, reminds me that there's a variety of work going on around me, and that it's valuable work." 

Conclusion 

By providing a relatively easy-to-stick-to schedule for busy two-year college faculty, writers groups help to provide the kind of balance between the demands of teaching and scholarship or teaching and reflection that is so necessary to the successful academic. Furthermore, like other FLCs, writers groups bring participants together across disciplines and ranks and, in doing so, help alleviate any faculty tendency toward isolation; these connections help those same faculty members make connections with each other that could lead to collaborative or mentoring relationships in other areas of their professional lives. 

Writers groups-like other FLCs-may contribute to the institution as well. Faculty, students, and the institution as a whole benefit when faculty engage in writing with an eye toward publication or presentation. A more professional professoriate may be one outcome of active writers group participation.  In addition, by reducing faculty propensity for isolation, writers groups could alleviate burnout, thereby reinvigorating members and, perhaps, inspiring them to greater productivity in other areas of their professional lives. Furthermore, students may benefit when faculty participate in writers groups. Instructors who are actively involved in writing and writers groups may develop a keener sense of their own writing processes and a deepened understanding of the writing problems their students face. When these instructors engage with student writers, it stands to reason that they will take to those conversations a better understanding of the challenges, struggles, and benefits that writing presents. 

By fostering pursuits that are directly or indirectly related to teaching, then, writers groups help to enhance the mission of most two-year colleges without demanding much from already burdened faculty developers or their budgets. Quite simply, writers groups are a perfect choice for two-year colleges and their faculty. 

References 

Baker-Fletcher, K., Car, D., Menn, E., & Ramsey, N.J. (2005). "Taking stock at mid-career: Challenges and opportunities for faculty. Teaching Theology and Religion, 8(1), 3-10, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9647.2005.00217.x 

"Baldwin, R.G., & Chang, D.A. (2006). "Reinforcing our keystone faculty: Strategies to support faculty in the middle years of academic life." Liberal Education, 92(4), 28-35. 

Benson-Brown, A. (2006, January). "Where manuscript development meets faculty development." Journal of Scholarly Publishing, 131-135. 

Blaisdell, M.L., & Cox, M.D. (2004).  "Midcareer and senior faculty learning communities: Learning throughout faculty careers." New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 97, 137-148. doi: 10.1002/tl.140

Boice, R. (1995). "Developing writing, then teaching, amongst new faculty." Research in Higher Education, 36(4), 415-456. 

Elbow, P., & Sorcinelli, M. (2006, November/December). "The faculty writing place: A room of our own." Change, 17-22.

Friend, J., & Gonzalez, J. (2009, January/February). "Get together to write."  Academe, 31-35. 

Gillespie, D., Doslak, N., Kochis, B., Krabill, R., & Lerum, K. (2005). "Research circles: Supporting the scholarship of junior faculty." Innovation in Higher Education, 30(3), 149-162. doi:10.1007/s10755-005-6300-9

Gmelch, W.H., Lovrich, N.P., & Wilke, P.K. (1984). "Sources of stress in academe: A national perspective." Research in Higher Education, 20, 477-479. 

Gray, T., & Birch, J. (2000). "Publish, don't perish: A program to help scholars flourish." In D. Lieberman & C. Wehlburg (Eds.), To improve the Academy: Resources for faculty, instructional, and organizational development (pp. 268-284). Bolton, MA: Anker. 

Grubb, W.N., Worthon, H., Byrd, B., Webb, E., Badway, N., Case, C., Goto, S., & Villeneuve, J.C. (1999). Honored but invisible: An inside Look at Teaching in Community Colleges.  New York: Routledge. 

Karpiak, I. (2000)." The "second call": Faculty renewal and recommitment at mid-life." Quality in Higher Education, 6(2), 125-134. 

Kozeracki, C.A. (2002). Faculty attitudes about students. In C.L. Outcalt (Ed.), Community college faculty: Characteristics, practices, and challenges (pp. 47-55).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Lee, J.J. (2002).  University reference group identification among community college faculty. In C.L. Outcalt (Ed.), Community College Faculty: Characteristics, Practices, and Challenges (pp. 21-28).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Maslach, C., & Leiter, M.P. (1997). The Truth about Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to do About it. SanFrancisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Miller, R., Finley, C., & Shedd Vancko, C. (2000). Evaluating, improving and Judging Faculty Performance in Two-year Colleges. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. 

Murray, J.P. (2002). The current state of faculty development in two-year colleges. In C.L. Outcalt (Ed.), Community College Faculty: Characteristics, practices, and challenges (pp. 89-98).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Palmer, J.C. (2002). Disciplinary variations in work of full-time faculty members. In C.L. Outcalt (Ed.), Community college faculty: Characteristics, Practices, and Challenges (pp. 9-19).  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Quick, J.C. (1987). "Institutional preventive stress management." In P. Seldin (Ed.), New Direction for Teaching and Learning (pp.75-84). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 

Sipple, S., & Lightner, R. (2009, Fall).  "Two-year college faculty: Energy and entropy at mid-career."  Journal of the Ohio Association of Two-Year Colleges, 33, 17-24. 

Talbot, L.A. (2000). "Burnout and humor usage among community college nursing faculty members."  Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 24, 359-373. doi:10.1080/106689200263962

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Tomorrow's Professor eNewsletter: 1316. Management Style and Customer Service


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Some managers have the "soft skills" that help them relate to employees, while others focus on tasks and results. Both types of managers may bring out the best in their staffs and, as a result, improve internal and external customer service.  Alan experienced the extremes with Betty and Marv, and internal and external customer service delivery had its strengths and weaknesses under each - but neither manager seemed well-balanced.

1316. Management Style and Customer Service

Folks:

Rick Reis

The posting below looks at two types of managers, task-centered one and the people-centered one and pluses and minuses of each. It is from Chapter 7, Managerial Influence on Service Delivery in the book, Creating a Service Culture in Higher Education Administration, by Dr. Mario Martinez, Dr. Brandy Smith, and Katie Humphreys. Copyright © 2013 by Soft Skills Pros, Published by Stylus Publishing, LLC [http://www.styluspub.com/Books/Features.aspx]. Published by Stylus Publishing, 22883 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, Virginia 20166-2102

Regards,

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu


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UP NEXT: Writers Groups: Composing a Balanced Faculty

Tomorrow's Academia 
--------- 2,512 words ----------
Management Style and Customer Service 

Alan's first job after completing his master's degree was working in a progressive new position in the division of student affairs as a professional development coordinator.  His responsibilities included serving on various committees related to strategic planning, budgeting, and personnel issues; providing research and assessment for marketing, communications, and professional development for division staff; and contributing to program evaluation and student learning outcomes initiatives. The position was broad but also would give Alan exposure to various aspects of student affairs. 

Alan's first director, Betty, was very businesslike and always got straight to the point. All of Alan's coworkers warned him that Betty did not like to hear about anyone's personal life because she thought people would eventually use that information as an excuse for arriving late to work or missing a day. Many of Alan's coworkers had difficulty working for Betty, and the group seemed to have some morale problems. Staff quietly complained that Betty would do better in a corporate culture environment than on a university campus. People got things done, to be sure, but everyone seemed afraid to make mistakes or offer suggestions. Alan was very productive during his first year on the job; he put in long hours and focused on his tasks. Betty was recruited to another institution with higher pay and more visibility because she ran such a "well-oiled" machine that produced results. 

Marv replaced Betty as the group's director. He called a staff meeting and said that his first goal was to sit down with each person to discuss ideas, concerns, and perceptions about the group and the work they were doing. Marv followed through with his goal, and because of his ongoing efforts to build relationships and include people in decisions, he became well-liked by his employees. After two years under Marv's management, however, Alan found that his group's overall performance and reputation had declined, and there was a sense that the entire group was disorganized. 

Reflecting on his experience, Alan discovered that his work was directly influenced by the different management styles of his two directors over the course of his three years.  Under Betty, Alan felt pressured and sometimes upset. At the same time, he would look back on his monthly goals and see how productive he had been.  He always felt like he delivered top-notch service to his colleagues, and he never went to a committee meeting without feeling fully prepared. Alan did witness the departure of a few valuable staff members who left because of Betty and her inability to connect with employees. Betty's approach even had an effect on how staff treated one another. Under Marv, Alan sensed a strong kinship with the team, and he felt he could go straight to his director with any concern. The social aspect of the job made work fun. But Alan's productivity and confidence suffered under Marv. Alan did not have to push himself to accomplish work-related goals, and he sometimes found himself attending strategic planning meetings without having done that little extra that he was known for when Betty was his director. Marv did not push him either, so there were no periodic checks to keep Alan on his toes. 

Some managers have the "soft skills" that help them relate to employees, while others focus on tasks and results. Both types of managers may bring out the best in their staffs and, as a result, improve internal and external customer service.  Alan experienced the extremes with Betty and Marv, and internal and external customer service delivery had its strengths and weaknesses under each - but neither manager seemed well-balanced. 

Managers have different management styles, which means they have different ways of communicating and accomplishing their objectives.  Managers affect how employees feel about their jobs and how they go about their work. It is just as important for a staff member to know about management styles as it is for a manager.  Like Alan, it may be easy for you to slip in some areas of service delivery and job performance based on your relationship with your manager. If you are a manager, a review of management styles will remind you of how managers influence their teams' internal and external customer service. 

Two Management Styles 

Alan's experience is not unusual. Managers who are not personable with their employees often experience communication problems with them. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for such managers to produce excellent bottom-line results, at least in the short run, much like Alan's first manager, Betty. Managers like Marv are popular with employees but sometimes criticized for not making the "tough decisions" because they are afraid to hurt anyone's feelings. Not all managers fall at one of these two extremes; most fall somewhere between Betty and Marv. 

As early as 1964, Robert Blake and Jane Mouton, in their popular Managerial Grid tool, laid the foundation for describing managers like Marv and Betty. Blake and Mouton describe several different management styles along two dimensions: Concern for People and Concern for Results. Their work built on earlier research at the University of Michigan that identified managers with an employee orientation and those with a production orientation. Blake and Mouton would continue to update and revise their Managerial Grid over the next 20 years, and it has remained a useful model to this day. The basic dimensions of the Managerial Grid continue to help employees and managers understand their interactions. We describe the manager who has high concern for results a task-centered manager, and the manager who has high concern for people and relationships as people-centered. 

A task-centered manager is concerned about results and focuses on policies, rules, work processes, and getting the job done. Results come about because of structure and the emphasis on tasks. The approach such a manager takes to something like committee work is to focus on each person's tasks and timelines. At the extreme, this manager does not focus on managing the relationships between employees who are on a committee unless these relationships are somehow related to getting the job done.  A manager at the opposite extreme is the people-centered manager, one who solicits employee input and pays attention to group dynamics.  This type of manager is able to motivate people and manage relationships between and among team members. The people-centered manager would probably push for an initial networking lunch or other social gathering prior to the start of major committee work. 

A task-centered manager can exhibit characteristics of a people-centered manager, and a people-centered manager can exhibit characteristics of a task-centered manager.  Alan's managers represented two extremes, but most managers have characteristics of both styles. Most situations call for characteristics of both types of management, but there are times when one style is more effective than the other.  A task-centered approach might be valuable if there is a pressing deadline, but a people-centered approach might be more appropriate when trying to mollify an angry external customer.  

Exercise 14 will help you identify your manager's management style.  If you are a manager, director, or even vice president, answer the questions with respect to the administrator who is your direct manager.  In the case of a vice president, this may be the provost or a president.  Like supervisors and department managers, provosts and presidents have specific management styles that influence their teams' dynamics and how individuals do their jobs. 

                                                              Exercise 14                                                  

Pulse Assessment: Management Style

Answer the following questions based on your first reaction, placing only one checkmark for each question under the number that best describes your response.  Use the following scale: 1= Strongly Disagree2= Disagree3= Neutral4= Agree5= Strongly Agree

My Manager....                                                                        1    2    3    4    5

1. Knows employees (direct reports) on a personal basis

2. Is very businesslike

3. Is easily persuaded by vocal employees

4. Is career-driven and expects the same of everyone else

5. Is well-liked by employees

6. Is not afraid to make tough choices

7. Tries to keep employees informed of changes and new decisions 8. Is organized and pushes the group to work hard 

Instructions for Scoring: 

Add up scores for items 1, 3, 5, and 7:  Total = _______ 

Add up scores for items 2, 4, 6, and 8:  Total = _______

- If the scores for items 1, 3, 5, and 7 fall between 10 and 20, your manager exhibits characteristics consistent with a       people-centered leadership style.      

- If the scores for items 2, 4, 6, and 8 fall between 10 and 20, your manager exhibits characteristics consistent with a task-oriented leadership style. 

Exercise 14 is called a pulse assessment because it provides a quick, general indicator of your perceptions of your manager's management style. Problems between you and your manager are more likely to surface if you ranked your manager very high for one style but very low for the other. In other words, the more extreme the scores for your manger, the more likely it is that you have had similar experiences as Alan's with Betty and then Marv. 

You can manage your manager by learning about the common strengths and weaknesses associated with the two management styles. If you improve your ability to work with your manager, that will translate into enhanced communication and interaction within your group.  This, in turn, means more effective internal and external customer service delivery. 

The Task-Centered Manager 

Most managers sought their positions because they believe their ideas can help the institution and the division or department they serve. Managers usually come into their position with goals. The differences between task-centered and people-centered managers mean that different managers will try to reach the same goal in different ways. Task-centered managers are serious, achievement-oriented, and driven by accomplishment. They focus on tasks and activities, and they expect much of their employees. Task-centered managers are not afraid of a challenge, but they may have little tolerance for mistakes and lack the social finesse to solve interpersonal conflicts. These managers invest a great amount of time at work and, to a great extent, define themselves by their jobs. It is difficult for them to take criticism or accept ideas different from their own. 

There are some things that you can do to build a productive relationship with a task-centered manager. First, remember that this manager is goal-oriented and focused on specific objectives. Look at and make sure you understand the manager's goals and objectives for the group and those that she has set for you. Ask your manager for clarification, if necessary, but do not personalize terse or blunt responses. A task-oriented manager who seems exasperated at having to reiterate goals, objectives or tasks actually respects the employee who musters the courage to ask for that clarification. 

Employees can become upset because a task-centered manager may neglect to address staff concerns or input, especially during times of change. Many task-centered managers announce changes and expect employees to start implementing them. If you lack the resources, time, or training to contribute to the change, you must tell your manager what you need to be successful. A task-centered manager is likely to assume that you have what you need to get the job done unless you speak up. The risk of not asking for needed resources or help is that you may perceive the demands of your job as unreasonable and come to resent your manager. Much like asking for clarification on some particular objective, it takes a certain level of assertiveness to make a request or voice a concern about a change your task-oriented manager has set before you. The task-oriented manager's response may not be the most eloquent, but if she is truly focused on moving the group forward, you will find that initiating the discussion benefits everyone in the end. 

The People-Centered Manager 

People-centered managers, like Alan's manager Marv, engender trust because they take the time to talk to people.  People-centered managers encourage new ideas and are not threatened by employee input.  The uncertainty of this approach is that participative decision making may be perceived as a strength or weakness.  On the positive side, staff likes to provide feedback and input.  Then, when decisions are made, everyone feels good about the decision.  On the other hand, we expect our managers to be decisive and not go back and forth because of ten employees who all have different opinions.  We want quick results, and most people lack the patience required for true consensus to emerge.  A people-centered manager who encourages participation may be perceived as indecisive or weak when he listens to the arguments for and against a particular issue. 

Whatever the perceived strengths and weaknesses of a people-centered manager, you should take the opportunity to build a productive work relationship with this type of manager.  Team meetings and one-on-one conversations provide forums to convey feedback, express concerns, and make requests that can ultimately help service delivery. 

Before Jean was hired as a policy analyst in the chancellor's office for the university and community college system in her state, she worked with a group of six people in a state government personnel office.  Jean's manager, Tony, was very people-centered.  During challenging times Tony ensured that blame was not passed from person to person, but he could sense a growing frustration among and between staff.  Jean thought that there were problems with the way the group was processing its work and these were causing miscommunication, but she couldn't put her finger on it.  Tony pressed Jean and the rest of the team for additional suggestions.  The team found a consultant who could help the group "map" its processes and define more clearly tasks, customers, deliverables, and timetables.  Tony agreed to hire the consultant based on the team's consensus, and over a two month period, the team identified bottlenecks in its work processes and improved its internal customer service delivery.  Tony listened to his people, and Jean and the team provided specific suggestions.  Tony's people-centered approach helped solve what turned out to be some fairly technical problems in the group's work processes. 

People-oriented managers do not ignore tasks; it is just that they are good at building relationships and they initially tend to talk to people rather than to dissect tasks. Conversely, most task-centered managers do not completely ignore the human side of institutional life, but they are good at structuring work so they tend to emphasize tasks first rather than people. Most managers have a combination of task-centered and people-centered qualities.  Your ability to work effectively with any manager on your campus will improve if you have some sense of the different attributes associated with the people-centered and task-centered management styles. A manager's unique combination of styles influences service delivery for the entire team, since it is the manager who by design is the central facilitator for the team.  But the manager's special role in the organization means that there are other ways these individuals influence employee service delivery, namely through the expectations they develop about those whom they manage.

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