Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An Interesting Infographic on How to Use Popular Latin Phrases in APA Style

by Educational Technology and Mobile learning:

There are a number of popular Latin verbs student researchers use in their papers such as etc., e.g., cf.,  and many more. However, these abbreviated forms have their own rules when it comes to formatting them in APA style. The visual below, which we created based on the official guidelines of the American Psychological Association, shows you how to properly use some of these Latin abbreviations in APA style.  We invite you to check it out and keep a copy of this visual handy for the next research paper.

Related: Class poster on how to cite online sources in APA style
  This is how to use Some Popular latin Abbreviations in APA Style

7 Motivational Tips for PhD Students

Image result for PhD Life
by Hafsa Abbas, PhD Life:

Hafsa Abbas is currently undertaking her PhD in Cancer/Oncology. She enjoys spending time with her family, doing charity work, writing, art and travel.

Another post about motivation, PhD Life? Why, yes, dear reader.

Summer holidays are so close, and yet so far, and Wednesdays are known to be tough. Whether you have started your PhD a few months ago or you are hours away from finishing the full draft, check out Hafsa’s motivational tips …

Motivation - a single word but with deep-rooted meaning. The motivational stimuli may come from within you or may be associated with an external source. Regardless of what motivated you to perform a PhD initially, the question is how to remain intact for the rest of the course. I will be providing some tips that will be useful for you and me and keep the momentum consistently.

1) Self-belief

Tell yourself that you can do it and will complete to the finish line. The key is to reflect.
a) Reflect on your reasons for doing the PhD and consider how it will impact on your career pathway.
b) Reflect on what went well in your experiment, what went wrong, and how could you solve it? Do not be ashamed if even you cry with frustration. Crying is not a sign of weakness. You are human and each and every one of us express our emotions differently.

2) Eat well

A plant won’t be able to grow unless it has its necessary nutrients. Similarly, we need to eat well and to remain hydrated in order to function and concentrate.

3) Find support

Having family, friends and colleagues support you on this journey helps.

4) Organise yourself

a) Have a diary.
b) If you are doing cell culture work, make a habit of checking your cells every morning.
c) Set realistic goals of what you plan to do each day.
d) It will not only benefit you and me, but also aids in other people in your group to know where you are.
e) Have some time off. In other words, schedule at least one day of your weekend to spend time with your family and/or friends and do your favourite hobbies.
f) If you have a conference paper, presentation or meeting plan your time effectively.
g) Prepare yourself for the supervisory meeting, knowing what you want to discuss and ask.

5) Do your reading

This is an integral part of our PhD where we need to read a lot of papers in our own research fields to setup a foundation and prevents duplicating existing data.

6) Attend Research Student Skills Programme (RSSP) modules

I found these workshops very useful to support me in my personal and professional development.

7) Have extra-curricular activities

Join the Student’s Union where there are a number of societies and activities to get involved in — this is another great opportunity to meet other people, collaborate and connect.

Hope you found these tips useful and keep striving!

How do you stay motivated? 🙂

Hafsa Abbas is currently undertaking her PhD in Cancer/Oncology. She enjoys spending time with her family, doing charity work, writing, art and travel.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Taking Time to Refresh, Recharge, and Recommit


Conference attendees

I continue to worry that we devalue the affective dimensions of teaching—the emotional energy it takes to keep delivering high-quality instruction.

Most faculty are on solid ground in terms of expertise. We know and, in most cases, love our content. We don’t get tired of it—oh, maybe we do a bit in those foundation courses, but the content isn’t what wears us down; it’s the daily grind, having to be there every class session, not just physically present but mentally and emotionally engaged as well. Good teaching requires more energy than we think it does.

I’m posting this because it is the end of the academic year, and many us are feeling tired and used up. That makes it a good time for a gentle reminder: take time to refresh. We’re also approaching summer, which is often a time when things slow down. Some of us don’t teach during the summer, or we teach fewer courses, whereas others have only that brief time between terms or semesters. Whatever time you have, some of it should be used to recharge and refresh.

I’m not advocating some generic relaxation, although we all do benefit from unplugging now and then but, rather, a planned and purposeful set of activities that renews your commitment to and passion for teaching. This is not the kind of refresh that comes from revising a syllabus, choosing a new textbook, or working out the details of a group project. This needs to be about you and what will enable you to stand excitedly before students the next time you teach.

Have you considered a conference? Of course, I’d recommend the annual Teaching Professor Conference, but you might also consider an institute, extended workshop, or some other event where teaching and learning are front and center on the agenda. I have to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of conferences—too many people, always in big cities—and I’d rather learn alone at home in my blue jeans with a cat curled on my lap. But even I agree The Teaching Professor Conference is an event that feeds the souls of many teachers. There’s something special about being in a group where everyone unabashedly cares for teaching. Add to that the opportunity to learn; to consider new instructional options; to meet teachers from all over the United States, Canada, and abroad; and to discover that they’re confronting the same challenges and issues. That’s invigorating!

But as refreshing and energizing as in-person events can be, they aren’t the only way to recharge depleted instructional energy. There’s renewal to be found in the content we love. If we spend time exploring an area of special interest, if we catch up on some of the latest research and new findings, there’s a good chance those feeling about the content will spill over into teaching. Loving the field can motivate teaching. What we’re teaching is important; it matters and there’s an urgent need for others to learn what we know.

I think colleagues can refresh each other but not with complaint-filled conversations or exchanges focused on ways to quickly grade quizzes or enrich online discussions. There is much to complain about, I know, and daily details matter, but those conversations don’t lift our spirits. We need to talk about why we’re teaching, how it makes a difference in our lives and the lives of others, and all the reasons we need to carry on despite the challenges. We need to share quotations that inspire, tell stories of those teachers who made us love learning, remember students who credit us for what they’ve accomplished, and recount first encounters with the field that has become our life’s work.

Am I hearing the curmudgeons among us chiding that Pollyanna platitudes aren’t going change how hard we have to work, how many students don’t want to learn, and how those in charge regularly make dreadful decisions? The realities of academic life can be frustrating, demoralizing, and stressful, but what we need is an attitude that accepts these realities and at the same time understands that with education, there is a greater truth and a larger set of reasons that merit our continuing commitment. If we don’t take time to refresh, recharge, and recommit, the value of what we’re doing is no longer a driving force. We mustn’t settle for less when students need our best.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Addressing Our Needs: Maslow Comes to Life for Educators and Students

by Dr. Lori Desautels, Edutopia:

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. The bottom two levels reflect basic needs, the next two reflect psychological needs, and top reflects self-fulfillment needs.
In the mid-1950s, humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow created a theory of basic, psychological and self-fulfillment needs that motivate individuals to move consciously or subconsciously through levels or tiers based on our inner and outer satisfaction of those met or unmet needs. As a parent and educator, I find this theory eternally relevant for students and adults, especially in our classrooms. After studying it over the past couple of years, my graduate and undergraduate students have decided that every classroom should display a wall-sized diagram of the pyramid, as students and teachers alike place pins and post-its on the varying tiers based on their own feelings, behaviors and needs. What do actual brain-compatible strategies look like on this pyramid?

Tier One

Meeting Physiological Needs in the Classroom

  1. Water bottles and water breaks.
  2. Focused attention practices: These practices, involving breathing, imagery and sound, last one and a half to two minutes as students close their eyes or focus on an object of attention, practicing quieting their minds from the free-flowing thoughts that bombard our thinking every day.
  3. Physical surroundings: These include room arrangement, color, temperature, plants, etc.
  4. Food: Provide a mixed snack bar and have the class designate times to grab some energy bites and continue working.
  5. Instrumental Music.
These elements contribute to brain-compatible learning by creating a physical environment that is inviting, warm and friendly!

Questions to Ask Myself

  1. What do I need?
  2. Am I tired?
  3. Am I hungry?
  4. How much water have I had over the past 24 hours? Is it enough?
  5. What resources (people, activities or experiences) could assist me in reaching my small and larger physiological and psychological goals?

Tier Two

Stability, Safety and Security, Freedom from Fear

  1. Attitude: Sometimes it is enough to have a personal affirmation that creates feelings of safety and security. For example: "Right now in this moment I am safe. I am breathing, I am aware, awake and I can think and feel!"
  2. Worry drop box: As you enter the room, drop a written concern in a box situated by the door. Research shows that writing out our concerns and worries frees up the working memory and relieves anxiety.
  3. Pin-ups: The class assigns various students to physically post a compliment or affirmation each day. We all need to feel validated and often lose sight of our strengths and talents because the brain is wired with a negative bias. These pin-ups help us focus on positive experiences and behaviors instead of faults and mistakes.
  4. Common experiences: Develop class guidelines together. Create a class blog. Invite outside speakers that promote service and safety: police officers, counselors, former students who have risen above difficult situations, etc.

Tier Three

Belonging and Love

  1. Classroom service project.
  2. Partnered work.
  3. Celebrations: Create special and celebratory days all year long: birthdays, VIP days, strength day, progress days, colorful days, etc.
  4. Working together: Assign these roles within the class:
    • Listener
    • Recorder of feelings and thoughts
    • Small group of decision-makers
    • Student who "cares for" the teacher, office staff and other students
    • Poetry reader
    • Designer of classroom decorations
    • Gatekeeper who checks for disputes and conflicts
  5. Community circle: For 3-10 minutes at the beginning and ending of class, share a time where empathy is defined, discussed and brought to life. You might also share movie clips, personal narratives, or a story to jumpstart the day.
  6. Identity: A classroom theme, flag, song, flower and animal totem.

Questions to Ask Myself

  1. How do I handle negative situations? When these situations occur, what do I typically say to myself?
  2. What statement would encourage me?
  3. What are three negative emotions I feel most often?
  4. What are three positive emotions I feel often or sometimes?

Tier Four

Achievement, Recognition and Respect of Mastery, Self-Esteem

For students to feel capable and successful, we must create an environment that lends itself to this type of mastery.
  1. Expert Day: Students get to demonstrate personal expertise.
  2. Career Day: Bring in college students and community members to share the possibilities of academic and professional success following high school.
  3. Display skills as a class: Create and design quizzes, assignments and instruction for students in other classes and grades.

Small Goals I Am Mastering

  1. Work completion
  2. Dialogued about frustrations
  3. Stayed focused on assignments
  4. Showed respect and compassion for others
  5. Regrouped and continued to work after a frustrating time
  6. Helped another student or teacher
  7. Contributed ideas and suggestions to a conversation
  8. Used positive language in describing a need or desire
  9. Self-reflected about my daily work and interactions

Questions to Ask Myself

  1. What statement would encourage me?
  2. Who are my heroes? What character traits do I admire that make them my heroes?
  3. How will I know I am on the right track? What will tell me if I stray from pursuing my goals?
  4. What are my strengths?
  5. What are my challenges?
  6. How will I focus on these strengths knowing that my thoughts and feelings drive all my words and actions?

Tier Five

Self-Actualization and Self-Fulfillment Needs

This is level of self-evaluation related to service. We begin to explore and model, designing, evaluating and analyzing information outside of our own basic needs, serving others. To become creative thinkers, we have to begin discovering the problem, not just coming up with a solution. In this tier, students become self-assessors and self- reflectors. They are able to see and understand how their actions, thoughts and feelings affect all lives.

Questions to Ask Myself

  1. What is my purpose in life?
  2. What are the challenges in reaching my purpose and the lives of others?
  3. How can I serve the world?
  4. Why is there conflict and war? What can I do? What can we do?
Have you ever encouraged self-examination and self-reflection among your students? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Organizing Research and Facilitating Writing: 10 tools in 10 minutes

Embedded below is a presentation I gave to new research students in the history department at St Andrews.
While introducing some tools that I find useful in my own academic workflow, I hoped to make the general point that using different applications to break up the messy, complex beast that is the research project makes it more manageable.
It is technically feasible to write an entire PhD project using only Word, but no sane person would do this.
By thinking about the disparate tasks that make up research and writing and considering what tool works best for each function, it becomes easier to envision just how you might go about writing a lengthy dissertation.

1) The One Thing

A text editor to write: Ultimately the most important tool is the one that facilitates the transfer of ideas from your brain onto the page. Any text editing program works just fine, and often the simpler the better. Text editor

2) Reading

Managing PDFs: How are you going to read the mountain of text coming your way? I favor PDFs as you can ‘make it your own’ by marking it up with notes and highlights without incurring the wrath of the librarian. (I’ve also written on this here). Skim

3) Note Taking

Capture your thoughts: I’ve disciplined myself into thinking ‘if there aren’t notes, it’s not been read.’ I worry less about how I take notes and more about where they end up: Evernote

4) Capturing Material

Getting your research onto your computer: I’ve taken a camera on all my research trips without any problems. I recommend a stand, multiple batteries, and making sure you keep track of what you’re photographing. (I’ve also written on this here.) Any cheap digital camera

5) Creating a Research Database

Making your research usable: Once your data is captured and backed up on your computer, what next? You need some way to make sense of what you have. I use Devonthink to recreate the archival structure on my computer and have tagged and made notes directly on the primary sources. Devonthink

6) Idea Generation

Coming up with ideas: With your data under control, how to begin asking meaningful questions of it and then providing good answers? Rather than succumb to ‘blank page syndrome‘ in Word, turn instead to mind-mapping and list-making; there’s no such thing as a bad idea at this stage. Freemind

7) Drafting

Overcoming ‘blank page syndrome‘: The first draft needs to be about exploring your ideas rather than burdening yourself with the expectation of an immediate ‘perfect draft.’ I use Scrivener, which provides a much more fluid environment for the early stages of writing. Scrivener

8) Citing

Make referencing painless: My other mantra: ‘If it’s not in Zotero, I haven’t found it.’ Keeping your references up to date makes life so much easier when writing later on. Commit early and fully to citation software. Zotero

9) Editing / Formatting

The final task: After drafting in Scrivener, I’ve now moved to Word. When using ‘print view’ the text looks to be at the final stage, which can be intimidating but is also helpful when used at the right time. I find that I read my own writing differently at this point, much more like the end reader might. Don’t move your writing project to this stage before you are ready for it! Word

10) Sharing

Getting your research out into the world: Stake out your research space online so that you can build a community around your interests. Don’t feel you need ‘all the answers’ to contribute, asking your research questions publicly is a great place to start. WordPress & Twitter

You have my permisson

You have my permission to spend a couple of weeks getting to grips with the technology that you choose to incorporate into your academic workflow. If you don’t take that time now, at the beginning, when will you?! Good luck with the project 🙂 The presentation slides are embedded via slideshare:

3 Misconceptions About Innovation in Education
“Innovation” is one of the most used words in education right now. It is something that I am obviously passionate about, hence the reason I wrote the book, “The Innovator’s Mindset”. I am scared that we use the word “innovation” in the wrong way when there is power to this type of thinking. Words do not become “buzzwords” because they are used too frequently; they become “buzzwords” when they are used frequently in an incorrect manner.
Here are some misconceptions about the word that we need to dispell to protect “innovation” in education from becoming a buzzword.
  1. Innovation is about how you use technology. Nope…this is incorrect. My belief is that this happens because a lot of technologies that are advertised are deemed innovative, which can be true. But innovation is a way of thinking, not simply the way we use technology. For example, is using a “scantron” to mark multiple choice exams innovative? It is definitely convenient, but does this lead to better learning in the classroom? My answer is that it could actually lead to worse learning, faster. Students do not necessarily become better learners, but better test takers. I am not about absolutes, so if you do a multiple choice exam here and there, I am fine with it, but it is not innovative. Using a SmartBoard; innovative or doing the same thing we were doing before, just “cooler”? There are a million ways that you can use google forms, but the ability to use “google forms” is not innovative’; it is what you do with it that creates the innovative practice in the classroom.
  2. That being said, there are many ways that educators are innovative without using technology. Look at EdCamp. This has become one of the best ways that educators have taken ownership of their own learning yet technology is not necessarily at the forefront of this process; it is the process of the professional learning that is innovative.
  3. Dispell the myth that “technology equals innovation” and you will see more educators seeing that many things they are doing in classrooms right now are extremely innovative, without or without technology.
  4. Innovation is about “mindset”, not skill set.
  1. This leads to the next misconception.
  2. Innovation is reserved for the few. Again, no. If innovation is about “doing new and better things”, why would this only be reserved for the few? This does not mean you get rid of what you were doing previously, but always evaluating is it working for your students. Many people will stick with things because they know them, not because they are better. This is human nature and happens in relationships all of the time. It is the same for personal as it is for professional.
  3. The process of innovation in teaching and learning is something that all educators should aspire to. Here is an image that may help you see why it is important.
  1. Are there only a few educators in your organization that should look at the process of teaching and learning this way, or everyone? This is not something that should be done by the few but should be the norm in school.
  2. Innovation is solely a “product”. People believe the iPhone was innovative. It is in some ways. Yet it is the thinking that created the iPhone in the first place that was the innovation. Someone had to have a vision of what a “phone” could be, but when you look at the innovation of mobile technology, this has led to other innovations. Uber, AirBnB, iTunes, and a myriad of other developments were created because smartphones were created. Innovation happens in the thinking to create these things in the first place; they did not come to fruition on their own. Many people have great ideas, but making these ideas happen is the innovation. Creativity leads to innovation, but I have met many “creative” thinkers who do not make things happen.
As I have stated numerous times, innovation should not be reserved for the few, but become the norm in education. It trickles into how we do everything, whether that is assessment practices, leadership, professional learning, how we use technology, and so many other areas, but ultimately in teaching and learning. The first step to getting people to move there is to see that this is not an individual effort, but a team sport.
(If you are interested in learning more about “innovation in education”, I would encourage you to read my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset”, if you haven’t already. The hope is that we see innovation become the norm in education, not reserved for the few.)