Take your notes by hand, students; profs, think about asking your students to take notes by hand (and maybe even write papers by hand)…

Originally posted on Installing (Social) Order:


Evidence that writing notes by hand on paper results in greater learning (as compared to taking notes by laptop keyboard). Check out “The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard” by Mueller and Oppenheimer in Psychological Science.

CLAIM: In effect, quickly typing copious lecture notes by computer fails to (at least in the experiment) generate the sorts of conceptualization techniques that promote learning (the way that slow handwriting requires students to think about what to selectively write).

Obviously, as any educator will tell you, based on his/her experience, this is an imperfect explanation. Seeing this, the authors also conducted a content analysis, which shows that students writing longhand have to summarize in their own words and draw on conceptual mapping to digest the information.

PROBLEMS: Interestingly, nothing about in-class discussion is mentioned and very little is said about on-line learning. I am reluctant to draw too many…

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Sex and Race Discrimination in Academia Starts Even Before Grad School Article

This was an excellent (although depressing) article my mentor shared with me yesterday, and I decided I couldn’t ignore the findings.Because I am a testament to the power and success of undergraduate research and mentoring, the idea that women and minorities are not only disadvantaged once they arrive at graduate school, but also before they even get the opportunity is disheartening and enraging simultaneously.

This article is based on a study (currently under review) titled: <em>”What Happens Before? A Field Experiment Exploring How Pay and Representation Differentially Shape Bias on the Pathway into Organizations” </em>written by Katherine Milkman, Modupe Akinola, and Dolly Chugh. Their main findings are based on an experiment in which 6,500 faculty members were emailed by a “student” asking to set-up a meeting to discuss potential research opportunities. The emails were identical except the name of the student, and the time they would be on campus. Their full study (including the actual email sent) can be found here.

They found that white males (using the name Steven Smith or Brad Anderson) were over 20% more likely to receive a response as compared to females and minorities. Given the rising number of students applying to graduate school and the increasing expectations of applicants, the lack of research opportunities and quality mentoring can be highly detrimental for future success in academia. Similar to the research finding that early childhood social conditions have a lasting impact on adult socialization, success, and health; early academic mentoring, training, and opportunities shape an individuals academic future career, identity, and success.  The academic world is challenging enough for women and minorities, and this set-back is the first step along this turbulent path.


Wait, sociology is bunk? Since when?

Originally posted on Installing (Social) Order:


Interview, just one of many, with Roberto Unger, which indicates that sociology — along with all the other social sciences (psychology, economics, law, and perhaps even political science) — is bunk as well as pseudo science.

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What do you do with unfair criticisms of your academic work?

Originally posted on Installing (Social) Order:


What do you do with unfair or less than constructive criticism of your academic work?

We all know, some people are jerks, many academics among them, and that some folks use the anonymous system of peer-review in order to act however they like without the responsibility or accountability that goes with face-to-face or self-identifying criticism.

To me, this is just part of the job, or, at least, I tell myself that. However, while it is most certainly just part of the contemporary academic landscape, it still irks me — every time.

It is the worst when your realize that the reviewer simply does not “get” the point. Slightly less bad, but no less forgivable: the reviewer has not looked closely enough at your work, and, as they gloss over the details, you realize from their comments that their “this is unclear” or “this is inappropriate” is really just a…

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What are professors up to all day?

Originally posted on Installing (Social) Order:


The answer is here; Anthropologist John Ziker studied “non-random sample of 16 professors at Boise State University and scheduled interviews with them every other day for 14 days.  In each interview, they reported how they spent their time the previous day.  In total, he collected data for 166 days.”

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Nicholas Rowland, Eric Charles, and I recently had an article published in References Services Review, a Library Science journal. In it, we argue that the intersection of the embedded librarian movement with undergraduate research offers great opportunities to increase student retention and engagement, which benefit not only librarians, but colleges and universities as well.


Knapp, J. A., Rowland, N. J., & Charles, E. P. (2014). Retaining students by embedding librarians into undergraduate research experiences. Reference Services Review, 42(1), 129–147. doi:10.1108/RSR-02-2013-0012

If your institution does not subscribe to this journal, you can read a pre-pub copy here.



Academic meritocracy still good?

Originally posted on Conditionally Accepted:

Many sociologists, as well as scholars in other disciplines, talk about the “myth of meritocracy” in their classes.  They inform their students that many in the US believe good ol’ hard work is the primary determinant of one’s successes, opportunities, and wealth — BUT nothing could be further from the truth to explain pervasive inequality.  Not only is this an inaccurate explanation, hence referring to it as a myth, it is also dangerous because it masks all of the other factors beyond one’s control that produce and maintain disparities.  Hopefully, we push our students one more step to see inequality as the product of individual and structural factors, not merely a few bad apples who lie, cheat, and steal, or discriminate and hinder others’ success.

Ironically, academics — including many sociologists — fail to apply this perspective to assess how status, wealth, resources, and opportunities are distributed within…

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Students wishing to join the ranks of your faculty by doing undergraduate research, consider this …

Originally posted on plastic bodies:

Way to go, academic philosophers, you’re successfully (still!) reproducing the means of knowledge production!

Helen De Cruz has initiated a very important discussion of the academic job market in philosophy, focusing on the numbers for the 2014-15 hiring season. Her post raises important questions about race, class, and elitism in hiring. The takeaway data:

On the basis of this year’s partial hiring data, Marcus Arvan notes that the majority of tenure track hires (a whopping 88%) are from people of Leiter-ranked programs. Only 12% of hires are from people of unranked programs. Also, 37% of all tenure track hires come from just 5 schools, the Leiter top 5 list – this is amazing if one ponders it, and one may wonder at the direction philosophy is going to, if most of its future tenured workforce comes from just a few select programs.

I’ve been tempted to write a post about…

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Brent Harger argues that the dream of becoming a professor is analogous to to the dream of becoming a star athlete. It is in the interests of college that a sizable number of students pursue these dreams, even though it is seriously dangerous for a student to invest everything they have in either.

Originally posted on Conditionally Accepted:

brentBrent Harger is an assistant professor of sociology at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Harger (which rhymes with charger) teaches in the areas of methods, family, youth, and education.  His research examines the ways in which students and teachers create and maintain culture in elementary schools.

Below, Dr. Harger reflects on the depressing reality that few prospective graduate students will conclude their graduate training with a tenure-track faculty job.  Academic careers may be becoming a privilege afforded primarily to middle-class and wealthy people.

Academia as a Middle Class “Star Career”

The academic job market is horrible. So is academia as a whole. It is nearly impossible to obtain a tenure-track job and even tenure itself is no guarantee that one will be able to keep one’s job. Surveying the landscape of higher education, Fabio Rojas at Orgtheory says not to go to graduate school. So does Rebecca Schuman…

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Dr. Nicholas Rowland and I had the pleasure of attending Penn State’s Engaged Scholarship Symposium on March 25, 2014. It was a large, university-wide event that featured panel discussions by experts in the field of promoting engaged scholarship, as well as Penn State faculty discussing their experiences with engaged scholarship.

“Engaged Scholarship”is defined by Penn State’s Council on Engaged Scholarship as “out-of-classroom academic experiences that complement classroom learning.” Rowland and I noticed the announcement for this symposium and immediately noted that it sounded an awful lot like what we’ve always been calling “Undergraduate Research,” so we immediately signed up. From what we gathered from the discussions, Engaged Scholarship encompasses Undergraduate Research, and if not directly synonymous, might be a little broader of a term. Engaged Scholarship also includes an aspect of making the research enterprise at large research institutions like Penn State relevant to the non-academic world. In other words, applying the term “engagement” not just to the idea of “engaging students in research,” but also “engaging the public in our research.”

As a thought experiment, the following question was raised: “Penn State has one of the best anthropology programs in the country: What should this mean to a coal miner from Hazleton?” I have often argued for the importance of scholars being able to explain their research to non-scholars, because oftentimes the popular press (newspapers, magazines) pick up on stories about important research results, and don’t do a great job of representing the overall importance. Scholars need to do a better job at explaining the big picture, and how their research fits into it. Engaged Scholarship as discussed at this symposium was framed as a way of reorienting our roles in academia toward solving social problems, generating new knowledge, and being able to successfully describe its impact.

One of the biggest takeaways of the symposium for me, however, was just the additional vocabulary I picked up to describe undergraduate research. As a librarian, I’m always scanning for different terminology used to describe similar concepts– it helps in searching the literature! So not only was “engaged scholarship” picked up, but also “high impact practices” (used in the higher-ed administration field), “experiential learning,” and “full-spectrum learning.” So, all you readers interested in undergraduate research: keep your eyes and ears open for these terms.


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